RealLIST Connectors: Meet 110 top community builders in Baltimore tech and entrepreneurship - Technical.ly Baltimore

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May 28, 2020 5:43 pm

RealLIST Connectors: Meet 110 top community builders in Baltimore tech and entrepreneurship

From founders to incubator leaders to extraordinary networkers, these are the people making the links to grow the community.
RealLIST Connectors 2020.

RealLIST Connectors 2020.

(Image by Stephen Babcock)

Think tech and entrepreneurship, and it’s likely that the companies come to mind first. Whether they’re startups, social enterprises or small businesses, the association puts a focus on the young companies building new products and business models.

But the growth of these ventures has an entire community around it, stretching across the people who run spaces where they’re based, the investors and finance experts who help make decisions, and advisors and mentors who offer the hard-earned advice from their experience building around it.

To get a handle on what Baltimore’s community really is, the links between people are one of the most important categories to map, and these connectors help us find our way.

For the past four years, we at Technical.ly have been bringing you lists of promising startups in Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C. and Delaware. Last fall, we launched the inaugural lists of influential and impressive engineers. Now, we’re happy to introduce the next evolution in the RealLIST series: RealLIST Connectors, our roundup of folks working to build their local tech, entrepreneurship and innovation community by linking others with an eye toward future growth and inclusivity.

In this list you’ll see a lot of different initiatives that these leaders have started and organized, but there’s one thing that unites them: It’s not just about them. In conversations over the years, it’s been clear that they care about Baltimore’s tech and business community, and leaving it better for future generations. Many have had success at individual pursuits, but so often it’s the case that they realize they didn’t get there on their own. So now they’re connecting others to help the cycle continue, whether that’s through organizing a meetup, starting a new organization or going out of their way to make sure two people know each other.

That’s how communities grow.

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This list was compiled with input from Technical.ly’s newsroom, including Assistant Editor Stephen Babcock (hey!), Managing Editor Julie Zeglen and CEO Chris Wink. We solicited nominations from the community itself, but mainly, we referred back to our years of reporting on the local tech, entrepreneurship and innovation economies. What you see below is a peek into our source book. It’s a chance to celebrate those who might not always have the title of CEO, and a look at the groups that form around specific interest under the broader umbrellas of Baltimore tech and entrepreneurship.

Some are leading far-reaching initiatives to break down the silos between sectors of the city’s economy, while others are event organizers. Others are simply always ready with an email introduction.

These acts of connection help businesses move forward, and bring new people into the community. If we’re going to continue to grow, we’ll need more.

Nicole Atkinson

  • President of Push to Start
  • Getting the word out about the ventures changing Baltimore for a wider audience takes relationships, and Atkinson has built many. She is frequently the PR pro working behind the scenes when big news comes from R. House, Open Works and plenty of startups.

Susan Aplin and Eddie Resende

  • Co-CEOs of World Trade Center Institute
  • The leaders at the organization created to connect Baltimore businesses to global markets took on the joint management partnership when they were promoted last year. It came at a time when WTCI was deepening ties with the innovation community.

Jason Barbour

  • Founder of Erias Ventures; organizer of the Data Works MD meetup.
  • Over seven years, Barbour has grown the meetup with monthly events and an expanding network that’s linking data scientists from organizations across the region.

Jason Barbour. (Courtesy photo)

Mike Batista

  • Director of innovation partnerships at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s Healthworx
  • Leading corporate venture and corporate development at the region’s largest health insurer, Batista brings startup experience to a team working to grow its footprint in the region after organizing a digital health summit alongside LifeBridge Health last year.

Jan Baum

  • Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Towson University
  • Alongside spreading skills and infrastructure for 3D printing and rapid manufacturing in the state, Baum has championed entrepreneurship and design thinking as part of higher education and is often lending support in the community.

Mike Binko

  • Founder of Startup Maryland
  • In recent years, Binko has criss-crossed the state in a bus that’s equipped to gather pitches, and has made a point of bringing community together wherever it goes.
The Startup Maryland bus. (Photo via Startup Maryland)

The Startup Maryland bus. (Photo via Startup Maryland)

Shelly Blake-Plock

Todd Blatt

  • Maker, founder of Custom 3D Stuff and member of Baltimore Node
  • Along with making cool stuff himself, Blatt is bringing makers together for efforts like crowdsourcing 3D printing sculptures worldwide, and has a hand in bringing things to town like the multiplayer arcade game Killer Queen. His move to set up a face shield operation and connect folks with 3D printers showed his resourcefulness.

Wendy Bolger

  • Founding director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Loyola University Maryland
  • Working with entrepreneurs from around the university’s North Baltimore campus and the wider Baltimore community, Bolger leads a two-year-old program galvanizing social entrepreneurship, and quickly became a familiar face among local organizers with a willingness to team up.

Frank Bonsal III

Adam Bouhmad

  • Founder of Project Waves
  • After the repeal of Net Neutrality, Bouhmad set out to create a community ISP. With networks in Sharp Leadenhall, Sandtown-Winchester and Southwest Baltimore, it is offering pay-what-you-can internet in communities with low broadband access.

Aaron Brooks

  • CEO of MASTERMND Academy
  • Working as a DevOps engineer at Fearless and serving as an instructor at the Baltimore Black Techies Meetup, Brooks launched online coding bootcamp programs via Twitch and Google Classroom. He has grown the venture with support from Fearless’ in-house incubator and is offering free courses.

Aaron Brooks. (Courtesy photo)

John Brothers

  • President of the T. Rowe Price Foundation
  • Leading an organization that has granted millions for Baltimore organizations in recent years, Brothers fosters collaboration among nonprofits. It’s on view at initiatives like the recently opened Bmore CoLab and events like MICA‘s Grassroots DesignFest, where organizations are colocated to spur new ideas.

John Cammack

  • Managing partner of Cammack Associates
  • A former T. Rowe Price executive who speaks eloquently about the role of startups in the city’s future, Cammack has helped to spur entrepreneurial growth in Baltimore over the last decade, both as an angel investor who mentors startups and builder who plays leading roles in the city’s business-building organizations.

Anthony Cammarata

  • CEO of Startupcannon
  • Serving as a CFO and controller for companies in the region, you’re bound to meet Cammarata if you attend a local entrepreneurial event.

Greg Cangialosi

  • cofounder of incubation and education nonprofit Betamore and early-stage investment group Baltimore Angels; created Cangialosi Business Innovation Competition at UMBC
  • An exited founder who turned returns toward investing and championing startups and entrepreneurship in the city, Cangialosi planted many seeds that are bearing the fruit of startup expansion in Baltimore today.

Pothik Chatterjee

  • Executive director of innovation and research at LifeBridge Health
  • Working to spur digital health innovation inside one of the region’s largest hospital systems, Chatterjee was one of the leaders of last year’s startup competition that brought a regional approach to spurring startups and resulted in the creation of new resources.

Jeff Cherry

  • Founder of Conscious Venture Lab
  • A frequent voice for conscious capitalism both in Baltimore and in settings like the Vatican, Cherry connects the ventures building in West Baltimore to a global conversation through the accelerator program and SHIFT Ventures.

Conscious Venture Lab CEO Jeff Cherry (third from left) along with Lead Mentor Allie Armitage welcome the cohort. (Courtesy photo)

Shervonne Cherry

  • Director of community and partnerships at Spark Baltimore, the downtown coworking campus; cofounder of Baltimore Womxn in Tech meetup.
  • An ecosystem builder creating space for making connections, Cherry is always willing to make an extra connection in both the Spark community, and throughout Baltimore.

Stephanie Chin

  • Entrepreneurship evangelist at MICA
  • Chin brings the arts college closer to the city’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, and she reflects that both as a mentor in her frequent work with students and the wider community, as well as an organizer of efforts to organize startups spinning up from universities like like Innov8MD.

Christopher College

  • Managing partner at TCP Venture Capital
  • The leader of a venture firm with a specific focus on investing in local companies through its Propel Baltimore funds, College is a frequent sounding board for firms coming up in the Baltimore community.

McKeever Conwell II

  • Manager, portfolio development and entrepreneurial resources, TEDCO
  • Working with the state’s quasi-public technology development agency, Conwell’s constant presence in the tech community and working alongside founders shows that the role of investing takes support beyond funding.

Andy Cook

  • Program director of Made in Baltimore
  • With a mission to galvanize light manufacturing in the city, Cook united makers under a common space Baltimore through pop-up shops and with a common brand of Made in Baltimore. Now a program of the Baltimore Development Corporation, it has played a key role in getting funding to makers who are producing PPE during the pandemic.

Marjie Cota

  • VP of strategic partnerships and market development at Harbor Designs and Manufacturing
  • The Pigtown-based design and custom manufacturing has been growing a presence in Baltimore in recent years, and frequently Cota is at the center of efforts to organize events and champion a new generation of physical product prowess.

Andrew Coy

  • Executive director of Digital Harbor Foundation
  • Coy is a tireless champion for making and informal learning as a leader of the Federal Hill tech center. It is a node that stretches into policymaking with city government, as well as across the country as DHF became an influential voice on rec-to-tech. In the pandemic, he’s guiding the org to play and speaking up in a response role in device distribution, broadband expansion and summer youth employment.
A Maker Camp participant talks Python. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

A DHF Maker Camp participant talks Python with Andrew Coy (center) and Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Nick Culbertson

Kate Davis Shapiro

  • SVP of operations at LaunchTech
  • With a leading role at the Baltimore-based PR and marketing agency that works with many of the growing cyber companies in the region, Shapiro brings a firm that’s building brands in one of the state’s prime emerging industries, and looking to help translate tech terms for those who may not have an engineering background.

Kate Davis Shapiro. (Courtesy photo)

Neil Davis

  • Business Continuity Task Force and venture mentoring services member at Maryland Tech Council
  • With a career at the center of local ecosystem building at ETC and TEDCO, Davis has mentored countless founders and is known for pointing out hard truths. “There is no one more genuine, more knowledgable, or more willing to help than Neil. Neil treats advising entrepreneurs as a labor of love—underscored by the fact that he’s still doing it, even in retirement,” a nomination states.

Sherrod Davis

  • Chief of staff at Protenus
  • A longtime startup supporter with experience as an entrepreneur and working inside a pair of the city’s fast-growing companies, the Baltimore native is now playing a role that’s in part designed to galvanize the tech community at one of the city’s fastest-growing tech companies.

Graham Dodge

  • Executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC)
  • The founder of Sickweather took the helm last year of the nonprofit that’s building a tech hub around the municipal fiber network in the Maryland town of Westminster. With a vision for “Silicon Main Street,” Dodge is connecting Capture the Flag participants around the world, local businesses and more.

Delali Dzirasa

  • CEO and founder of downtown digital services agency Fearless
  • Leading a software shop that puts civic service and Baltimore at the center of how it is growing, Dzirasa is a civic tech devotee who founded Hack Baltimore to bring together a citywide hackathon. He is passionate about building new businesses in Baltimore and started an in-house incubator program to do so.

Fearless CEO Delali Dzirasa speaks at the kickoff of Hack Baltimore. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Adam Echelman

Kelly Ennis

  • Founding principal of The Verve Partnership
  • An entrepreneur who has been the design mind behind many of Baltimore’s recognizable startup spaces, she is also frequently making sure people get introduced. As a nomination says: “Always connecting the right people with no strings attached. Not for personal gain. True connector.”

Steve Feldman

  • VP of engineering of Contrast Security
  • The application security company has been growing a base of engineering talent in Fells Point, and Feldman has frequently talked about why that means it is important to keep strong ties with the Baltimore community.

Heather Fields

  • VP of marketing at VitusVet
  • Fields has had a key role in three generations of Baltimore tech growth. With key roles at including Bill Me Later and OrderUp, she was involved in tight-knit tech teams that went on to successful exits. Last year she brought that experience and network to VitusVet as it moved to the city and was getting set to hop on the rocketship.

Guy Filippelli

  • Managing partner at Squadra Ventures
  • After leading Baltimore startup RedOwl to exit, Filippelli started a venture firm to help build the next generation of companies. It’s a prominent example of the kind of cycle that builds communities.

Yair Flicker

  • President of SmartLogic, the Canton-based software consultancy
  • The JHU grad leads a Baltimore company with a community-first orientation that sponsors pretty much every meetup group in town, and is a frequent mentor to entrepreneurs. He’s active in business-building programs around the city, and can be counted on to make any party a pizza party.

Mike Fried

Mike Fried accepts the Baltimore Innovation Award for Technologist of the Year in 2017. (Photo by Zephan Moses Blaxberg)

Mike Galiazzo

  • President of the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland
  • A longtime advocate for ushering in Industry 4.0, Galiazzo sees a role for innovation in manufacturing as processes and products adapt technology. It has brought many an event floor where a robotics company can fit comfortably, and plenty of opportunities for connections to be made.

Scott Garber

Jess Gartner

  • CEO of Allovue
  • Leading a tech company with a mission that is focused equity in education, Gartner brings a mindset of inclusion and community focus to leading the company, as well. Along with bringing school leaders closer to financial metrics, the founder shows how business leaders can build companies with people at the center.

Laura Gaworecki

  • Founder of Moxie Promotion
  • Launching the Waterfront Tech Series in 2017, Gaworecki created a forum where Baltimore’s business community and technologists could learn from each other. As it has grown, Gaworecki has proved adept at connecting folks from organizations of all sizes, bringing a realization that tech growth isn’t only about startups.

Will Gee

  • CEO of Balti Virtual
  • Leading the Port Covington-based virtual and augmented reality studio, Gee sits at a point that crosses video game, design, software development and research institutions. With the BmoreVR Meetup, the studio has brought that community together as it collectively eyes new use cases.

Michelle Geiss

  • Cofounder and executive director of Impact Hub Baltimore
  • A longtime connector in social entrepreneurship, Geiss sits at the center of a movement strengthening ties between policymakers, community organizers, the entrepreneurs behind impact-minded ventures and creatives.

Ron and Cyndi Gula

  • Cofounders of Gula Tech Adventures
  • After playing leadership roles to grow Columbia-based cybersecurity company Tenable toward IPO, Ron and Cyndi Gula thought about creating the next 10 Tenables and created a venture firm to seed it. Growing the cyber startup community cuts across government agencies, services firms and entrepreneurship — and they sit squarely at the center of that conversations.

Cyndi and Ron Gula. (Technical.ly file photo)

Jolene Gurevich

Fagan Harris

  • CEO of Baltimore Corps
  • Long outspoken about how Baltimore is the “best place in the world to change the world,” Harris leads an organization building inroads for talent in public organizations like city government and supporting leaders in social entrepreneurship.

Chris Haug

  • Chapter director of Mid-Maryland Startup Grind
  • Founding a new chapter for the global network of early-stage companies in the Columbia and mid-Maryland area in 2017, Haug is waving a flag for tech growth in communities around the state, as he played a key role in other chapters opening, as well. With an organizing role to take a group of local entrepreneurs to Startup Grind’s global conference in San Francisco in recent years, he is also earning attention for local startups beyond the state.

Will Holman

  • Executive Director of Open Works
  • The massive Station North makerspace that provides access tools and studios is always dependent on people, and Holman leads a team that ensures it is also connecting to all of Baltimore and the local economy. During the pandemic, their quick move to stand up new processes and galvanize a network of 3D printers to make face shields shows the unique nexus it holds in the community.

Seema Iyer

  • Associate director of tje Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore
  • Iyer works to bring data to the neighborhood level, which is work that connects community associations, data scientists and policymakers, among others. Helming the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance and organizing the annual Baltimore Data Day are just a couple embodiments of that work.

Mike Janke and Bob Ackerman

  • Cofounders of DataTribe
  • In starting the Fulton-based cyber foundry that’s helping tech talent honed inside the government turn into commercial startups, the entrepreneur and founder of AllegisCyber planted a flag in Maryland and its wealth of talented engineers. Going forward, the firm is also planning to relocate to Baltimore city’s Port Covington, and setting out to attract companies from inside and outside the state.
AllegisCyber Founder Bob Ackerman and DataTribe cofounder Mike Janke. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

AllegisCyber founder Bob Ackerman and DataTribe cofounder Mike Janke. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Mark Komisky

  • Lead at Chesapeake Digital Health Exchange
  • An entrepreneur who is among the most connected in the region and mentors startups, Komisky has long served as a connecting point for entrepreneurs building at the region’s universities. Now he is leading an effort to further build connections among the entrepreneurs, health systems, payers and universities under the Chesapeake Digital Health Exchange.

Jim Kucher

  • Program director for UMB’s M.S. in Health and Social Innovation and senior lecturer at the University of Maryland Graduate School
  • A longtime leader in social innovation who works with ventures, Kucher brought experience at the University of Baltimore and Stevenson University to a role at University of Maryland, Baltimore, and has worked with numerous local social ventures.

Tim Kulp

  • VP of innovation and strategy at Mind Over Machines
  • With a knack for storytelling and putting people at the center of technology, Kulp is among the leaders embracing new technology at the Owings Mills-based software consultancy and is generous with an introduction.

Pava LaPere

  • founder of EcoMap Baltimore, co-creator of Innov8MD, co-coordinator of Johns Hopkins’ student-run incubator via FastForwardU.
  • While a student at Johns Hopkins, LaPere championed entrepreneurship growth at the influential Baltimore university, keying the creation of stable infrastructure linking the city’s influential universities and a new generation of growing businesses both IRL and digitally.
Hopkins students Pava LaPere and Anthony Garay.

Pava LaPere (L) in 2017. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Dana Ledyard

  • Director of strategic partnerships, Catalyte
  • Ledyard brought leadership experience from Girls Who Code to a key role galvanizing the talent-is-everywhere work of Catalyte. Through roles like Code in the Schools’ board, she has jumped into on-the-ground work in Baltimore.

Mike Leffer

  • Principal of Squadra Ventures
  • While seeking out enterprise software companies, the early-stage investor is willing to dig in with companies, and make connections to others in the region.

Gretchen LeGrand

  • CEO of Code in the Schools
  • LeGrand leads an organization with a mission to expand access to computer science education. Not limited to curriculum, this work requires a vital link between the education system, technologists and policymakers, and LeGrand is at the center of it.
Code in the Schools Executive Director Gretchen LeGrand speaks with TV host Adam Savage.

Code in the Schools Executive Director Gretchen LeGrand speaks with TV host Adam Savage in 2016. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Rick Leimbach

  • Principal of Startup Portal
  • The CFO advisor of Westminster-based Startup Portal provides financial guidance to startups. As he has opened space in Westminster and working with companies at organizations like the Baltimore Creatives Acceleration Network, he has shown there is community in that work.

Babila Lima

Matthew Lowinger

  • Project manager at Byte Lion
  • Finding community in startups while a student at Towson University, Lowinger helped to galvanize undergrad entrepreneurship both within the college through Student Launch Pad and the wider university community as a cofounder of Innov8MD. Working with the Hunt-Valley software consultancy, he is continuing work to bring startups together.

Dr. Tammira Lucas

  • Cofounder of Moms as Entrepreneurs and The Cube and executive director of the Warnock Foundation
  • The entrepreneur adds community value with pursuits that extend resources and spaces to others growing businesses alongside families.
Moms as Entrepreneurs cofounders Jasmine Simms and Tammira Lucas.

Moms as Entrepreneurs cofounders Jasmine Simms and Tammira Lucas. (Courtesy photo)

Ken Malone and Kelli Booth

  • Managing directors of Early Charm Ventures
  • Through Early Charm, Malone and Booth bring together the innovations developed at Baltimore-area institutions with startup acumen to get a product to market. This puts them at the nexus of universities, companies and government, and he’s frequently connecting across each. He’s growing a community inside a Pigtown building, and linking science and business across the region.

Todd Marks

  • CEO of Mindgrub, the Locust Point-based tech and marketing agency
  • Leading a tech and marketing agency that has expanded nationally, Marks has shown a keen interest in the local community, whether through board leadership on the Maryland Tech Council or creating incubation space within the company’s Locust Point offices for new startups. The self-ascribed futurist also has an eye on where tech and society are converging next and bringing that technology to Baltimore.

Marissa McDonald

  • Marketing manager of 1100 Wicomico
  • The Pigtown building that has a storied past in Baltimore’s garment industry is ready for a new generation of business growth, and McDonald is frequently a voice and organizer as it has become a community hub.

Terrance McGregor

  • CEO of ByteLion
  • “He is truly one of the most selfless people I have ever met and looks to help every single person he meets with their professional/personal development and bringing software visions to fruition,” a public nomination states of the founder of the Hunt Valley-based software development agency.

Jonathan Moore

  • CEO of Rowdy Orb.it
  • Working at the neighborhood level, Moore is among Baltimore’s strongest voices for extending the opportunities presented by tech throughout the entire city. In recent weeks he has been at the center of work to bridge the digital divide as the issue has become more acute during the pandemic.

Jonathan Moore. (Courtesy photo)

Jonathan Moriarty

  • Game developer at chair of International Game Developers Association‘s Baltimore chapter
  • Video games are played lots of places, but the Baltimore area is one of the centers where the games are made. With IGDA and organizing last year’s Gamescape, Moriarity plays a key role in bringing together the community of developers.

Mary Morris

  • Director of UM Ventures’ Baltimore Fund
  • An ecosystem builder who has long worked to connect folks in the state’s universities, Morris galvanized the Anchor Ventures series connecting entrepreneurs across the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins systems. As director of UM Ventures’ Baltimore Fund, she is leading a resource that is spurring startups to move to the city’s incubators and research parks.

Henry Mortimer

  • Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Baltimore
  • Mentoring entrepreneurs and organizing programs that offer learnings as well as a chance to pitch, Mortimer fosters connection between the Midtown university and the city’s business community — a link that’s designed to add economic growth in Baltimore.

Ed Mullin

  • CTO of Think Systems who is a leader in the local IT business community and technologist who organizes the BaltoMSDN meetup; nonprofit leader who founded Baltimore Robotics Center and recently cofounded DigiBmore to collect and refurbish devices for youth to close digital divide during pandemic
  • Mullin has long recognized that the city’s future depends on all members of a community rising together, whether it’s expanding a network of technologist to develop skills and business, bringing a Baltimore robotics team into the fold or extending tech access into the city’s underinvested neighborhoods.

Jeremy Neal

  • CTO of Tribe
  • A cofounder of the Baltimore Black Techies Meetup, the software developer and entrepreneur is one of the leaders to build a worker-owned cooperative for tech talent.

George Nemphos

  • Attorney at Nemphos Braue
  • A cofounder of the Towson-based law firm, Nemphos frequently represents startups and entrepreneurs. It’s work that requires knowledge of the intricacies of business law. But it’s also about problem solving, and understanding how to help people grow.

Alanah Nichole

  • Consultant, organizer and artist
  • On North Ave., Alanah Nichole is playing content creation roles at Impact Hub Baltimore and Motor House, as well as organizing events that center on Baltimore’s creative community. Check out her recent guest posts at Technical.ly.

Myra Norton

  • COO of Arena
  • The president of a company bringing predictive analytics to hiring, Norton brings a people-focused view of leadership with a penchant for transparency. As chair of TEDCO’s board, she is in an influential leadership role shaping company support across the state.

Myra Norton. (Courtesy photo)

Jay Nwachu

  • President and chief innovation officer of Innovation Works
  • Innovation Works brings social enterprise founders in Baltimore neighborhoods and the resources that have helped new ventures grow, and Nwachu centers them in the same conversation.

Eileen O’Rourke

  • CFO of the Abell Foundation
  • At a Baltimore-based foundation with a mission to boost economic growth in Baltimore and a strategy of making direct investments in startups, O’Rourke has an active role on startup boards and plays a key role in commercializing technology locally.

Jenny Owens

  • Assistant dean of the Graduate School at University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • Owens has been at the center of UMB’s entrepreneurial growth in recent years, including a new space called The GRID that serves as a link to the city and annual pitch competition, as well as the university’s recently launched M.S. in Health and Social Innovation. As CEO of Hosts for Humanity, she also links family members traveling to support hospital patients with housing provided by volunteers.

Eliot Pearson

  • VP of technical development at Catalyte and former AOL/Ad.com tech leader
  • Long passionate about technology’s role in the city and work to improve it, Pearson is also committed to educating and mentoring the next generation of tech talent.

Chrissie Powell

  • Baltimore site director of Byte Back 
  • Joining the the digital inclusion org in 2019 to lead expansion to Baltimore, Powell built partnerships and has become a voice for inclusion. With the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition, she is leading work on a tech support hotline for digital skills.

Chrissie Powell. (Courtesy photo)

Patrick Rife and Nic China

  • Cofounders of Pixilated
  • Maybe it’s their company’s roots in events, but the cofounders of the Morrell Park-based photobooth tech company always have an eye toward community organizing, whether it’s sounding a reality-based note about the hard parts of building companies or organizing events like Startup Soiree that bring founders together to learn from each other.

Steve Root

  • The former COO of Millennial Media, Root remains active as an advisor in Baltimore. He is on a number of startup boards of directors in Baltimore like Yet Analytics and Traitify.

Andrew Rose

  • Director of innovation, strategy and business development at MidAtlantic Farm Credit
  • The future of farming means taking new approaches to growing and developing food supplies. Rose is at the center of the new startups developing technology — on view at events like AgPitch — and knowledgable on the big challenges that await, such as saltwater intrusion.

Marty Rosendale

Takia Ross

  • Founder of Accessmatized
  • The creator of a mobile makeup artistry studio is a voice for entrepreneurship in her own right. Through events like the So You Want to Pitch Conference, she offers lessons that can help extend opportunity and access to capital to others.

Margaret Roth

  • Director of portfolio operations at Squadra Ventures
  • As an entrepreneur and now working in venture capital, Roth’s instincts are to build community. And there is always a point to bringing people together, whether it is lifting up the voices of women, learning from each other or building the city that makes people choose it. In the last couple years, she has been transparently sharing learnings as a Technical.ly columnist.

Margaret Roth. (Courtesy photo)

 Josh Russakis

  • Baltimore community manager for Venture for America
  • Baltimore has become one of the top cities where recent grads who join VFA get placed working with local startups, and Russakis is at the center of connecting those two groups. It’s a program that has led plenty of folks to stay, and become part of new ventures in their own right.

Lindsay Ryan

  • Venture development director at University System of Maryland
  • Quickly becoming a connective force among university entrepreneurs after moving to Baltimore earlier this decade, Ryan has taken on a leadership role as USM expands its investment role through the Maryland Momentum Fund. She is also president of Women in Bio for the capital region.

Bret Schreiber

  • VP of the Life Sciences and Technology Division at Fulton Financial Corporation
  • With a recently opened footprint on Johns Hopkins’ campus, Schreiber brought a network and statewide experience in biohealth and life sciences at the Maryland Department of Commerce to a new role to help companies get financing.

Kelly Schulz

  • Secretary of commerce at the State of Maryland
  • The leader of the state government agency that offers business resources, Schulz is frequently in the community to voice support for tech businesses that make up a part of the economy where policymakers have been paying close attention in recent years.

Ryan Sears

  • Cofounder of LAUNCH! Annapolis and FounderTrac
  • Sears is at the center of efforts to build an entrepreneurial community in Annapolis. Whether it’s organizing regular events or starting an accelerator, the Maryland capital has more business building infrastructure coming into place in recent years, thanks in large part to Sears.

Jane Shaab

  • Executive director of University of Maryland BioPark
  • A leader who helped to found gb.tc and bring the UM BioPark to fruition on the west side of downtown, Shaab continues to oversee the growth of the innovation center as it plans to keep growing a footprint, bringing the connective skills honed over years working across government, university and technology.
Jane Shaab.

Jane Shaab. (Source unknown)

Angela Steuart

  • Director of TEDCO’s Builder Fund
  • A longtime mentor to startups and frequent presence in the community, Steuart directs the agency’s Builder Fund, which provides funding and executive support for underserved founders.

Bob Storey

  • Managing partner at The LaunchPort
  • A longtime leader in Baltimore’s medtech community and I-Corps instructor through Johns Hopkins, Storey is connecting companies and resources through the medical device accelerator at City Garage that has grown into a home for some of the city’s most promising companies over the last two years.

Sean Sutherland

  • Partner and director of accounts at Kapowza
  • Leading business development at the Canton-based creative agency startup, Sutherland is a frequent face at community events, stepping up to take a leadership role at networking groups. Plus, he created the video series Between Two Founders to share the stories of entrepreneurs and answer some of life’s important questions.

Mike Thielke

Deb Tillett

  • President of ETC
  • Running the city-backed tech hub, Tillett steers business-building programs like AccelerateBaltimore, PioneerBaltimore and IncubateBaltimore. Tillett is a longtime Baltimore entrepreneur in creative and video game space, and she’s offered wisdom and connections to countless folks as they start their company.

Ken Ulman

  • Chief strategy officer for economic development at University of Maryland
  • The former Howard County executive has turned skills for turning vision into reality toward College Park’s Discovery District. Employing an innovation district model, aiming to galvanize business growth around UMD by creating space for startups that start around the campus and attracting companies to the area.

Maggie Villegas

  • Executive director of Baltimore Creative Acceleration Network
  • Leading MICA’s initiative to galvanize creative entrepreneurs throughout the city, Villegas is connecting artists and makers with business-building resources. If folks pay attention to her leadership, they’ll learn that it’s possible to expand how Baltimore thinks about the programs and spaces that support new ventures.

Maggie Villegas. (Courtesy photo)

R. Jacob Vogelstein and George Petrocheilos

  • Managing partners of Nexus Management, LP
  • The biomedical investment firm started at Camden Partners is a feat of connectivity in itself, bringing together a ground of renowned scientists as venture partners. Through their work, the cofounders are showing the points where the breakthrough science being developed in Baltimore’s labs and entrepreneurship meet.

Megan Wahler

  • Director of entrepreneurial services at bwtech@UMBC
  • Bringing experience working to commercialize technology at Johns Hopkins Tech Ventures’ FastForward, Wahler joined the team at UMBC’s research and technology park in 2019 and plays a connecting role for startups across the incubation resources available and local tech community.

Jessica Watson

Christy Wyskiel

  • Senior advisor to the president of Johns Hopkins University for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leading Johns Hopkins Tech Ventures, Wyskiel is galvanizing the creation of Johns Hopkins’ entrepreneurial community, Wyskiel sits at a unique role that’s a link between the university’s campuses, as well as between Hopkins and the business community.

Nick Zajciw

  • Senior manager for cyber initiatives at bwtech@UMBC
  • Located adjacent to a university that has a leading role in cyber and close to the center of government cyber operations, the UMBC research and tech park incubates a number of early-stage startups offering new tech tools in security and data, making Zajciw’s role an important one. It has also become a landing point for international companies in recent years, stretching a connective role across an ocean.
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