Frederick's Top 50 CEOs: Andrea Chapdelaine, PhD.; Chris Coville, Margot Connor and Nick Damoulakis

The Frederick County Office of Economic Development (OED) received 146 nominations for lead executives, founders, entrepreneurs and company owners of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations for Frederick’s Top 50 CEOs. The final list included criteria based on the CEO’s individual responses on the following: Strategic leadership concepts; significant growth under his or her leadership; number of employees; tenure; company’s turnover rate; company’s median salary; number of times CEO was nominated; and the CEO’s involvement in the community. 

Get to know four of the top 50 this month:

As president of Hood College, Andrea Chapdelaine, PhD., has used her experience of more than two decades in higher education, her strong leadership skills and strategic ideas to shepherd the college through new growth after a six-year decline. She gives her time outside of Hood with several organizations including Frederick CREST (Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology) and the Chamber of Commerce; and is a member of the Frederick Rotary. In her professional role, she serves as vice chair of the Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities Association and the vice chair of the Middle Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Chris Colville has spent six years as the CEO of YMCA of Frederick County and has worked with the Y movement for 35 years. It’s her passion that has fueled her mission to revitalize YMCA of Frederick County. Because the Y is about community, Colville is active within Frederick County, too. She is an active member of the Rotary Club of Frederick, and is a mentor in a program with adults to help them develop skills and knowledge of how to be employable and successful. Her more than 700 staff members and employees known her as an hands-on leader. She’s also able to recruit and retain talent to enhance the Y and its mission.

In the nearly five years that Margot Connor has been CEO  of RoosterBio Inc., she has successfully grown the small five-person company to more than 46 employees in such a short amount of time. Through Connor’s leadership RoosterBio’s revenue has doubled since she took the helm. Her approachability as a leader has, in turn, inspired her employees, who say she is the calm in the storm, and leads by example with a gentle but firm hand. And her negotiation skills have landed RoosterBio some strategic partnerships that highlight the company in the business realm.

Nick Damoulakis, president of Orases, has built a company where culture is first. He believes in his 25 employees, but at the same time pushes them to be their best through autonomy, mastery and purpose. He one one of three executives who started Tech Frederick, which has led to Tech Frederick Games that brings in $30K to Tech Frederick, with a portion going to Mental Health Association. Under Damoulakis’ leadership, Orases’ revenue growth in 2017 from 2016 was 38.32 percent and employee growth was 35.14 percent. Clutch recently identified Orases as a national leader for website development. Orases also received two Best Culture awards from CEO Report and the Velocity Growth in Business Award from CEO Report.

What brought you to Frederick County?

Andrea: Three years ago, I was nominated and recruited to apply for the presidency at Hood. The Hood Board of Trustees was seeking a leader commensurate with my experience and skills, and I was seeking an institution with Hood’s mission as a private institution of higher education committed to both the liberal arts and workforce preparation, as well as preparing students for civic responsibility. The day I was named the 11th president of Hood College was the highlight of my professional career and this position has been both professionally and personally deeply rewarding.

Chris: My entire professional career has been working with the YMCA in five states and five YMCAs throughout the country. I moved to Frederick to assume the role as CEO six years ago.

Margot:  I had been working for Lonza Group at its global headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, for several years. When Lonza acquired the Cambrex Bio businesses (headquartered in Walkersville, Md.), there was going to be significant M&A work associated with those five businesses. This was an exciting role, so I transferred from Basel to Walkersville about nine years ago. Since then, I’ve never wanted to leave the area. I met RoosterBio founder and CTO Jon Rowley, while we were both at Lonza Walkersville. This began the journey!

Nick: My wife Amy and I were looking for a new place to start our business and family. We knew we wanted to be in Maryland and was trying to find the right area that supported our personal needs business needs. We were between Annapolis and Montgomery County in 2002. However, we were passing by Frederick and filled up for gas in Urbana and ended up liking the area. We then went to downtown and had a great Saturday stroll exploring the restaurants and atmosphere. Frederick has been home since 2002.

Please describe your personal values or your strategic leadership ideas for your company.

Andrea: As president, I have worked to build plans that have strong community input and transparency. I have also worked to provide the structure, financial stewardship and leadership necessary to realize Hood’s collective ambitions to better serve our students and achieve our mission. With regard to personal values, I believe strongly that the wealth of experience, expertise and commitment to mission held by the members of an academic community are critical to its strength and sustainability.

Chris: My personal values align with the Mission & Vision of the YMCA.  I believe I possess strong leadership skills and I am a strategic thinker. The YMCA's desired impact is to seek to enable all of us to live healthier, strengthen family bonds and improve our community.

Margot: RoosterBio provides standardized stem cell product platforms designed to remove several years and millions of dollars from product development and clinical testing. The company values and beliefs are near and dear to my heart. This company is really about people helping people — our employees, customers, collaborators, advocates and supporters. Underpinning these relationships is trust, open-mindedness, transparency, responsibility, respect and collaborative spirit.

Nick: My purpose statement: To have fun in this journey through life and learn from mistakes.

My personal priorities: To be a force for good, vessel for positive change and conduit of love and support; do work that I am passionate about and can also do well; create an environment where my children thrive and realize their potential; be a good and supportive sibling/friend especially when it isn’t easy or convenient; help others achieve their dreams/goals; never forget to have fun, explore my non-work passions and enjoy people; stand up for things I care about; be the change I want to see in the world.

Since you founded or started with your company, what innovative new ideas or concepts did you implement? What has your sales growth been like and is there a turnaround story?

Andrea: Working with Hood students, faculty and staff, alumni and trustees as well as the Frederick community, I have developed a strategic plan to leverage existing strengths to continue Hood’s positive momentum forward and better serve current and future students. This has led to several innovations, including working with faculty and staff as well as community experts. We have developed several new academic programs to better meet workforce needs and prepare our students for successful careers and establishing the Martha E. Church Center for Civic Engagement at Root. Hood is partnering with Frederick Community College and Mount St. Mary’s University to create a degree pipeline from associate to master’s in cybersecurity; establishing a strong working relationship with Frederick Regional Health System to develop new curricula and programs to meet the workforce needs in health care and the health care needs of the Frederick community, among other exciting news.

Chris: Over the past six years we have refreshed the Strategic Plan twice for the association, launched a Capital Campaign to build a new YMCA facility in the southern part of the county and partnered with the American Legion to operate a 72-acre resident camp facility. We were awarded the Head Start county-wide program and successfully managed through a natural disaster where we suffered more than $2 million in damages. In 2012 the operating budget was approximately $9.2 million and at the end of 2018 we anticipate the budget will be close to $15.5 million. We have experienced significant growth in the areas of child care, camp and membership.

Margot: RoosterBio Inc. was co-founded in 2013 by Chief Technology Officer Jon Rowley, PhD, and former Chief Operating Officer Uplaksh Kumar to address the industry bottleneck related to cell supply and has developed processes to routinely generate billions of therapeutic quality cells for product development and clinical translation. Since the inception of RoosterBio, the company has rapidly grown to reach more than 200 customers worldwide; shipping cells and bioprocess media systems within North America, to Europe, to Asia. Further, in early 2018, RoosterBio commercialized CliniControl™ cells — the industry’s first cGMP Human Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells (hMSCs) for widespread manufacturing, following through on the commitment to radically change the use of stem cells.

Nick: We went from almost closing our doors in 2008 to changing our mission and work to do large-scale custom software applications. Since we made the change, we have had significant growth ever since. Projects moved from doing small websites to websites starting at 150K. We then created a product in Frederick that helped us be a leader in Case and Grant Management systems. 

Who is the leader you most admire and why?

Andrea: I have been blessed by several personal mentors who have been role models and whom I both admire and aspire to be like. The one that comes immediately to mind is Dr. Robert Beall, a personal friend who recently retired after a 35-year career at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 21 years as its president. He has been a great mentor and friend to me, always finding time to listen and provide good counsel. I am truly a better leader and person for having known Bob and to me that is the mark of a great leader.

Chris: I have a YMCA colleague in Texas with whom I worked with for more than 14 years in two states. His example of leadership and service provided me the foundation to acquire and secure the position of the CEO job in Frederick.

Margot: Personally, I gain such inspiration from such a wide variety of sources, that I’d be very hard pressed to assign one as “most admired.” I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had incredible mentors throughout my life and career, and these are the people that I most admire. Why? These mentors were selfless, encouraging, sought nothing in return, shared treasured experiences and guidance, and inspired me to keep evolving personally and professionally.

Nick: Ray Dalio, founder, chair and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, who has given us “Meaningful Work and Relationships Through Radical Truth and Transparency.” 

Dalio believes the most effective way to create meaningful work and meaningful relationships is through an idea meritocracy in which everyone speaks frankly and operations are open to scrutiny.

What do you love to do for fun in Frederick County? On any given weekend, where could you be found?

Andrea: There are so many great options for fun in Frederick. On most weekends, you can find me on campus, engaging in the various campus events — theatrical and music productions, sporting events, lectures or just enjoying social time with the students. My daily routine is a run with my dog through campus and Baker Park. I try to find time on occasion to hike in Gambrill Park with my family. We also enjoy walking downtown and enjoying the many great restaurants, shops and breweries.

Chris: I actually like home improvement projects. Swinging a hammer or building something is therapeutic for me. Additionally, I enjoy the outdoors, which includes biking and hiking. I still play competitive soccer and attend national tournaments.

Margot:  I love downtown Frederick. We have a real treasure here, with this great mix of restaurants, specialty shops and cultural attractions.

Nick: I like to hike and fish; coach my kids under the Frederick County Parks & Recreation Department; eat at the incredible restaurants; give back including the Greek Festival, which I’ve chaired for 15 years; working with TechFrederick; spending time with my kids and playing tennis with USTA Frederick League.