Politics & Business

Baltimore Food the Latest Craze in L.A.

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Three thousand miles from home, Chef David Lentz has created a little piece of Baltimore in Southern California. The Maryland native and Boys’ Latin alum is the owner of The Hungry Cat, one of L.A.’s top restaurants with locations in Hollywood, Santa Barbara, and Santa Monica, the latter of which appeared on this season’s hit television show Million Dollar Decorators.  

From the second you enter the restaurant and read the menu, it’s clear that Baltimore has had an influence; a specialty cocktail called, “The Pimlico” heads off the drinks list, old black and white photos of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Ocean City flank the walls, and, most importantly, the menu is almost all seafood.

As is the case with most Marylanders, Lentz says, “I was exposed to seafood at a young age. I have fond memories of crab feasts, fishing, and generally just having fun in the water. I think my food reflects those experiences.”

Speaking of crab feasts, shortly after opening the original Hollywood location, Lentz introduced Los Angeles to the ultimate Maryland treat with an event he dubbed Crabfest. For $75, guests receive a prix fixe Maryland menu: crabs, crab soup, a crab cake, and assorted dessert. Lentz says that he “wanted to bring a slice of Maryland to Los Angeles. It has been wildly successful.” 

In fact, The Hungry Cat overall has been wildly successful, financially and critically. Case in point: Reservations are nearly impossible to come by (we, consequently, ate dinner at 5 o’clock–it was worth it). And Cat has received praise from Town & Country, Bon Appetit, Zagat’s, The Los Angeles Times, and many more. As far as buzz, well, it was just reportedthat Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin recently dined Maryland-style at the Santa Monica location.  If Lady Goop approves, you know it’s good.  

Lentz is part of an L.A. culinary power couple: his wife, Chef Suzanne Goin, runs the renowned restaurants Lucques and Tavern, where President Obama dined when he was in Los Angeles last spring.

Even though he’s doing just fine in sunny SoCal, Lentz says he loves Maryland and misses it.  

“I miss the people…I am a diehard Ravens fan and the Orioles are still my favorite baseball team! Maryland is a great place, blue collar with a big sense of pride… I love to go back and go to sporting events, fish with my cousins and hit the watering holes downtown. I am truly glad I grew up there, it taught me a lot.”

He might miss it, but we’re glad he’s giving Angelenos a taste of what we’re all about. 

Is It Just Me, or Is It Getting Expensive in Here?

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When I moved to Baltimore in 2008, the city’s legendary cheap rent was a major draw. Live in an artistically thriving community within a mid-size city for 200 bucks a month (in an apartment with four of my friends)? Sign me up.

Three years later, faced with the prospect of moving out of my foreclosed Waverly apartment with my wife and infant child, Baltimore no longer seems quite so cheap. There are no affordable options in Mt. Vernon, Charles Village or Hampden. Even Waverly is giving us guff; the only reasonable apartments are deeper into the neighborhood, further away from Hopkins’ Homewood campus.

The problem is compounded when you’re a full-fledged family. When we were preparing for our child, my wife and I were considering many new expenses, but we never thought that having a kid would drive up our rent. Effectively it has. Communal living is less tenable with a baby, and we’ve found many landlords will refuse to even show us their one-bedroom apartments because we’re three people.

What gives? Is the JHU expansion putting pressure on the housing market? Are landlords with dollar signs in their eyes jumping the gun on the projected revitalization of their neighborhoods, and tenants, a notoriously disempowered population, are just taking it? Sure, there are still good deals to be found if you’re willing to live with six or seven other people in a dangerous part of town. But is that for everyone?

Gilman 9th Grader Makes a Splash For Cancer Research

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Fourteen-year-old Jake Smith recently won his battle with pancreatic cancer, but he isn’t giving up there.  The Gilman ninth grader, who was treated at Johns Hopkins, has decided to genetically map his tumor and, in doing so, benefit similarly situated cancer patients and the genetic mapping work at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.  

But the price tag isn’t as nice as the cause: The cost for the research alone is $90,000. To foot the bill for the research, Smith is organizing a team for Swim Across America, a local open water swim held off Gibson Island on September 18 that benefits cancer research at Johns Hopkins. Swimmers are still needed for Jake’s team, though Jake has already raised $30,000 toward that $90,000 goal.  

Help Jake reach his goal by donating on the event page for Swim Across America.

Medical Actor Melissa Daum Helps Doctors Perform More Compassionately

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Name: Melissa Daum (the au pronounced like ou in ouch)
Occupation: Standardized Patient   
Neighborhood: Remington
Years in Baltimore: 8

Melissa Daum plays many roles: she’s a grad student, yoga teacher, therapist-in-training, seamstress, and mural painter, but perhaps her most intriguing part-time job is as “Standardized Patient,” for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In other words, the 28-year-old MICA graduate pretends to be a patient for trainee doctors, and not all of them know she’s acting.

According to Hopkins, a Standardized Patient is “a person carefully recruited and trained to take on the characteristics of a real patient, thereby affording the student an opportunity to learn and to be evaluated on learned skills in a simulated clinical environment.” Melissa, who’s currently completing a master’s in counseling at Pacifica Graduate Institute, won the role by passing an audition at the School of Medicine’s Simulation Center, where she competed for the job with professional actors. “They brought along headshots and resumes, but that’s not what the medical school needs,” she explained. “They need people who can be pretty real about it, who don’t turn it into a big performance.”

Beyond her relaxed attitude, Melissa has another advantage: She’s sophisticated but looks younger than her age, which means she can represent a wide range of characters from surly teenagers to overwrought moms. “One week I might be, say, a student who’s experimenting with drugs, and the next week I might be a 15-year-old girl who’s come down with a rash after a trip to the petting zoo. I get to wear my own clothes, but we’re supposed to dress the part, so if I’m playing a married woman, for example, I’m supposed to wear a wedding ring.” She’s given a case history peppered with details—some vital clues, others red herrings—but the facts can only be drawn out by the right kinds of questions, asked in a suitable context. It’s a way of helping young doctors practice their history-taking skills, their communication facility, and their all-important bedside manners.

The work doesn’t pay much—$17 an hour plus parking—but there are added benefits, like use of the Hopkins library and the chance to learn about the symptoms of different diseases and the stress impact they have. On top of that, it’s a lot of fun. “It satisfies my theater itch,” says Melissa, who worked as Elton John’s wardrobe mistress when he performed in Baltimore last March–and played lead in all of her high school productions. “There are these rows of doctors offices in the Simulation Center. Sometimes I go from room to room as a patient, and sometimes the doctor comes in to see me, surrounded by a group of medical students.”

She often works with the same male actor playing the wife in a married couple; they fit together well, and, like the stars of a sitcom, have developed a pattern of banter (though improvisation, they’re told, should be kept to a minimum). Recently, the pair took the stage at a pediatric dermatology conference, where they were asked to play the part of every doctor’s nightmare—entitled, wealthy parents, both attorneys, who think they know what’s best for their ailing kid. “I really got into it,” laughs Melissa. “I was looking up medical facts on my iPhone and telling them I thought my child’s condition was an embarrassment to the family. When I get into a character like that, I’ll start thinking about how that person will walk into the room and how she’ll put down her purse.”

But it’s not always easy. “You can’t be shy,” she says. “If you have to play a person who’s really depressed, or in pain, it can be a very uncomfortable situation, emotionally. You can’t meet the doctor’s eyes, you can’t smile at them. As medical students, they want to treat the symptoms of a disorder, but they’re dealing with a complex person, and that can be sometimes unpleasant.”

During her work as a Standardized Patient, Melissa has learned that, as medical students get further along in their studies, their people skills tend to get worse. “As they start to specialize, they get more interested in the technicalities,” she points out. “They want to try out new equipment and discover the pathology. They forget that they’re dealing with a real person with complex feelings. They tend to back away from emotions.”

After the simulation is over, she gets to wear headphones and listen in to the doctors’ critique of the students’ performance. She also listens to the students talk about the person she was portraying, as they attempt, as a group, to make sense of who and what they’re dealing with. Melissa gets to give feedback, too, which is where her therapy training comes in useful. She has to let the doctors know if they seemed awkward, nervous, or rigid, and whether she sensed them backing away from scary emotions.

As a Standardized Patient, Melissa’s learned a lot about medical training and how the young doctor’s mind develops. She’s learned something else, too. “Once I had to be a patient having my eyes examined,” she recalls, “and suddenly there was this whole group of students wanting to look down the ophthalmoscope. They kept sending their friends to see. I asked them what was so interesting, and they said it was the first time they’d seen eyes that were exactly like the ones in the anatomy manual. They said I had ‘textbook retinas.’”

Grand Prix Tree-Cutting Ceremony! (Sign Up to Fight It)

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Sounds like the twisted premise of a “Simpsons” episode in which the greedy township shuns common sense, chops down big, old trees to provide a view of racecars in blurry action…and by show’s end, everyone sunburned and sorry, we all learn an eco-friendly, tree-worshipful lesson. Grand Prix organizers are right now in the process of removing 50 trees along the September race course of West Pratt and Light Streets, fewer than Grand Prix officials wanted to fell, all to improve the sight line. More than 1600 residents have signed a petition to halt the process.

According to Timothy B. Wheeler’s story in The Sun yesterday, the race’s assistant manager was originally quoted as saying that he planned to remove 136 trees before the race. Beth Strommen, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, promised that won’t happen–50 max–and said she couldn’t account for the released misinformation. She also explained that race organizers have pledged to plant 59 new trees along the race corridor, and 135 elsewhere downtown. City officials have claimed “the trees to be planted by the Grand Prix over the next year would triple the leafy coverage of downtown.”

But tree-cutting critics argue quite logically that new trees won’t provide the benefits of the mature trees we’ve lost. They also complain the race’s already active lumberjacks haven’t upheld the city’s forest conservation code.

The city has signed on to host the Grand Prix for five years, during which time race organizers have supposedly pledged to water and maintain the incoming red maples, sycamores, and crape myrtles, many of which will start as 18- to 20-feet-high entities, not mere saplings. But we’re saddened by the loss of the old trees, some of them confirmed to be “big and healthy.” The city may have signed on for the exhaust-puffing car race, we’re signing that petition.

 

Survival of the Lit-est

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For those hoisting metaphorical “End Is Nigh” signs near their local indie bookstores, 2011’s been positively Revelations-worthy: In Baltimore alone, local clearinghouse Daedelus Books dropped its Belvedere Square location after five years and Borders, the long-suffering and debt-ridden Pepsi to Barnes & Noble’s dominating Coke, liquidated; its Timonium location will close by the end of September.  Factor in the ebook market, rife with shiny Amazon Kindles and smartphones, and it’s all enough to drive a small bookseller into full-blown panic. 
Or, at the very least, to defensive irony.

“The commercials for the Kindle crack me up,” says Normal’s Books and Records owner Rupert Wondolowski, who opened the store with a crowd of artist and writer friends in 1990.  Faced with the threat of technology, he did what any artist-by-night might do: He leaned on satire, pasting “anti-Kindle” propaganda around the store and having a themed sale every Friday. “‘No glare!  It’s so light!’  A used book’s not putting up much of a glare.  And how many weaklings can’t pick up a paperback?”

Of course, among local indies the Kindle features more as a scapegoat–used books are still “way cheaper than the Kindle versions,” Wondolowski points out, and The Baltimore Sun’s Jay Hancock documented booksellers’ sheepish backpedaling from the Kindle-borne e-book scare just last week.  “Even back in 1982, when I started in used books, people were saying the computer was going to screw us,” Wondolowski says.  More pressing?  “There’s also the complete collapse of the global economy.  It’s not so bad yet. You’ll know things are rough when we’re having a 50 percent sale.”

Still, all that tech upheaval provides a tidy symbol for the hostile environment facing bookstores of late.  While some locals–The Ivy Bookshop and Hunt Valley’s Greetings & Readings both spring to mind–are managing to thrive via niche followings, peoples’ reading habits are slowly changing and, clever sales aside, much of the local market has taken some drastic measures to stay in the black.  On Normal’s 21st birthday, for example, the store received an uneasy gift of charity: a benefit concert at the Golden West restaurant via a number of its musician regulars.  (“It was a nice cash infusion for the slow summer months,” Wondolowski admits.)  And Ukazoo Books, a new and used store in Towson, took the 50 percent sale concept as a challenge, loss-leading its way to the bank this June by selling books as low as $1.49 a pop.  But manager Edward Whitfill, who came up with the idea, spins these counterintuitive sales events as a sort of business Darwinism.

“People bought books to give away,” he says of his sale.  “At this point, we’re an instant gratification society.  Will there be room for everybody?  No.  But [Borders’ closing] is probably doing a correction in the size of the market.  They had a lot of debt.  You can blame new technology, but when you’re servicing debt, you can’t explore new stuff.”

Ukazoo, which opened a storefront in 2007 when its owners’ online bookselling service became too big to be legal, has reason to look at marketing innovation as adaptability.  But other locals are more circumspect.  In Hancock’s Sun article, Atomic Books co-owner Benn Ray notes that Borders’ closing is “in nobody’s interest,” citing “repercussions” that may include publishers printing even smaller runs of their quirkier, more under the radar work–for many indie bookstores, the lifeblood of the business.  And Michael Cantor, who founded Salamander Books in the late 1990s and relocated the shop from Hampden to Mount Vernon last year, goes even further, suggesting his livelihood is up against a more permanent change in the culture.

“Books aren’t the go-to for the lay public anymore,” he says.  “ You used to get on the train and there would be a book in 75 percent of the peoples’ hands.  Now they have laptops.  It connects their brains in a similar way, but there’s nothing residual afterwards. You can always press the button or flip the switch.  That’s very attractive.”

Cantor hesitates to dismiss the web out of hand, though.  “Something like Borders’ closing was about the economy,” he says.  “How much does it cost to air-condition a place like that?”  By comparison, he points to the small used business’s many options, including online marketplaces like Amazon.com and ABE Books.  Both have become secret weapons for Salamander and its cohort–places where they can defray dry spells and peddle their wares.  But when asked about long-term survival, he still leans towards community presence.

“At this point, I see the book business not necessarily making the money I need to get by,” Cantor says.  “But it’s not worth ditching it. People want to go to places where they have a connection with the people running them.  Those who think and create are always in search of other individuals.”

It’s a position shared by Wondolowski.

“These are definitely frightening times,” he says.  “But lately I’ve been having a lot of nice, emotional conversations with people who love bookstores.  They may die out for a while, but then where do you go when you’re not on your computer?  The pendulum will swing back.”

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.

Under Armour To Use Rookies for Endorsements

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It’s difficult to believe, with its two million dollar Superbowl commercials and products ranging from women’s underwear to hunting gear to sunglasses, that Under Armour was once just a guy with an idea looking for retail space. In the years since it was founded, the company has grown from a small, home run organization to a hugely successful corporation partnered with some of the top names in sports. But the company couldn’t always rely on the brand-name power it has today to seal those deals. In those early days, it turned to rookies–young athletes with star potential, but without the seven or eight figure salaries of some of the big names in their respective sports.  

More than ten years ago, Under Armour signed an endorsement contract with the Dallas Cowboys’ Eric Ogbogu, and although he wasn’t always a standout on the field, he made famous the now proverbial slogan, “We must protect this house.”  The method worked then, and it works now. While many star athletes would probably gladly endorse such a popular brand, the Baltimore-based company has stuck to the original formula, and recently joined forces with a small group of young NBA players, including rookie sensation Kemba Walker, to promote its new basketball line.

Isn’t this avant-garde advertising approach a bit risky? Why does such a lucrative company remain quirky with marketing? According to the company, endorsement for them has always been more about building brand integrity than it is about the money. That’s easy to say when you’re a multimillion-dollar corporation, but the company actually has a team that follows the careers of college athletes and handpicks them after graduation, so their mission seems legitimate. Now I just have to figure out how I can get on their radar.

Who Are Baltimore’s Most Successful People Under 40?

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Think of it as our homegrown MacArthur Genius Grant, minus the $500,000 prize:  the Daily Record just released its annual list of VIPs (very important professionals) age forty and under, and it features a who’s-who of inspirational figures you may recognize from around town.

The list, awarded annually, honors the kinds of people who make you feel like you’re probably not doing enough with your life — community activists, standout lawyers, political movers and shakers, academic superstars, cultural figures, and the like. They’re picked by the Daily Record’s editorial board, “based on their professional accomplishments, a commitment to inspiring change in their community, and their tremendous accomplishments achieved before or by age 40.” 

A few of this year’s honorees:

  • Joe Edwardsen owns popular Station North pizza spot Joe Squared and is involved with the plans to revitalize and develop the surrounding area.
  • Keshia Pollack works to create safe and healthy work environments through her research at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

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.” 
 

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