Power Moves: Biotech entrepreneurs donate $5M to create the University of Maryland law school's Chacón Center for Immigrant Justice - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Mar. 5, 2021 1:27 pm

Power Moves: Biotech entrepreneurs donate $5M to create the University of Maryland law school’s Chacón Center for Immigrant Justice

Plus, Harry Alford joins TEDCO's Builder Fund as an entrepreneur in residence, and more leadership changes in the region.
Marco and Debbie Chacón founded Paragon Bioservices.

Marco and Debbie Chacón founded Paragon Bioservices.

(Photo courtesy of University of Maryland School of Law)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, new gig or promotion? Tell us: baltimore@technical.ly.


The entrepreneurs behind an exited Baltimore biotech company are creating a new center for immigration law in the city.

A $5 million gift from Marco and Debbie Chacón to the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law will help to establish the Baltimore-based school’s new Chacón Center for Immigrant Justice.

The couple founded Paragon Bioservices, the contract manufacturing and development company that was acquired by Catalent in 2019 for $1.2 billion. Marco Chacón served as CEO and Debbie Chacón served as VP when the company moved to the University of Maryland BioPark in 2009. Now known as Paragon Gene Therapy, it still has a base at the BioPark, and Marco Chacón founded Irazú Bio, which is also based in the BioPark.

Marco Chacón, who moved to the U.S. from Costa Rica in the 1960s to pursue an education, and Debbie Chacón are concerned by inequities immigrants face in the justice system, “including marginal representation, forced deportations and family separations­,” a news release states.

“By endowing a center dedicated to promoting immigrant justice, new generations of students, jurists, and advocates will help to restore the promise of ‘equal justice for all’ and encourage the full participation of new immigrants in society who are following in the footsteps of previous waves of immigrants seeking the American dream,” the couple said in a joint statement.

The clinic will build on the work of the Maryland Carey Law Immigration Clinic, including continuing a pro bono clinic that provides representation in deportations. It will also create a federal appellate clinic, and create a new faculty director position that is endowed by the gift. The donation will also create the Chacón Scholarship for students pursuing studies in immigration law.

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TEDCO’s Builder Fund, which provides pre-seed funding for economically disadvantaged startups, is welcoming venture capitalist Harry Alford as entrepreneur-in-residence.

Harry Alford. (Courtesy photo)

Alford is cofounder of D.C.-based venture development firm Humble Ventures, which supports diverse entrepreneurs and works to drive innovation forward alongside startups, investors and large orgs. He also has experience as a four-time founder.

“Harry will be leading the Builder Fund’s work with its new and existing portfolio companies,” said Tim Wilson, manger of the Builder Fund, in a statement. “He will be leveraging his experience as both an operator and investor to ensure Builder Fund companies reach their milestones and accrete value rapidly.”

Alford was also among several founders from the region featured recently in a Business Insider piece on “10 business leaders fighting to make the Black experience a permanent part of corporate America.”

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Inner Harbor-based digital experience agency R2integrated is expanding its leadership team with the hire of Kim Clarke as chief financial officer. Bringing leadership experience at digital marketing companies, Clarke oversees finance, HR and IT.

She was previously CFO at promotional products provider iPromo and digital experience business Digital Kitchen, and also served as VP of finance at Sapient Razorfish.

“Kim’s record of accomplishment across multiple firms and business challenges will be highly beneficial as we continue to position R2i for the future,” R2i CEO Richard Neff said in a statement. “Her enterprise agency experience will enhance our capabilities and help us scale to meet the emerging digital segments we serve.”

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Finally, some Friday news from Tide Point: Former ESPN President George Bodenheimer plans to leave Under Armour’s board of directors. According to an SEC filing, he won’t be standing for re-election to the apparel company’s board in May, ending a seven-year tenure.

“George’s leadership and thoughtful approach has been a tremendous asset in our Board room,” Under Armour founder Kevin Plank said in a statement. “His experience leading a global media brand and insights into the world of sport has provided an invaluable perspective.”

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