Press Release

New Director of Southern Management Leadership Program Brings Experience in Venture Development and Mentoring

September 20, 2021 -- Sara Herald, an experienced campus leader in entrepreneurship programs, is the new Director of UMD’s Southern Management Leadership Program.

A UMD alumna and adjunct professor in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, Herald has built a career centered on opening doors to the entrepreneurship ecosystem and mentoring young entrepreneurs. Most recently, Herald served as the Director of Venture Development at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship where she managed a portfolio of 7 venture programs and 3 undergraduate courses.

The Southern Management Leadership Program supports and develops students who have an interest in entrepreneurship and an enthusiasm for starting a business venture, leading a company, or changing the world. Through mentorship, guidance, and scholarship support, the program aims to identify, encourage, and graduate ethical leaders who want to energize and give back to their local communities.

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Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies William A. Cohen thanked interim director Harry Alford III for his leadership for the past year, and added: “Sara Herald’s experience leading entrepreneurship programs, along with her proven dedication to inclusion and diversity efforts in higher education, will help create new opportunities for SMLP and its students. Under her guidance, the program and its students will continue to exemplify the strong entrepreneurial spirit of our university.”

Herald received her Master of Business Administration degree from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and English from Georgetown University. In the Dingman Center, she founded and continues to lead the Ladies First initiative, a program committed to increasing the number of female students engaged in entrepreneurship at UMD, in which many SMLP students have participated.

Herald’s previous professional experience includes leading the U.S. office of a startup accelerator and technology consulting firm in San Francisco, CA, and serving as the assistant director of the Center for Social Value Creation at Maryland Smith.

“I’m excited to bring my passion for inclusive entrepreneurship to this new position,” said Herald. “My instructional and mentoring experience with Southern Management Leadership students has been deeply rewarding, and I look forward to developing more connections with the campus entrepreneurship ecosystem, specifically the Dingman Center, the breadth of whose entrepreneurship programs will enhance the SMLP student experience. I am thrilled to have the chance to work closely with the exceptionally talented students in SMLP.”

For more than a decade, the Southern Management Leadership Program has helped develop local community leaders through a scholarship and intensive mentoring program at Prince George’s Community College, Montgomery College, and the University of Maryland. The program was founded by Suzanne Hillman (President and CEO of Southern Management Companies), the late David Hillman, and their family as a way to enrich the education of students in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.

“The mission of the Southern Management Leadership Program is to develop strong leaders who will use their education and experiences to make positive and lasting impacts in their hometowns,” said Hillman. “Sara is a skilled collaborator who will build on the connections she already has with students and faculty, and we believe she will inspire entrepreneurs who are committed to changing the world.”

Southern Management Companies is one of the largest privately owned residential property management companies in the United States. Southern Management owns 77 apartment communities with approximately 25,000 apartment homes. In addition to residential property ownership and management, Southern Management owns and manages commercial properties as well as four hotels and conference centers.

About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 300 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, four Pulitzer Prize winners and 59 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.2 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit

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Meet the dedicated individuals behind the program.

David Hillman and others

Our Founders

Learn about Suzanne and David Hillman, founders of Southern Management Leadership Program (formerly Hillman Program).