Members’ Corner: Mindy Lehman
1. Name, Title, Organization
Mindy Lehman, Chief Government Relations & Policy Officer, Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO)
2. Explain your background in economic development
As part of the leadership team at TEDCO, I am focused on the organization’s overall mission, which is to enhance economic empowerment growth through the fostering of an inclusive entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem. At TEDCO, we identify, invest in, and help grow technology and life science-based companies in Maryland.
I joined TEDCO about a year ago, and it is incredible what TEDCO has launched within that time, including:
- Launching the Open Institute for Black Women Entrepreneurs of Excellence in partnership with Maryland’s HBCUs,
- Initiating a manufacturing assistance pilot program, more than doubled the size of TEDCO’s Builder Fund program that supports economically underrepresented founders,
- Expanding the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) to include Bowie State and Frostburg State Universities in a pilot program.
3. What are your key priorities within your current position?
In my role, I develop and manage TEDCO’s policy and government relations initiatives. My position serves as TEDCO’s liaison with the state government, including broad-based policy development, intra-agency and inter-agency coordination, and guidance on program implementation and management to ensure compliance with statutory requirements. I also assist with issues relating to State budget priorities, tech-led economic development, tech transfer and commercialization, entrepreneurial development, and venture capital investing.
4. Does one particular project spark your excitement? If so, describe it below.
I deeply believe that Maryland’s economy should be reflective of the diversity that exists within the state. I am passionate about providing opportunity and strongly believe that Maryland needs to establish the economic conditions that allow for a sense of belonging for those who, traditionally, have not been included. TEDCO is what gives agency to entrepreneurs that have not had access to traditional resources or support. There are so many acronyms around this effort. Still, it comes down to the belief that by creating the right economic conditions for underrepresented populations within our state, we all benefit by bringing good ideas to market, spurring economic growth and opportunities.
While it’s hard to pick just one project that sparks my excitement, TEDCO’s newly undertaken Equitech study and related draft legislation is an opportunity for visionary change in Maryland. Understanding TEDCO’s commitment to building an inclusive and entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem, legislative leadership tasked TEDCO with conducting a study to assess Maryland’s current economic development strategy. The study will define the required investments in our ecosystem to elevate MD’s competitiveness in early-stage tech investments. The resulting study and recommendations will help shape 2023 legislation and the concept for a new Maryland Equitech Growth Fund with potential funding of $500 million over ten years.
5. What professional pressures keep you up at night?
Changing legislative landscape. As a result of the recent elections, Maryland will have a new Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, and new legislators in the 2023 Maryland General Assembly. The Maryland House of Delegates alone will have about 30 new members next year. Additional changes are playing out in Congress. While change creates uncertainty, it also drives opportunity, and I’m excited to work with the incoming Wes Moore Administration and seasoned and newly elected policymakers on enhancing Maryland’s innovation ecosystem.
6. What attributes are unique to your community?
Entrepreneurs and innovators are vital to Maryland’s growing and evolving economy. At TEDCO, we seek to build a culture of innovation across Maryland and help create “serial” entrepreneurs. Our CEO, Troy LeMaile-Stovall, frequently talks about the journey of innovation, which inherently involves setbacks, challenges, and even failure before reaching the marketplace. Part of TEDCO’s “secret sauce” is providing growing and emerging entrepreneurs with the support, services, and resources needed to succeed and grow. That said, the road to success for Maryland’s entrepreneurs and innovators is not straight; TEDCO’s entrepreneurs are not only innovative but also resilient key elements in Maryland’s future success.
7. What are your locality’s top three “selling points” for future growth?
TEDCO’s “locality” is the entire state of Maryland. TEDCO specializes in identifying and delivering unique products and services to elevate the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We seek to build on a geographical location’s strengths and help meet the needs of underserved areas.
8. If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want to work with MEDA on to move Maryland forward?
Working with MEDA to raise awareness about TEDCO and the other economic development resources in Maryland, as well as to identify ways we can stitch and scale these resources to benefit Maryland and its communities – and to identify and address where gaps exist.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to share with MEDA and your fellow members?
MEDA is an incredible organization, and I look forward to meeting, collaborating, and learning from my fellow MEDA members.
10. Please include any personal background information that you’d like to share (Alma mater, Military Service, hobbies, etc.)
By way of background, I grew up in Cecil County, Maryland, graduated from the University of Delaware, and received my master’s degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). I am an avid boater and live in historic downtown Annapolis with my husband and two children. I am a proud graduate of Leadership Maryland (class of 14 – the best class!) and serve on the Board’s executive committee. I also serve as a board member of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the American Red Cross, Central Maryland Chapter.