Staff Listing

Please see below for our staff listing and biographies.

Lawrence F. Twele


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Before joining the Authority, Larry was the Director of the Carroll County Department of Economic Development, where he developed strategies for guiding business development, business retention, workforce development and tourism. Prior to this, Larry spent several years with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, where he held several positions including managing the statewide regional office system.

Larry’s major accomplishments include launching a regional business retention program while playing a key role in coordinating and facilitating major expansion projects in the Baltimore Region. Larry also spent seven years on the management team of a Fortune Global 500 manufacturing firm and three years as a manager of a small business. From 2013 to 2015, Larry served as the President of Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA). He currently serves as Vice Chair of the MEDA Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Larry holds a Master’s Degree of Business Administration from Loyola University, Maryland and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland. He earned Certified Economic Developer credentials in 2009.

Vernon J. Thompson

Executive Vice President, HCEDA

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Vernon Thompson is the Executive Vice President at the Howard County Economic Development Authority.

Previously Vernon was the Executive Director of the Cecil County Department of Economic Development, Tourism & Agriculture; Executive Director at Bainbridge Development Corporation; Deputy Secretary of the Department at The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), as well as Assistance Secretary for Regional Development. Additionally, Vernon has served in various capacities in the real estate, marketing, and construction industries throughout his career.

Marilyn D. Kimmie, SHRM-CP

Chief Operating Officer, HCEDA

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Marilyn joined the HCEDA in 2011 and currently serves as Chief Operating Officer. Marilyn is a top-tier executive with oversight of human resources, design, plan and implement human resource program and policies for staffing, as well as administration of benefits, 401(k) plan, employee relations and health and safety. Marilyn also performs a strategic role in managing staff and maintaining healthy workplace culture and environment. Serving as point of contact for all HR-related inquiries and issues, she maintains appropriate internal controls and personnel procedures ensuring compliance with various federal, state and local labor laws and reporting requirements. As an active member of the senior executive management team, she is charged with understanding and interpreting the organization’s bylaws as well as identifying and implement policies and procedures to improve the overall operation and effectiveness of office functions, administrative challenges, and developing solutions. Marilyn also manages the physical infrastructure and systems including facilities requests, risk management, technology and IT support as well as consulting with legal counsel on a variety of issues as needed.

With over 30 years of experience as an Office Administrator, Marilyn brings unique knowledge, skills and abilities to the organization which promotes cohesion of the EDA team and its culture. She is a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Certified Professional and a member of the Howard County Human Resource Society.

Wayne R. Young

Chief Financial Officer, HCEDA

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Wayne R Young joined the HCEDA in August of 2016 as Controller with extensive experience in financial reporting, financial statement preparation, accounting, bookkeeping, budgeting, planning & analysis and business operations. Wayne has assisted in the management coaching and evaluation of staff, as well as assisting in project management, business expansion, operating efficiencies and managing to best business practices. Wayne attended Virginia State University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and he is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Rita C. Anderson

Administrative Coordinator, HCEDA

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Rita Anderson is the Administrative Coordinator/”Director of First Impressions”. As the first person you contact at the HCEDA’s entrepreneurship center, she provides a wealth of information on all the programs under the HCEDA, including the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, Agriculture departments and those seeking to do business in Howard County, Maryland. Rita was named Advocate/Supporter of the Year for SCORE in 2017 and received a Certificate of Recognition from County Executive Allan Kittleman for Supporting the Howard County Economic Development Authority in 2017.

Prior to joining the Economic Development Authority (EDA), Rita accumulated over 25 years of experience providing exceptional administrative support in high paced law firms in Washington D.C. and San Francisco/Oakland California.

Rita has a daughter Tiffany and a grandson Sean who lives in Howard County Maryland.

Catherine Bedolla

Director of Business Retention and Expansion, HCEDA

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A member of the HCEDA team since 2013, Catherine Bedolla works hard every day to support the businesses in Howard County as the organizations Director of Business Retention and Expansion. She actively serves on the ECP board of directors, was a Leadership Howard County 2018 Graduate, is a member of the BGE Community Advisory Committee, and volunteers in support of Howard County Library’s Choose Civility campaign.

In 2016, Catherine was nominated by the community for distinguished recognition from Governor Hogan and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman for her involvement in the response to the 2016 Ellicott City flood. Since then, Catherine continues to work with the businesses in Ellicott City to assist in their recovery.

Ali Bliss

Associate Director of Events & Marketing, HCEDA

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Ali Bliss joined the Howard County Economic Development Authority in September 2015. She comes to the HCEDA with a background in marketing, communications, and event planning. In her position, she manages all HCEDA and HTC events throughout the year and assists with the marketing and communication materials. She is a graduate of Hood College in Frederick, MD with a degree in Communications and concentration in Public Relations with a minor in Studio Art. Ali is also currently working to obtain an Event Management Professional Certificate from the George Washington University School of Business. In 2019, she joined the Gilchrist Hospice Taste Event Committee where she will assist in the planning and execution of their annual Taste of Howard County event. During her free time, Ali enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter at the beach.

Chuck J. Bubeck

Executive Director of the Innovation Center, HCEDA

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With over 40 years in the technology industry, including a decade at Apple, Chuck’s experience as a serial entrepreneur resulted in several successful startups and subsidiaries. During his time with Apple, Chuck helped launch the original 1984 Macintosh and later was one the companies first Regional Systems Engineering Managers.

In 1993, Chuck founded Ease Technologies, Inc. a regionally recognized Managed Services Provider. EaseTech spinoffs included one of the first commercially available FIX digital trading systems on the market, as well as a legal document management system. Since its inception, Ease has successfully marketed and sold its spinoff products to over 100 investment banks, as well as top legal firms nationally. The company has been regularly recognized among the fastest-growing Managed Services Providers in the U.S. EaseTech was recently acquired by Thrive Networks, a leading NexGen MSP headquartered in Boston.

Chuck has received a number of awards throughout his career in technology and entrepreneurship, including being recognized as a Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist (1997), a Fast 50 Winner (1997), and a National Fast 500 Winner (1998).

Aphaia L. Harper

Business Operations Associate, HCEDA

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Aphaia joined the Howard County Economic Development Authority as the Business Operations Associate in 2019. In her role at HCEDA, she provides central analytical and project support to the Business Development team in order to help businesses grow in Howard County. Additionally, she supports the organization’s Market Research and Data Analysis projects. She comes to the HCEDA with a background in community engagement and outreach, volunteer management, and municipal programs and services.

Aphaia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a focus in Statistics from the University of Vermont. After graduation, she worked as the Community Engagement Coordinator for Winooski, Vermont. There, in addition to connecting Winooski residents with community services and engagement opportunities, she successfully applied for an AARP Placemaking Demonstration Grant to plan and implement the City’s first-ever Parklet Project. Aphaia is a member of Maryland Economic Development Association’s Young Leaders group.

Jason Jannati

Director of Strategic Partnerships, HCEDA

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Jason Jannati is a highly motivated community developer, and a leader within the clean-tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Recognized by the Obama White House for efforts in sustainability and job creation, also Baltimore Sun’s Top 10 under 30 to watch and 2011 SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Jannati graduated from Oakland Mills High School and shortly began building greeNEWit, a company that helped homes and businesses become more energy efficient. Jannati then lead the land development strategy for Power 52 Energy Solutions which developed many of the solar farms that are being built today in Howard County.

Raised in Columbia MD, principles of equality, diversity and community impact were instilled from an early age. With a mother who was a social worker, and a father who immigrated here while in his early 20’s – ingenuity, compassion and the spirit of entrepreneurship are at the core of Jason’s values as a father, husband, and man.

Kathy L. Johnson

Director of Agricultural Business Development, HCEDA

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As the Director of Agricultural Business Development for HCEDA, Kathy is the first point of contact for Howard County farmers wanting to start or grow a farm. Kathy helps farmers navigate through the process by assisting them with the preparation of business plans, zoning or other permitting issues needed to operate in Howard County; she also provides assistance to farms looking to diversify. Growing up on her family’s dairy farm in Dickerson, MD, Kathy brings a unique and personal perspective to the position — one that garners respect from the farmers she assists.

Kathy holds a degree in Dairy Science with a minor in Agriculture Business from Delaware Valley College and is a LEAD Maryland Class VIII fellow.

Zachary C. Jones

Director of Marketing & Research, HCEDA

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Zach Jones joined the HCEDA in January 2019, where he leads the research and data analysis efforts of the organization. His research focuses on benchmarking Howard County’s industry and labor markets against its peers to identify strengths and opportunities in the county. Additionally, Zach is tasked with the management and analysis of internal HCEDA data to increase the efficacy of the organizations operations and report on outcomes.

Prior to his time with HCEDA, Zach was the Director of Market Research at the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore (EAGB). There he provided research consulting services for partners like Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), Betamore, and numerous economic development organizations within the region. In partnership with the Maryland Department of Commerce, Zach has developed the Maryland Cybersecurity Asset Map, which catalogues the State’s world-class cyber ecosystem. Zach graduated from Towson University, where he spent three years of his undergraduate career conducting economic research with the Regional Economic Studies Institute. After graduating, Zach continued to conduct economic and policy research at Towson University, while concurrently building an extracurricular student entrepreneurship experience at the university.

Jill A. Joubert

Director of Innovation Center Client Services, Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship

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Since March 2002, Jill has been the support behind many departments at the HCEDA. In 2011, she was promoted to Marketing Coordinator where she produced many of the marketing materials to which HCEDA stakeholders have come to rely on and look forward to receiving. She was also in charge of registration at all events and kept them running smoothly. Jill is currently serving as Director of Innovation Center Client Services for the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. In this capacity, Jill is responsible for managing leases, addressing facility issues, overseeing communications for events, and supervising the front desk.

Before joining the HCEDA, Jill was an Agency Office Administrator for two insurance companies, Account Executive for a financial institution and Branch Secretary for several banks in Boston and the D.C.-metropolitan area.

Jill holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education From Eastern Nazarene College.

Kierra D. Kimmie

Business Operations Analyst, HCEDA

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Kierra Kimmie is the Business Operations Analyst for HCEDA. She provides highly-specialized administrative and operational support to the executive management team, Board of Directors, and marketing and business development departments of the HCEDA. Kierra’s exceptional communication skills, and keen eye for detail make her an important asset to the team.
She began as an intern in 2011 and has continued to expand her role within the organization over the years. Kierra currently resides in Howard County and is a proud Wilde Lake High School alumna. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA and earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education from McDaniel College. Kierra brings her background in situational assessment and analysis, problem solving and developing outcome-driven development plans to help improve processes and find innovative solutions.

Kierra is a member of MEDA’s Young Leader’s professional group and also serves as a mentor for the Junior Achievement Rising Women program, a program designed to teach entrepreneurial and leaderships skills to young women.

Deborah R. Leake

Incubator Operations Coordinator, Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship

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Deborah Leake, joined HCEDA in April 2000 and presently works as the organizations Incubator Operations Coordinator at the MCE. In her role, she assists the Director of Innovation Center Client Services and is responsible for updating information in Salesforce, overseeing MCE facility agreements, scheduling facility reservations, creating facility access badges and handling payments from residents and affiliates. She works daily with the MCE’s small business development partners SCORE, PTAC & SBDC greeting their clients and scheduling their appointments. Deborah was named Advocate/Supporter of the year for SCORE in 2017 and received recognition for working with the Project Program for Howard County in 2018.

Darshni H. Patel

Financial Program Analyst, HCEDA

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Darshni joined the HCEDA in May 2016. Since that time, she has held various positions in the organization, but currently is the Acting Loan Fund Manager for the Catalyst revolving loan funds. Prior to this position, she was the financial program analyst and processed small business loan opportunities.

Darshni holds a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from Pennsylvania State University. Darshni resides in Howard County with her husband, Jaimin and daughter Avira.

Christa Peay

Communications and Marketing Coordinator, HCEDA

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Christa is a certified digital marketing enthusiast with a knack for establishing brand aesthetic and optimizing user engagement. As a graphic designer who likes to think and color outside of the box, she enjoys providing visual aesthetic to personify our brand and engage users. As our event photographer, she also enjoys capturing meaningful moments throughout our business community from ribbon cutting ceremonies to our annual festivities. With engagement being her key focus, Christa aids in the event coordination of the HCEDA’s business development and networking events.

For the past nine years, Christa has supported several entrepreneurial ventures, both in and outside of Howard County. As of 2017, Christa has supported the HCEDA’s Maryland Innovation Center clients by conducting business development programs as the Program Manager. Shortly into her role, Christa recognized a need for an on-going digital marketing workshop to aid entrepreneurs with their marketing outreach, thus launching the Marketing Matters program. Shortly into her role as Program Manager, her talent for graphic design and digital marketing were highly recognized. By the summer of 2018, Christa was promoted to the HCEDA’s marketing team as their Communications & Marketing Coordinator. Her duties include social media management, email marketing, graphic designing, photography, and event coordination.

Prior to joining our team, Christa graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she attained her Bachelors of the Arts Degree in Professional Writing with a minor in Entrepreneurship. During her time at UMBC, Christa interned for the Technical Writing and Human Resource Department at Dynanet Corporation. At Dynanet, Christa was tasked with product management of proposal drafts, technical writing/editing, and company outreach. Additionally, Christa was a hands-on writing tutor at the UMBC Writing Center. Here she coached, primarily, bilingual students and students pursuing STEM.

Shortly after graduation, Christa began working for another IT and Healthcare government contracting company called VersaTech, where she provided program and transition support to contracts under the Department of Defense. Additionally, Christa successfully lead VersaTech’s Web Development Team, as Social Media Manager, by implementing unique rebranding and marketing strategies in addition to facilitating corporate events and managing their digital marketing campaigns. In a two-month timespan, Christa boosted VersaTech’s user engagement over 30% with her ability to produce and post compelling content.

Brian C. Sheavly

Business Development Officer, HCEDA

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Brian joined the HCEDA in September 2012 and has held various positions in the organization, but currently serves as the HCEDA’s Business Development Officer.

Brian works with area businesses to assist them with their growth in the county. He commonly works with CEO’s from the community and engages regularly with the area’s elected representatives.

Brian was nominated by the Ellicott City community after the 2016 flood receiving recognition for acts of excellence from Governor Larry Hogan and then Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman ultimately for the role he played in the response. He is a 2018 Leadership Howard County Essentials graduate and is currently serving on the Ellicott City Partnership’s Board of Advisors.

Brian is a Howard County resident and a graduate of Towson University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications with dual tracks in Advertising and Public Relations.

Maria Angelica Vargas

Director of International Business Development, HCEDA

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Maria Angelica Vargas comes to HCEDA with extensive international business experience having uniquely worked in all three sectors at a leadership level– corporate, government, and civil society. She has worked at C-level as CFO of a government Ministry; Owner/Principal in business and as a Director in a major philanthropic foundation. She has successfully assisted companies to identify, negotiate and build long term international partnerships. She has also advised companies on their financial, marketing, and human capital development strategies. She has supported companies in improving their operational standards to obtain international certifications and secured US, EU and other international best practices accreditations in USA, India and Latin America.

Maria Angelica has served for the last seven years, as the Director for Economic Development of The Nabha Foundation a leading Indian philanthropic foundation founded by a global business family. She successfully launched commercially viable sustainable and scalable models for the economic development of the region. Previously, she has worked for the Maryland Department of Commerce, Office of International Investment and Trade, with direct responsibilities to develop and implement policies and programs to increase commercial opportunities in the Latin America region, and supporting the teams in China, India, Japan, Taiwan and South Africa. In her native Paraguay, she has served as Chief Financial Officer in the National Secretariat of Tourism of Paraguay, and worked as Director for Import and Exports in three of the largest Paraguayan import/export corporations conducting business on five continents.

Maria Angelica has been a regular participant at the World Economic Forum in Davos for Global Fortune 500 companies, and their meetings in New Delhi and Casablanca. Maria Angelica has a Master’s of Public Administration Degree.