Michael Yockel

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Big Fish Q&A with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

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When Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake presided over Harborplace’s 30th anniversary ceremonies in July 2010, she unabashedly declared, “I remember being here when I was 10 when Harborplace opened. It was a fantastic day. I also used to work here as a puppet master at the Puppet Master.”

As a rule, politicians should probably avoid uttering the phrase “puppet master.” Even more important: best not to confess to operating as one in public. And yet, in this case at least, the admission was entirely harmless. While the job does not appear on Rawlings-Blake’s resume, as a young woman she worked as a puppeteer. Conjure in your mind Punch and Judy, Lamb Chop and Hush Puppy, and the Muppets; banish from your brain guileful, covert political manipulator.

The daughter of Howard “Pete” Rawlings (chair of the Maryland House of Delegates’ Appropriations Committee) and Dr. Nina Rawlings (a pediatrician), Rawlings-Blake was born in Baltimore and raised in the city’s Ashburton neighborhood. After graduating from Western High School in 1988, she earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Oberlin College in 1992, followed by a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1995. At that point she embarked on dual careers in public service and legal services: elected to the Baltimore City Council from the 4th District in 1995, two years later signing on as an attorney with the local Legal Aid Bureau.

From 1998 to 2007, Rawlings-Blake worked as a staff attorney for the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender, while continuing to serve as a council member, moving to the reconfigured 6th District in 2004 after the city switched to single-member district representation. She ascended to City Council president in 2007 and mayor in 2010, in both cases succeeding Sheila Dixon.

Rawlings-Blake, 41, lives in the city’s Coldspring neighborhood with her husband, Kent, and their daughter, Sophia.

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.  

Make it happen.

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

I defined my goals at a very early age. I have so much love for Baltimore that I grew up knowing that I would use my skills and talents to make our city better. My most important goal is to make Baltimore a better place for my family and all of our families. Our city should be a place where families can choose good schools for their kids; where our streets are safer and families feel more secure in their homes; where neighbors work together and businesses choose to invest and create jobs.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

Watch and listen to everything around you. Know your community and neighbors, and get involved in anything that can help you make the lives of others better. 

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

“Quit politics.” I heard that right after I was elected [to the City Council] in 1995 and started studying for the bar exam. An older lawyer told me that I could be one or the other, and people wouldn’t respect me as a lawyer while I was in office. I studied hard, passed the bar on my first try, and practiced for about 10 years on behalf of indigent clients in Baltimore.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

I’ll name two. 1) That the squirrels that my mom named Michael and Suzy weren’t the same two squirrels every day when we saw them. 2) Unfortunately, that your metabolism really does slow down after 30.

What is the best moment of the day?

When I wake up and see my family.

What is on your bedside table?

My BlackBerry.

What is your favorite local charity?

 The Maryland Food Bank. 

 

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?

Work hard, be honest, and protect your integrity.

Why are you successful?

I’ve been a successful public servant because I have a passion for helping others. The people I serve know that they can count on me to be honest.

Which book, film, TV show, or video game have you introduced to your daughter that has had a profound, positive effect on her? Describe that effect.

Sophia loves black history books, and a biography of [Olympic gold medal winner] Jesse Owens inspired her to begin to run track.

Orioles’ players have “at-bat” music, a song snippet–personally chosen by each team member to represent him–that plays over the Camden Yard sound system when they step into the batter’s box. What would be your at-bat song?

DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.”

If re-elected mayor, which item will be foremost on your agenda–the specific initiative you immediately strive to accomplish?

My top priority for the next four years is addressing those issues that have the greatest impact on all of Baltimore’s families. We must redouble our efforts to create more jobs, make our streets safer, provide children with a quality education, and empower our neighborhoods. All of these issues hold equal value and must receive equal attention in order to move our city forward.

Big Fish Q&A with Mayoral Candidate Otis Rolley

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Mayoral candidate Otis Rolley III has a criminal past. But wait! Here in the city of Homicide and The Wire, it’s not what you might think. Not even close.

Back in 1995, when Rolley (rhymes with wholly) was an undergrad at Rutgers University in New Jersey, he spearheaded a student coalition media campaign to oust the school’s president, who had uttered what many considered a racist comment. Going public with students’ grievances, Rolley appeared on NBC’s The Today Show and BET’s Teen Summit, and spoke openly and critically with the Philadelphia Inquirer and Newark’s Star-Ledger. Arrested during a protest near the president’s residence, Rolley faced three misdemeanor charges, but was found guilty of only one: disturbing the peace. His efforts earned him something of a red badge of courage: a 1995 New York Times Young Citizens Award.

Raised one of eight children in Jersey City, NJ, by his mother and stepfather–Rolley did not meet his biological father until age 32–he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and Africana Studies at Rutgers in 1996, and two years later completed a master’s in city planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rolley moved to Baltimore in 1998 to take a post with the nonprofit Empower Baltimore Management Corp., before segueing quickly into a skein of jobs in city government. After serving as a top administrator in the Department of Housing and Community Development, he was named Baltimore’s director of planning in 2003, overseeing the city’s first comprehensive master plan in nearly 40 years. From there, he worked for 10 months in 2007 as then-Mayor Sheila Dixon’s chief of staff, returning to the nonprofit sector at the end of that year when, as president and CEO, he led the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. Since 2010, Rolley has worked as a consultant for Urban Policy Development. He announced his bid for mayor in April.

Rolley, who turns 37 this week, lives in Northwest Baltimore’s Cross Country neighborhood with his wife, Charline, and their three children.
 
Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.      

Don’t tell God how big your mountain is; tell the mountain how big your God is.

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

In high school I got my first taste of life beyond the limits of my family situation and income. I saw a world bigger than my block and neighborhood, and it pushed me toward several important goals. I decided then that I wanted to learn as much as possible, create more opportunity for kids like me, and fight for equity.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

Run for mayor.

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

My older sister advised me to lick a pole in the winter. Unfortunately, I followed her advice.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

1. Hurt people hurt people.

2. It’s all about relationships, or it ain’t about nothing.

3. First-rate people hire first-rate people; second-rate people hire third-rate people.

What is the best moment of the day?

Waking up with my wife, Charline, by my side.

What is on your bedside table?

My Bible, my iPad, and a box of Mike and Ike’s.

What is your favorite local charity?

There are two whose missions speak to me: Family Tree and Center for Urban Families.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?

Don’t let anyone tell you to wait your turn or that it’s not your time.

Why are you successful?

God’s grace, and I value what is truly valuable.

Your background in city planning must give you a keen eye for the built environment. What do you consider to be Baltimore’s most iconic building–and why? 

Hands down I’d say the Victorian-era American Brewery building. Beyond it being aesthetically beautiful–I could stare at it for hours–it is also beautifully Baltimorean. It speaks of our past and our future.

No doubt, you and your family have a go-to restaurant, a reliable place that best meets your needs. What is it, why do you like it, and which dish do you recommend?

Salt, because the food and service never disappoint. The Kobe burgers.

If elected mayor, which item will be foremost on your agenda–the specific initiative you immediately strive to accomplish? 

Education reform.

Clear-Eyed Capitalists: The Next Generation of Local Leaders

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The sky fell. The ground shook. Fissures opened in the earth. From the beginning of 2008 until mid-2009, investors watched in disbelief and wailed in dismay as cascading Wall Street catastrophes–a veritable apocalypse–gripped the nation’s financial system. Investment bank Bear Stearns tanked, and then merged into JP Morgan Chase. Bank of America successively gobbled spiraling Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial. Lehman Brothers disappeared without a trace. The stock market plummeted. Credit evaporated. Layoffs proliferated. Toxic assets became toxic waste. Amid all these economic calamities, uber-investment manager Bernie Madoff’s multi-year $65 billion Ponzi scheme unraveled.

Gradually, though, stability returned, aided by government bailouts (GM, Chrysler, AIG, all the largest banks) and a more cautious investment approach by chastened–and, perhaps, chagrined–Wall Street executives. During and after the turmoil, many in the financial-services sector and related areas worked tirelessly to abet the healing. Here is a quintet of locals whose instinctual savvy and innovative strategies give hope that the recklessness that reigned in the previous decade has, temporarily at least, been replaced by responsibility.

Ashton Newhall (35), co-founder and manager of venture capital management firm Greenspring Associates

 

In the most benign sense of the expression, Ashton Newhall is to the manner born in terms of his profession–predestined to a career as a venture capitalist. His grandfather, Charles Newhall II, worked as an investing partner with Laurance S. Rockefeller (the spiritual Rockefeller brother: crop circles! UFOs!) for that family’s venture-capital firm, Rockefeller & Co. (now Venrock Associates), while his father, Charles W. “Chuck” Newhall III, co-founded Baltimore-based venture-capital behemoth New Enterprise Associates in 1977. Not forgetting Ashton’s younger brother, Adair, a venture capitalist with the healthcare-focused Domain Associates. 

In 2000, after a stint at T. Rowe Price, Ashton Newhall co-launched Montagu Newhall Associates, which ultimately morphed into Greenspring. The Owings Mills-based firm manages venture-capital partnerships that seek out high-value opportunities for pension funds, endowments, and foundations, while also giving its clients access to direct venture-capital investments in the holy trinity sectors of  technology, life sciences, and technology-enabled. To date, Greenspring has provided both direct and indirect exposure to 359 initial public offerings and 272 mergers and acquisitions events valued at more than $100 million each.

 “What distinguishes Greenspring Associates,” notes Newhall, “is that we are the only global venture fund-of-funds in the greater Baltimore area, and one of only a few in the world. Through our platform, we offer our clients primary fund investments, secondary fund investments, direct co-investments, and secondary direct co-investments on a global basis.

We sit at the nexus of the venture capital ecosystem and provide value-added capital that fuels many of today’s leading venture-capital firms and most innovative companies.”  

Jacob Hodes (30), chief operating officer of the private equity group at Brown Advisory

 

Launched in 1993 as an affiliate of the city’s 200-year-old, snap-to-attention-when-you-hear-its-hallowed-name Alex. Brown & Sons, Brown Advisory evolved into an independent, employee-owned investment firm in 1998, and, at present, boasts client assets of approximately $25 billion, with offices in Washington, D.C., Boston, London, and the mothership HQ here in Fells Point. Somewhat unusually then, Brown Advisory stitches austere venerability to start-up verve.

In 2009, Jacob Hodes signed on as an analyst with Brown’s private equity business, weighing the pros and cons of private investment funds for the firm’s clients. Last year, Hodes ascended to COO in the firm’s private equity division; also in 2010, he joined the business team of BrownSavano, a Brown-related investment fund that provides partial liquidity and asset diversification to individual shareholders in later-stage private companies.

Hodes packs an eye-popping resume, brimming with all the right names. A graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, he worked as an investment-banking analyst on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs, before earning a law degree at UCLA. That led to a post in the corporate department at legal leviathan Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, where he handled corporate finance deals, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance issues, and restructurings.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work at two unbelievable, client-first organizations: Goldman and Skadden,” Hodes says. “However, I’ve never been at a place that is more client-oriented, client-focused, and client-driven than Brown Advisory.”

Jennifer Murphy (46), president and CEO of investment firm Legg Mason Capital Management LLC

 

Working in the extremely long shadow of Bill Miller–the Legg Mason Capital Management guru whose signature Value Trust mutual fund topped Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index from 1991 to 2005–probably cuts both ways, both blessing and curse. A curse because Miller’s remarkable 15-year high-wire run tends to obscure the essential contributions of his lieutenants–at least to the myopic media, and, by extension, to the general public; a blessing because his close associates can soak up the guy’s knowledge, perceptiveness, and insight.

Hired by Miller as a security analyst in 1986, Jennifer Murphy has ascended through the LMCM hierarchy, eventually taking over the president and CEO posts in 2009. Murphy’s investment philosophy reflects Miller’s approach. “We believe buying companies at large discounts to what they’re worth gives investors the best opportunity to build wealth over the long term,” she explains. “While this may sound pretty straightforward, it requires an independent point of view and the conviction to do what others won’t.” In short: Dare to zig when everyone else zags.
    
Specifically, Murphy adds, Miller has instilled in her the importance of “working with intensity, reading widely, and valuing people’s strengths.”

Apparently, Murphy also values the corporate climate at LMCM, given that she has spent nearly her entire career at the firm  “Because the future is uncertain and the competitive landscape changes constantly,” she notes, “a company’s culture and values are its most enduring assets.” 

Still, she manages to find her way outside the office, serving on the board of trustees at both the Walters Art Museum and the Glenelg Country School. “I also love working in Baltimore,” Murphy says. “It has so much to offer.”

John Linehan (46), vice president of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc., and T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.

 

Over the course of its 74-year history (the past 25 as a publicly traded company), investment firm T. Rowe Price has established a reputation for personnel stability that belies the financial-services industry’s here-today-gone-tomorrow culture, where names and faces can change more frequently than Italian prime ministers or Orioles managers. John Linehan, head of TRP’s equity division and co-chairman of its institutional large-cap value fund, among other duties, exemplifies that rock-of-Gibraltar-ness, with 13 years service in the firm’s downtown sanctum sanctorum.

Linehan landed at TRP after earning a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.B.A. from Stanford University, then putting in nine years between Bankers Trust and E.T. Petroleum. In his various roles at Price, Linehan functions as administrator, mentor, and strategist.

For the equity division, Linehan strives to achieve a sort of unified field theory among people, process, and culture. “If we have good people, train them well, give them what they need to succeed and develop a special culture,” he explains, “then we should be successful over the longer term.”

For the large-cap value fund, he closely coordinates with TRP analysts to find “good companies trading at cheap prices. We are looking for companies with both positive fundamentals and valuation appeal. We take a contrarian approach; oftentimes the best time to buy is when others are bearish and the best time to sell is when others are bullish.

Doing well for my clients is my most conspicuous accomplishment. They have trusted me with their money, and I am proud that I have been able to deliver a long-term track record of investment success for them.”

Jeff Dicken (44), director of Baltimore Green Currency Association

 

Generally, the Secret Service takes a dim view when a group prints its own money, but in the case of Baltimore Green Currency Association, the T-men barely raised an eyebrow, given that the nonprofit BGCA issues BNotes rather than U.S. legal tender.

Launched this past spring in Hampden, the BNote initiative substitutes colorful paper scrip adorned with the images of abolitionist Frederick Douglass (flip side: an oriole) and poet/author Edgar Allan Poe (flip side: a raven) for the traditional green bills bearing the mugs of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, respectively. Exchange $10 for 11 Bnotes, and then use them to make purchases at participating merchants–more than 100 to date citywide, from Mt. Washington to Fell’s Point.

“We are looking to help even the economic playing field in Baltimore,” explains BGCA Director Jeff Dicken. “People’s conception of money has become very rigid, and it’s important to remember its central purpose.  Value exchange takes many forms, and we can and should build systems that benefit people instead of corporations or banks.” (One immediate benefit: 10 BNotes buys $11 worth of goods.)

Similar scrip programs have succeeded in Western Massachusetts, Seattle, Toronto, and New Orleans, among many other communities, but BNotes marks the concept’s local debut. BGCA chose Hampden to roll out its effort because “it’s slightly isolated, giving it a small-town feel,” Dicken points out. “It has many small, independent merchants; it has a very strong sense of community; it’s also attracting new residents, especially younger Baltimoreans. All of these features make Hampden highly receptive to the idea of a new local currency.”

Merchants keep the notes circulating. Peggy Hoffman, co-owner of Hampden’s Minas Gallery, says, “We plan on spending the ones we take in at one of several great local participating restaurants.” 
 

Big Fish Q & A With Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Catherine Pugh

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State Senator Catherine Pugh understands both the literal and figurative distinctions between distance racing and sprinting. An avid runner herself, 10 years ago, Pugh helped establish the city’s annual Baltimore Marathon, which in 2010 attracted more than 22,000 participants. Right now, though, she’s completely consumed by the breathless two-month-plus dash–early July filing date to mid-September primary election–that constitutes the Democratic mayoral campaign.

Though not a native Baltimorean–she was born in Norristown, Pa., grew up in nearby Philadelphia–Pugh, 61, has immersed herself in this city as a public servant, businesswoman, and civic activist since moving here in 1969.

After earning undergraduate and master’s degrees in business administration from Morgan State University in 1973 and 1977, respectively, Pugh embarked on a go-go working career that includes founding Baltimore’s first African American business newspaper and serving as dean and director of the local branch of Strayer Business College (now Strayer University). In 1988, she launched the public relations and consulting firm C.E. Pugh & Company, which she still runs as its CEO and president.

Elected to the Baltimore City Council from the 4th District in 1999, Pugh focused on planning, economic development, and urban affairs issues, before moving on to the Maryland General Assembly as a delegate (2005 to 2007) and state senator (2007 to the present) representing the city’s 40th District. In the latter capacity, she has championed legislation that secured scholarships for Baltimore students and increased the state’s minimum wage, while also backing a bill to sanction same-sex marriage in Maryland. Currently, she chairs the Legislative Black Caucus.

Outside of public office, Pugh has worked to boost city tourism, raise literacy rates, and promote healthier kids’ lifestyles. A resident of Ashburton, she announced her candidacy for mayor in June.

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:26

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

Early in my childhood I was drawn to the idea of making a difference in the world. I believe we all have the potential to make the world a much better place for all people.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

My father instilled in me a strong work ethic. He said I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I was willing to work hard to achieve my goals.

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

I don’t spend much time on dwelling in the past. If someone has given me bad advice, I have long since moved on. I follow my instinct, and that has served me well so far.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

It’s not how many times you fall down in life; your true measure is getting back up.
Prayer really does change things!
We are the change we’ve been waiting for.
 
What is the best moment of the day?

I am a true believer in the powerful healing power of laughter. When I can share a good laugh with a friend or a stranger, it’s a good day.

What is on your bedside table?

The book Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival by Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio.

What is your favorite local charity?

Wow, there are just too many wonderful charities in Baltimore to choose just one. I serve on nearly 20 nonprofit and organization boards.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?
 
Study hard, get involved in your local community, dream big, and never, ever give up on yourself!

Why are you successful?

I recognize that my strength and success come from a power much greater than myself. I always put God first in everything I do.

You’re a longtime runner, even participating in marathons. Typically, how often–and how far–do you run each week? What’s your favorite place to run in the city? What running shoes do you currently wear?

I run every morning and average about five miles a day. I run through my neighborhood, Ashburton, and make my way all over the city. I own a lot of shoes but lately have been using a pair of New Balance.

You’ve written about–and advocated for–healthy children through exercise and proper diet. What’s your best tip for the parents of picky eaters?

Be creative and think out of the box. Focus on the healthy foods your picky eater will eat, and jazz it up by finding new variations in preparing their meals. The goal is to keep your child healthy and happy.

If elected mayor, which item will be foremost on your agenda–the specific initiative you immediately strive to accomplish?

On day one, I will begin working on my plan to employ every young person who wants a job in Baltimore. With public and private sector partnerships, I believe we can truly make a difference in the lives of our city’s young people.

Big Fish Q & A with Baltimore Filmmaker Matthew Porterfield

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Meditative, poetic, and deeply observational, writer-director Matthew Porterfield’s films of working-class life simmer with a persistent disquietude just below their benign surfaces. His debut, Hamilton (2006), set and shot in the titular Baltimore neighborhood — where Porterfield grew up and still lives — won widespread acclaim for its quotidian potency. 

Porterfield’s new film, Putty Hill — a deft, seamless combination of narrative fiction and fake documentary – is named after and set in another local neighborhood familiar to him. He shot it along the city’s northeast corridor, in Southwest Baltimore’s Carroll Park, and in southern Pennsylvania, just over the state line from Baltimore County.

Since it opened to hosannas in New York this past February, Putty Hill has gradually rolled out to Baltimore, Washington, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Columbus (Ohio), with future dates throughout the rest of the U.S. 

When not making films, Porterfield, 33, teaches screenwriting and production in Johns Hopkins University’s Film and Media Studies program. He was awarded the Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize last week.

 

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.

Get yours and share.

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

My only goal is to keep making movies.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

David Lee Roth once told me, “You have the aura of burning tires: Use it!”

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

“You should try Salvia.” I didn’t. Special K was paralyzing enough.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your

lifetime?

1) You can do a lot with a little bit of money.

2) You’re more like your parents than you think.

3) You reach a point where you don’t like what the young people are

listening to.

What is the best moment of the day?

Play time with my cats, Trudy and Mo.

What is on your bedside table?

At the moment, three books (John Waters’ Role Models, Werner Herzog’s

Conquest of the Useless, and Dieter Roth’s MOMA monograph), a deer-shaped

candle, a tissue box, and a mimikaki.

What is your favorite local charity?

The Abell Foundation.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you

are doing?

Start with a story that’s close to home. Keep it simple. And forget prop guns.

Why are you successful?

I don’t scare easy.

What do you hope viewers will take away from Putty Hill?

A feeling akin to excitement.

Do you plan to set and shoot your next film in the Baltimore area?

Yes.

Do you agree that Timonium and Linthicum sound like lesser-known

elements on the Periodic Table?

Absolutely.

Big Fish Q&A with Philosophical Mayoral Candidate Jody Landers

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If anyone doubted Democratic mayoral candidate Jody Landers’ Baltimore bona fides–HARBEL executive director, City Council member, executive vice-president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors–then his recent experience as a victim of both crime and bureaucratic lassitude should cement his credentials.

A week before Landers announced his bid to lead the city this past April, some brazen perp stole his car (waiting outside) as he paid for its repairs inside an auto shop’s office. Hearing nothing from the city concerning his vehicle’s whereabouts for six weeks, Landers traced it himself to a municipal impound lot, where it had been languishing for 12 days. (Factotums there had failed to notify him of the car’s presence.) Insult to injury, Landers also learned that he was on the hook for tickets racked up by the thief: $75 for running a red light, $52 for parking.  

Raised in Hamilton, Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III, 58, has ping-ponged among posts in government, business, and civic/charitable affairs, while earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morgan University in 1990. After working as an outreach counselor for Northeast Baltimore’s HARBEL Community Organization, he took over as the group’s executive director in 1977, overseeing programs in drug abuse prevention, mental health care, and youth employment training, among others.

Landers represented the 3rd District on the City Council from 1983 to 1991, establishing a reputation for fiscal responsibility, and, after losing a bid to become city Comptroller, served as executive director of the non-profit PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs and as director of fiscal affairs in the office of the City Council president. Until stepping down last month, Landers had led the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors for 13 years.

The father of three adult children, Landers lives with his wife in Lauraville.

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.

Be kind, do good work, and always remember that love is the most powerful force in the universe.

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

When I was a teenager, my father introduced me to the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers. As Socrates admonished his students to “know thyself,” I have been on a life-long quest to do just that. My mother always counseled her eight children to “play nice together and to follow our hearts,” and I have endeavored to follow her advice throughout my life. Lastly, I approach everything in life with the knowledge that we are all connected and we need each other.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

To treat others with respect and kindness, and to remember to floss and brush my teeth every day.

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

To stay away from politics and to move out of the city. No! I did not follow this advice.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

1. What we see depends mainly on what we are looking for.
2. That the act of forgiving is as important for the person forgiving as it is for the person being forgiven.
3. That my attitude and expectations are just as important as the facts.
 
What is the best moment of the day?

The present moment.

What is on your bedside table?

I don’t have a bedside table. I put all my stuff on my bureau.

What is your favorite local charity?

Two: Viva House and Habitat for Humanity.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?
 
Think big and have a grand vision, but be prepared to take small steps and keep trying until you get it right.

Why are you successful?

Because I realize that my success hinges on others being successful also.

When out-of-town friends visit Baltimore, what one indispensable local activity–attraction, restaurant, historic site, etc.–do you insist they see or hear or participate in before leaving?

We are most likely to take guests hiking at one of the many parks and reservoir properties that are in the city or in the Baltimore region.

Did you bowl duckpins as a kid growing up here? If so, were you in a league? What was your “home” lanes?

Yes, I did bowl duckpins. My very first duckpin bowling experience was in the basement of the Hamilton Recreation Center, where bowlers would have to take turns setting the pins. I was amazed the first time I saw an automated pin-setting machine. I was never in a league, but one of my younger sisters has been in a league for the past 15 to 20 years.

If elected mayor, what item will be foremost on your agenda–the specific initiative you immediately strive to accomplish?

I would take the lead in demonstrating to Baltimore citizens and city employees that public service means what it says, and that each and every person has an important role to play in making Baltimore better.

This is the first in a series of Baltimore Fishbowl interviews with Baltimore’s mayoral candidates. 
 

Big Fish Q & A With Collector, Designer and BMA Trustee Stiles Colwill

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If you subscribe to the concept of predestination – a phenomenon immune to scientific scrutiny – then, perhaps, you could make the argument that Stiles Colwill’s given name ordained him to a career in design and connoisseurship, and to an avocation as an art collector. (Of course, you’d need to fudge his name’s spelling a trifle.) 

As founder and proprietor, he oversees the Lutherville-based Stiles T. Colwill Interiors, designing living spaces for local and out-of-town clients, while also operating Halcyon House Antiques and working as a partner with prominent New York City antiques firm John Rosselli & Associates.

Not incidentally, he has served on the Baltimore Museum of Art’s board of trustees since 1995, presiding as its chairman until last week when he stepped down after five years. Previously, he spent 16 years at the Maryland Historical Society, starting as an associate curator and concluding his tenure there as its director.

Colwill was born in Baltimore and raised on bucolic, 122-acre Halcyon Farm in Greenspring Valley, where for decades his family bred thoroughbred racehorses (his father, J. Fred Colwill, rode Blockade to win the Maryland Hunt Cup in 1938, 1939, and 1940). Stiles Colwill, 59, only recently discontinued the breeding operation, but he still lives at Halcyon, along with his life and business partner of more than 20 years, Jonathan Gargiulo, plus a menagerie of horses, cows, and dogs. The pair maintains elegant gardens and a home chock-ablock with early American paintings, Maryland decorative arts, and 19th century French bronzes.

Although he has stepped down as BMA board chair, Colwill continues as a board member, helping to shepherd the museum’s fundraising campaign and physical renovations. “Stiles’ dedication to the BMA is remarkable,” notes museum director Doreen Bolger. “He has left a huge mark on this wonderful institution.”      

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence. 

When I look at my glass, it is always more than half full.

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they? 

Many people set goals for themselves; I didn’t really. I just always wanted to give back: to my parents, friends, and the community. So rather than goals, I have had rules to live by that were instilled in me when I was very young. One is from McDonogh’s lower school poem: “Be the best of whatever you are.” Another is from my father: “Always be kind to others.” And a third is from my mother: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed? 

It came from my grandfather Tuttle when I spent a summer with him at about age eight: If you want it, go after it. You can do or be anything that you want. All you have to do is try. 

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

I guess that I have been very lucky and never been given any bad advice.
 
What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime? 

While I was not “surprised” by them, I know these to be true and live by them:

Don’t judge a book by its cover, especially when it comes to people.
Always be yourself.
Never look back – you cannot change the past.

What is the best moment of the day? 

First light on the farm. It is amazingly beautiful.

What is on your bedside table? 

First, let me say something about the table itself. It came from Andy Warhol’s estate sale, and it was his bedside table before it was mine. I remember seeing it in his house years ago, and it serves as a wonderful souvenir of my time living in New York City. The table always makes me smile and wonder, “What would it say if it could talk?”

On it is a silver cigar box that was the rider’s trophy for the 1938 Maryland Hunt Cup, given to me by my father. It was one of his most treasured possessions – and now, mine, too. Also, fresh flowers from our garden or an orchid from our greenhouse, plus stacks of recent books and trade magazines.

What is your favorite local charity?

The Baltimore Museum of Art.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing? 

Go for it.

Why are you successful? 

Hard work.

What is your favorite piece of artwork (painting, sculpture, installation, textile, furniture, whatever) in the BMA’s permanent collection — and why do you love it so much?

Many people do not recognize this as a work of art, but is it the biggest one in the collection: the magnificent, inspirational BMA building itself — perfectly designed by John Russell Pope. It affects every aspect of the BMA, and I always find new details in it every time that I visit.

What single thing could Maryland’s thoroughbred racing industry do to help save itself, rather than being repeatedly bailed out by taxpayers’ dollars?

The racetracks were successful when operated by great owners like brothers Ben and Herman Cohen (Pimlico) and John Schapiro (Laurel Park). Let someone who is passionate about racing – and deep-pocketed – take over the tracks. Maybe developer David Cordish; let’s see what magic he can make of them.
 
Tell us your most effective universal decorating tip, applicable to living spaces as diverse as urban loft to rural cottage to double-wide trailer to suburban mansion to stately manor.

Make it your own. Always have personal items around. Home is really a nest, and we are all nesters at heart. If you make it personal, you will always feel at home.

Q & A with Community Activist Sally Michel

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Sally Michel believed in Baltimore long before such behavior was mandated by municipal bumper sticker. As one of the city’s pre-eminent cultural and educational activists, Michel has consistently channeled that belief into tangible results for a smorgasbord of worthy beneficiaries – the Abell Foundation, Fund for Educational Excellence, School for the Arts, Junior League, and Walters Art Museum, among countless others – that have significantly enhanced the quality of life in Baltimore. 

Michel also has played a quietly influential role in civic affairs, both publicly – she served for 10 years on the city’s Planning Commission, including a stretch as chair – and privately, as a staunch donor to the campaigns of local, state, and national Democratic candidates (William Donald Schaefer, Ben Cardin, Elijah Cummings, Maggie McIntosh, Barack Obama, et al.).

However, Michel is probably best known as the co-founder – and relentless shepherdess — of the Parks & People Foundation, the public/private organization, launched in 1984 with Schaefer’s benediction, dedicated to developing programs that seamlessly mesh environmental and educational initiatives. Accordingly, she created the group’s SuperKids Camp, which since 1997 has provided more than 17,000 city schoolchildren with innovative learning experiences via a fun-but-functional summer camp.

Michel, now 73, grew up in Virginia, attended Goucher College, and lives in Roland Park.    

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.  

Help us to remember that what we keep we lose, and only what we give remains our own.
 
When did you define your most important goals, and what are they? 

Goals are an ongoing process, but mine have always focused on children and the city environment. 
 
What is the best advice you ever got that you followed? 

My husband use to give my three daughters the following advice: be a lady, do things to make me proud, and, above all, think. We have all followed that advice. 
 
The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?

Vote Republican. I never have.
 
What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime? 

Friends and family are the key to everything. Eight grandkids are sheer joy. There are not enough hours in the day.    
 
What is the best moment of the day?

Two a.m. It’s quiet, the phone doesn’t ring, and I can get a lot of work done.
 
What is on your bedside table? 

Three alarm clocks.
 
What is your favorite local charity? 

The Parks & People Foundation, because it helps city children and parks.
 
What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing? 

Marry someone who will support you in all your ventures.
 
Why are you successful? 

Teamwork.
 
What is your favorite Baltimore City vista? 

The view from my porch. I can see the Roland Park water tower and all the way down to the harbor.
 
What is the most difficult plant that you have successfully grown in your home garden? 

Does not apply – I have never grown a plant successfully. 
 
What attribute surprised you the most about William Donald Schaefer?

Despite his gruff exterior, he was a lovely, sweet man.

Q & A With US Congressman John Sarbanes

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Elected in 2006 as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District (comprising parts of Baltimore City, plus portions of Baltimore, Howard, and Anne Arundel counties), John P. Sarbanes has established moderate-to-liberal political bona fides over his two-plus terms, focusing on health-care, education, and environmental issues. He voted for the landmark health-care overhaul, to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy regarding gays in the military, and against a bill that would have denied federal funds to Planned Parenthood.

Currently, Sarbanes sits on the Natural Resources and the Space, Science, and Technology committees, as well as on four subcommittees, notably the one overseeing national parks, forests and public lands.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Sarbanes graduated from Gilman in 1980, from Princeton University in 1984, and then earned a law degree from Harvard in 1988. He spent the next 18 years working as an attorney at Venable. (Oh, his first job: whipping up milkshakes at the Prevas Brothers stall in Fell’s Point’s Broadway Market.) 

His father, Paul, served as a U.S. Senator from Maryland from 1977 to 2007, exiting Congress just as John entered it. 

Married with three children, Sarbanes, who turned 49 on May 22, lives in Towson. 

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.

Treat people with respect and don’t get ahead of yourself. 

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

My most important personal goal is to provide for my family. I defined that when I got married and started a family. Beyond that, to be a good citizen who is contributing to my community in some way.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

If something seems too good to be true, it is. 

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered? 

I try not to be surprised by the truth.

What is the best moment of the day?

When I walk into my house at the end of the day.

What is on your bedside table?

The Collected Stories of James Thurber and The Collected Stories of J.D. Salinger.

What is your favorite local charity?

The Public Justice Center.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?

Do the job you have well and the rest will take care of itself. 

Why are you successful?

If I’ve had success, I attribute it to being a good listener.

If Congress lifted its ban on earmarks for a day and permitted you to submit one piece of locally related legislation, what bill would you push for passage?

Sufficient funds to clean up Baltimore Harbor. 

What is your favorite film about American politics — and why?

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, because it shows you can be idealistic and also make a practical difference.

What music are you into right now that might surprise us?

I’m always into bluegrass.

Invasion of the Techies

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Long renowned for its industrial/manufacturing-based economy—which nearly disappeared over the final three decades of the 20th Century – Baltimore, in the past 10-plus years, gradually has established a thriving technology-driven business community. While not on a par with California’s Silicon Valley, the Route 128 corridor outside Boston, or even the stretch along I-270 in Montgomery County, Baltimore has recently begun to flex its economic muscles, fueled by support from the city and state governments, local universities, and, especially, innovative private entrepreneurs. Prominent among them are the following six individuals, determined to shepherd the city out of its rust-encrusted past into a wired future.

1 & 2. Yair Flicker (28) and John Trupiano (27), co-principals of technology consultancy SmartLogic

Yair Flicker

In a straight-from-the-tech-startup-playbook scenario, Yair Flicker and John Trupiano launched SmartLogic in 2005 in their respective apartments. Now operated from proper offices in Canton, their firm helps both startups and established companies implement innovative technology, shows marketers how to leverage technology to aid their clients, and demonstrates to existing businesses how Web-based applications can cut costs and drive revenue.

John Trupiano

SmartLogic boasts a smorgasbord of clients, from the Kidney Paired Donation project, which employs software to efficiently match kidney donors with kidney recipients, to the Spotcrime.com iPhone application, which allows users to type in their address – or any address – and up pops a crime map for the immediate area from the nation’s largest crime-accessible database (“My mom loves the service and is an avid user,” declares Flicker).

Not forgetting JP Morgan Chase, for which SmartLogic built a competitive analysis tool, and Brown University’s Distance Learning Program, for which it devised an online course management system used by the school’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

Meanwhile, Flicker and Trupiano’s relentless efforts to increase Baltimore’s tech savvy include sponsoring a gaggle of events such as—geek alert!—Bmore on Rails, Baltimore Javascript Users group, Refresh B’more, Ignite Baltimore, and BohConf.

 

3. Greg Cangialosi (37), president and CEO of e-mail marketer Blue Sky Factory

Greg Cangialosi

Greg Cangialosi sheds no tears for the withering offline marketing industry. Goodbye and good riddance to clunky brochures, hotel-conference-room dog-and-pony shows, and sweaty basement phone banks. Since 2001, when he founded Federal Hill-based Blue Sky Factory, Cangialosi has grown the company from two employees to a team of 25, cementing its reputation as a national leader in e-mail marketing. Its client roster features music concert promoter and producer behemoth Live Nation, testing and assessment services provider Prometric, and global PR agency Weber Shandwick.

“E-mail marketing is an immediate, versatile channel in which you can build relationships and stay in front of your audience,” Cangialosi says. “When done right, effective e-mail marketing will ultimately help your business make more money.”

Locally, Blue Sky Factory stokes the city’s old-school wired community as an active member of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, on whose board Cangialosi serves as vice chair. Other close-to-home partnerships/associations include the Baltimore Chapter of the American Marketing Association, the Social Media Club of Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce.

“We help many local organizations build their presence in social media,” he notes, “and educate them as to where they should be focusing their online marketing efforts in order to grow their business.”

4. Martin Roesch (41), founder and chief technology officer of cybersecurity provider Sourcefire

Martin Roesch

Sourcefire takes its mission – protecting the data infrastructure of corporations, U.S. civilian government agencies, and the American military from malicious Internet attacks – seriously. Extremelyseriously. So seriously, in fact, that the Columbia-based firm’s website fails to mention even one of its clients, and its PR division, when asked to cough up a couple names, responds, “Typically, the company does not disclose customer information.” Okay, okay: Message received.

Founded in 2001 by Martin Roesch, who served as the firm’s first CEO, Surefire parlayed the success of the Roesch-written Snort intrusion-detection/prevention software into wider commercial applications. In the ensuing years, kerfuffles and epiphanies rocked the company: the feds ixnayed its purchase by an Israeli firm; Sourcefire rejected a takeover bid by another U.S. company; it completed a successful IPO; and, long after Roesch gave up the CEO title, a successor bowed out in favor of even fresher blood. Ultimately, a stronger Sourcefire emerged.

Accordingly, this past winter, Forbes magazine tabbed Sourcefire at #15 on its list of 25 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in the U.S., the only Maryland firm mentioned, and it now stands poised to expand exponentially with the massive infusion to the state of military and commercial contractors associated with the federal Base Relocation and Closure process.

And Sourcefire, it turns out, despite its overt cloak-and-daggerism, actually possesses a sense of humor. Inside its fortress of solitude, a bumper sticker in Roesch’s office wisecracks “My Kid Reads Your Honor Student’s Email.”

5. Tom Loveland (50), founder and CEO of consulting and technology services firm Minds Over Machines

Tom Loveland

Though only 50, Tom Loveland comes off as somewhat Brahmin-like in the context Baltimore’s youngish techie horde, having launched Minds Over Machines, his Web-design/IT-strategy/software-development business in 1989, the equivalent of the digital Pleistocene Era. Under Loveland’s leadership, the Owings Mills-based company has undertaken successfulprojects for a disparate group of government and commercial clients, notably the furniture/home accessories maker IKEA, contracting company Whiting-Turner, Calvert Educational Services, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently cited as one of the 50 most Influential Marylanders by the Daily Record and a member of the board of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, Loveland founded the Maryland Computer Services Association, a lobbying group that in 2008 cajoled the General Assembly to rescind a six-percent statewide technology tax before the law was implemented.

Last year, he was named (unpaid) “Google Czar” by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. In that capacity, Loveland marshaled the city’s public and private tech forces in an effort to persuade the Web-search giant to wire Baltimore with ultra-ultra high-speed fiber-optic infrastructure as part of its Google Fiber program. After a yearlong wait, Google selected Kansas City, KS, late last month, but, reportedly, Baltimore made a significant impression, and may yet be chosen in the future if the company continues the initiative. Undeterred, Loveland continues to champion the city as “a tinderbox of innovation.”

6. Rico Singleton (31), chief information officer, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Information Technology

Rico Singleton

This past January, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake signed an executive order instructing city agencies to make data sets under their control available via the Office of Information Technology’s website. Called OpenBaltimore, the initiative offers an instantly accessible /searchable/downloadable cache of information detailing property taxes, crime reports, flood-plain risks, maps galore (including one showing the locations of homicides), and a plethora of parking-related data. Previously, info-seekers faced a glacial-like wait after filing an official public request.

In a prepared statement, Rawlings-Blake said, “Innovative and creative people will now be able to collaborate with government, and hopefully find ways to improve service delivery and save money for taxpayers.”

Rico Singleton appointed the city’s chief information officer this past November after working as a deputy CIO in New York State’s tech office, led the OpenBaltimore project.

Two weeks after the program’s official announcement, more than 30 eager laptop-toters convened for a “hackathon” at the city’s Canton tech incubator to brainstorm potential useful applications for the raw information. Weeks later, the first one emerged: the website SpotAgent.com. Something of a backhanded compliment to the city’s data largesse, it allows users to determine a “threat rating” in Baltimore’s various neighborhoods for receiving a ticket for failing to feed a parking meter or running a red light/speeding in view of a pesky pole-mounted camera—all in an effort to avoid paying a fine, which, oddly, meets the mayor’s goal of “saving money for taxpayers.”

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