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Philip Kapneck

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Philip Kapneck (October 31, 1931 – February 16, 2020) was an American public servant and former businessman. In June 1970, he was appointed Special Advisor on Student Affairs to the Maryland Governor's Office, by Gov. Marvin Mandel. In 1973, he was appointed Maryland Trade Ambassador, and he remained in that position for 40 years, through to December 2014.[1]


Philip Kapneck at High School

Kapneck was born in Washington D.C., one of two children. He attended William Bramwell Powell Elementary School and McFarland Junior High School. He graduated from Roosevelt Senior High School, where he was elected class Vice President in his final year.[2]

Kapneck studied Business Administration and Political Science at George Washington University.


Kapneck was elected a delegate to the Maryland State Convention.[3] He served the state as Special Advisor on Student Affairs to the Governor's Office, and later, as Maryland Trade Ambassador.

Government Work[edit]

In 1970, after many protests over faculty tenure had disrupted Maryland Universities, the Governor of Maryland, Gov. Marvin Mandel asked Philip Raum Kapneck, a local businessman, to serve as a "Special Advisor on Student Affairs to the Governor's Office" to be a communicator between students and the Governor's Office. Kapneck accepted, to create a good line of communication between the students and the State, and commenced this work in June 1970.[4]

As Special Advisor on Student Affairs, Kapneck worked with the College Board of Regents, Dr. Charles E. Bishop, the new University Chancellor and Fred Spiegler, assistant administrative officer under Secretary of State Blair Lee III, in the Office of Education. Dr. Bishop was brought in to help bring the sprawling UMd campus under control, following the tenure of Wilson Homer Elkins.

Rather than sitting in an office behind a desk, Kapneck walked around the politically-volatile campus talking to students and asking their opinion, instead of laying out the administration's line as others had done. The Baltimore Evening Sun reported on April 28th 1971 "Mr. Kapneck, who has served in the student-state liaison post since it was created especially for him in September, has somehow made few enemies on the politically volatile campus." [5]

On May 5th 1971, an anti-war demonstration at the University of Maryland campus became violent. Governor Mandel imposed a curfew and sent in the National Guard. 2,500 students moved from the campus to U.S. Highway 1. "The movement came despite the pleadings for peaceful protest from Phil Kapneck, Governor Mandel's middle-aged student affairs adviser, who was the only man there with a bull-horn," the Baltimore Sun said, on Sun 6 May 1971, Page 17.[6]

Two days later, on May 7th, 1971, students tried to close down the university and the National Guard was brought in again, making front page news. About 50 persons, apparently members of the campus chapter for the Students for a Democratic Society, attempted to occupy the school's computer science building. Kapneck warned students in a statement[7] "You have taken a giant step backward." He said students were mistaken if they felt "civil disobedience is a method of gaining points for your cause."

In 1971, Kapneck was honored by University of Maryland Student Government Association, for his work as Special Advisor on Student Affairs to the Governor's Office, the first non-University of Maryland student in 12 years to be named its Man of the Year.[8] [5] The newspaper misspelled his name as "Katneck." This was the first time in its history that the University had named a non-student as Man of the Year.

On March 6th 1972, David Lightman, a Baltimore Evening Sun journalist reported that Philip Kapneck "plans to propose a new way to curb student disorders that have rocked the University of Maryland during May the last two years."[9] His proposal involved ending classes on the last day of April, to keep students busy studying, rather than demonstrating on US Highway 1. The idea was rejected by the University.

In August 1973, Governor Mandel was made aware of overseas business and industry wanting to come to the USA to set up their operations. Knowing that Kapneck had a business background and was multi-lingual, Governor Mandel appointed Kapneck director of the state of Maryland's European development office in Brussels, Belgium. Subsequently, he was appointed Maryland Trade Ambassador.[10][11]

The Brussels office covered Europe and Kapneck was the first to make connections to attract European business and industry to Maryland. Gail Ewing, a journalist at Maryland's Gazette newspaper wrote "He blazed new trails and set the groundwork for Maryland's presence in the overseas business community." When the program proved successful, the Maryland Secretary of Business and Economic Development appointed Kapneck to continue the same idea in Asia and the South Pacific.[11]

The Federal government asked Ambassador Kapneck to work with the US Embassy in a program called "Invest in the USA," modeled on the format used for the State of Maryland.[3]

Ambassador Kapneck's work was honored with two Governor citations. Successive administrations since Governor Mandel reappointed Kapneck as the State's Trade Ambassador.[1]

Maryland State Archives added Ambassador Kapneck to their Maryland Government twitter list.[12]

Companies Brought To Maryland[edit]

In 2006 Trade Ambassador Kapneck brought FieldTurf to Maryland, from Canada, after calling the company, and inviting them to set up in Maryland, to stimulate other local businesses. FieldTurf Tarkett CEO John Gilman said "With our new presence in Maryland, the regional industry will benefit from FieldTurf Tarkett's capabilities as a one-stop resource for all high-quality sports surfacing products."

The Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium ribbon-cutting was arranged by Trade Ambassador Kapneck for August 29th, 2006. "Among the dignitaries in attendance will be the Secretary for the Department of Economic Development for the State of Maryland, Mr. Aris Melissaratos; the Maryland State Trade Ambassador, the Honorable Philip Kapneck; and The Naval Academy Director of Athletics, Mr. Chet Gladchuk." [13]

Present at the ribbon-cutting with Ambassador Kapneck were Secretary for the Department of Economic Development for the State of Maryland, Mr. Aris Melissaratos; and The Naval Academy Director of Athletics, Mr. Chet Gladchuk. FieldTurf Tarkett members in attendance will include Mr. Jim Petrucelli, Vice President of Sales; Mr. Jim Shanahan, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager, Mr. John McShane Regional Director of Specialty Products along with Mr. Frank LeMaster, Sales Representative and Mr. Bill Bamber, Sales Representative.

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the company recognized the Ambassador's part in helping them expand into the US. "Since FieldTurf's local state office in Bethesda was introduced to the great state of Maryland by Trade Ambassador Philip Kapneck at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the prestigious Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on FieldTurf, many local businesses have experienced a significant amount of growth due to the increasing awareness of the safety and environmental benefits involved with FieldTurf, the world's most trusted artificial turf system." [14]

Performance Apparel Group, a New Zealand company that created a unique coating system to be applied to apparel, integrating heat absorbing polymer micro-capsules into various fabrics, wanted a facility in the USA. The President and CEO, Grant Ellwood, met Ambassador Kapneck at the time the Ambassador was in New Zealand. After several visits to the USA at the Ambassador's invitation, Performance Apparel moved to Virginia after much of that state's textile industry closed, leaving the manufacturing infrastructure vacant. Mr. Ellwood said his intention was to eventually expand the business to a larger purpose-built facility in Maryland. Speaking of Philip Kapneck, Mr. Ellwood said, "His word is his bond."[15]

Charles D. Dahan, representing Axion Structural Design, worked with Trade Ambassador Kapneck, discovering opportunities for Axion and the state to work together for a beneficial result for both the company and Maryland. A satellite office was set up, to allow Axion to locate and attract local companies that could use Axion products. "Axion International designs, develops and manufactures a new generation of eco-friendly structural building materials unlike anything currently available. Patented technologies, developed by scientists at Rutgers University, transform recycled consumer and industrial plastics into many different structural products." [16]

David Podrog worked with Ambassador Kapneck to gain approval for Maritime Autowash in 2004, a carwash business that eventually employed 400 staff. In July 2005, Podrog opened a second Maritime Autowash in Maryland, and Ambassador Kapneck invited Lt. Gov. Michael Steele to attend the opening because the company was providing so much local employment. Capital-Gazette newspaper reporter David E. Leiva reported the Lt. Gov "attended because he supports small business," and "Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele has made this year for a startup business in Maryland." [17]

Other companies brought to Maryland include First Down Mobile, Intrinsic Yacht & Ship, and A & M Imports.

Introducing Local Companies to the New Companies[edit]

As well as helping companies start up in Maryland, Kapneck introduced existing local companies to the new ones, so they could do business together and expand Maryland's economy. Fieldturf, for example, said "Three local Maryland companies, among many others, have benefited tremendously in terms of their growth and development as a direct correlation of FieldTurf's local presence."[14] Those three companies were Huron Consulting Company, King Sports Construction, and RF Kline. Referring to the Ambassador's help in making this happen, Fieldturf noted, "The success stories of the companies mentioned above exemplify the dedication and support of local small businesses by Trade Ambassador Philip Kapneck. He is a prime example of how dedicated leadership can induce growth throughout a community." [14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "International Business In Maryland". Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development. 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2014-12-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. "Roosevelt High Class of 1950". D.C. Fifties Archive. 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2014-12-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "About Trade Ambassador Kapneck". State of Maryland. 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2014-12-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. "RECORDS OF THE PRESIDENT'S OFFICE: WILSON H. ELKINS 122" (PDF). University of Maryland. 2012-09-25. Retrieved 2015-04-18. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Kapneck Liked In Key Position On UM Campus". Baltimore Evening Sun. 1971-04-28. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. "UM Disturbances Bring Curfew, Troops". Baltimore Sun. 1971-05-06. Retrieved 2017-05-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. "Mandel Orders Guard To Expel Troublemakers From U. Of Md". The News, Frederick, Md. 1971-05-07. Retrieved 2015-04-18. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. "Man-Of-Year Named At UM". The Baltimore Sun. 1971-02-28. Retrieved 2017-05-07. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. "Mandel Aide To Offer Curb To Disorders". Baltimore Evening Sun. 1972-03-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  10. "Phil Kapneck Gets State Job In Brussels". The Daily Times, Salisbury, Maryland. 1973-08-23. Retrieved 2014-12-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Gail Ewing: Boondoggle?". Maryland Community Newspapers Online. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2014-12-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. "Maryland Archives: Maryland State Government list". Twitter/Maryland Archives. 2015-02-01. Retrieved 2015-04-18. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. "FieldTurf Tarkett Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium". Houston Chronicle. 2006-08-29. Retrieved 2015-03-03. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "All-Weather Fieldturf Fields Create Positive Growth Throughout State of Maryland". FieldTurf. 2014-07-17. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
  15. "New Cool Specialty Garments are A Big Hit!". NewsBlaze. 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2015-05-22. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  16. "Philip Kapneck Helps Bring Axion Structural Design To Maryland". Gaithersburg Local News. 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2015-05-23. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  17. David E. Leiva, Staff Writer (2005-07-01). "Where you get more than just a carwash". Anne Arundel Business Break, Capital Gazette Newspapers.

External links[edit]

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