Newt Fowler


The Science of Stress: A Conversation with Karen Kreisberg, Betsy Krieger and Amy Bloom Connolly

Amy Bloom Connolly
Amy Bloom Connolly

Courtesy Citybizlist— So how do you take the science of stress and design a solution that makes a difference to kids, their families and communities in which they live? Amy Bloom Connolly has been figuring that out over many years and most recently through a program called Shine, with the help of the Krieger Fund, which is why Karen Kreisberg and Betsy Krieger joined our conversation.

Smart Money. The Krieger Fund has moved from a traditional grant making model, to becoming a proactive partner with the organizations it financially supports, such as Shine. Their evolving role parallels the world of active angels or “smart money.” As Karen and Betsy describe it, when looking at innovative approaches to treating the effects childhood trauma, the Krieger Fund looks for evidence of the impact of a program, and then to how it can be scaled, all the time being open to new ideas and different ways of thinking about childhood trauma. They, like smart money in the tech world, are in the business of impactful ideas.

On Leadership: Violence As A Disease – A Conversation with Gary Slutkin of Cure Violence


violence-downFrom Citybizlist – Cure Violence is committed to treating violence as an infectious disease. They use methods and strategies associated with disease control: first, using detection to identify individuals involved in transmission; then using interruption to change social norms of communities where violence occurs. Dr. Gary Slutkin, is not only the Founder and Executive Director of Cure Violence, but also the Professor, Epidemiology and International Health, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

Another Way to Think About Violence: A Conversation with John Cammack


John Cammack_0

From Citybizlist– I was a bit unfair last week. I suggested that my conversation with John Cammack, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, was somehow going to reveal how we could save Baltimore one brain at a time. Yet I didn’t get around to sharing John’s view of how that might be accomplished. Instead, I focused where most of us do when it comes to thinking about violence in Baltimore, on the forensic side and its effect on all of us. Instead of sharing John’s thoughts, I wrote about my struggle with Tracy Halvorsen’s post on her reactions to Baltimore’s violence. Then, saddened, I ran out of space.

Saving Baltimore One Brain at a Time: A Conversation with John Cammack, Baltimore Entrepreneur and Neuro-Optimist


From Citybizlist – Many of us have read Tracy Halvorsen’s lament on Baltimore. The post has been read by hundreds of thousands of people. It struck a nerve, or awakened some reflexive sinew we have numbed. It doesn’t really matter whether we look at Baltimore’s chronic violence as somehow not affecting our lives – whether we live in a neighborhood where the police actually show up as allies and not the enemy, or we elect to commute from a safer clime where the bad guys are easy to spot, or simply view our endemic violence as somehow exempting folks like us – the reality is that most of us rationalize, admittedly or not, that The Wire we live in is somehow inevitable and, sadly, endurable until we know someone who is hurt. For Tracy, when her neighbor Zack Sowers died, I guess she had had enough of managing her numbness. So up went her post.

A Conversation with YMCA Head John Hoey


Courtesy Citybizlist – John Hoey left the profit driven realm where success was measured “quarter to quarter” to lead the region’s YMCA. He was excited to have a chance to “think long term about how to build something and not have to make inane short term decisions.” But John brought with him his entrepreneurial DNA and also the question of how you run a nonprofit like a business.

The Profit Motif. We started by discussing the effect of having a profit driven perspective in a nonprofit world. “That discipline is a good discipline. It teaches you to make trade-offs.” John continued, “it teaches you not to go too far over the edge, that [a decision] has to make sense financially.” Not for profit colleagues, John explains, “might understand it in theory but never lived in that world.” One of the initial conversations has to be around “understanding the short term [financial] cause and effect” of a decision. He continues, by making a decision without thinking about financial ramifications, nonprofits seemingly “can make trade-offs without a negative effect.” But the decision has to be based on a shared understanding of what is expected from the financial investment. To help John suggests a reshaping of the traditional for profit “financial return on investment definition”, by expanding it to include “a return on investment in terms of mission and strategy.” But for John it is all three pieces – financial, mission and strategy, not just the latter two.

On Leadership: Why Not Use Baltimore Schools as Innovation Test Kitchens?


Courtesy Citybizlist – In my last column of 2013, I wrote about Citelighter’s arrival in Baltimore from New York City. In my conversation with its founders, Saad Alam and Lee Jokl, they answered the question of “why Baltimore” in moving their company. Their answer included the funding support they received here, the network of mentors, and the supportive nature of our burgeoning ed-tech community.

On Leadership: Developing an Innovation District


Philly is planning one. Boston already has one, so does Austin. We don’t; neither does Silicon Valley: finally we have something in common. So the question begged (among several) is why would any city need an innovation district…

Innovation Districts. This isn’t some “me too” conversation. Leading cities have realized that the key to fostering (and growing) their innovation community increasingly requires not only an appreciation of how their innovation ecosystem functions but a cohesive strategy of what that community (government, business organizations, non-profits, etc.) can do to drive its vibrancy. One increasing realization is the importance of geography (where the district is located) and the stakeholders (who is helping) to fostering innovation – these areas are being labeled as Innovation Districts, with the following key elements:

On Leadership: A Tale of Two Cities


Courtesy Citybizlist – Two seemingly incongruous items hit my in box last week. One was Jay Brodie’s recent column in the Baltimore Business Journal, half lamenting and half celebrating the state of Baltimore City, and the other a report from the Abell Foundation analyzing the effect of merging Louisville with Jefferson County ten years ago.

The Donut and the Hole. Jay describes his “love affair” with cities. Yet he acknowledges that America’s design of cities hasn’t always matched our loftier aspirations, that as a society we have done a fairly effective job at times of compromising our cities’ potential, some unintended (the morphing of our national interstate system to be high speed commuting routes to suburban tracts, and the flight that came with such convenience), some not (“’the redline[ing] on specious racial, religious and ethnic ideas’” of our neighborhoods). When Baltimore had political clout, it historically grew through annexation and reached its current size in 1919. But as the demographics – and politics – and economic viability (read: tax base) – settled out between our cities and their suburban donuts, annexation no longer remained politically viable.

“We Need More Entrepreneurs” and Other Conclusions for a Better Baltimore


At the Greater Baltimore Committee’s recent Economic Outlook Forum – which focused entirely on our innovation community – I ended my comments by focusing on five challenges we need to overcome to fully realize the potential of our innovation community. In last week’s column, I shared five bits of good news about our region. To recap the good news:

First: Baltimore is great as Baltimore. We don’t need to become Silicon Valley or Austin or Boston, we need to be Baltimore. Greater Baltimore is increasingly placed well in a number of national surveys reflecting the vibrancy of our innovation community and a positive measure of the assets and resources we have.

Second: We have strengths and we need to play to them. We have emerging industries – including ed tech, cyber, gaming, mobile apps, advertising tech, medical devices, and biotech – that should get all of our support.

Third: There are Leaders of the Community Appearing. They’re just not found in our traditional business networks.

Fourth: Our geography gives us an edge.

Baltimore’s Innovation Community: The Economic Outlook Forum


Courtesy Citybizlist – I had the chance last week to present the state of our region’s innovation community at the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Economic Outlook Forum. This year, the GBC forum focused entirely on understanding the role of the innovation economy both nationally and in our region. I tried to put some context around who we’re talking about when we speak of our (or anyone else’s) “innovation community”.

This column, which is the first part of my presentation, puts our “innovation community” into some context. I spoke of four aspects that, while not exclusive, do define key aspects of the innovation community.