The following press release was distributed today:
The National Association of State Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (M/W/DBE) Directors officially incorporated on April 27 to promote business development among minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprises in communities and states throughout the United States.
"The formation of this National Association presents a tremendous opportunity for states to come together to learn best practices from each other,” said Ron Marlow, Assistant Secretary for Access & Opportunities for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Chair and President of the Association. “We represent a new forum to bring forward federal and state policy and programmatic initiatives that foster equity of opportunity among minority, women and/or disadvantaged business enterprises."
The Association will include state M/WBE procurement and supplier diversity programs as well as state transportation department Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs. States that have business development programs geared toward M/WBEs also will be included.
The Association is a nonprofit corporation whose activities will consist of an email listserv for state M/W/DBE directors and managers, ongoing discussion and sharing of ideas and best practices, regular conference call meetings, online staff development seminars and conferences. The Association also will be coordinating with the federal government to find synergy between federal M/W/DBE programs and state programs and initiatives.
“With so many firms struggling, our focus on creating economic and business development opportunities for minority, women, disadvantaged and small business firms is more important than ever,” said Bridget Wall-Lennon, the Association’s Vice Chair and Director or North Carolina’s Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses. “Advocacy to increase procurement and contracting opportunities within state government and the public and private sector will promote jobs and business growth for years to come.”The goals of the association are to:
- Increase national visibility and awareness of state M/W/DBE programs and missions;
- Provide focused networking nationally among professionals in the field;
- Create a formal professional development and training program for the M/W/DBE industry;
- Develop mechanisms to support and encourage others to join the industry through scholarships or other outreach programs;
- Survey and document the history, present and future of M/W/DBE programs nationwide;
- Disseminate local and national policy changes and court decisions affecting M/W/DBE programs;
- Educate and inform local, state and federal lawmakers on issues relevant to the M/W/DBE industry;
- Increase the development, implementation, and effectiveness of state M/W/DBE programs.
The formation of the Association follows several activities led by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, including the first-ever study of all 50 states’ M/W/DBE programs, a gathering of state M/W/DBE directors in Kansas City in 2008, and an email listserv begun in late 2008 that includes state directors from 43 states. The association was incorporated with the assistance of Tim Lohrentz, Director of the Inclusive Business Initiative at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.Nine persons make up the Board of Directors of the Association, including:
- Chair & President: Ron Marlow, Assistant Secretary for Access & Opportunities, Executive Office for Administration & Finance, Massachusetts
- Vice-Chair: Bridget Wall-Lennon, Director, Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses, North Carolina
- Secretary: LeRoy Romero, State Director, Minority Business Office, Colorado
- Treasurer: L. Jay Burks, Director, Office of Minority & Women Business Enterprise, Delaware
- Melinda Carter, Director, Equal Opportunity, Department of Administrative Services, Ohio
- Cynthia Cooper, Director, Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises, Washington State
- Donna Lowery, Targeted Small Business Program Manager, Department of Economic Development, Iowa
- Robert Padilla, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program Manager, Office of Civil Rights, California Department of Transportation
- Ken Talley, Minority Business Coordinator, Department of Commerce, Oklahoma