Our success comes from applying business, government, academia, economic development and entrepreneurial skills honed from years of education and real life experiences, and from our passion for making a difference in the communities we serve.
The following are members of our fabulous team:
Shirley Collier, Presidentis a nationally known speaker, author, technology entrepreneur, philanthropist and advocate for economic development through innovation. For over 25 years, she has worked in technology research, university, government, and private industry including starting, managing, growing and selling a number of small technology firms since 1989. Shirley has a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing with a Master of Science degree in IT Management. She has published over 50 articles and spoken extensively on aligning business and Information Technology, IT security/governance, strategic planning, e‑commerce and global competitiveness through technology innovation and technology transfer. Shirley has extensive financial, marketing, operational, intellectual property and management skills honed through years of experience in developing strategic business relationships with state, regional and nationally recognized government and University based entities, funds and programs. Her companies have participated in the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program for the past 5 years and have been the recipient of congressional earmarks and private investments. One of her companies licensed technology from a Maryland based University Affiliated Research Center (UARC).
Shirley’s strengths in addition to extensive experience in technology entrepreneurship are:
A unique understanding of the differences in the cultures of research institutions, small innovative businesses and government agencies, and ideas on how to bring them together for mutual benefit;
Experience in transforming organizations by clarify their missions, developing focused strategic and operational plans, obtaining buy-in from staff and achieving measureable results;
Skilled at leveraging and strengthening relationships with Boards of Directors and leading for-profit and not-for-profit boards;
A vocal and ardent supporter of economic prosperity through small business technology innovation.
She is the past Chair of the Board of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, and is a founding member and past President of the International Alliance of Technology Integrators. She formerly served on the Boards of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce (chairing the Education and Nominating Committees), the Neotech Incubator Advisory Board (founder and first Chair of the Advisory Board and served for an additional 10 years), and the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County (and recipient of their Spirit Award). Shirley serves on the Howard County Superintendent's Advisory Council for Educational Partnerships and was a co-founder of the Science Technology Engineering and Math Business and Education Council (STEMBEC). She is a founder of the Center for the Multi-national Development of Women in Technology after serving on UMBC’s Center for Women in IT Board for 7 years. She also is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Horizon Foundation, an $80 million philanthropy begun when Johns Hopkins University Medical Center acquired Howard County General Hospital in 1999.
Shirley has served on numerous commissions and committees including the County Executive and County Council’s Compensation Committee, the Columbia Town Center Rotary annual fundraisers (for 7 years), The Heart Ball (chair for two years), the EDA’s Incubator Committee (chair for 2 years) and Technology Leadership Consortium, and the Howard Community College’s Commission on the Future. She is a graduate of Leadership Howard County and was named Alumnus of the Year in 1997 and received the Children’s Advocate Award in 2004.
Shirley received the 1999 Woman of the Year award from the Business Women's Network of Howard County.She was awarded the EBO Outstanding Woman in Business award in 1997. Shirley was named one of Maryland's Top 100 Women in 1996, 2000 and 2005 and inducted into the “Circle of Excellence” by The Daily Record. She was named as one of the Arthritis Foundation's Women of Distinction, and in 1995 founded "Computer Mania,” a free computer symposium for girls in the public school system to foster confidence in technology, mathematics and science. Computer Mania is now being funded by major corporations to reach middle-school girls throughout the region. Shirley participated in 2008, in a State Department funded program to match female tech entrepreneurs in the U.S. with aspiring female tech entrepreneurs in South Africa. She continues to mentor young women in that region.
Shirley was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame by the Howard County Women’s Commission. She received a Distinguished Leader Award from the YWCA at their first annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon and was named economic development Volunteer of the Year by the Northeast Economic Developer’s Association. Shirley and her company also were awarded the Torch Award for ethical business practices by the Better Business Bureau of Greater Baltimore.
Wayne Swann, Director Technology Transfer, is an energetic, creative, results oriented professional with over 35 years experience in research, technology and product development, intellectual property management, technology assessment, and business development in industry and higher education, marked by strong organizational, communication and leadership skills.He is a lecturer and developer at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering of the course “Fundamentals of Technical Innovation in Organizations” and co-instructor of the Technical Management Master’s Program.Wayne is also an instructor and project manager for an NSF Partnerships for Innovation Grant that was used to develop Howard Community College’s Technology Assessment Program concept, and a new course “Taking Innovation to Market” for the Entrepreneurship Curriculum, and is a Step Up Coach. Wayne is Partner and Senior Advisor at CrispTek, Inc, a food technology company and maker of Choice Batter®. His responsibilities include R&D oversight, intellectual property protection, licensing, and distributor agreements. Wayne recently retired as the Director of Technology Transfer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.He established and directed the Office of Technology Transfer for the institution.The forward-looking program was based on APL’s research funding of over $700 million per year.He was responsible for organization, staffing and management of the program; revising IP policies and procedures; establishing new technology transfer programs for researcher education and recognition/rewards, implementing a proactive marketing approach; and initiating technology development grant programs.In seven years (1999-2006) he produced dramatic increases in invention disclosures (906); technology licenses to business and industry (175); Issued US Patents (179), licensing income (>$15 million); associated R&D income (>$11 million); 16 new start-up companies; and an equity portfolio of stock, options and partnership shares in 18 companies. He also was a member of APL’s Leadership Team, Science and Technology Council, and lead the Capabilities Assessment Team. Wayne also established and directed the Office of Technology Liaison at the University of Maryland, College Park.He directed the management of a wide spectrum of technologies, from multiple campuses, and negotiated/executed complex technology licensing agreements with commercial entities.His responsibilities included advising faculty and administration on the intellectual property aspects of research agreements; resolving issues with industrial partners; and facilitating R&D contracts. He has worked with public officials at local, national and international levels on technology transfer and economic development issues, directed the management of over 700 diverse technologies in life, physical and information science, over 350 of which resulted in option/license agreements and over 90 commercial products and processes with local, national and international companies; facilitated ten spin-off companies and generated over $15 million in total income (royalty and R&D income) to the University.
He has held numerous positions in the private sector responsible for commercial development oversight management of a biotechnology laboratory, developing and implemented marketing strategies for technology licensing, R&D contract sales and joint ventures and coordinating R&D and marketing efforts. Wayne was a research scientist early in his career when he established, staffed and managed a biotechnology R&D laboratory with emphasis on novel Bioreactor enzyme and whole cell immobilization research.He invented novel techniques for immobilization of proteins and whole cells - resulting in five U.S. Patents.The process he developed to produce L-phenylalanine - is one of two components used in the manufacture of NutraSweet® - which resulted in $30 million in annual sales.He also invented and scaled-up a process for the production of L-aspartic acid (a second component of NutraSweet®).
His additional scientific discovery and patent work involved developing bioreactors for the production of amino acids, developing Bio-reactor immobilized enzyme technology for eight clinical diagnostic tests including R&D, scale up, and authoring of a production manual, inventing new immobilization techniques and formulating/fabricating immobilized enzymes into foam, films, spheres, tubing, test tubes and the like, which resulted in five U.S. Patents.
Wayne currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship, holds 16 patents, and has published and spoken extensively to international audiences.
Mary Ellen Duncan, PhD, served in higher education administration in New York, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Maryland for thirty-five years.Seventeen of those years were in presidencies at Catonsville Community College, SUNY Delhi and most recently Howard Community College in Columbia, MD.Since her retirement, she has been teaching in doctoral programs at Morgan State University and UMUC’s new doctoral program for community college educators as well as coaching community college Presidents around the country on innovative practices.
Dr. Duncan’s expertise is sought as a consultant in the areas of leadership and team development, board development and relations, legislative relations, quality management with an emphasis on accountability and assessment, fundraising and capital campaigns, and executive coaching. She has consulted with colleges in numerous states across the country, from New Jersey to North Carolina to Texas. She helped launched Excelsior College’s DC center.
In her role as community college president, she worked closely with community leaders to meet the workforce needs of the community, initiating a “Commission on the Future” which continues to assess community needs on a five year cycle. Her accomplishments at Howard Community College are evidenced by completing a $14 million campaign, quadrupling the physical plant, doubling the student body, and receiving numerous quality awards at the state and national level.
Duncan developed a course on advocacy and accountability and teaching for the UMUC Doctorate of Management on-line degree designed for community college administrators around the world. She has been a frequent speaker at national conferences and at local organizations.She has also initiated numerous international agreements with colleges in China, Mexico, Turkey and others.
She serves as an executive coach in the national “Achieving the Dream” initiative, working with colleges in South Carolina, Texas, Michigan, and DC.She is a certified executive coach for the Hogan and Hay assessment instruments. She has served on numerous national and local boards of directors including the Continuous Quality Improvement Network, the Community Colleges for International Development, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Columbia Festival and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce.
Her leadership has been widely recognized.The Howard County Chamber of Commerce honored Dr. Duncan with the Exemplar Award in 2007.The Horizon Foundation presented her with the Richard G. McCauley Leadership Award in 2004.In 2004 she also received the Wylene Burch Award for Distinguished Leadership from the Howard County Center for African-American Culture. In 2002, she was named as one of the Maryland Top 100 Women and in 2001 she became a graduate of Leadership Maryland.
She has authored numerous articles for educational journals, has written a handbook for training staff and board members to fundraise, and is completing a chapter now for a book for new community college presidents.Recently she authored a chapter in International Students edited by Maureen Andrade and Norman Evans entitled “Community Colleges Open Doors for International Students, Too”.
Dr. Duncan is active in the community, serving in numerous leadership role on the Horizon Foundation Board.
Virginia Kirk, Director e-learning Innovation, holds two masters degrees: one in American studies and another in publications design (writing and graphics). She also studied ethnic history and literature on a National Endowment for the Humanities graduate fellowship at Columbia University.
Virginia Kirk has over 35 years experience as a teacher and administrator in higher education, with particular emphasis on developing and administering distance learning programs. Additionally, she is a writer and editor. From 1987 to 1999, she marketed programming for the Adult Learning Service at Public Television’s national network. In this role, she wrote articles about PTV’s delivery via national broadcast and satellite of college-level educational programming. As editor the ALS Agenda magazine, she wrote extensively about distance learning programming and issues. Additionally, she produced videoconferences for ALS.
From 1999 to 2010 she developed the e-Learning program at Howard Community College, taking their online course offerings from fewer than 20 to over 110 courses and three AA degree programs. In this capacity, she evaluated distance learning software (LMSs, multimedia software, virtual worlds, video delivery platforms, etc.) and taught faculty the principles of instructional design of course development, as well as the principles of online pedagogy. She was in charge of scheduling and evaluating courses and faculty. As part of a FIPSE grant to the consortium of Maryland community college distance learning programs, she was one of the developers of the Quality Matters rubric for the design of online courseware. This rubric is now considered the standard by which accrediting agencies evaluate the effectiveness of online courses offered by colleges nationwide. www.qualitymatters.org
She is on the advisory board for the Odyssey Program at Johns Hopkins University, where she teaches various writing and editing courses in both the credit and credit free areas.