Leading with Impact
Ali von Paris is CEO and founder of Route One Apparel, the premier source for trendy and affordable Maryland pride apparel and accessories. The company began in 2010 when, while still an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, Ali designed a t-shirt for her friends to commemorate the closing of a popular local bar. When demand for the t-shirts spread quickly through social media, Ali began selling them online, and soon she had a budding business.
Today, Route One Apparel offers more than 3,000 unique products and designs that are sported by local icons and fans of all ages. Ali has secured official licensing agreements with many of the area’s most beloved brands, including National Bohemian, Old Bay, Utz, Hershey, and Domino Sugar, and wholesale partnerships with more than 100 retailers across the region.
Ali has received many accolades for her success and entrepreneurship, including the Baltimore Sun’s “Women to Watch,” The Daily Record’s “Top 100 Women,” “Leading Women” and “Very Important Professionals Successful by 40,” and the Baltimore Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” She is currently a finalist for the Ernst & Young LLP Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2022 Mid-Atlantic Award. In 2016, she was honored with an “Outstanding Young Alumnus Award” from the University of Maryland Alumni Association and as “Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Ali is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, one of the country’s premiere National Honor Societies, and currently serves on the boards of the Maryland Tourism Development Board, the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, and Preservation Maryland.
She graduated from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business with a B.A. in Finance, Information Systems in 2012. To learn more about her company, visit www.routeoneapparel.com.
Leadership Development Playbook
Jim Rafferty is the author of Leader by Accident: Lessons in Leadership, Loss and Life, from Morgan James Publishing, and Principal of JMRketing, LLC, a marketing and communications consultancy in Timonium, Maryland. For the past decade, Jim has worked with businesses across a wide variety of industries to help them tell their stories effectively and conversationally.
A longtime resident of Baltimore County, Jim has been married for almost 33 years. He and his wife Monica have two grown children.
Jim is also a former radio announcer and program director and a former Boy Scout leader, the story of which forms the basis of Leader by Accident.
Business Culture & Communication
Willie Blount is founder and owner of Next Level Gaming. As a visionary, tinkerer, and creator he has experience ranging from military operations, to advanced aviation radar technology, to computer and network systems development and management, and now a very successful and growing gaming entertainment company.
Born and raised mostly in northern New Jersey, Willie joined the United Stated Marine Corps right out of high school where, upon graduation from boot camp on Parris Island, he went to combat training in Camp Lejeune and then to his military specialty school in California. From there, Willie traveled as ordered, was integral to many joint forces military exercises, was the subject of numerous awards and distinguished honors, and was honorably discharged in 2000.
Willie then went to work for the United States Congress as an Systems Administrator and quickly gained the experience and expertise to be named Director of Information Systems for the Office of the Legislative Counsel to the United States House of Representatives. Willie retired from federal service after 27 total years. He does still operate as an information technology consultant to the federal government.
During his tenure with the Congress, Willie launched several companies, including one which landed him on Shark Tank. At this time he operates his company full time and has a dramatic vision to revolutionize how gaming and education are connected and develop and implement highly efficient and cost-effective systems to bring these gaming and educational initiatives to local schools and colleges.
Business Culture & Communication
Tara Carbo, PCC has played a leadership role her entire adult life of 23 years. She and her husband Mick began their entrepreneurial journey at the age of 18 when they got married and launched their first business, a ceramic tile and marble installation company. Decades of business and personal development along with rigorous coach training and leadership development has helped mold Tara into who she is today. Tara is most proud of having raised 3 adult children who love family activities and talks at the kitchen table. Today Carbo Coaching is her primary professional focus which allows her to to use all of her greatest talents. She most enjoys disrupting the status quo and supporting people at every level of leadership to challenge their beliefs and reinvent cultures to ones that foster love as a foundation, effective leadership and thriving relationships. What drives Tara each day is her mission to create work environments where people can come to work happy, have a fulfilling and productive day and go back home happy and healthy.
Business Culture & Communication
Melanie has been a part of the Fulton Bank team for the past 18 years, with leadership roles in Retail Management and Commercial Banking. Melanie provides financial solutions and support to clients in Commercial Real Estate, Capital Financing for Equipment , Vehicles and non – owner occupied property.
Melanie participates in several committees at the bank to include Contribution Sponsorship Committee and Fair and Responsible Banking.
She has previous experience in owning several businesses in Baltimore City to include restaurants, catering , coffee shop and real estate.
Melanie holds bachelor’s degree in Science from State University of New York at Cortland
2017 Maryland Banking School Graduate
2019 Business Volunteer of Maryland Give Fellowship
Board Member of the Tyanna Foundation support Breast Cancer Patients
Melanie resides in Anne Arundel County with husband Lester and son Trent. On the weekends and her free time, you can often find her , biking, hiking and supporting local musicians.
Fun facts: she has climb Table Mountain in Cape Town South African, scuba dive the North Wall in Grand Cayman Island .