Business people: May 9, 2017


Brint Spencer, Director, Brandywine Zoo

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Sussex names economic development chief

County Administrator Todd F. Lawson on Tuesday introduced William F. Pfaff as the County’s new Economic Development director, restoring the position after a months-long vacancy following the passing last year of then-Economic Development director Melody Booker-Wilkins. Pfaff will begin work with the County on May 22.

Chosen from a field of 19 applicants, Pfaff brings with him more than 35 years of experience working in the local economy, first as a small business owner and most recently as a business liaison through a statewide public-private partnership. Lawson said that experience will be an asset to the County in helping to promote Sussex County and attract new commerce to the region.

Pfaff, who holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from York College of Pennsylvania, comes to County government from the Delaware Small Business Development Center, a cooperative effort among the federal Small Business Administration, the State of Delaware, and the University of Delaware.


Since 1993 he has served as local director, building the Sussex County office from the ground up. In his tenure, he has worked to assist hundreds of businesses by providing training, access to lenders, and developing marketing and business plans for newly recruited businesses, startups and expanding operations. Those have included everything from breweries and distilleries and food production plants to farm-based ice cream stands, early-learning centers, restaurants, car washes and more.

Prior to working at the Small Business Development Center, he served briefly as a program developer at Delaware Technical Community College’s Owens Campus; for the 11 years preceding his DelTech service, he owned and operated a local Sears Roebuck & Co. franchise. He serves or has served on few local boards and committees, including as an officer of the Georgetown and Millsboro chambers of commerce, as a member of the Easter Seals advisory board, and as a founding member of the Sussex Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Pfaff will lead the County’s economic development efforts and continue to serve as a resource to employers and those interested in doing business in Sussex County. The office, which works closely with business leaders, chambers of commerce, civic organizations, and others to promote opportunity and stimulate economic growth in Sussex, is responsible for overseeing the County’s business incentive and loan programs, as well as meeting with prospective employers to help understand and navigate regulatory processes.

Markell named to board of Graham Holdings Company

Graham Holdings Company, Arlington, VA, announced that Jack A. Markell has been elected to the Board of Directors.

Markell served from 2009-2017 as the Governor of Delaware, leading a $4 billion enterprise with 30,000 employees.

During his tenure, Delaware emerged from the great recession with the strongest job growth in the region and among the best private sector wage growth in the country. Markell was particularly focused on improving Delaware’s schools and positioning its citizens for future prosperity by launching and scaling important workforce development efforts. Before he was elected Governor, Markell served ten years as Delaware’s State Treasurer.

Prior to public service, Markell held several executive leadership roles in corporate development, investor relations, strategic management, and consulting with First Chicago Corporation, McKinsey & Company, Comcast Corporation and Nextel.

Markell serves on the National Board of Directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates and as a trustee of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics and development studies from Brown University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Graham is the former owner of the Washington Post. It now has holdings in educational testing, online media and investments in other areas.

Partnership for Delaware Estuary hires two

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary has hired Claire Birney, CFRE as its new director of development. She leads a three-person team working to attain the funding needed to restore the tidal Delaware River and Bay in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Birney has been a leader in nonprofit fundraising across the Delaware Valley for over 25 years. Most recently she was the director of philanthropy at The Nature Conservancy’sPennsylvaniachapter. Before that she was director of development at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. Other employers have included theWest Chester UniversityFoundation, Stroud Water Research Center, Upland Country Day School, Delaware Symphony, and Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.

Birney served for 12 years as a board member at theBrandywineChapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She was the chapter’s 2007 Fund Raising Executive of the Year. Other board memberships have included theChester CountyFund for Women and Girls and Lehigh University’s College of Education Advisory Committee.

Birney received her B.A. in communications from West Chester University. Since 2002, she has maintained her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification.

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary has promoted Sandra Demberger to monitoring fellow following a year-long internship. In this role she will evaluate the health of valuable wetlands.

Demberger graduated from theUniversity of Delawarewith a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a minor in wildlife conservation. Part of her education included research on water pollution resulting from excess nitrogen, which runs off the land and into estuaries. She also interned with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Brandywine Zoo Director named

The Brandywine Zoo announces the appointment of G. Brinton “Brint” Spencer as Zoo Director.

Previously, Brint served as Zoo Director of the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ and has a long history working at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, including the Zoological Society of Philadelphia.

He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1980. During this time, Brint worked as a seasonal zookeeper at The Brandywine Zoo.

The Brandywine Zoo is part of the Delaware State Parks and is managed by the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation with the support of the Delaware Zoological Society, the non-profit volunteer organization that supports the mission of the Brandywine Zoo.

Shore United Bank names market executive

Shore United Bank, a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies, announced that W. Thomas “Tom” Mears, has joined the company as a Market Executive.

He will be responsible for business development in the Lower Eastern Shore that includes Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset counties of Maryland and Accomack, Virginia. He will lead a team of commercial banking professionals at their new Loan Production Office located in West Ocean City, MD

Mears is a graduate of the Virginia Tech and holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics. He is also a graduate of the University of Maryland Banking School, University of Oklahoma Commercial Banking School and Leadership Maryland.

Prior to joining Shore United Bank, he worked at Hampton Roads Bankshares Inc., as the President of Commercial Banking where he was responsible for the commercial banking functions for Shore Bank and the Bank of Hampton Roads.

Mears began his career in banking in 1989 as a management trainee with Peninsula Bank, later known as Mercantile Peninsula Bank, where he held various leadership positions as a branch manager, credit manager and a regional president and market executive.

From January 2011 to February of 2016, Mears served as President and CEO of Shore Bank and President of Commercial Lending at Hampton Roads Bankshares, where he was responsible for commercial banking and loan production offices on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland.

Noble’s Pond names design consultant

Vivien D. Koronet, ASID, has joined Noble’s Pondas Design Consultant.

Koronet is NCIDQ certified and has completed the NKBA Kitchen Designer Course. She earned her B.S. Degree in Interior Design with a minor in Studio Art from Meredith College, North Carolina.

She has extensive interior design experience. In addition to working in new home construction and renovations, she has managed a design and decoration studio for an established interior design company. She previously owned her own interior design firm in Cary,NC.

An active member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), her most unusual assignment was to design luxury yacht interiors for a naval architecture firm.

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