The MOMENTUM continues to build within the WBENC network as we approach the largest event of its kind – the 2023 National Conference!
In this feature article we are honored to introduce our 2023 Host Committee of WBEs from each of our 14 Regional Partner Organizations. We encourage everyone in the WBENC network and anyone attending the 2023 National Conference to engage with their RPO and support these amazing WBE Host Committee members!
Tara Marling Abraham | Host Committee Chair | Accel inc.
Tara Marling Abraham is an Independent Board Director, Founder, Chairwoman and CEO with consumer-packaged goods, ecommerce, manufacturing and specialty retail expertise. She is a growth driver and has strategic, branding and operating expertise founding a premier contract manufacturing and assembly company specializing in meeting the demanding standards of Fortune 500 clients. Her client list includes industry leaders such as Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, Kellogg’s, Dr. Pepper, and Honeywell. Tara is also co-owner of LGS Staffing, a highly successful temporary staffing agency located in Columbus, OH.
Over the past ten years, Tara has gained extensive experience as an Independent Board Director. She serves at People’s Bancorp Inc., and is on the Audit, Risk, Trust and Foundation Committees. She leverages her enthusiasm, outgoing personality and network to create community and is active as a Board Member of the American Heart Association, United Way of Central Ohio, Ohio Health’s Kobacker Hospice and New Albany Chamber of Commerce.
Tara’s executive experience includes 25 years of general management, branding, strategy, business development, manufacturing and operations leadership. She is an award-winning entrepreneur and global role model for women, specializing in accelerating supplier diversity.
She is a long term, dedicated advocate of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), serving as Chair of the Leadership Forum.
Lynn T. Perenic | Argent International Inc.
“We can create Momentum when we as fellow women business owners come together, share our best practices, develop partnerships and scale our businesses to best serve the corporate partners who have committed to understanding our unique value propositions and opening their supply chain to give us a shot to prove it. Collaboration equals Momentum and this conference offers a platform to achieve it.”
In 2010, Lynn purchased Argent Tape and Label from the owner who was going to discontinue operations. In 2020, her husband chose to step back from operations of Argent International. He chose to hand over the reigns to Lynn based on her previous success with Argent Tape and Label and her strong female leadership team. Her teams are poised for long-term growth and diversification into additional verticals over the next 5 years. Argent Tape and Label has won many awards since the acquisition in 2010, listing among them are top 50 Businesses to watch in MI, The All Star Award (2x) for being the best of the best in businesses practicing Open Book Management, Crain’s Cool Places to Work and was a finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year award. Lynn’s persistence and dedication to excellence has ATL poised for continued success for many years to come.
Argent International is a well-known and respected leader in custom die-cut solutions. Through a wide variety of converting technologies, we offer a great diversity of products ranging from simple die cut tapes, seals and gaskets, to fully assembled sub-components. Their commitment to manufacture products of the highest quality has been fundamental to success. Argent utilizes over 250 different raw materials for attachment, buzz, squeak & rattle / NVH, EMI shielding, fastening, gasketing & sealing, labeling, printing & identification, masking, safety, surface protection, wind noise/sound dampening, and much more.
Lianne B. Lami | Bocci Engineering & Construction
“The world is sludging through constrained resources, revolving employees, inflation, and demands to hit higher ESG marks. WBEs with ESG knowledge, protocols, and solutions will thrive. Collaborate, team, and partner.”
Bocci is a multi-disciplinary engineering & construction services firm supplying premier technical services nationally since 2002. We deliver safe, sustainable, responsive & cost-effective projects measurable Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) results. Bocci’s operations-first perspective drives innovation. Our passion for optimization monetizes improving reliability, reducing impact on the environment, and removing constraints in production.
Bocci specializes in infrastructure and facility utility systems that consume or produce energy, water, thermal liquids & compressed gases. With decades of renewable energy and resiliency experience our Sustainable Solutions Pay For ThemselvesSM.
Lynne formed Bocci Jan 2002 as a transparent, green solutions, engineering and construction services firm. On the heels of the 2005 Federal Energy Act, Bocci grew nationally with interest from institutional Combined Heat & Power, renewable technologies, and energy efficiency projects. Bocci became a certified WBE in 2007, a certified LGBTE in 2015, and grew to a 20-employee firm by 2016. We pivoted in 2012 to be a 100% remote workforce and expanded through pandemic securing three corporates in utility sector.
Marianne Ellis | CEO Success Community
CEO Success Community is the source for Women & Diversity Owned Businesses seeking corporate contracts with Fortune 500 Companies. Our mission is to show CEOs the fastest path to increased revenue and growth. We are a membership community comprised of like-minded CEOs who support and empower personal and professional growth to achieve phenomenal results.
Marianne Ellis knows what it takes to close a deal. With 25 years as a recognized leader in advertising, marketing, business coaching, and business development, she has worked on both the buy-side and sell-side of corporate contracting.
As CEO & Co-Founder of CEO Success Community, a division of VEO Group, Marianne is a passionate advocate for the success of her clients that are seeking to close Fortune 500 contracts.
CEO Success Community offers Business Workshops based on years of both winning and procuring multi-million dollar contracts with the largest corporations in America. Our workshops include Get To the Buyer, RFP To The Win, Business Innovation, Sales Accelerator, Conference Maximizer, Business Succession Planning and More. Our clients include SCE, PG&E, CDW, WBENC, WBEC-West, WBEC-Pacific, NAWBO, and thousands of diversity CEOs.
Marianne has also been heavily involved with Thriving with Capital One, both the virtual and in-person sessions.
“MOMENTUM can be created with all three members of the WBENC network (WBEs, WBENC staff, Corporate Sponsors) introduce the right women-owned businesses to a corporate partner looking to source their category. It is exciting to hear the requirements of a supplier for an RFP and provide recommendations to corporations of those WBEs that meet their qualifications. At WBEC-West, we work hard to make referrals for our business owner sisters. Our V.P. Jaymee Lomax calls it “HASU” Hook A Sister Up by helping to grow her business.”
Elisabete Miranda | CQ fluency
CQ fluency partners with the world’s leading healthcare organizations to supply translation and communication solutions in over 170 languages. They are on a mission to improve lives by leveraging our Cultural Intelligence (CQ) to cultivate real human connections that ultimately improve health outcomes.
Elisabete Miranda is the founder, president and CEO of CQ fluency, a global language services company focusing on healthcare and life sciences. Elisabete is responsible for taking CQ fluency from a 2-person shop in Hackensack, New Jersey to an international company with 100+ employees with presence in several states in the US, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, India, Ireland, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands.
Elisabete is a recipient of the 2010 Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneurial Winning Women National Award. Additional awards and accolades include the 2021 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned and -Led Companies, the Inc. Magazine’s Female Founder 100, Top Women Entrepreneurs of 2020, the NMSDC Regional Supplier of the Year multiple times, Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the SBA New Jersey Minority Person of the Year.
“To me, the WBENC National Conference provides the opportunity to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, to strengthen relationships with current clients and meet new ones. What I love about the WBENC network is the camaraderie we share and the opportunity to open doors for each other.”
Sharon W. Reynolds | DevMar Products, LLC.
DevMar was launched as a startup in 2007 with an emphasis placed on environmental sustainability. Named after their sons, Devin and DeMarco, the entrepreneurial legacy in our family continues. Sharon was faced with challenges during the economic downturn of 2008 and decided to focus on a recession-proof business. Shortly thereafter, local contracts grew to national exposure. She was not satisfied with a typical “me too” products distribution model and decided to create a specialty products line designed to mitigate pathogens without causing harm to the environment.
As a certified WBE, I feel empowered to present my companies and credentials to to corporations who support WBENC and our mission. As a highly respected organization with exceptional leadership, participating corporate partners help to create winning solutions in triangular relationships to include the WBE. I am grateful for the global launch of ESG initiatives coupled with DE&I goals that have helped foster significant growth in diverse businesses. WBENC and our corporate partners are message-aligned; therefore, synergistic relationships are inevitable.
“Be fearless! Do not hesitate to make connections, speaking loudly and boldly about your business with passion. There is an incredible amount of magic that happens when women help other women. The support in the WBENC is palpable.”
Marlene Kelly | Exhibits South
Exhibits South is a turn-key provider for trade show environments that include design and fabrication of custom exhibits, we represent manufactures of portable and modular exhibits, production of larger format digital graphics and management of trade show programs that include all services, logistics, and warehousing along with maintaining customers exhibit properties.
Marlene began her career with Exhibits South in 1992 as the controller. In 2005 Marlene became the controlling interest owner of Exhibits South and presently serves as President and CEO. Marlene believes in supporting women-owned businesses and giving back to an organization that has supported her over the years on a local and national level.
“I believe in supporting women-owned businesses and giving back to an organization that has supported me over the years on a local and national level. I have made so many good friends both wbe and corporate through GWBC and WBENC. One that means so much to me is Bev Gray. When our industry was hit so hard due to Covid, she was there for me and I was there for her. Her friendship and knowledge was so helpful dealing with things we had never dealt with before in our lives. This is due to meeting each other years ago at a WBENC conference!”
Nancy Geenen | Flexability LLC
Flexability is an equity and inclusion firm that helps its clients build leaders with high performing teams. Our mission is equity at work. We are woman, LGBTQ+, and disability owned. We strategically equip clients to close employment gaps and teach equity and inclusion competency, and humility with specialized assessments, professional development, and management consulting. Flexability is a BCorps, recognized for three consecutive years as a “Best for the World – Governance” by B Labs. In 2022, INC magazine recognized Flexability as Best in Business – Management Consulting.
Flexability started in 2019 as a team of executives who left a staffing firm focused on employment of individuals with disabilities to create a firm focused on expansion of equity and inclusion in the workplace. The company decided to organize as a BCorp, placing emphasis on stakeholder primary rather than shareholder primacy, focusing on creating a company that recognized that to be heard one has to be seen and to be seen one has to be heard.
“We choose equity and inclusion at all levels, including clients, vendors, suppliers, and community projects. WBENC is a source for each of these constituencies. We participate in the education and networking opportunities, both locally and nationally.”
Mindy Holman | Holman
Holman delivers a unique range of automotive-centric services including industry-leading fleet management and leasing; vehicle fabrication and upfitting; component manufacturing and productivity solutions; powertrain distribution and logistics services; commercial and personal insurance and risk management; and retail automotive sales as one of the largest privately owned dealership groups in the United States.
The business was founded by Mindy’s grandfather Steward Holman in 1924 as a single Ford dealership in southern New Jersey. Since that time, Holman has evolved through steady, organic growth and by doing the right thing for our people, our customers, and our community. Today, after nearly a century in business, Holman is proud to be one of the largest automotive services organizations in North America. Mindy joined the organization in 1986 and coming up through the dealership-side of our business, held a variety of leadership roles before becoming Chair of the Board in 2015.
“The best advice I can offer a newly certified WBE is to be sure to connect with your regional partner organization and be an active participant at the local level. Take full advantage of the tremendous breadth of resources they’re able to provide. Also, be sure to help support others across your local community. Foster an environment of collaboration and camaraderie amongst other WBE organizations in your region; learn from each other and succeed together.”
Cassandra Sanford | KellyMitchell
Connecting People with Opportunities and Clients with Success — KellyMitchell is an award-winning IT staffing firm, dedicated to providing unmatched value and quality resources for technical talent and teams nationwide.
Their story began by setting a mission to be the most reputable firm in the IT Staffing solutions industry. Twenty-five years later, through their teams unwavering commitment to this mission, KellyMitchell is continuously recognized as a trusted advocate and employer of choice across the talent community and recipient of the Diamond Award for Client Satisfaction from ClearlyRated, the industry’s net promotor score organization.
“Being certified as women owned and controlled business and having the certificate to share with our client portfolio itself was great to have, however we realized its impact when we became active and engaged with WBENC and our regional partner organization. Each of them will provide a priceless opportunity to introduce your company and capabilities to Fortune 500 corporations face-to-face to grow your business and even more impactful, although often overlooked, is the opportunity to develop relationships with other women business owners to share best practices to scale each other’s enterprises.”
Michele Adams is the president and CEO of Levy Recognition. For more than 40 years, she has been providing her clients with employee engagement and recognition solutions. She works with companies to reshape their workplace cultures and implement engaging programming that creates productive, healthy work environments.
Michele is a passionate business leader and mentor for women. She was a recipient of the 2020 Enterprising Women of the Year Champions Award from Enterprising Women Magazine—a prestigious award among top female business owners. Michele lives in Tampa, FL and is a proud member of the National Women’s Business Enterprise (WBENC), The Incentive Professionals, is the board Vice Chair of the American Breast Cancer Foundation and Chair of WBENC Forum Engagement team.
“Being WBENC certified has opened many doors for me in a couple of different ways. Besides access to business opportunities WBENC offers a wide variety of professional development programs which I have participated in many of them. It has helped me grow as an individual and in turn helped me lead my organizations growth.”
Kathleen Hunt | Personalized Payroll Services
Personalized Payroll specializes in easy and affordable payroll solutions to include payroll, payroll tax and HR services primarily serving the WBE/MBE companies. PPS allows business owners to focus on their business and their team while PPS ensures their employees and taxes are paid accurately and on schedule. PPS keeps up with regulatory changes as well as changes to wage and tax laws that affect their business.
Kathleen started Personalized Payroll in 2011 with the mission to provide payrolls services for MWBE firms across the country who need a scalable payroll system that grows with their company. PPS client base spans all industries across the U.S. Our customer size ranges from solopreneur or one person to 500 employees in multiples states.
“My passion in life has always been to help and serve others….My first step in my journey was to be come a WBE. After this step, it was baby steps of networking, attending local WBE events, sponsoring events, then going to other areas of the country I enjoyed and doing the same in those RPO’s. Before I knew it, I was a WBENC conference host in 2016 in Orlando, a member of the WBENC Forum, a Platinum Sponsor in WBCS and a Champion Circle Sponsor in WBEC South … and I serve on both these RPO boards … the baby steps are the MOMENTUM!”
Sandra James | PrivateEyes
For over 23 years PrivateEyes has provided clients with quality background checks so that they can hire the best people fast. Sandra has founded several companies over the last three decades, sold one and started Private Eyes, becoming an expert at business and continuing to drive growth and quality. This in turn reduces workers comp cases, workplace violence cases, and improves employee retention. Providing this level of service has made Private Eyes a sustainable innovative company.
In 1999, it was clear at that time that technology would change everyone’s lives. Customer service with the human touch was still a critical factor in providing quality background checks to clients across the nation. Today it is still one of the things that clients love about utilizing our service.
“Momentum” is watching WBEC-Pacific grow to over 1000 WBE’s! And for WBENC to continue to grow the organization across the nation while continuing to provide more value to it’s members.
Laura Qureshi | ZAAZEY
The ZAAZEY mission is empowering women, current and future generations to build healthy communities. Zaazey promotes sustainable farming methods, utilizes ethical trade practices and celebrates social responsibility. Their practice is providing equal opportunities and fair wages, while producing the world’s finest, 100% pure, award-winning extra virgin olive oil.
With careful attention to choosing the best trees, picking premium quality olives, and using meticulously orchestrated cold-press methods, ZAAZEY has created the finest extra virgin olive oil known on the international market. Picked at peak ripeness and gently crushed within hours, ZAAZEY Olive Oil will bring the natural flavor of Turkey right to your dining table
“Together we are stronger.”