DBT40 Honoree: Damian DeStefano
Employer: Delaware Division of Small Business
When Damian DeStefano became the director of the Delaware Division of Small Business two years ago, he had no previous management experience. But with the guidance of his own bosses, DeStefano grew into the role and has become the face of the state’s efforts to support small businesses amid the historic COVID-19 pandemic.
After becoming the division’s director, DeStefano introduced a paid internship program to give career experience opportunities to students interested in pursuing a career in government.
Under DeStefano’s leadership, the division built a grant program that has helped 20 small business owners obtain funding to grow their businesses, with the state distributing nearly $1.5 million to small businesses in the first two rounds of the program.
The division also created a new assistance program that has helped more than 250 business owners in the hospitality and cosmetology sectors pay their bill while they face revenue losses because of the pandemic.
DeStefano earned his graduate degree in two years while working full-time, requiring him to spend time away from his family — time that he was grateful to get back once he completed the program. Now, he serves as a buddy to a student currently enrolled in that same graduate program, whom he advises about successful time management.
A football buff, DeStefano can recite from memory the two teams that played in each Super Bowl since about 1985, as well as the winner of those games.
As a child, DeStefano and his family lived for two years in Johannesburg, South Africa.