These 20 recent grads joined Venture for America’s 2020 class in Baltimore

The entrepreneurial-minded fellows are working across 13 companies. Plus, meet VFA Baltimore community manager Emma Simpson.

Venture for America fellows mingle at R House in 2017.

(Photo by Chelsea Prevosto)

A two-year fellowship is getting underway this fall for 20 recent college grads who moved to Baltimore to work at up-and-coming companies.

The local members of Venture for America’s 2020 cohort are working at 13 Baltimore startups, growth companies and entrepreneur support orgs.

Venture for America’s local staff also gained a new member since we last checked in, as Emma Simpson joined in the role of Baltimore community manager in June. In the role, she is managing the day-to-day of supporting fellows and overseeing a leadership council that plans events, as well as supporting fellows who already completed the two-year program. Josh Russakis, who held that title for the last several years, remains in Baltimore and working with VfA as senior director of Baltimore and company partnerships.

Now in its seventh year in the city, VfA seeks to support fellows who want to start their own companies or step into leadership roles at startups. It’s been identified as a way to attract young talent that’s interest in building. The fellows get connected to programming that equips them to become founders, and there’s also a residential accelerator offered through VfA’s national org.

“One of the aspects of VfA I love most is how the fellows support and push each other to explore new passions and grow hobbies into thriving venture,” Simpson said. “They’re all enterprising individuals, and collectively, they hold themselves to a high standard of community engagement. With this year’s cohort being our most diverse to date, I’m excited to see the ways they contribute to VfA’s culture of value creation.”

Of course, the pandemic means it is a time of remote work. As such, many of the fellows are working remotely. So far, 16 of the 20 fellows are living in Baltimore.

The idea is to deepen ties with the city, as well as entrepreneurship. During October, the cohort took part in events to introduce them to city government as well as the startup community. VfA also prides itself on a network of alums who have gone on to start new business and nonprofit ventures in the city, as well as work at influential companies. It has placed 148 fellows in the city since 2013, and more than half still live here, it reports.


Emma Simpson. (Courtesy photo)

Simpson herself got tied into that network. During previous work over seven years in the nonprofit sector, she was introduced to the program after meeting VfA alums Peter DiPrinzio and Stephanie Hsu via their work with Seawall Development in the city’s Remington neighborhood.

“My work with early-stage nonprofits was what gave me the skill set and network to succeed at an organization like VfA, but my first-hand appreciation for the impact fellows have in Baltimore is why I wanted to join the team,” Simpson said.

Here’s a look at the cohort, by company:

Avhana Health

  • Sharon Dang, a Cornell University university grad, joined the health IT company as a software engineer
  • Jeremy Moore, an Allegheny College grad, joined as software engineer

Aya’s Market

  • Breonna Massey, a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, joined the online marketplace as operations manager

Hex Performance

  • Jack Quehl, a University of South Carolina graduate, joined the laundry detergent company as business analyst

Innovation Works

  • Madi Duffy, a graduate of Belmont University, joined the social enterprise network as program coordinator and communications associate
  • Jasmine Godbolt, a North Carolina Central University graduate, joined as executive assistant
  • Gregory Hunter, a grad of Wayne State University and Macomb Community College, joined as a funding coordinator for Ignite Capital

IoT For All

  • Michelle Kammerman, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin — Madison, joined the Internet of Things media outlet as a digital marketing manager

Infinite Biomedical Technologies

  • Olivia Thomas, a grad of Yale University, joined the prosthetic-focused medical device company as business development associate

Larger Than Yourself

  • Eliza Wastcoat, an alum of Lehigh University, joined the podcast as a brand consultant

Legends of Learning

  • Dennis Kamara, a graduate of Emory University, joined the edtech company as an associate


  • Vishal Cherian, a University of Connecticut graduate, joined the IoT company as a product engineer
  • Alexandra Nichols, a UConn graduate, joined as a technical project manager
  • Grace Varughese, a University of Pittsburgh alum, joined as a technical project manager

Point Designs

  • Griffin Drye, a North Carolina State University grad, joined the maker of prosthetic fingers for amputees as a business development specialist and R&D engineer


  • Marques Manta, a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, joined the medical device company as operations and product development associate


  • Maryanna Lansing, a University of Virginia alum, joined the adtech company as a software engineer


  • Jack Hutchins, a Towson University alum, joined the condiments company as a junior financial analyst

Vigilant Medical

  • Chloe Stile, of Washington University in St. Louis, joined the medical imaging software company as R&D software engineer

Zest Tea

  • Annie Schechter, a University of Michigan grad, joined the high caffeine tea brand as digital marketing associate
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