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.
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