TEDCO's interim director gets the job permanently

Winsky's leadership of state tech fund is praised

February 27, 2007|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN REPORTER

Fifteen months after she accepted the job on an interim basis, and more than seven years since she first applied for it, Renee M. Winsky has been named executive director of the Maryland Technology Development Corp., which oversees the state's $15 million stem-cell fund.

The state legislature created the organization, best known as TEDCO, in 1998 to help create and nurture fledgling tech businesses, in part by commercializing intelligence from Maryland universities and federal labs. It has grown to be one of the country's top financiers of new ventures, doling out millions in grants and loans since its inception.

Winsky, a former vice president with the Information Technology Association of America, applied for the executive director position soon after the organization was created, but she was passed over for Phillip A. Singerman, an assistant commerce secretary in the Clinton administration.

Singerman hired Winsky as his deputy, working with her until his resignation in December 2005, after which she replaced him on an interim basis while an executive search was performed.

"She's been crucial to the development of the program over the last seven-plus years," Singerman said in an interview yesterday. He is now a partner at Toucan Capital, a Bethesda venture capital firm investing in early-stage technology and life science companies.

"She's widely respected in the General Assembly, she's done a terrific job over the past year with the stem-cell program, and she obviously has the support of the board and the support of the administration," he said, "so it's a wonderful appointment."

Under Winsky's leadership, TEDCO took on what some have called its most daunting task: oversight of the politically charged state stem-cell fund, which has been called both a blessing and a curse by Maryland leaders.

The fund, which Gov. Martin O'Malley has pledged to increase by 75 percent, brings financial credibility to an organization used to dealing in relatively small awards.

But it also puts it in the center of an issue that poses ethical and moral questions, such as paying for stem-cell research that destroys human embryos.

"All things considered, I think we've done remarkably well," Winsky said yesterday of the year's challenges, which include having no deputy to back her up. "We were short-staffed and everybody stepped up to the plate, and we still wound up getting a couple of million [dollars in funding] from the Feds."

For now, Winsky's focus is on forthcoming budget hearings that will determine the amount of money TEDCO and its stem-cell commission will have to spend. But she's hoping to outline a focused direction for TEDCO by a May meeting with her board of directors.

"We have to take our lessons learned," Winsky said.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

Renee M. Winsky

Age: 44

Education: Bachelor's degree in radio, television and film from the University of Maryland in 1984

Experience: January 2006 until new appointment: TEDCO's interim executive director

2000 to present: TEDCO's deputy executive director and director of information and communications technology

1999 to 2000: Chief operating officer and vice president of the Information Technology Services Division at the Information Technology Association of America.

1994 to 1999: Manager, local government services with the National League of Cities

1992 to 1994: Administrative officer with the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, an affiliate of the National League of Cities

1989 to 1992: Senior staff associate with the Maryland Municipal League

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