Professional Development
COVID-19 / Founders / Hiring / Leadership

Power Moves: Shelonda Stokes named interim head of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore amid pandemic-paused search

Plus, meet the new CTO at R2integrated, and Shashi Bellamkonda joins Columbia-based Leap as VP of marketing.

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:

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is naming Shelonda Stokes interim president, as its search for a permanent successor to longtime leader Kirby Fowler is delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stokes, the CEO of Spark Baltimore-based digital media company greiBO Media, became the board chair of the economic development org in September. She will step away from greiBO to run Downtown Partnership in the near term.

In December, Fowler was named the new CEO of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, effective in April. Downtown Partnership said in a statement that the search for his successor was in its “final stages” when increasing cases of COVID-19 began leading to closures around the city. Now the search is delayed.

For her part, Stokes praised Downtown Partnership as “a talented team and resilient organization.”

“We’ve weathered challenging times, including the last recession and Baltimore’s civil unrest,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to working with all of the stakeholders to help craft solutions and serve as a resource for our city.”


R2integrated announced at the end of February that Michael Paige has joined the Inner Harbor-based digital marketing agency as chief technology officer.

Paige, who previously worked as a customer experience executive at Oracle, “has the expertise and technology relationships to help R2i’s clients identify and select the solutions they need to surpass their customers’ expectations,” said R2i Managing Director David Taub in a statement.

Prior to Oracle, he led technology teams at Epsilon, in addition to managing biz engagements for some of the global marketing company’s largest clients.

“Coming from product and system integrators who struggled with UX and creative implementation, I chose to join R2integrated in order to grow with an agency possessing a strong and solid foundation of tech at its heart,” Paige told “It uniquely positions us in the industry as a team built from technology experts, accompanied with boundary-pushing creatives and digital-savvy strategists to deliver enterprise-class scale.”

So what does a CTO do at a digital marketing agency?

“The role of the CTO is critical in helping both clients and partners align to not only solve for organizational challenges, but also realize the value that R2i will bring to their businesses,” he said. “Our focus on client solutions, paired with our unmatched talent for optimizing customer experiences supports our ability to quickly become a trusted advisor and true partner.”

The company’s stack includes tech from partnerships with Acquia, Sitecore and Adobe.

He said the company is also in “growth mode,” looking to hire “strong and energetic technologists that can partner with our clients to help them realize both the value in their existing tech investments, as well as when and how to maximize future growth and ROI opportunities.”

Paige is initially working from Connecticut, but said he has traveled to Baltimore and gotten a chance to explore the city in recent weeks.

“I’m pleased to announce I’ve officially experienced Baltimore’s signature Old Bay wings and, with every bite, I now realize the why!” he said.


This month, Shashi Bellamkonda started a new role as VP of marketing with Columbia-based home services startup Leap. The company, which makes a platform that brings digital tools for the home services industry, has been seeing growth over the last year, doubling in size in 2019.

Shashi Bellamkonda. (Courtesy photo)

Bellamkonda previously served as CMO of Surefire Local, and is adjunct professor in digital marketing at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies and McDonough School of Management. Bringing 18 years of experience working with startups and tech companies, Bellamkonda will be implementing Leap’s overall marketing strategy.

“We have a wonderful team here and they’re very creative,” he said. “My part is to come in and help Leap go to new verticals.” He will also help expand the company’s partner and integration network.

The conversation for the job started on LinkedIn. That’s a reminder to folks seeking a job, said Bellamkonda: “Be very clear in social profiles in their experience about what they’re looking for and how they would be suitable for a job.”


KaloCyte, a University of Maryland BioPark-based biotech company developing a red blood cell substitute, said Dr. Nivesh Mittal was hired as product development scientist this week.

Nivesh Mittal

Nivesh Mittal. (Courtesy photo)

Mittal previously worked as a research scientist at University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and has expertise on lyophilized formulations, as well as experience in biotech manufacturing and development.

KaloCyte’s product, called ErythroMer, is designed to capture and release oxygen like a living red blood cell. It can also be freeze-dried, meaning it would not need to refrigerated during transport to emergency settings.

Leaders believe it can make a difference in settings where replacement blood is needed to stem blood loss, like treating trauma. The product is currently at the preclinical stage of development.

The company moved its headquarters to Baltimore from St. Louis last year. The company has been adding to its team, and currently has an opening for laboratory manager.


Along with its work organizing the state’s biotech community to collaborate on COVID-19 treatments and tests, the Maryland Tech Council recently announced 15 new board members. Here’s the slate:

  • Sara Garon Berl, VP of law and policy at REGENXBIO
  • Kevin Broadhurst, VP of government and regulatory affairs at Comcast
  • Mitchell Chan, chief financial officer at Viela Bio
  • Kolaleh Eskandanian, VP and chief innovation officer at Children’s National Hospital
  • Joyce Fuhrmann, director of BSE Operations and STEMM Initiatives at The Universities at Shady Grove
  • Julie Garner, head of government affairs at AstraZeneca
  • Robert Head, VP of state, local and PAC Affairs at Lockheed Martin Government Affairs
  • Deron Johnson, director of state government affairs at Amgen
  • Paul Madrazo, director of state government affairs at GlaxoSmithKline
  • Kelly Martin, VP of business strategies at Biotechnology Innovation Organization
  • George Nemphos, cofounder and managing partner at Nemphos Braue LLC
  • Chris McDonald, VP of manufacturing at Kite Pharma
  • Sandeep Saggar, president and CEO at Saggar & Rosenberg, PC
  • Bret Schreiber, VP of life science and technology at Fulton Bank
  • David Tohn, CEO at BTS Software Solutions, Inc.
Companies: Downtown Partnership of Baltimore / R2integrated
Series: Power Moves

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