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Vermont Connected: Envisioning the Future of Vermont's Economy

Meet Our Keynote Speaker: Julie Lenzer Kirk

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We are extremely pleased that our Keynote Speaker is Julie Lenzer Kirk. At our summit, she’ll speak to us about “Infusing Innovation & an Entrepreneurial Mindset to Fuel Economic Growth.”

“At EDA, we know the importance of a connectedness to the future economic strength of any community,” she told us. “Being a ‘geek’ myself, I also see the power and the relevance digital technologies can play in this. I applaud Vermont in having this vision and look forward to joining you in September to share ideas that answer ‘How can we…’ invent a better future!”

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Julie Lenzer Kirk was recently appointed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to lead the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), an office within the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). In her capacity as Director of the OIE, she is charged with driving programs and policies that support innovative economic development such as innovation-based entrepreneurship and regional innovation clusters. Her passion is infusing innovation and entrepreneurial mindset coupled with action into individuals, communities, and regions to act as a catalyst for economic growth.

Formerly, she was the Executive Director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) which is an initiative of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. Based in Columbia, Maryland the MCE is focused on igniting the entrepreneurial culture and bringing together the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the state. During her short tenure, the MCE quadrupled its client base and saw the creation of new programs such as 3D Maryland, a leadership initiative connecting resources in additive manufacturing; the Conscious Venture Lab, an accelerator focused on Conscious Capitalism; and a technology transfer accelerator in partnership with Johns Hopkins Advanced Physics Lab and other leading research institutions. She was the Co-Chair of Startup Maryland which launched a highly successful bus tour across the state, “Pitch Across Maryland,” connecting entrepreneurs with each other and the resources they need to start and grow.

She is also the co-founder and former CEO of the Path Forward Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit that helps women expand economic opportunity by starting and building growth-oriented businesses. The Center, home of the award-winning ACTiVATE program, focuses on businesses that have the potential to leverage technology as they grow beyond the founder to create jobs, increase opportunities, and improve the world.

An award winning serial entrepreneur, Ms. Kirk founded her first company, Applied Creative Technologies, Inc. (ACT), in 1995 as an IT solutions firm focusing on manufacturing operations and inventory control. With Fortune 500 clients, she grew the company to multi-millions in revenues, winning several national awards for workplace excellence. Through her 10-year leadership, ACT developed and commercialized ACTrax , a leading-edge production and warehouse management system, for which she negotiated the sale in 2005.

Ms. Kirk was recognized as a 2014 Influential Marylander, 2013 Trailblazer in Technology, and as AT&T's Innovator of the Year in 2011. She received designation as winner of SmartCEO's BRAVA awards in 2014, the Athena Award in 2004, and was named to Maryland's Top 100 Women 2005, 2008 and 2014 at which time she joined the Circle Of Excellence for sustained service to the community.

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