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Direct Energy Business Honors First-Ever Baltimore, Philadelphia Small Business Community Heroes Winners

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Recently, representatives from Direct Energy Business traveled to Philadelphia and Baltimore to honor the winners of the first-ever Philadelphia and Baltimore Small Business Community Heroes award programs.


The first stop was to CBS 3’s Talk Philly to announce Valerie Erwin, executive chef of Geechee Girl Rice Café, as the winner of the Philadelphia award for her dedication to community investment and volunteerism. Erwin began her volunteer work in 2010 with “Seeds for Learning,” a program that taught high school students how to plant, grow, and prepare their own food. Through the high school program, Erwin taught students how to prepare recipes for family and friends via an annual demonstration. She has also hosted an annual event at her café for farmers where local residents sample the delicacies of fresh grown food.

More recently, she jumped into volunteering with students of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, a program designed to pair culinary students with local businesses where they can acquire hands-on experience in a restaurant setting.

Erwin was announced the winner on CBS 3's Talk Philly. Watch the segment.


That afternoon, the Direct Energy Business representatives made their way to Baltimore. The next day, their first stop was to Maryland New Directions (MND) to recognize Skip Case, founder of Case Industrial Partners, Inc., for his dedication to the nonprofit that has fought joblessness and poverty, graduating clients into financial sustainability since 1974. On the nonprofit’s behalf, utilizing his 30+ years of real estate experience, Skip negotiated a favorable lease for space that was 35% larger than the previous location. He also expanded the nonprofit’s outreach by connecting with his professional network as an advocate for the organization.

Last, but certainly not least, in collaboration with 435 Digital, by The Baltimore Sun, we honored the winner of the first-ever Baltimore Heroes program, Dr. Kimberly Brown. Brown’s company, Amethyst Technologies, LLC, hosts a bioengineering internship program and welcomes one Biotechnology Institute program graduate as an intern with both programs providing training and experience in the biotech industry. She also launched Global Outcomes, Inc. a nonprofit focused on education, global health, and economic empowerment. 

Brown is very active in the community as well. She was appointed by the Anne Arundel County Executive to the Commission for Women and the Minority Business Enterprise Committee. She is a member of the Life Science Advisory Board for the State of Maryland, the Board of Visitors for the Clark School of Engineering at University of Maryland College Park, and formerly served on the Maryland Commission for Women. And this is just a snapshot of her community involvement.

The Awards

Direct Energy Business awarded Dr. Brown and Erwin each with a $500 cash prize, an award, and donated $2,000 each to CCAP and Global Outcomes, Inc., as well as $250 to MND.

Posted: November 20, 2014