Get to Know the Dingman Center: Elana Fine

This summer we will be featuring our current Dingman Center staff in a special blog series. Read along and get to know a little more about each member of our team!

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Elana Fine, Executive Director

Elana Fine is the fearless leader of the Dingman Center, a position that demands she wear many different hats: professor, podcast co-host, traveling panelist, thought leader, three-time “Tech Titan” and last but certainly not least, the manager of our team. Even during the Center’s busiest, most stressful times, Elana’s unwavering energy and tenacity serve as a beacon for her team to follow. Her “Monday morning meetings” are a weekly fixture that even those who would never call themselves “morning people” have come to look forward to. In these meetings, and on a daily basis, every member of the team is encouraged to contribute their thoughts on how we can best express the Dingman Center’s appeal and execute on its mission. In the face of adversity, we can press forward with confidence knowing Elana will fight for her team like a tiger protecting her cubs. Maybe that sort of maternal fierceness comes easily to her, as in addition to being a full-time executive director, she’s a full-time mom to twin 10-year olds. It’s unclear where she finds the time or energy for all of this, but some mysteries are better left unsolved. Not all heroes wear capes, after all.

What excites you most about your job?

Looking back at over seven years at the Dingman Center, I’d say that I’m most excited by the relationships the Dingman Center builds over time. We are like Kevin Bacon—everyone in the startup community seems to be within 6 degrees of the Dingman Center and often less. On a given day we might connect with a student with an idea for the first time, hear from a young alum already working on their second or third, or reconnect with a Terp looking to reengage with us as an advisor or angel investor. Since our relationships often span many years and sometimes decades, there is never a short answer to how someone has worked with the Dingman Center.

What are your favorite hobbies?

Over the past few years I’ve been doing more and more distance running and this year have taken the plunge to run the Marine Corp Marathon. I’m purposely including this in the blog post because I certainly can’t turn back after this goes in print. Running helps keep my head clear, energy high and stress low (or lower). I like to think I come up with some of my best ideas on the road, but my team might disagree.

If you could visit one place on earth, where would it be and why?

Just one place?! Lake Como is on my bucket list. While I might only be able to afford it for a day trip, it would be worth it for an unmatched combination of a breathtaking lake, mountain views, and Italian food and wine.

What’s the most interesting thing you have in your office?

My husband Sandy collects sports memorabilia. A few years ago he found a vintage Terps athletics poster at an autograph show and had it framed for me. He gets extra credit because as a Duke fan it’s pretty hard to buy anything routing for the Terps.

If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would it be?

I’m going to be sentimental for this one. My Grandma Julie died at only 75, when I was 9 and my sisters were 6 and 2. I always feel she missed everything—holidays, bat mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, meeting our kids—so many moments and milestones. One dinner would never be enough to share those memories, but it would at least be enough time to show her the highlights reel and introduce her to her great grandchildren (especially my daughter Julia, her namesake).

What would your super power be?

Cloning. As a working mom always wanting more time with my family, I wish I could be in more places at one time. I love my job and time at work, but there are many days when I wish I could spend more time with our 10 year old twins while they still want me around. I won’t go on a tangent, but women trying to have it all is exhausting!



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