Equitech Tuesday #148: Level Up ↗️

Baltimore Tech Community,

This week at Equitech Tuesday, we’re bringing together the teams and alumni of a number of Baltimore’s premier leadership development programs.  What better way to learn about the unique opportunities to level up personally and professionally than through the experience of the people who have gone through the programs or from program staff directly.  Roll call for this week’s Equitech Tuesday includes Leadership BaltimoreJohns Hopkins Carey Business School: Innovative Leadership ProgramBusiness Volunteers of Maryland: GIVE FellowshipUMBC: Community Leadership Program, and TEDCO!

Something I love about entrepreneurs and tech folks is the “do it yourself” attitude. See a problem, solve it. Don’t wait for someone else to take the lead. If you don’t do it, who will? As we learn in Leadership Baltimore, leadership is an activity, not a title. We also know that entrepreneurship takes a village and that doing due diligence, really knowing the problem, the market landscape, the experts in the space, being a part of relevant communities, and having a strong set of advisors is the difference between building real, lasting solutions rather than just more stuff.

Participating in leadership programs is one way to engage with other people who think big, who see problems in different ways, and who don’t wait for someone else to take the lead. Leadership programs can offer you comfort because you’ll find yourself surrounded by others who care. They can challenge you, helping you see problems and opportunities from different perspectives in a safe, structured space. They also provide a path to “build your own personal advisory board,” something I advise our team at UpSurge often. Who do you have in your corner who you can call any time or day to help you think through a challenge at work, a career question, or just be there to hear you vent?

Getting an MBA in 2018 was a huge leadership development experience for me. Coming out of the international development space, I was certainly the odd duck out in a program filled with “quant” and business people. But it helped me understand different perspectives and shaped me into becoming a savvy influencer and mobilizer of different audiences. And now I have the finance, data, marketing, and product folks I can call on from my personal advisory board when I need to ask questions or get insights.

As part of the Leadership Baltimore Class of 2022 (some say best class; I like to say GOAT class), I came out of it with lifelong friends (Kenny Clash, COO at Enoch Pratt Libraries, even calls me his cousin). And an even more powerful personal advisory board. I often reach out to Laura Weeldryer (ED, Maryland Family Network) to get smart about advocacy and understand how the State legislature works. I lean on Nick Culbertson (CEO, Protenus) who also happens to be our board member to talk through operational and leadership challenges. I reach out to Rachel Duden (Chief of Staff, Bridges Baltimore) and Adria Crutchfield (ED, Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership) when I need advice on non-profit management, like setting up benefits programs. I lean on Brad Schlaggar (CEO, Kennedy Krieger Institute) for mentorship and to learn about shared leadership models. And I have Brigid Peterson (Head of Endowments and Foundations, Brown Advisory) to scheme about fundraising in Baltimore. I am a more powerful, capable, and intentional leader because of the people I’ve built relationships with through these leadership programs.

It’s hard to make time to pick your head up when you are an entrepreneur or operator, but this is worth it, we promise. See for yourself – come out and talk to the leaders who have participated in these programs at Equitech Tuesday this week!


Maddy Stokes

COO, UpSurge Baltimore