The Westminster nonprofit that’s invigorating tech and entrepreneurship around Westminster’s municipal fiber network named a new executive director this week who will be familiar to Baltimore’s tech community.
Graham Dodge, who until recently served as the founding CEO of illness-tracking startup Sickweather, will step into the day-to-day leadership role at the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC).
Dodge is a technologist with experience deploying large consumer platforms and systems that use big data and prediction modeling. He’s also served on boards and workgroups for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs.
Dodge will succeed MAGIC Executive Director Amy Rupp, who said in August that she is stepping down after two years in the role spent growing healthcare pilots in a pair of homes and an international reach for its Capture the Flag competitions, among other programs.
Dodge is a Maryland native who led Sickweather from Baltimore’s ETC before relocating to Kansas City to open a new office there. While he was recently visiting his mother- and father-in-law, who are Westminster residents, they pointed out Rupp’s plans in the newspaper and Rupp’s plans in the newspaper and encouraged him to apply, Dodge told Technical.ly.
The Westminster effort is unique in that the Maryland city of less than 20,000 is building its own fiber internet. Dodge said he was immediately impressed with the publicly owned buildout and the connectivity it can provide, as well as how leaders are looking to attract business growth including startups, larger companies and satellite offices around the utility.
“I think they’re taking the right approach, making investment, and I think there’s a lot we can do to build upon that success,” he said.
Dodge sees a “Silicon Main Street” model, where the fiber can become a key asset encouraging people to stay in the city for work instead of commuting. There are signs of business growth, as well, as systems integration company Skayl and a video game lounge moved to Westminster’s TownMall as part of a wave of new activity.
Faster internet that’s owned by a municipality has been key to economic development strategies in other cities. One of those is Kansas City, where Google Fiber was lit up. Dodge saw the effects it had in building and attracting tech interest, and believes Westminster is taking similar steps.
For its part, MAGIC moved quickly to complete the hire. (Technical.ly readers may have spotted the role in On the Market earlier this week, but Rupp’s move was first announced earlier in August).
“When we saw Graham’s resume, we thought it might be a prank,” said Robert Wack, president of MAGIC’s board of directors, in a statement. “His experience is so well aligned with the needs of our organization, and his network is so extensive, that it really did seem like magic when he appeared.” (Get it?)
At Sickweather, Laurel Edelman will step into the CEO role at the company. The company’s stats state that it reaches an audience of more than 10 million daily users and powers more than $500 million in annual digital healthcare advertising.
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