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November 15, 2011


Maryland’s Digital Ambassador

by Andrea Vernot

Rock Star, Preacher, CoachLike a musician serenading his fans; a pastor rallying his congregation; or a coach motivating his team, watching Mario Armstrong deftly move around a packed auditorium at UMBC Sunday evening was both inspirational and motivational.
Hugging friends and colleagues, coaxing audience participation and preaching passion and ‘positivity’ – the Maryland-based “Digital Lifestyle Expert” – a regular contributor to CNN, NPR and NBC – attracted 300+ people at the end of a long holiday weekend in the name of technology, innovation and opportunity.

Innovation Nation was supported by DBED and the Maryland Small Business Financing Authority program. Shown here, Stanley Tucker (MSBDFA), Rhonda Ray (DBED) and Omar Muhamad

The event – “Innovation Nation” – brought together entrepreneurs, techies, students and sponsors for a screening of CNN’s “Black in America 4” and a post-viewing town hall broadcast live on the internet.  The webcast  – moderated by Mario – included two of the documentary’s featured entrepreneurs, Wayne Sutton and Hank Williams, as well as local tech CEO Dave Troy, venture capitalist Terry Jones, tech incubator chief Ellen Hemmerly, and my boss, Christian Johansson.

A one-time DBED employee who joined then Baltimore Mayor O’Malley’s staff as his first chief technology officer, Mario has built a successful business and brand identity ( as a media personality, motivational speaker, public servant and social entrepreneur.  Along with his partner, Nicole Hunter – CEO and organizational mastermind behind Mario Armstrong Media – the 4 year old company creates content for traditional, mobile and online media outlets for syndication.  Their latest venture, is a new social network for youth that inspires teenagers to ‘move from being passive users of cell phones and laptops into the next generation of digital scientists, innovators and activists by increasing their interest and

Following the CNN screening, the Town Hall was streamed live by AT&T on the web, including to eight ‘viewing’ parties across the country.

knowledge in STEM.’

Mario was featured in the award-winning Maryland of Opportunity campaign which debuted in January 2010.

I’m fortunate to work with inspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders every day.   One of our agency’s core marketing goals is to sell Maryland as a hot bed for talent, technology and opportunity.   Watching Mario Sunday, I was reminded why he was one of the first people I called for advice when I started this position and why we subsequently featured him in our inaugural “Maryland of Opportunity” campaign.

Watch the full broadcast of Innovation Nation: Start-Up Success Town Hall  here.

[UMBC President Freeman Hrabowksi, originally scheduled to participate in Innovation Nation was unable to do so as a result of a scheduling conflict with his appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes.  To learn more about the head of the nation’s top up and coming university three years in a row, watch Hrabowski: An educator focused on math and science.]

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. mindieb
    Nov 15 2011

    Love the look … so clean. I never knew anything about Mario Armstrong. What an inspiring figure. I look forward to viewing the Innovation Nation video. Oh, and I’m a HUGE fan of Freeman Hrabowski.. ever since Lara graduated from UMBC. Fabulous leader! I look forward to seeing your blog grow. xoxoxo

    • Nov 16 2011

      Thanks for encouragement. You have been a great teacher!


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