Frederick’s Top 50 CEOs: Elizabeth “Betsy” Day, Dr. Ethan Dmitrovsky, Kim Dow, and John Dumas

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:

Elizabeth “Betsy” Day has been at the helm of The Community Foundation of Frederick County as president and CEO for 25 years. Betsy embraces innovative ideas and approaches, especially when it comes to the Community Foundation’s strategic planning. She has grown the foundation’s assets from $6 million in 1995 to more than $130 million during her tenure. When she is not helping seeking to raise even more funds with the help of her 25-member volunteer board for The Community Foundation and thanking those who contribute, Betsy can also be found out into the community giving back to countless of other organizations.

Collaboration, diversity and integrity are the words used to describe the management style of Dr. Ethan Dmitrovsky. He is laboratory director, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, as well as president of Leidos Biomedical Research Inc., Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. Because of his leadership, FNLCR has brought new collaborations to the laboratory, including collaborations with Mexico’s National Cancer Institute, Hood College, and Georgetown University.

Kim Dow, owner and publisher of Sass Studios, Sass Magazine, and The Everyday Dog Magazine, has forged a female-driven empire in the last decade. She believes in empowering women with Sass Magazine, which grew out of her business, Kalico Design, which provides graphic design to local businesses. With the recent acquisition of the MD-DC-VA dog lover magazine, she is tapping into the rapidly growing pet industry. When she’s not overseeing her other projects, she is the go-to person for launch parties, networking events and publications that showcase real women running Frederick.

John Dumas takes pride in shared leadership, person-centered positive leadership and investing back into team members as executive director and CEO of Service Coordination Inc. Under John’s leadership, SCI has implemented the use of balanced scorecard that measures four perspectives: customer, learning and growth, internal process and financial health. The company recently rolled out a StrengthsFinder 2.0 program, which is an assessment tool to help team members discover their best talents. In February 2018, the innovative corporate culture was recognized by CEOReport when it was honored as a 2018 Baltimore Corporate Culture Award Winner.

What brought you to Frederick County? Please give a quick snapshot of your background.

Betsy: My family and I were living in Washington County and loved Frederick County's community spirit and family-friendly environment. I saw the advertisement for the Community Foundation CEO position, which fostered the family conversation of "do we stay or do we go?" When offered the position, we jumped at the opportunity for me to work here and for our family to live here. Twenty-three years later, I can honestly say moving to Frederick County has been one of the best decisions we have made.

Ethan: The opportunity to lead this national laboratory was what brought me to Frederick.

Kim: I am a native Fredericktonian. I graduated from Linganore High School in 1996, and am married to my high school sweetheart, who also attended LHS. My family owned a small sandwich shop, Timothy's, in Everedy Square over 25 years ago. I've loved watching the city grow over the past 20 years and made it a goal to have a studio space in downtown Frederick after I started my own business.

John: I came to Frederick County in 1998 when I was stationed at Camp David with the United States Marines. I spent almost 22 years on active duty with the Marines and retired in Frederick. We decided to remain in Frederick because of all of the opportunities that it had to offer, you have the City of Frederick with all of the shops and restaurants, to the Catoctin Mountains.

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

Betsy: I speak at many nonprofit and volunteer recognition events annually and I often talk about the "power of one."  One person has an idea, with that person subsequently involving others, until the idea becomes a movement. At times, I use my "power of one," which can be a little scary at first — especially not knowing of others will follow or share the same vision. However, being a leader necessitates getting out of my comfort zone at times. Knowing the end result of using my "power of one" will create a movement for positive change is well worth any of my feelings of uneasiness.

Ethan: I am committed to striving to be a servant leader who wants to emphasize a caring work environment devoted to improving the public’s health.

Kim: My personal values are authenticity, trust, hard work, and humility. I try to instill these values in my employee as well. I also value helping the underdog, the little guy. I try to approach all endeavors with an open mind, a hard work ethic, a sense of humor, and the knowledge that I don't know it all — far from it. I am constantly learning and evolving as I go.

John: I believe in integrity and a positive leadership approach. Integrity is the foundation of all leadership traits as it sets the stage for the other traits to build on. Positive leadership is implemented through what I describe as a "Shared Leadership" model where the people who are impacted by the problem they are facing as part of the team that develops the solution. I began my leadership journey as a young Marine NCO (non-commissioned officer) and have been a student ever since.

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?

Betsy: I started with the Community Foundation in 1995 when it held $4.8M in 90 charitable funds that were awarding $50,000 in scholarships and $300,000 in grants (and we thought we were hot stuff!). Fast forward to FY18, and the Community Foundation had $138M in total assets in 700 charitable funds that are awarding $1.1M in scholarships and $4.8M in grants.  The best part of my work isn't the number of funds or the total assets under management. The best part is the fact that the Community Foundation has given back $52M in scholarships and grants during this period.

Ethan: The Frederick National Laboratory is not a commercial enterprise but one committed to advancing the treatment of AIDS, cancer and emerging health problems. I work to promote these efforts.

Kim: I started my initial company, Sass Studios (formerly Kalico Design) over 10 years ago, as a freelance designer sitting on my couch with laptop in hand (and dog in my lap). Since then, Sass Studios has grown to three full-time employees, two part-time employees and various interns. We've evolved our services based on our clients’ needs — from logo design to full branding consulting; from single-page websites to full scale WordPress-driven sites; from small brochures to full event branding collateral. But, we've also always maintained our customer service, creativity and work ethic. So, while things have changed, they've also stayed the same in many ways. We just launched Everyday Dog in May of 2018, so we’re excited to see it grow to a national audience.

John: We implemented the first Strategic Planning process in the 2006-2007 timeframe and have been building on it ever since. The process is further measured through a balanced scorecard tool that measures the success of organizational initiatives with baselines and targets. We also began the Gallup Q12 and Strength Finders 2.0 initiatives helping to develop team members’ engagement with SCI.

Who is the leader you most admire and why?

Betsy: Thirty years ago, I worked for a nonprofit in New Jersey whose board chairman was Nancy McDaniel. She taught me so many things.  She taught me to look for the lesson in every situation, whether it had a positive outcome or not. When things didn't go as planned, her first response was to teach, not to reprimand. Nancy had a calming, reassuring, positive energy about her that made people want to be with her. Nancy also taught my 23-year-old self that I needed to get a backbone, even when it came to adjusting the office thermostat. Nancy passed away a few years ago, but I think of her leadership and mentoring every time I adjust the thermostat at the office.

Kim:  While my answer might sound cheesy, the leaders I most admire are family members. I admire my mom who recently retired as a Montgomery County School teacher; she taught special education for over 30 years. In both her life and career she has been a tremendously hard worker, extremely diligent and prepared, shows both compassion but also a steel reserve, isn't afraid to ask questions or to figure it out herself. My dad is also a really hard worker and I attribute both parents for my work ethic. Additionally, I also admire my husband, who is also a Montgomery County Public School teacher — high school math. He teaches his students that they have to work hard for what they want, but he's also always willing to take time to help them when they ask.

John: I believe that Peter Drucker was “the father of management,” and Warren Bennis will be remembered as “the father of leadership.” It was Bennis who first said leadership is not a set of genetic characteristics but rather the result of the lifelong process of self-discovery. He once wrote: “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”

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

Betsy: I love to entertain and I especially love making some of my Italian grandmother's recipes for friends around our dining room table. My husband and I frequent Frederick County's restaurants and we appreciate the variety that can be found in and around the county. We also like to support our local nonprofits and can be found at fundraisers and other events.

Ethan: I enjoy hiking and reading.

Kim: My husband and I love eating out and trying all the restaurants in our community — from upscale dining to hole-in-the-wall dives. We also can be found visiting several of the breweries in Frederick County. We also love hiking or mountain biking near our home in Gambrill State Park. You might find us walking the streets of downtown Frederick during First Saturday, attending an event at The Weinberg Center for the Arts, going to an event on Carroll Creek, shopping at a local farmers market, or just taking the dogs on a walk through the streets of downtown.

John: We can be found in a lot of different places, such as a run in Baker Park or a stroll along Carroll Creek to browsing the shops on Market Street to enjoying a restaurant.  We also enjoy kayaking down the Monocacy River or hiking the many trails in the Catoctin Mountains.