By Mindy Lehman '14, Chief Government Relations & Policy Officer at TEDCO
Two months into a new job at TEDCO, I was asked to write about one of the organization’s five core values: accountability, collaboration, integrity, respect, and stewardship. These principals are mission central and serve as a guide for the organization’s activities and initiatives. Excited by this opportunity, I immediately selected accountability. The timing of the request is perfect as we head into the new year and expanded opportunities for innovation. For when done right, rather than dragging down innovation, accountability can help inspire and ensure it. Accountability also creates trust and ultimately tells the story of how TEDCO achieves its mission.
Many of us take the opportunity of a New Year to establish fresh resolutions but we often lose sight of those resolutions a few months down the road. I believe that the combination of a New Year’s resolution (inspiration/innovation), combined with the right mix of stick-to-it-ness (accountability), can achieve incredible results.
The global pandemic has been challenging and pushed people to look at things in new ways. For me, one of the changes was an evolution in my career focus. With the backdrop of the pandemic and 20 years of professional experience in the Maryland banking and higher education sectors, I became increasingly interested in what fuels Maryland’s economic growth and creates economic opportunities for the State’s diverse population. I learned that TEDCO is Maryland’s economic empowerment organization, and I was excited to join the impactful, dynamic TEDCO team as their new Chief Government Relations and Policy Officer.
TEDCO serves Maryland’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem by providing investments, grants and wrap-around services to the State’s early-stage and startup businesses, which helps build great Maryland-based technology and life science companies. TEDCO also has a responsibility to create a more equitable entrepreneurial economy by providing investment opportunities and advisory services to not only create and sustain jobs, but also to expand wealth creation We are accountable for providing these services, and how we do so is key to establishing trust, growing our economy, and demonstrating success to our funders and the public.
Accountability as a core principle at TEDCO means: “We will do the right thing and have internal and external measures demonstrating that commitment.” This core value keeps TEDCO true to its mission and leads directly to TEDCO’s mantra to “do well and do good.” TEDCO’s public mission is being accountable to many stakeholders, including the companies and individuals we serve, policymakers, institutional partners, the State, and the public. TEDCO’s accountability focus was reinforced with the hiring of CEO Troy LeMaile-Stovall, who is about to celebrate his 18-month anniversary with TEDCO and who puts values like accountability at the center of his leadership.
On the broader stage, TEDCO is accountable to the Maryland General Assembly, the Governor, State agencies, and the public, through multiple quarterly and annual reports, as well as through economic impact studies, legislative audits, consistent review, and compliance with statute and policies.
A common accountability saying is “What gets measured, gets done.” The original phrase goes back to the 1500’s, which originally meant “If you can measure it, you can manage it.” Ruth Henderson, a contributor to Forbes, says this phrase means “measuring something gives you the information you need in order to make sure you actually achieve what you set out to do.” At TEDCO, accountability is core to improvement, learning from past results, and leveraging that knowledge to inspire innovation and drive change.
The positive outcomes of this approach are evidenced in TEDCO’s recent economic impact study, conducted by the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute. This study found that TEDCO provided significant value to Maryland’s start-up community, supporting 10,433 jobs and more than $2.3 billion in statewide economic activity as of 2021. This substantial impact is the result of thoughtful tracking of where TEDCO has been, an evolving market and entrepreneurial needs, and holding ourselves accountable for leading TEDCO’s programmatic and performance innovation.
TEDCO’s economic impact study is the very definition of accountability and measured success. Armed with data, TEDCO has a powerful story to tell about the role we play in the State and the Maryland start-ups we serve. As I start my new position with the organization, I plan to demonstrate to our elected leaders that you can trust TEDCO to achieve its mission and we’ve got the data to prove it— because accountability is in our DNA.
This is a contributed post from our silver sponsor, TEDCO.
Leadership Maryland is pleased to welcome Rick Gross as our new manager, youth programs! In this role, Rick will oversee programming for Maryland Leadership Workshops (MLW), and as a former MLW delegate, staff member, assistant director, and policy board member, we could not have found a person better suited for this role. Rick’s commitment to MLW’s vision has spanned most of his life, and we are excited the next stage of his journey will be as an official member of the Leadership Maryland team.
The Delegate Days
Rick first discovered MLW when his high school mentor encouraged him to join. He traveled alone to Chestertown, Md. by bus to take part in the MLW summer program, which he says changed his life. The leadership trainings, team building exercises, and friendships he made left a lasting impact. He experienced “MLW Magic” for the first time when he returned to his hometown and advocated to prevent the closing of his high school as an active member of the “Save Einstein” committee. A fellow delegate supported Rick’s efforts in defending his high school by spreading the word across Southern Maryland. Rick and the Save Einstein committee even got featured in a local publication, the Maryland Weekly.
A Commitment to Mentorship and Education
His experience in MLW and supporting his high school spurred him to continue making an impact in his community. He joined MLW as a staff member, and one of his first duties was to oversee the snack bar committee, which unfortunately didn't go quite as well as he'd planned. At the end of the summer session, Rick and his staff partner gave an inspiring speech to delegates about how failures are just learning opportunities and that it's ok to not get it right on the first try. What Rick didn't know was MLW Founder Felix Simon, affectionately called Uncle Si, was listening in. Uncle Si was very impressed with the speech and praised Rick, which gave him a significant confidence boost and served as a point of inspiration in the years to come.
Rick’s commitment to mentoring and encouraging youth is evident in his professional history and his volunteer experiences. He was a special education teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools for nearly 10 years. He then went on to serve Prince George’s County Schools as a special education chairperson and mentor teacher for over five years. In his free time, Rick volunteers as a sports coach at CYO Youth Sports and Special Olympics Maryland.
The Future of MLW
Now that Rick has joined Leadership Maryland as manager, youth programs, he plans to use his prior MLW experiences to support delegates in their leadership endeavors and create new opportunities to gain genuine experience. On a personal level, Rick seeks to give back to MLW and leave an impact on the organization that has made such a positive impact on his life. His vision for the future of Leadership Maryland’s youth programming is to continue MLW’s legacy of building leaders, to foster inclusivity, and to improve representation of delegates and staff members of diverse cultural backgrounds.
“The people who come through MLW are the best and the brightest,” said Rick. “At MLW you will find a strong network of brilliant, supportive individuals who truly care about your success.”
Rick’s hobbies include photography, coaching lacrosse, coaching basketball, spending time with his wife and two sons, and reading. When asked what book he’d recommend to delegates, Rick suggested Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X because it represents the journey of life and greatness, and the importance of being open to other world views.
Please join us in welcoming Rick Gross to the Leadership Maryland and MLW family!
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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