Professional Development
Career development / Ecosystem development / Leadership

RealLIST Connectors 2024: Meet 20 luminaries keeping Baltimore innovators well connected

These organizers, facilitators, movers and shakers nurture the synapses that power Charm City’s tech and startup community.

Meet Baltimore's RealLIST Connectors for 2024 (Anthony McCray for Technical.ly)

This story is a part of Technical.ly’s Thriving Tech Communities Month. See the full 2024 editorial calendar.

In the heart of Baltimore’s growing tech scene, a network of movers and shakers quietly weave the fabric of innovation.

These are not just leaders: They are architects of change, catalysts for progress and champions of connectivity. Whether steering accelerators, shaping policy landscapes or nurturing the next generation of technologists, these individuals embody the essence of ecosystem builders.

With each meetup hosted, policy advanced and connection forged, they knit together the very essence of Baltimore’s tech ecosystem. They are this year’s RealLIST Connectors.

This roster was assembled with input from Technical.ly’s newsroom, including editor Sameer Rao and editorial director Danya Henninger.

We asked for nominations from the community and looked back at 15 years of reporting on the local tech, entrepreneurship and innovation economies to develop this roundup. Before we give you another 20 names, look back at our connectors in 2023, 2022, 2021 and 2020.

And now, without further ado, from championing diversity to driving climate tech and gaming, meet your 2024 RealLIST Connectors.


Sam Novak

Sam Novak

Sam Novak

Loam

Novak has been actively engaging with Baltimore’s tech communities for a while now. This work includes her efforts to organize grief walks alongside UpSurge Baltimore COO Maddy Stokes, a 2023 RealLIST Connector. These walks brought people together to heal in the aftermath of Pava LaPere’s passing. More recently, Loam and its cofounder/codirector emerged as thought leaders and partners behind UpSurge’s latest cohort-based support program, Scaling Deep. This initiative for women, nonbinary and gender-expansive founders draws inspiration from nature and is built on anti-oppression, whole systems and emergent strategy frameworks .


Stephanie Alphee

Stephanie Alphee

Stephanie Alphee

Code in the Schools

From her time as a STEM specialist for the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland to her role as the Digital Harbor Foundation’s tech center director and, now, as the co-executive director at Code in the Schools, Alphee has focused her career on connecting young people to opportunities and careers in tech. She embodies the dual role of maker and nonprofit leader.

“Stephanie is the very model of what Smalltimore means, she knows, connects, and supports everyone in our ecosystem, intentionally and authentically,” said her and colleague Andrew Pham in his nomination, which also cited Alphee’s recent efforts with Greenmount West Community Center.


Josh Ambrose

Josh Ambrose

Josh Ambrose

Johns Hopkins University, Pava Marie LaPere Center for Entrepreneurship

Ambrose has been overseeing The Pava Center since 2021, in its previous iteration as FastForward U. Through this work, he helps provide funding, accelerator programming and resources for both Johns Hopkins University students and community entrepreneurs in Baltimore. He played a crucial role in the recent efforts to rededicate the center and keep LaPere’s parents involved. Ambrose’s commitment to connecting with the community extends to before his current role: He served as a technology tutor during his undergrad studies at Penn State and held various positions at both George Mason University and McDaniel College.


David Tohn

David Tohn

David Tohn

BTS Software Solutions

According to nominator Juliana Buonanno of TechSlice, Tohn is renowned for his role as a supportive ally to all. He proactively facilitates access to business and political avenues for those without established connections while also championing the interests of diverse communities. Buonanno described Tohn as pure gold for his selfless contributions and unwavering support.

“He always makes the time to ‘show up’ and support others,” said Buonanno.


Justin Brodie-Kommit

Justin Brodie-Kommit

Justin Brodie-Kommit

Baltimore Climate Tech Meetup, Climate Techies

Brodie-Kommit cofounded the Baltimore Climate Tech Meetup group in June 2023 with Nate Westheimer. The organizers aim to unite individuals working, investing or interested in transitioning to climate tech. He additionally manages the DC chapter of Climate Techies, a global climate tech organization, and puts together bi-monthly networking events in DC.

 


Glen R. Goodwin

CharmCityJS, Openexus

Goodwin, a software engineer by day, spearheads CharmCityJS, a monthly gathering assembling the JavaScript developer community for discussions, hacking sessions and networking. The meetup fosters inclusivity and embraces individuals of all skill levels, from newcomers to intermediate web developers to seasoned CTOs.


Robbin Lee

UpSurge Baltimore

Lee’s track record as a connector is evident from her tenure at Baltimore Homecoming, where she led four successful program iterations, nurtured relationships with hundreds of locals and supported numerous community partners. Now, in her role as UpSurge’s director of partnerships and mobilization, she continues her mission by managing collaborations and programs to enhance participation in Baltimore’s startup scene.


Kenny Clash

Kenny Clash

Kenny Clash

Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition (BDEC)

Clash is a dedicated connector with a background in innovation, technology and social justice. The library system’s COO aims to revitalize its physical branch locations to provide a world-class, tech-enabled experience for cardholders and communities. His perspective is shaped by his history as an Army veteran and social entrepreneur. Additionally, his recent appointment to the BDEC Advisory Board further demonstrates his dedication to bridging digital divides in the city.


Karlo Young

Karlo Young

Karlo Young

Concentric Educational Solutions

Young, a proud East Baltimore native and the latest president of Concentric Educational Solutions, is deeply committed to inspiring Baltimore’s next generation of leaders. Drawing from his diverse educational background and experiences, Young leads efforts to combat school absenteeism through data-driven solutions. He credits his success to the support of mentors and his community, emphasizing the importance of education and connecting youth to mentorship.


Robert Moore

Digital Harbor Foundation

Moore, affectionately known as “Mr. Rob,” connects community members through his role as the manager of the Digital Harbor Foundation’s tech center in Federal Hill. His passion for STEM education and youth empowerment guide the DC native’s work. Moore and the center offer beginner, intermediate and advanced programs to support youth in exploring STEM fields.


Kisha L. Webster

Kisha L. Webster

Kisha L. Webster

Greenmount West Community Center (GWCC)

The GWCC’s co-founder and executive director shepherds its work to support the children who regularly participate in the center’s programs and resources. While the provision of Wi-Fi access marked a step forward, Webster recognized the need for more comprehensive offerings. She found herself overwhelmed with managing all aspects of the center alone and brought in a Maryland Corp member for a more digitally savvy approach to GWCC’s gaming and technology programs. All this work captures how she’s built community to further develop the organization and its youth participants.


Lyndsae’ Peele

Zubachee, Kiva

As microlending platform Kiva’s US entrepreneurial ecosystem manager, Peele coordinates community-based lending partners and staff across the US for Kiva. She also facilitates zero-interest, no-fee loans of up to $15,000 for entrepreneurs and small businesses typically excluded from traditional financing. In addition, she establishes partnerships through the Kiva Hubs program in cities with limited financing options, including Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

Through her Kingdom Vision Consulting and Zubachee, Peele collaborates with entrepreneurs while leveraging Web3 solutions to promote financial inclusion and support underserved entrepreneurs.


Karina Mandell

Baltimore Development Corporation, Baltimore-Odesa Sister City Committee

Mandell, an immigrant from Ukraine, plays a pivotal role in business attraction by engaging with international-facing companies as part of her work with the Baltimore Development Corporation. She additionally chairs the Baltimore-Odesa Sister City Committee, which builds cultural and economic ties between the two cities. Her unique background and professional expertise make her valuable to fostering collaboration on a local and global scale.


Angel St. Jean

Angel St. Jean

Angel St. Jean

The Equity Brain Trust

St. Jean is well-known for her work helping individuals and corporations use data to create a more equitable world. She strives to uplift Black founders by contributing to programs like Black Tech Saturdays, which she helped bring to Baltimore alongside Luke Cooper and other collaborators. Her efforts focus on bringing people together and providing resources to empower and elevate the local Black business community.


Bakari Jones

Bakari Jones

Bakari Jones

Independent consultant, formerly Impact Hub Baltimore

Jones serves as a connector by bridging communities and opportunities across sectors. In his current role supporting CineTech at the 25th annual Maryland Film Festival, he ensured diverse audiences engaged with the festival’s technical features. Previously, his work GoDaddy’s Empower Baltimore Program and Impact Hub Baltimore linked over 100 local businesses like Harp Vision to digital resources that helped expand their reach.


Josh Russakis

Josh Russakis

Josh Russakis

Dent Education

Russakis’ uses his industrial design skills to empower Baltimore youth to become makers, designers and creatives. For about a year now, he has been deeply involved in teaching and encouraging young builders, drawing from his experiences with organizations like Open Works Baltimore. He’s been involved with Dent Education since his days at Venture For America; now, as the organization’s senior director of production and operations, he is instrumental in building out Dent’s operations and production capabilities.

Disclosure: The author of this article serves on Dent Education’s board of directors.


Gregg Smith

Technology Advancement Center (TAC)

Under Smith’s leadership, the organization formerly known as MISI underwent a rebranding effort that underscores the nonprofit’s dedication to fostering innovation. Through his stewarding of TAC’s multipronged approach to cybersecurity industry development, Smith strengthens connections within the cyber community, thus positioning TAC as a key player in advancing technology and innovation initiatives.


Meya Ngudam

University of Maryland, LabConnection

As a lab manager and recent PharmD graduate from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Ngundam has cultivated a network of connections within the academic and professional realms. Her background in laboratory research and entrepreneurship, as demonstrated in her Pharmapreneur’s Market-winning startup for recycling old lab equipment, showcases her ability to bridge different fields.


Jennifer Yang

McDaniel College, Inflexion, Covalent Spirits

Yang has served as the entrepreneur-in-residence for McDaniel College’s Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship since 2021. In this role, Yang provides business strategy guidance and instruction to students participating in the college’s five-week entrepreneurship training program. The Inflexion CEO and Covalent Spirits distillery co-owner’s involvement highlights her commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation among its students, preparing them to present in competitions like McDaniel’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge.


Katie Kilby

Reveille Grounds

Kilby spearheaded the establishment of this collaborative home base and co-working space for veterans and military personnel in Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood, which officially opened in November last year. Reveille Grounds’ president and CEO is no stranger to providing support and resources for veterans transitioning to civilian life. Additionally, Kilby’s partnership with EcoMap Technologies to launch a new platform demonstrates her commitment to leveraging technology to enhance the services and support offered to veterans.


 

Companies: The Equity Brain Trust / Impact Hub Baltimore / UpSurge Baltimore / Dent Education / Enoch Pratt Free Library / Pava Marie LaPere Center for Entrepreneurship / Code in the Schools / Baltimore Development Corporation / Johns Hopkins University / University of Maryland / Digital Harbor Foundation
Series: Thriving Tech Communities Month / RealLIST Connectors / RealLIST

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