Staff Listing

Please see below for our staff listing and biographies.

Jennifer D. Jones



Read Bio

Jennifer Jones is an industry thought leader with over 20 years of business and leadership experience in the private and public sectors. During her tenure in the public sector, Jones has been an integral part of the Howard County business ecosystem, directly assisting and forging valuable relationships with thousands of Howard County businesses. Over the course of her career, Jones has served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Howard County Government, where she helped thousands of businesses survive and thrive through the pandemic. She also served as the Vice President of Business Development at Live Nation, where she was responsible for business analysis and market expansion.

In her most recent role as Business Development Strategist for the County Executive’s Office, Jones advised on economic development, holding over a dozen business roundtables to understand and address challenges, and implemented entrepreneurship and small business initiatives. Jones is an active Howard County resident and public servant, serving as a board member of several community and business organizations, including the Howard County Tourism Board, Columbia Festival of the Arts, Howard County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Downtown Columbia Partnership, and the Howard County Center of African American Culture.

Jones holds a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University School of Law, a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University School of Business, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.

Elaine Brown, CPA, CGMA

CFO and Chief Operating Officer, HCEDA


Read Bio

Elaine Brown is the Chief Financial Officer of Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) where she is responsible for planning, implementing, managing, and reporting the financial activities of the organization. Prior to joining HCEDA, Elaine was the Chief Financial Officer for L3Harris Applied Defense Solutions, a $95M business unit of a publicly traded technology company, defense contractor and information technology services provider. Prior to being acquired by L3 Technologies and by Harris Corporation, Elaine was Chief Financial Officer and corporate Secretary/Treasurer at Applied Defense Solutions (ADS) in Columbia, MD.

Elaine has more than 30 years of public company and government contracting experience and is a Certified Public Accountant for the State of Maryland and a Chartered Global Management Accountant.

Marilyn D. Kimmie, SHRM-CP

Chief Human Resource & Administration Officer, HCEDA


Read Bio

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.

Chuck J. Bubeck

Executive Director, Maryland Innovation Center


Read Bio

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).

Chris Moyer, MBA

Managing Director, Business Development, HCEDA


Read Bio

Chris joined the Authority in September 2021. Chris has been a leader in the economic development and commercial real estate industries since 2005, having served as the Director of the Cecil County Office of Economic Development, Agriculture, and Tourism for four years and as a Director of Business Development at the Baltimore Development Corporation for a decade. In his four years at Cecil County, the county experienced unprecedented economic growth. Companies such as Amazon, Great Wolf Resorts, Lidl, Northrop Grumman, Smithfield, and WL Gore committed to investing more than $1 billion dollars and creating thousands of jobs. At BDC, the projects Chris led exceeded $2 billion in value and resulted in approximately 11,000 jobs by the likes of AOL, Carefirst, Emergent Biosolutions, Pandora Jewelry, and Under Armour. Prior to his work in economic development, Chris worked for ten years in corporate finance roles at T. Rowe Price and MBNA.

In 2019, Chris was named one of the Top 50 Economic Developers in North America by Consultant Connect, a consortium of site selection consultants and economic developers. Chris holds an MBA in Marketing from Loyola University Maryland and a B.S. in Finance from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

Angella Aizire

Angella Aizire

Microloan Administrator, HCEDA


Read Bio

Angella Aizire joined HCEDA in September 2023 as the Microloan Administrator, after working in the financial services field for over 20 years. She has extensive experience in assisting existing and potential entrepreneurs access the capital they need to start or grow their businesses. Her core competencies include marketing and community outreach, loan origination, and analytical, interpersonal, and communication skills in multicultural settings. Angella holds a Master of Professional Studies’ Degree in International Development from Cornell University, and a Bachelors’ Degree in Economics from Makerere University. Her passion is Community and Economic Development!

Roy Chernikoff

Director, Economic Development, HCEDA


Read Bio

Roy Chernikoff joined the Howard County Economic Development Authority in January 2023. He comes to HCEDA with a background in business development and account management most recently with M&T Bank and Nelnet Business Solutions. His passion is in helping businesses and communities thrive while building lasting partnerships. At HCEDA, Roy is tasked with building new relationships within the business community and facilitating opportunities for business growth and capital investment.

Roy earned his BA in Communications from University of Maryland and is a proud Terp. As a longtime resident of Howard County where his three kids attended HCPSS, he calls Historic Ellicott City his home. When not out in the community collaborating with other entrepreneurs, you will likely find him listening to some great live music at a festival, or hanging around the neighborhood with his wife and two friendly dogs.

Jinal Contractor

Director, Small and Minority Business Development, HCEDA


Read Bio

Jinal Contractor joined Howard County Economic Development Authority in Fall of 2022 as Small and Minority Business Officer.

Jinal is certified LEED AP and an experienced architect. During her tenure in architecture she worked for various small and large firms in India, Philadelphia and Baltimore. She worked on projects ranging from schools, healthcare, retail, restaurants and offices, locally as well as nationwide. This gave her insight into the collaborations essential to business development. In addition, she has gained experience in the small business sector before focusing her career with Howard County, Business Development team.

Starting a small business blends trial-and-error with hard-fought triumphs. Jinal Contractor, HCEDA’s new Director of Small and Minority Business Development, understands the challenge faced by business owners from her personal experiences as an entrepreneur. In her new position at HCEDA, she is eager to share what she learned and promote many internal and external resources that Howard County offers to small and minority entrepreneurs. While her role is focused on emphasizing the growth and development of small and minority businesses, she works with entrepreneurs across broad spectrum to ensure a truly diverse economic infrastructure for Howard County. Jinal hold Masters in Architecture from Drexel University, Philadelphia and a B.Arch from M.S. University, India.

Tracy Deik

Director, MIC Programs, Maryland Innovation Center


Read Bio

Tracy Deik joined the HCEDA in September 2021 as the Innovation Center’s Community Engagement Coordinator. Tracy plays a central role in supporting the various programs and events within the MIC community.

In her previous position at Howard County Government, Tracy has been recognized for her skills in customer service, listening and providing appropriate resources and services to assist residents. Tracy’s work has familiarized her with services offered by departments and agencies throughout the County. Tracy’s assistance with education and outreach events has led to improved access and equity for residents in the County.

Tracy gained experience in the small business sector before focusing her career in Howard County. With a background in administration, program coordination, marketing and technical support, Tracy’s experience has given her the tools necessary to effectively take on new challenges. Tracy is a graduate of the University of Maryland and holds a BA degree in English, with a concentration in Communications.

Aphaia L. Harper

Associate Director, Maryland Innovation Center


Read Bio

Aphaia joined the HCEDA in 2019. In her role, Aphaia supports and implements the community, partner, and sponsorship engagement strategies of the Maryland Innovation Center (MIC). Aphaia leads HCEDA’s internship program and enjoys making connections between talented students and innovative employers. She comes to the HCEDA with a background in community engagement and outreach, volunteer management, and community development. Aphaia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Religion from the University of Vermont. After graduation, she worked as the Community Engagement Coordinator for Winooski, Vermont where she implemented the City’s first-ever Parklet Project on Main Street. Aphaia brings an eclectic and creative energy and is dedicated to instilling positive and productivity in any environment. Born in Burlington, VT and raised in Monkton, MD, Aphaia brings an appreciation for vibrant communities which integrate sustainability in her community and economic development practice.

Melanie House

Financial Analyst / Staff Accountant, HCEDA


Read Bio

Melanie began with the HCEDA in 2021 as the Staff Accountant and Financial Analyst. Prior to that, Melanie worked as a staff accountant in the nonprofit circuit where she provided accounting support to fast growing nonprofit organizations. Venturing out to California, Melanie landed the position of Assistant Controller at Target Medical Pharma where she assisted in the development of strategies to increase pharma awareness of small private practices. Melanie holds a bachelor’s in business accounting from Bowie State University.

Jason Jannati

Director, Strategic Partnerships, HCEDA


Read Bio

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, Agricultural Business Development, HCEDA


Read Bio

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, Research, HCEDA


Read Bio

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.

Jillian Joseph

Director, Client Services, Maryland Innovation Center


Read Bio

Jillian Joseph, new Client Services Director at the Maryland Innovation Center (MIC), brings with her a wealth of experience in marketing, community development, and client relations. Her passion for delivering outstanding results and supporting local communities will make her an invaluable asset to the MIC’s diverse clientele.

Jillian, who attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland, began her career as an editorial intern before taking on client service and sales director roles with AdvantEdge Workspaces in Washington, DC and Equity Residential in New York City. Her dedication and expertise in customer satisfaction eventually led her to the MIC. Jillian’s most recent extensive work in her native district showcases her commitment to community development. As Executive Director of the Ellicott City Partnership (ECP), she has been instrumental in revitalizing Old Ellicott City through creative promotional campaigns, strategic guidance for small businesses, fundraising, and event planning. She was most passionate about advocating for the Historic District’s resilient business community, and worked tirelessly to steward relationships with stakeholders to stimulate economic activity in the aftermath of two devastating floods and a global pandemic.

Now, as the Client Services Director at the MIC, Jillian will oversee end-to-end management of resident entrepreneurs, ensuring exceptional customer satisfaction through innovative solutions. Her experience in Howard County speaks to her ability to understand the unique needs of businesses and communities, will make her an exemplary resource at the MIC.

Outside of work, Jillian is a devoted and lifelong volunteer with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Mid-Atlantic Chapter. With Jillian at the helm of resident Client Services, the MIC is poised to help our entrepreneurs exceed their goals and drive their businesses forward.

Laura Just

Laura Just

Staff Accountant, HCEDA


Read Bio

Laura joined the HCEDA team in August 2023 as Staff Accountant. She is responsible for handling accounts payable and Receivable as well as reconciliations and accounting database management. Laura has 8 years of accounting experience and brings with her a keen attention to detail, the ability to multitask, and an enthusiasm for our community. Prior joining the HCEDA team, Laura worked as the Finance Manager at a Howard County e-commerce company. She began her career in the non-profit world working for the American Red Cross in marketing and donor recruitment.

Laura has lived in Howard County since 2008 and has enjoyed the high quality of life in the area with her husband and 2 children. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Minor in Business Administration from UNC Chapel Hill.

Kierra D. Kimmie

Associate Director, Strategic Outreach, HCEDA


Read Bio

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

Manager, Administrative Services, HCEDA


Read Bio

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

Director, Business Finance, HCEDA


Read Bio

Darshni joined the HCEDA in May 2016. Since that time, she has held various positions in the organization and is currently the Loan Fund Manager for the Catalyst Fund Loans for Small Businesses. She is responsible for portfolio management, conducting risk analysis, tracking, and monitoring of each loan transaction. Prior to this position, she was the Financial Program Analyst where she was involved in financial analysis and underwriting process for loans.

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 is a resident of Howard County.

Sydnee Neal

Front Desk Ambassador, Maryland Innovation Center


Read Bio

Sydnee joined the Innovation center in October of 2021. She Graduated from Atholton high school and Is currently pursuing a degree from Stevenson University. In her free time she likes to travel as often as she can.

Maria Angelica Vargas

Director, International Business Development, HCEDA


Read Bio

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.