Honoring Pava LaPere by Leading EcoMap into the Future: A note from newly named CEO, Sherrod Davis
In the wake of my partner Pava LaPere's tragic death, the past several weeks have been deeply challenging and emotional for me and the entire EcoMap team. So with a heavy heart, but also with optimism, I am writing you today as EcoMap’s new CEO. For the last three years, as EcoMap’s COO, I’ve worked in lockstep with Pava in a professional partnership and a trusted friendship, allowing us to operate efficiently and effectively together as a team. I miss my friend, dearly.
While there is no replacing a leader like Pava, I am committed and feel exceptionally well prepared to lead EcoMap into the future and to build the breakout company we both envisioned.
We are in a very strong position as we head toward year end. Not only have we built a category-defining company, and generated strong revenue momentum, but we’ve also weathered perhaps the most difficult situation a young company can face – and shown our resilience and determination as a team in the face of unimaginable circumstances. In a powerful legacy for Pava, we plan to accelerate EcoMap forward.
I grew up in northeast Baltimore witnessing a world where economic elevation was rare for even the hardest working people. Disproportionately, Black and brown families were stuck in peril with few pathways into economic mobility. There was a clear divide in the availability of resources and information that are so critical to family advancement. Those lucky enough to have access had a higher likelihood of success. I’ve witnessed this so-called “luck” firsthand, and because of my mother’s persistence, been a beneficiary.
When I was in 5th grade, my mother found Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust: B.E.S.T. for short; B.E.S.T.'s mission is to recruit and support African-American students with a financial scholarship to enroll them in private schools in Baltimore. B.E.S.T. assists students with academic preparation, character and leadership development programs. Fortunately, I was admitted and participated in B.E.S.T.; it changed the trajectory of my life.
After high school, I earned a BA from Davidson and a Master’s degree from Wake Forest University. I had the startup/tech bug right out of school, and I’ve worked in a range of founder and leadership positions over the past 8 years. Among them are roles as the VP of Operations at TrackOFF, a local startup that was acquired by Avast software in 2019. I was then on the senior team at Protenus, a series D digital health company. In 2021, I was honored to be named as a ‘Best in Tech’ Executive by the Baltimore Business Journal.
While at Protenus, I co-founded Baltimore Tracks - a coalition of Baltimore-based technology & tech-enabled company leaders committed to increasing opportunities for people of color in technology. Similar to Pava’s work, I was creating an accessible tech ecosystem to drive more opportunities for better outcomes of success. Through this experience, I became acutely aware of and deeply invested in ecosystems and their impact. What I learned was that in order to facilitate more equitable outcomes, we needed to take an ecosystem-led approach. One that incorporated input and participation from employers, community partners, schools, non-profits, and government. Through this work I learned about the importance of information accessibility and that without it, it’s nearly impossible to achieve ecosystem-wide impact.
The ecosystem and the networks we build for ourselves and our communities are key inputs and indicators of our outcomes and subsequent success. For too many in Baltimore and across the country, success is reliant on serendipitous encounters where we stumble across the right person or program at the right time.
EcoMap wants to change that.
Access to the pathways that enabled my journey should be the rule and not the exception. As a society, we too often fail to acknowledge that success is not just about hard work alone. It’s usually about our access to the right ecosystem. The information and opportunities within it. The people we are able to engage with. The organizations and groups we are connected to. The events we know about and attend to grow our network. That is the heart of my – and Pava’s – passion for the power of ecosystems.
The Baltimore tech ecosystem is why I met Pava in the first place. That chance encounter put me in a position to become her cofounder and COO, giving me the opportunity to support ecosystems not just in Baltimore but across the world.
With the foundation that Pava and our team have built at EcoMap, I will continue the work of creating accessible and equitable ecosystems by empowering them with important tools and technology that they need to be successful. And by doing so, we’ll carry on Pava’s legacy by bringing to life the world that she envisioned; where information flows freely and meaningful connections unlock opportunities for everyone.
With love and gratitude,