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Business Smart Week - Chicago

Business Smart Week is the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s signature supplier diversity initiative. Our Supplier Diversity Program serves as a value generating partner to the business community by convening experts to transfer knowledge and provide you with the tools to better manage your business. Supplier Diversity aligns directly with the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate to foster a strong economy and maximize employment as diverse businesses help to support the economic base in the communities in which they do business.

This year’s Business Smart Week in Chicago focuses on “smart growth strategies for diverse suppliers” that include understanding the business case for corporate supplier diversity, defining your value proposition, managing the contract after the award, technology enablement strategies, partnering and teaming growth strategy testimonials.

The Bank’s Leadership is fully committed to the inclusion of diverse businesses on contracting opportunities as well as facilitating access and engagement opportunities with decision makers.

We look forward to enhancing our partnerships with community organizations and diverse business enterprises, and sincerely hope that Business Smart Week proves to be a valuable resource to those we serve.

Jimmy Akintonde
President and CEO
UJAMAA Construction

As President and CEO, Jimmy Akintonde leads the team of construction professionals, consultants and business partners that successfully operate UJAMAA Construction Inc. (UJAMAA), a fast-growing general contracting and construction management firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and with a regional office in Atlanta, Georgia. Since the firm’s inception in 2002, he has diversified the business operations to serve the healthcare, institutional, retail, commercial and multi-family construction markets. Jimmy’s vision for UJAMAA is to provide exceptional construction services in a socially responsible manner. This community-based, client-focused approach has earned the firm the respect, trust and business from clients in varying markets across the Midwest. Currently, more than two-thirds of the firm’s business is attributed to repeat clients. He grew UJAMAA from a single employee to over sixty people with over sixty-five million dollars in collective revenue in 2018. The company is currently part of the Lakeside Alliance, builders of the Barrack Obama Presidential Library.

Sherlanda Brooks
President and CEO
Diversity Sourcing Solutions

Sherlanda Brooks is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Sourcing Solutions. Sherlanda has extensive experience in Supplier Diversity with major global organizations. In addition, she also has experience as a successful business leader and entrepreneur in the consumer product industry. Prior to forming Diversity Sourcing Solutions, Sherlanda has had the privilege of working in Supplier Diversity for global procurement leaders such as Kraft Foods, Mondelez International and PepsiCo. Some of Sherlanda’ s highlights in Supplier Diversity include starting a program from the ground up, commissioning and implementing a new user-friendly supplier registration tool that buyers could access, setting KPI’s in categories, Supplier Diversity training for procurement leads, implementing sustainable processes, working on Annual Operating plans and onboarding prime suppliers that report Tier 2 spend.

Sharon Castillo
President and CEO
SB Services, Inc.

Sharon Castillo had spent 10 years in a Fortune 500 company when she realized that she and corporate politics did not make for good bedfellows. “That prompted me to step out into the world of management consulting, and I’ve never looked back,” she says. Prior to leaving Corporate America, she was involved in developing one of the very first corporate policies focused on minority and women’s business development in the early 1980’s. When she left to strike out on her own, she had a wealth of knowledge and a desire to make a difference for women in business. Today, she presides over SB Services, Inc., a management consulting firm that works with corporations in the area of strategy development and execution for corporate sustainability and supplier diversity initiatives. The company is one of the few consulting firms that emphasizes leveraging supplier diversity and corporate sustainability to increase market share.

Paul Cerpa
Executive Manager, Department of Diversity and Strategic Development
Illinois Tollway

Paul Cerpa serves as the Executive Manager of the Department of Diversity and Strategic Development for the Illinois Tollway. Paul believes that the success of any capital program depends upon the success of small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses that participate. It’s a philosophy that has remained steadfast over his career helping promote and increase supplier diversity and in serving as an advocate for entrepreneurs. At the Illinois Tollway, Paul oversees the agency’s responsibility in addressing diversity inclusion in the overall procurement process and in the Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program. Since joining the Tollway in May 2016, Paul has lent his expertise and insights to help develop and expand various diversity programs, including the Technical Assistance Program, Partnering for Growth, the Earned Credit Program and the ConstructionWorks apprenticeship initiative.

Jackie Dyess
Inter-City Supply

Jackie Dyess is President of Inter-City Supply Co, Inc., headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and President of Intercity Supply & Bag, LLC, of Racine, Wisconsin. Founded in 1979, Inter-City Supply Co, Inc. is a wholesale distributor of business products – janitorial, office, safety, packaging, industrial and disposable food service supplies and equipment. In 2005, Jackie acquired Wisconsin Quality Bag Company and renamed it Intercity Supply & Bag, LLC. This acquisition decision was partly influenced by her attendance at the NMSDC Kellogg Advanced Management Education Program in 2001. She has served on the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council (CMSDC) Board of Directors for 23 years. She is the current National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Treasurer for the National Minority Business Input Committee. She served as the CMSDC MBEIC Chair for 6 years. Jackie has been recognized as the recipient of the Minority Business Advocate Award in 1999 and 2012, the recipient of the Supplier of the Year Award in 2009, and most recently the recipient of the MAFBE (minority and female business entrepreneurs) award presented by the University of Illinois. She has been an advocate and activist for minority business issues for over 20 years. Prior to CMSDC, Jackie worked with Operation Push and Chaired the Minority Business Group.

Emily Engel
Business Economist – Community Development Policy Studies
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Emily Engel is a business economist in the community development and policy studies division at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Engel started her career in 2004 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago working in economic research (on the macroeconomics and regional teams). In 2009, she transitioned to an analyst position in supervision and regulation on the markets and liquidity team. Then, in 2011 she transitioned back into research in her current role. Additionally, Engel is an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies. She received undergraduate degree in mathematical methods in the social sciences from Northwestern University and her MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

LaTonya Fourte’-Lyles
Supplier Diversity Program Manager

LaTonya Fourte’-Lyles is a strong proponent of the inclusion and promotion of diversity within the supply chain process. As the Senior Manager of Corporate Supplier Diversity for Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), LaTonya champions this effort by maximizing procurement opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned and other diverse-owned businesses. The mission of this program entails proactively seeking qualified and competitive suppliers, to partner in creating cost effective and efficient business solutions for HCSC.

Prior to joining HCSC LaTonya worked for a short stint as a public servant for the City of Chicago managing the M/WBE and EEO program commitments for city contracts. Although, LaTonya was afforded a great learning experience working in the public sector most of her experience was obtained in the private sector with AT&T. LaTonya sits on several boards, many of which are dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in diverse populations.

Dell Gines
Senior Community Development Advisor
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Omaha Branch

Dell Gines is the Senior Community Development Advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He is committed to helping empower economically distressed communities through innovative economic development strategies. He is a national thought leader in entrepreneurship led economic development and ecosystem building. He has authored three guides and one eBook on the subject. His most recent work is a research report on Black Women Businesses. Dell also is a well-traveled speaker, speaking in over 18 states and 40 cities during his six years at the Bank including serving as the keynote at the National Economic Gardening Conference and the International Community Development conference. Dell is one of less than 5,500 Certified Economic Developers (CEcD) and holds a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Finance and is a PHD candidate researching entrepreneurship led development and ecosystem building.

Sharon Grant
Vice President and Chief Community Engagement Officer

Sharon Grant is Vice President and Chief Community Engagement Officer at United. As United’s global community engagement leader, she is responsible for developing and leading the company’s philanthropic, humanitarian, volunteerism and supplier diversity strategies for strengthening the communities we serve. Sharon joined United in 1993 and brings over 25 years of experience in finance and operations to this position. Prior to this role, she was the Vice President of customer contact centers and was responsible for all aspects of reservations, baggage resolution, customer care and refunds, leading a global team of 5,000 in nine countries. Sharon received her Bachelor of Science in accounting from Bradley University and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). She also has a Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA). Recently recognized in Make It Better publication’s 2019 Top Black Women of Impact, Sharon was named one of the 2017 Top 15 Women in Business by the Illinois Diversity Council; was a 2016 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow; was recognized as a Chicago United 2015 Business Leader of Color; and was the recipient of the Institute of Internal Auditors Chicago Chapter’s 2013 “Inspirational Woman of the Year” award. A native Chicagoan and longtime Houstonian, Sharon enjoys living jointly in both cities and serving her communities. She is married with four children.

Leshane Greenhill
Founder and CEO

LeShane Greenhill is Founder & CEO of SalesCocktail.com, a technology and growth strategy resource for minority and women-owned businesses. Prior to his current venture, LeShane co-founded Sagents, a cloud-based supply chain and supplier diversity platform and Pishon Sales Outsourcing, a sales consulting firm. In 2016, LeShane was selected by Google and Code 2040 to serve as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Google's Tech Hub. A graduate of the University of Memphis, LeShane received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in management information systems in 2000. LeShane was named 40 Under 40 in 2010 and Power 100 in 2016 by the Nashville Business Journal. In 2013, he was awarded the Spirit of the Chamber Award by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mark Hands
Supplier Diversity Program Manager
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Mark Hands is the Supplier Diversity Program Manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. In this role, Mark helps Business Units source quality minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE) suppliers to meet the Bank’s operational needs and collaborate with key advocacy groups to provide technical assistance to M/WBE suppliers. Mark joined the Bank in November 2010 and brings established relationships in the business community and a wealth of experience in increasing opportunities for M/WBEs. Mark also serves as Chair of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council’s (Chicago MSDC) Board of Directors.

Jermome' Holston
LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois

Jerome’ R. Holston is currently the Director of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois. In this role he leverages corporate, community, and government partnerships to advocate for economic opportunities on behalf of LGBT business owners and working people. Prior to this role he worked as a fundraising consultant on capital campaigns that raised nearly $500 million, and as an Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Governor Pat Quinn. Jerome’ received an MPA from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and BA in Communications from Alabama State University.

Cynthia Johnson
Established Business Services at the Women’s Business Development Center

Cynthia Johnson is Director of Established Business Services at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC). In this role she leads the programs for established business owners that are designed to increase contract opportunities with WBDC’s corporate partners. Her specific area of focus includes planning and delivering relevant programs and procurement events with WBDC corporate partners to help women-owned businesses build capacity and sustain profitable growth. Cynthia has extensive entrepreneurial experience as founder and CEO of a business that she managed for 30 years. In her current role, her expertise includes one-on-one business advisory counseling in all aspects of business development, management, entrepreneurial training, and assistance in identifying procurement opportunities for Women Business Enterprise Certification clients at the WBDC.

Joyce Johnson
Owner, President and CEO
Anchor Staffing Inc.

Joyce Johnson is Owner, President and CEO of Anchor Staffing Inc. Joyce Johnson is responsible for overseeing the entire company operation. With over 35 years of staffing and employment services industry experience, Joyce is adept in the areas of recruitment, sales, and management.

Joyce currently serves on the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Leadership Team as Chairperson of the Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee (MBEIC) and the Board of Directors for the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council (Chicago MSDC).

Michelle Kantor
McDonald Hopkins, LLC

Michelle Kantor leads the Federal Government Contracting & Procurement practice group of McDonald Hopkins LLC. She has more than 29 years of experience practicing in federal and local government contracting, procurement law and litigation. Michelle represents prime contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, professional service providers and other businesses in matters including, Federal regulatory compliance, Small Business Programs, Bid Protests, Size Protest and NAICS Code protests, contracting claims and payment disputes, REAs, regulatory violations, response to government investigations, Suspension and Debarment proceedings and other related disputes. Michelle assists clients in Federal, State and local government contracting and procurement, Teaming and Joint Venture agreements, Federal Business Ethics & FAR Compliance, SBA 8(a), HUBZone, SDVOSB, WOSB, WBE/MBE/DBE Certifications and Appeals, Federal government Mentor-Protégé agreements; and small business corporate changes and business succession planning. She serves on the Executive Committee for WBENC’s Leadership Forum and chairs the Recruitment Committee. Sharon also participates on WBENC’s International Services and Programs Committee and has worked with corporations in driving women’s business development on a global level.

Thomas L. McLeary
Endow, Inc.

Thomas L. McLeary, is President of Endow, Incorporated, a multi-lines insurance services company which he co-founded in 1978. The firm specializes in insurance planning and benefit management for a client base which includes public entities, small and large private corporations and individuals with large net worth. Endow has grown from a start- up organization with 2 people to one of the most respected insurance brokerage and employee benefit firms in the nation. Endow provides insurance programs for firms ranging in size from one million in sales to Fortune 100 companies.

Shelia Morgan
President and CEO
Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council

Shelia Morgan is President and CEO for the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council (Chicago MSDC). Shelia brings a wealth of knowledge and familiarity to Chicago MSDC, as she has a 20+ year relationship with the Council. Her charge is to continue to forge strategic alliances between Chicago MSDCs membership and its base of certified minority businesses through innovative programs, activities and outreach efforts including the highly-successful Chicago Business Opportunity Fair, whose success is a prototype for similar trade fairs nationwide. In 2017 Chicago MSDC was named NMSDC Council of the Year.

Monday, 07/15/19
1:00 PM
Registration Networking Lunch
1:30 PM
Welcome and Introduction
Mark Hands, Supplier Diversity Program Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Cynthia Johnson, Director, Established Business Services at the Women’s Business Development Center
Jermome' Holston, Director, LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois
1:45 PM
The Business Case for Corporate Supplier Diversity Initiatives

In a competitive business environment, understanding corporate business imperatives for supplier diversity strategic initiatives can help you market your certified business and expand your client base. This workshop will focus on:

  • Why is there a need for corporate supplier diversity programs?
  • What defines a corporate supplier diversity program?
  • How corporations respond to RFPs with supplier diversity requirements and report their spend
Sharon Castillo, President and CEO, SB Services, Inc.
2:30 PM
Defining Your Value Proposition: What Differentiates You From Your Competition?

The primary goal of any business is to get your company noticed and grab the attention of potential customers. This workshop will help you:

  • Prepare a compelling “Pitch” to articulate your Value Proposition
  • Understand what the buyer wants to know
  • Give you tips on how to prepare for a “Pitch” meeting

Sherlanda Brooks, President and CEO, Diversity Sourcing Solutions
3:15 PM
Partnering for Profit: Joint Ventures and Teaming Agreements to Gain a Competitive Edge

Forming strategic partnerships and teaming alliances is a viable way to tap into the corporate supply chain for large contracts, build relationships, leverage your certification and boost your bottom line. This workshop will focus on:

  • Demystifying Teaming and Joint Ventures
  • The do’s and don’ts of teaming and joint ventures
  • Legal, financial and practical issues to address when forming teaming agreements
Michelle Kantor, Partner, McDonald Hopkins, LLC
4:00 PM
Managing the Contract: Best Practices and Performance Expectations after the Award

A large contract can significantly change your business. This workshop will help you understand the performance expectations, terms and conditions that will determine your ability to successfully execute the contract on time, on budget and become a long term vendor. The workshop also emphasizes the importance of:

  • Understanding short term successes vs. long term relationships
  • Getting to know your supplier diversity contacts
  • Looking for opportunities to solve problems and provide solutions
LaTonya Fourte’-Lyles, Supplier Diversity Program Manager, BCBS, IL
5:00 PM
Networking Reception
6:00 PM
Tuesday, 07/16/19
8:00 AM
8:45 AM
Welcome and Introductions
Mark Hands, Supplier Diversity Program Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Shelia Morgan, President and CEO, Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council
Joyce Johnson, Owner, President and CEO, Anchor Staffing Inc.
9:00 AM
Economic Update: Black Women Business Start-Ups

Businesses owned by black women have experienced unprecedented growth over the past two decades. This report, based on national data and a series of interviews with black women business owners, presents a summary of business owners’ motivation, challenges, support and financial trends.

Dell Gines, Senior Community Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Omaha Branch
10:00 AM
Small Business Credit Survey Report

The 2018 Survey is a national small business survey with involvement from all 50 states. Over 10,000 small employer firms responded to the survey. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Community Development Policy Studies (CDPS) Group is participating in this survey and this workshop will give and overview of last year’s results as well as inform small business owners of the importance of participating in the survey.

Emily Engel, Business Economist – Community Development Policy Studies, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
10:30 AM
Tech and Growth Enablement for MWBEs: Bridging the Digital Divide. Why MWBEs need to adopt cloud technologies to remain competitive!

Research shows that 37% of small businesses believe there is no need to adopt technology. This couldn't be further from the truth. Research also shows that cloud solutions reduce business workload by 42% and has the potential to double profits. It’s time for us (MWBEs) to elevate our game and begin fully utilizing technologies that reduce cost, improve communications, and deliver growth. In my presentation, I will not only discuss the impact of tech on businesses, but also share concrete examples with specific tech platforms.

Leshane Greenhill, Founder and CEO, SalesCocktail.com
11:30 AM
12:00 PM
Keynote Luncheon: The Power of Teaming
The Illinois Tollway’s Partnering for Growth (P4G) Program

The program encourages contractors and subcontractors to assist disadvantaged, minority-, women-owned business enterprises, and veteran-owned small businesses in remaining self-sufficient, competitive and profitable by serving as mentors who provide meaningful instruction in many areas. The benefits include: 1) Mentors earning bid credits that may provide a competitive edge in pursuing Tollway construction contracts, 2) Protégés gaining experience and valuable assistance to improve business practices, and 3) The Tollway increasing its pool of firms to support Move Illinois and fostering competition in the marketplace.

Paul Cerpa, Executive Manager, Department of Diversity and Strategic Development, Illinois Tollway
12:45 PM
Panel Discussion: Things to Consider When Entering Into a Joint Venture

This panel discussion will demonstrate the power of joint ventures and will give insight into how Joint Ventures are formed and how it is successfully creating a new paradigm for minority business inclusion.

Jimmy Akintonde, President and CEO, UJAMAA Construction
Jackie Dyess, President, Inter-City Supply
Thomas L. McLeary, President, Endow, Inc.
1:30 PM
Supply Chain Integration Meetings

This program utilizes a Supply Chain Integration Event whereby qualified MBE’s (Suppliers) will be strategically matched with the Corporate Member’s Company to discuss pre-defined needs of the company, thereby creating an opportunity for the Supplier to engage with the Corporate Member Company. Each Supplier will meet with the appropriate Corporate Member representative (Buyer, Procurement, etc.) that has the pre-defined need for the Supplier to be introduced, further qualified and explore possible synergies between the two companies.

1:30 PM
Trade Fair & Networking
Wednesday, 07/17/19
11:30 AM
12:00 PM
Welcome and Introduction
12:30 PM
“How to Do Business With” Series

This workshop focuses on to do business with large corporations and government entities. In addition, the presenting entity will highlight current bid opportunities that will become available over the next 6-18 months.

Sharon Grant, Vice President and Chief Community Engagement Officer, United
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