November 14, 2023

Startup Ecosystem Builder UpSurge Baltimore Names First Black CEO: Kory Bailey

Kory Bailey

UpSurge Baltimore has named Kory Bailey its new CEO.

Founded in 2021, UpSurge Baltimore is an ecosystem builder focused on making Baltimore the country’s first Equitech city and a launching pad for founders of all backgrounds.

Bailey will be the first Black person to lead the company.

Meet Kory Bailey

Bailey is a noteworthy leader in the startup and tech community that focuses on developing relationships locally and nationally with founders, investors, and startup support organizations.

Bailey, from Durham, NC, grew up loving sports and technology and went on to study a Bachelor of Science and Communication at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After leaving the sports industry, he turned to entrepreneurship, with his first experience in tech in Indianapolis in 2014 at computer software company Blackbaud.

Previous to UpSurge, Bailey was a startup mentor at Techstars Equitech Accelerator, which aimed to weave founder teams from across the world into the Baltimore Tech community.

He was also the brainchild behind Equitech Tuesday, a weekly meet-up for the city’s tech community.

This effort led to the launching of the Baltimore Tech Connect portal, created by EcoMap Technologies and local organizations Fearless and UpRise.

In March 2021, he became Director of Relationship Development at UpSurge, where he engaged Baltimore’s startup and scale business community and developed relationships locally and nationally with founders and investors.

He then progressed to Chief Ecosystem and Relationship Officer. 

UpSurge’s First Black CEO

On November 7, UpSurge Baltimore announced Bailey would be taking over from Jamie McDonald as CEO.

“I take that challenge on knowing I’ve got big shoes to fill and that I want to create a legacy of my own in moving this organization forward,” said Bailey.

“Kory has a unique ability to take his lived experience, which includes invaluable time spent learning and understanding big tech and the start-up landscape, and translate that into greater connectivity and alignment within our tech community,” said Mike Hankin, chairman of UpSurge’s board, according to

In his new role, Bailey and the UpSurge team will collaborate on the phase two submission, in which the consortium will compete for funding for AI and biotechnology projects.

He is also working to bring more tech accelerators and conferences to Baltimore and to expand UpSurge’s partnerships with entrepreneur support organizations.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.