Thirty years is a long time. A lot has changed. When the MIDC got started in 1992, Israel’s population was only five million people. It has nearly doubled since then to today’s 9.3 million. The original “halutzim” (pioneers) were still building the country: Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister.
(Sadly, Menachem Begin had just passed away.) And Israel had only signed one peace treaty with a neighboring country, Egypt in 1979. Now Israel’s pioneering spirit is found among the country’s amazing startup entrepreneurs. Israel is lauded globally as a high-tech powerhouse. And the country has peace agreements with six Arab countries, amazingly hosting a summit with several Arab foreign ministers at Sde Boker, David Ben Gurion’s home. Who would have ever thought it possible?!
On the personal front, I was single with no children. So, I was able to interview for the MIDC Executive Director position on Tuesday and leave for Israel with its founders — Hanan “Bean” Sibel, Marvin Schapiro and Martin Waxman — on Saturday. And today I have two grown sons whom I’m enormously proud of: Aaron who is following in familiar footsteps working with Israeli entrepreneurs at The Tamid Group, and Jacob who is a reporter for the Washington Post and just got engaged. I couldn’t be more proud!
Together, with our board and Founding Partners — The Associated, the state of Maryland and the Government of Israel — we’ve accomplished a lot in 30 years. We were fortunate that our industrial strengths in medical technology, telecommunications, information systems and defense paralleled. Just as important but often unstated, we were fortunate that our cultures paralleled with a healthy respect for education, scientific inquiry and diversity. So Israeli and Maryland entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers shared a common language.
We pioneered programs such as MarketReach America, our binational accelerator to train Israeli entrepreneurs to commercialize their technology and enter the US market, the Maryland/Israel Trendlines Fund, our venture capital fund started in partnership with The Trendlines Group to invest in Israeli startups, to Business Survival Strategies, our webinar series to help Israeli entrepreneurs stay connected to the US market during COVID.
I’d like to thank our visionary founders especially Bean, Marty and Marvin, who not only conceived the idea of creating an economic development partnership between Maryland and Israel and hired me, but who became my mentors. I also want to thank The Associated who displayed their own pioneering spirit by supporting the MIDC which was started as an experimental program with only two years of funding. And I want to thank the state of Maryland and Government of Israel for their continuing and enthusiastic support through all these years.
With grateful thanks for decades of heartfelt support,