Remembering Pava LePere

Cecilia Wessinger
3 min readOct 4, 2023

Last week our ecosystem building community was stricken by the news of Pava LePere’s tragic and untimely death. The headlines reached across the world from her beloved, adopted home of Baltimore, Maryland (USA) to Denmark, Israel and Australia.

Pava was the brilliant tech founder of EcoMap, who was recently recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30. She influenced her prestigious alma mater, Johns Hopkins University to develop entrepreneurial programs for their students, and served as a mentor to new founders. She was bold, stubborn, and outspoken, a fierce advocate for inclusion and equitable ecosystem building. Pava was a leader, stalwart collaborator and my friend. One day, several years ago, she turned up to participate on ESHIP Goal calls, when I was working with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to advance the field of entrepreneurial ecosystem building. You would not have known she was just finishing her undergraduate studies as she shared her perspectives, conversing and debating with seasoned thought leaders on the calls. She applied her ideas to her burgeoning company of three which has grown to over thirty employees, now valued at over $7M. Many of you may have met her cofounder, Sherrod and team member, Robin at GEC Melbourne.

This tribute to a rising star, taken from us too soon, in no way diminishes the struggles of our colleagues who are suffering personal loss, tirelessly supporting their communities through political strife, war and disasters brought about by nature or humans. We seldom acknowledge the hurdles, except to say they exist. We are each faced with adversity and persevere because compliance is not an acceptable alternative. The challenges may be exhausting, not because we lack grit and tenacity, but because they are genuinely hard. In these moments surrounded by great loss and hardship, it is common to experience burnout. A dear friend shared with me: “The cure for burnout is not self-care. It is all of us caring for each other. We can’t do it alone. We need each other,” (~ Emily and Amelia Nagoski).

We grieve this senseless loss, while others are grappling with their respective difficulties, and we continue to endure.

This is a reminder of how fragile our ecosystem is and the importance of the initiatives we do together. We do this because entrepreneurship changes lives and circumstances in monumental and meaningful ways. This aligned and shared mission makes a difference. I hope you will find inspiration in the efforts of one young woman who did not accept “no” from investors and give up. She moved beyond naysayers who said her idea was too big and complex. She proudly reached a milestone of co-creating a successful company comprised of 50% women and 50% people of color.

Pava exemplified the founders we support, fostering their wild ideas and dreams as they set out to solve real problems. She inspired those in her wake to embody the ideals of the collective ecosystem building community. Striving for inclusive and equitable opportunities; moving from potential, to actionable, to fruition. I was fortunate to be in her orbit and we are blessed her efforts live on in our collaborative work.

Our hearts go out to her family, team members and the community she loved. She should not be remembered by the details of her death, but for her vision and efforts to connect and support communities. May her memory be a beacon to continue her mission as we mourn what we cannot change and continue to vigilantly pursue transformation. We give thanks for her legacy and the contributions Pava LePere bestowed in her precious, albeit brief time with us.

In Community…

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Cecilia Wessinger

Community & Ecosystem Builder, Collaborator, Catalyst, Speaker/ Facilitator. Lover of words, ideas and people.