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Baltimore / Entrepreneurs / Startups / Universities

Pava LaPere’s legacy inspires consequential legislation, a building-sized tribute and a national fellowship

Several recent developments pay homage to the late EcoMap Technologies founder and her passion for community-minded entrepreneurship.

The Pava Marie LaPere Center for Entrepreneurship in Baltimore's Remington neighborhood. (Courtesy Johns Hopkins University)
Pava LaPere left an outsized footprint on student entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) well before her alma mater dedicated a space in her name.

Back around 2015, when LaPere was an undergrad at JHU, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) was primarily aimed at researchers. On Saturday, Christy Wyskiel, senior advisor to the university’s president for innovation and entrepreneurship, recalled an email she received from LaPere critiquing JHTV’s approach and saying they had it all wrong. Wyskiel said it’s because of LaPere that FastForward U offered customized support for Johns Hopkins and broader Baltimore community members working on business ideas.

Wyskiel offered this reflection during an event officially dedicating the building once known as FastForward U as the Pava Marie LaPere Center for Entrepreneurship.

The Pava Center, as it is being called for short by its team at Johns Hopkins and supporters, was renamed in tribute to its namesake’s visionary spirit.

LaPere, CEO and cofounder of EcoMap Technologies, was an early contributor to the innovation and coworking space in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore. Through efforts like TCO Labs, the Hatchery and Emergence Baltimore, she continued to keep people connected and well-resourced before her untimely death last year.

“We’re incredibly honored to build on the foundations that Pava had such an instrumental role in helping to establish,” said Josh Ambrose, director of student ventures for JHTV.

Portrait of Pava LaPere in graduation attire on blue banner near brown wood fence.

A portrait of Pava LaPere near a wall with placards at The Pava Center’s dedication. (Courtesy JHU)

Pava’s parents Frank and Caroline LaPere live in Tuscon, Arizona, where Pava was born. Ahead of the dedication event last weekend, the couple praised Ambrose for keeping them connected during planning for The Pava Center.

“Josh Ambrose was very, very helpful in coordinating and making us aware keeping us informed,” Caroline said.

Frank and Caroline also told they were actively involved in developing the space’s visual components, including choosing which of Pava’s quotes would be printed on placards and what banners on display in the center should look like.

“We’re very appreciative that Hopkins really opened up to our help,” said Frank.

Caroline and Frank LaPere and Ronald J. Daniels speak inside of The Pava Center's white and black interior walls.

(L to R) Caroline and Frank LaPere talk to Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels at The Pava Center’s dedication in April 2024. (Courtesy JHU)

As The Pava Center aims to empower and equip Hopkins’ students, alumni and associated community changemakers in their journeys as founders in Baltimore, EcoMap’s PLACE Builders Fellowship seeks to take Pava’s entrepreneurial support mission further across the country. Launched last year with Forward Cities, the fellowship, which received 80 applications, aims to equip its participants through capacity-building exercises and skills development. After three months, the eight PLACE Builders fellows, each representing a different geographic region, will pilot or scale a project to address an ecosystem gap back in their home state.

Meet the eight inaugural PLACE Builders fellows

“All these ecosystem builders bring a totally unique lens to the work they are doing, which is exactly what we wanted to facilitate with this fellowship,” said Kevin Carter, EcoMap’s director of business development, in an announcement. “Something beautiful happens when you bring people together from all walks of life who are dedicated to making their home a better place through the power of entrepreneurship. I’m excited to start this journey with the inaugural PLACE Builder fellows.”

The innovative spirit driving initiatives like The Pava Center and PLACE Builders, which Pava’s parents believe will endure to support numerous entrepreneurs, embodies a dream they say Pava aspired to live out.

Pava’s legacy also permeates a pair of bills moving through Annapolis. The Pava LaPere Legacy of Innovation Act, which aims to provide start-up grants to student entrepreneurs in the Baltimore area, passed through the Maryland General Assembly on Monday. Meanwhile, the Pava Marie LaPere Act, which seeks to prevent diminution credits for individuals convicted of first-degree rape and the most violent sex crimes, is still under consideration in the House.

Before returning to Arizona for a brief period before this summer’s criminal trial for the man accused of killing her and a series of other violent crimes, they offered a powerful message.

“Let’s make sure that you make a change,” said Caroline. “And that’s what I think is so beautiful about her legacy. She made a lot of big-time changes at a young age. So it’s possible that others can do the same.”

Check out some more photos from the dedication event:

Christy Wyskiel speaking to media in navy blazer.

Christy Wyskiel speaks to media at The Pava Center’s dedication. (Courtesy JHU)

Two groups of people stand beside blue banner with "PAVA" in different colors and "for Entrepreneurship" in white text

Members of the LaPere family stand with PLACE Builders Fellowship members and organizers. (Courtesy JHU)

Kevin Carter in black blazer and grey shirt at black podium.

Kevin Carter speaks at The Pava Center dedication. (Courtesy JHU)

Program with black text surrounded by green and blue logos

Program for The Pava Center dedication. (Courtesy JHU)

Josh Ambrose in charcoal suit in front of white wall with green text

Josh Ambrose speaks during The Pava Center’s dedication. (Courtesy JHU)

Crowd at Pava LaPere center dedication

The crowd at The Pava Center dedication. (Courtesy JHU)

Article updated at 1:20 p.m.

Companies: EcoMap Technologies / Pava Marie LaPere Center for Entrepreneurship / Johns Hopkins University / State of Maryland

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