Please see below for our staff listing and biographies.
Before joining the Authority, he was the Director of the Carroll County Department of Economic Development, where he spent over six years guiding business development, business retention, workforce development and tourism. Before that, Larry spent almost seven years with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, where he held several positions including managing the statewide regional office system.
Major accomplishments include launching a regional business retention program and playing a key role in coordinating and facilitating major expansion projects in the Baltimore Region. Larry also spent seven years in management in 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). Currently he serves on the MEDA Board of Directors and is President of the MEDA Foundation.
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 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, and a Senior Executive at The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED).
Rita Anderson is the Administrative Assistant/”Director of First Impressions”. As the first person you contact at the HCEDA’s corporate headquarters, 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. 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 joined the HCEDA in the summer of 2012. Although new at HCEDA she is no stranger to Howard County. Her commitment to Howard County shined when she was Director of Membership at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce for over four years.
After spending over a year as Vice President of Corporate & Community Relations for a non-profit in Montgomery County she is happy to be back working and playing in Howard County. Knowing the importance of small business and understanding the community she is eager to be a part of the great adventures HCEDA has to offer. In 2011, she was recognized as One of the Top 40 Under 40.
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 will manage all HCEDA events, assist with marketing and communication materials, and provide general administrative support. She is a graduate of Hood College in Frederick, MD with a degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Studio Art. In her free time, Ali coaches cheerleading at Maryland Allstar Athletics.
As the Agricultural Development Manager 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.
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 Office Manager for the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. In this capacity, Jill is responsible for managing leases, addressing facility issues, overseeing communications for events, Tech Council memberships 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.
Taylor Kimble is an internal data manager with the HCEDA. Much of her experience with complex data and analysis is related to GIS (Geographic Information Systems), a growing area of expertise in the IT field. Within the HCEDA, Taylor plays a vital role in positioning the HCEDA as the primary source for key economic information specific to Howard County, MD.
Taylor is a graduate of Temple University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Geography and Urban Studies. She returns to her hometown of Columbia, MD to live and work. She is a mentor for Leadership U and a member of MEDA.
During her free time Taylor likes to watch movies, bike, and try out new restaurants in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Marilyn joined the HCEDA in 2011 and serves as the Office Administrator and Executive Assistant to CEO, Larry Twele. As Office Administrator, Marilyn is the conduit by which communication and processes run smoothly at the corporate office and she is often referred to as “command central”. She also lends support to the finance office by managing the day-to-day bookkeeping operations of the organization. With over 30 years of experience, Marilyn also provides Larry Twele with executive level support. In this capacity, Marilyn is Larry's right hand, confidante and "gatekeeper”. Marilyn’s exemplary organizational skillset and attention to detail are a tremendous asset to the successful operation of the EDA office. She is also an active member of SHRM.
Marilyn and her husband, Marvin, reside in Howard County with their beloved beagle, Buddy. They also have two daughters, Whitney & Kierra, who reside in Howard County as well.
Deborah has worked at the HCEDA for the past 12 years as Office Coordinator. In this position, she is the initial point of contact for people seeking information about doing business in Howard County. Prior to joining the HCEDA, Deborah worked for 20 years as a Message Network, Telephone Operator/Supervisor/Training Coordinator, where she supervised more than 20 employees.
Darshni Patel is an Administrative Support Specialist with the Howard County Economic Development Authority. In this position, she assists the Chief Administrative Officer directly while providing general administrative support to multiple departments within the HCEDA. Her background includes providing administrative support/coordinator to a fast-paced Property Management Company in Laurel, MD. Darshni hopes to continue to gain valuable experience by working at HCEDA.
Darshni holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political science with a minor in Sociology from Pennsylvania State University and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Penn State as well.
Darshni and her husband, Jaimin, reside in Howard County.
Brian joined the HCEDA as Marketing Coordinator in September 2012. Prior to that, he worked as marketing coordinator for a Howard County electronics recycler. At the HCEDA, Brian's responsibilities include website content management, graphic design and marketing and administrative support. His duties also include social media marketing.
Brian is a graduate of Towson University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications with dual tracks in Advertising and Public Relations.
Prior to his current role, Mark Thompson served as Director of Downtown Redevelopment for Howard County, Maryland. He was also the Director of the Howard County Revenue Authority. Mr. Thompson brings a broad base of experience to the HCEDA having worked for more than 25 years with some of the nation’s top developers and homebuilders. Mr. Thompson has held senior positions at General Growth Properties, The Rouse Company, and Ryland Homes in both strategic and operational roles.
In 2009, he founded his own commercial real estate brokerage firm, Real InSITE. Mr. Thompson is a licensed real estate Broker in Maryland. Mr. Thompson has a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received academic honors in both programs. He attended Stanford University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies.
Mr. Thompson is active in the Urban Land Institute, NAIOP, and the International Council of Shopping Centers. Mr. Thompson served on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Columbia Partnership, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Trinity School from 2011 to 2013. He is a 2006 graduate and member of Leadership Howard County.
Tracy joined the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship as Director of Programs in December of 2013. Formerly the Director of the Carroll Technology Council in Westminster, Tracy brings a wide skill-set to the MCE team including program development and management, event coordination, nonprofit administration and community outreach. In June of 2015, she was appointed to the position of Director of the Howard Tech Council. Under her leadership, the HTC continues to build upon the connections, strengths and reach achieved over the past three years and continue to advance the region's technology and business communities.
A recent graduate of the inaugural class of the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women, Tracy also serves on the Howard County Public School’s Applications and Research Laboratory Early College Program/Network Security Advisory Board, the Arc of Howard County Employment Advisory Committee, and the Conscious Capitalism of Central Maryland Advisory Board.
Tracy is a graduate of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the Université de Montpellier, France, with degrees in Mass Communications and Languages. She lives in Westminster with her two children, Edie and George.
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.
Beth A. Woodring joined HCEDA as Fund Manager for the Catalyst revolving loan funds and brings a strong background in business counseling, economic development and credit underwriting to her role. Prior to joining the EDA she spent 8 years working in Carroll and Frederick Counties as a small business counselor with the Maryland Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC).
Beth also worked for 8 years in the Division of Financing for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (MD DBED) and served as an advisor to Frederick County on the county’s small business revolving loan fund. A former banker, she completed her formal commercial credit training at Mellon Bank.
Beth holds a Masters of Business Administration from The Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Spanish from Bucknell University. She is a NASBITE International Certified Global Business Professional and is Adjunct Faculty at Carroll Community College. A Pennsylvania native, she resides in Carroll County with her children, Miranda and Olivia.
Having a background of nearly 30 years’ experience in strategic and consultative business development, Patrick brings excellent leadership to the role as the Cyber Business Development Lead for Howard County Economic Development Authority.
Patrick leverages his solid background in cyber security, enterprise applications, wireless, banking, and strategic IT consulting markets. Patrick has held senior business development and management positions with Conklin & Conklin, ADP and Alcatel, amongst others. Patrick has a long successful track record engaging Fortune 1000 clients
Patrick sits on the National Cybersecurity Student Association Advisory Board; is a member of Infragard Maryland; and has sat on the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Development Roundtable. He has a BS degree from Salisbury University and resides in western Howard County Maryland.
Ms. Peay 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, Ms. Peay entered the information technology and healthcare government contracting industry as an intern for the Technical Writing and Human Resource Department at Dynanet Corporation. At Dynanet, Ms. Peay was tasked with product management of proposal drafts, technical writing/editing, and company outreach. Additionally, Ms. Peay was a vivacious writing tutor at the UMBC Writing Center. Here she coached, primarily, bilingual students and students with studies in the STEM related field to help improve their written and oral communication skills, grammar, and project quality.
Shortly after graduation, Ms. Peay 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, Ms. Peay successfully lead VersaTech’s Web Development Team, as Social Media Manager, by implementing unique rebranding and marketing strategies in addition to coordination and marketing of company events. In a two-month timespan, Ms. Peay boosted VersaTech’s user engagement over 30% with her ability to produce and post compelling content.
Ms. Peay is a true social media enthusiast and enjoys consulting with start-ups in regards to their digital marketing campaign. For the past three years, Ms. Peay has supported several entrepreneurial ventures, both in and outside of Howard County. Eager to continue pursuing her passions for mentorship, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing, Ms. Peay began working at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) as their new Program Manager. Ms. Peay takes great joy in supporting our in-house startups with their digital marketing campaign, promotions, and programs in addition to being an avid mentor of the Junior Achievement Program for Rising Women and MCE internship program.