January 24, 2022

3 Smith Alums Named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Lists

Seven University of Maryland graduates – including three who graduated from Maryland Smith – have been named to the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 lists, a compilation of what the magazine calls 600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, leaders and stars.

The lists span 15 categories, including education, energy, sports and enterprise technology.

Jeron Davis ’15 (finance), a senior associate at RLJ Equity Partners in Clinton, Maryland, was featured on the Finance list. Forbes reports that he has deployed more than $210 million for the company, whose founder, Robert L. Johnson, is the first African American billionaire. Davis’ notable deals include a $60 million leveraged buyout of Pro-Vac and the $31 million TechMedia acquisition.

Jorge Richardson ’21 (finance), founder of HOPE Hydration in New York City, was included in the Marketing and Advertising category. He designs and deploys a global network of tech-enabled refill stations using geolocation to help people access clean water while collaborating with brands such as Google, Apple, Twitter and the Museum of Modern Art. He also built a search engine that let people look up thousands of small and local businesses to buy gift cards to support them during the pandemic.

Ali Salhi M.S. ’18 (business analytics), chief technology officer of Loop in Brooklyn, was also named to the Social Impact list. The company has raised more than $24 million to make financial services more equitable, starting with car insurance. Forbes writes that instead of relying on traditional evaluation factors that tend to disadvantage minority candidates like credit score, income and occupation, Loop uses a proprietary algorithm to predict the likelihood of car accidents happening and to assess driving behavior. An immigrant from Morocco, Salhi worked his way up from intern to CTO.

Sam Drozdov ’18 (individual studies) and Benjamin Khakshoor were honored on the Marketing and Advertising list as co-founders of Bloxbiz. Their company, recently acquired for $17.5 million by the esports venture Super League Gaming, brought ads into the virtual space of the hit video game Roblox, Forbes said.

Srijan Kumar M.S. ’16, Ph.D. ’17 (computer science), an assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, was listed in the Science category. He develops data science and machine learning solutions to combat online fraudsters and troll armies. His research is used by Flipkart, India's largest e-commerce platform, and has influenced Twitter's Birdwatch platform.

Amber Mayfield ’14 (communication), founder of To Be Hosted in New York City, is on the Media list. Forbes wrote that she was an assistant at Bravo TV when she launched To Be Hosted, a dinner series designed to highlight young Black chefs, artists and musicians. It has grown into a full-service event agency that specializes in dinners and food-focused events, with clients including Nestle, Del Monte, WE TV and Facebook. In 2020, Mayfield founded While Entertaining Magazine and began a paid subscription-based newsletter for food enthusiasts.

Olivia Owens ’14 (journalism), creator of IFundWomen of Color based in Brooklyn, N.Y., made the Social Impact list. She was the company’s first hire in 2017, then sought to address a funding disparity for women of color on the platform: Women of color made up 70% of the women on the platform, but represented only about 30% of the funds raised. After just one year of IFundWomen of Color, women of color now represent 51% of the funds raised on the platform.

–A version of this article originally appeared in Maryland Today.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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