APRIL 17th 2024 | NEWARK, NJ

Meet the Speakers

The Honorable Ras J. Baraka | Newark, NJ

Mayor of Newark, NJ

A native of Newark, whose family has lived in the City for more than 80 years, Mayor Baraka’s progressive approach to governing has won him accolades from grassroots organizations to the White House. With a forward-thinking agenda that reduced crime to its lowest levels in five decades, addressed affordability while maintaining steady growth, lowered unemployment, returned local control of schools after more than two decades, and replaced all 23,000 known lead service lines in less than three years at no cost to residents, Baraka has defied expectations since taking office in 2014. 

Mayor Baraka’s futurist agenda has included the implementation of a groundbreaking partnership called “Hire. Buy. Live. Newark”, a program that marks the first time that any US city has sought to transform its economy by combining employment, procurement, and residential strategies. 

Mayor Baraka is recognized nationally as a thought leader in the space of urban revitalization, and his commitment to reducing crime in Newark, reimagining public safety, tackling the city’s housing crisis, and developing innovative and community-driven approaches to eliminating income inequality has solidified his status as one of the country’s most progressive elected officials.

While serving as the Mayor of Newark, he also presides as the President of NJ Urban Mayors Association; Executive Board Member for NJ League of Municipalities; Co-Chair, National League of Cities Reimagining Public Safety Task Force; U.S. Conference of Mayors- Vice Chair for Ports, Transportation and Communications Committee; and Member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Local Government Advisory Committee. 
Mayor Baraka was educated in the Newark Public Schools. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a Master’s Degree in Education Supervision from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City. His father, the late Amiri Baraka, was a legendary poet and playwright. His mother, Amina Baraka, is herself a renowned poet. Doting husband, and father of three daughters and a son, Mayor Baraka is a published author who recently released the audible memoir “The Book of Baraka” and is well-regarded in the entertainment industry for his appearance on the Grammy-award winning album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in his authentic role as an educator, and for his EP “What We Want.”

Michelle Bodden | NJEDA

Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Michelle Bodden joined the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) in March of 2020 as the Authority’s first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDO). In this role, she leads efforts cultivating equity and inclusion throughout the organization, while also promoting equity throughout the State’s economy through her oversight of DEI within all Authority products and programs. She brings her extensive professional experience in driving DEI strategies, standards, and policies to the State of New Jersey in this critical leadership position.

Prior to joining the NJEDA, Michelle led the supplier diversity program for Allied Universal, a leading security and facility services company with more than 200,000 employees. She also fostered economic inclusion during her tenure with the Women Presidents’ Educational organization, where she executed initiatives focused on developing women entrepreneurs and advancing the successes of women-owned enterprises. As an experienced entrepreneur herself, having founded a successful consulting firm providing business development, organizational planning, and operational streamlining expertise to multi-physician medical practices, she brings valuable firsthand entrepreneurial knowledge to the Authority, ensuring programs are accessible and developed with the unique needs of small and diverse businesses in mind.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Delaware State University and is a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE).

Rounded T. Clark Headshot

Terrence Clark | NY & NJ MSDC

President and CEO

Terrence Clark leads the way forward for staff and members of The Council community by providing oversight and guidance in relation to The Council’s goals and objectives. Prior to this position, he served as the Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Business Development for the National Urban League, where he was responsible for the management of all small business and entrepreneurship programs. Mr. Clark also served as the Senior Vice President of Knowledge Sharing for the Opportunity Finance Network, where he was responsible for community development for financial institutions nationwide.

In addition to serving on The Council’s board, Mr. Clark is proud to sit as a board member for TruFund Financial Services and the Supplier Diversity Development Council of New Jersey. He also sits on the Economic Impact Committee of Stonehenge Capital and on the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Advisory Councils for the NYC Comptroller and the NYS Governor. In 2021, he was named as one of the Notable Black Leaders and Executives by Crain’s New York.

Jhay Edwards | GSK

International Relations Practitioner

Jhay Edwards is a proud Jamaican-American based in Washington, D.C. He has over ten years of experience working domestically and internationally in the supplier diversity field. As an international Relations Practitioner, Jhay is passionate about human rights through a health and economic lens. He is completing a Doctorate in Global Security and a Master of Public Health. Jhay joined GSK after serving honorably in the United States Air Force, where he helped to introduce supplier diversity. An avid volunteer, he spends his free time as a volunteer firefighter, Sunday school teacher, and people-watching.

Oliver Gall | Prudential Financial

Chief Procurement Officer

Oliver Gall has been a Procurement professional for +20 years. Firstly, in Financial Services with Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group in the UK and then building world-class Fortune 500 Procurement teams in Financial Services with S&P Global and more recently in Tech with Opendoor. Managing billions of dollars in spend, tens of thousands of vendors and large teams of both internal and outsourced resources. 

Oliver has true global experience, having both lived and worked across Europe and more recently in the USA for the past 7 years. Managing teams in all of these locations as well as teams across India, Pakistan, Philippines, China, Japan and Singapore. 

Throughout Oliver’s career he has developed a deep appreciation for the transformational value Procurement can provide to a company. Delivering several large multi-million-dollar cost optimizations initiatives.

Oliver looks forward to the next 10 years as a Procurement professional with tremendous excitement. With a coalescence of circumstance across technology, macro-economics, geo-politics and general public awareness presenting an opportunity for Procurement to be even greater strategic and transformational partners to the organization through:

  • Sophisticated data and technology driven sourcing & category management.
  • Providing a consumer grade experience of Procurement services.
  • Mining data as the new gold to inform timely strategic decision making.
  • Being a critical component of ESG and sustainability.

Oliver is married to Ashley and has 2 children – Jackson (5) and Harper (1). Oliver has a BSc in Business Management and an MSc in Computing Science.

Michael Garner | NYC

Chief Business Diversity Officer

Michael J. Garner, MBA, was appointed New York City’s first Citywide Chief Business Diversity Officer by Mayor Eric Adams in 2023.   Mr. Garner formerly served as Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). His tenure at the MTA spanned 14 years (2009 – 2023).  He is a diversity champion, and has made it his personal and professional mission to create a more diverse business environment wherever he goes.

By creating new programs, Mr. Garner and his team have been responsible for more than $20 billion in payments to New York State/City Minority and Women-owned Businesses. In addition, since Mr. Garner’s arrival, the MTA has improved its hiring of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians by 20% across the MTA’s six different operating agencies.

Since his arrival at the MTA in 2009, Mr. Garner has designed the country’s leading MWDBE Business Development Program based on dollars paid. As the architect of the MTA’s Small Business Mentoring Program, Mr. Garner has transformed the largest transportation system in North America with a results-driven construction mentoring program. The program continues to break down barriers for minority, women, disadvantaged, and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses in New York State, who otherwise would not have contract opportunities in the transportation industry.  

Under the direction of Mr. Garner, the MTA’s Small Business Mentoring Program awarded 575 contracts totaling $620 million to program participants. Overall, through his efforts, more than $17.1 Billion have been paid to New York State-certified MWBEs. During Mr. Garner’s tenures at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA), and the MTA, Mr. Garner and his teams have been responsible for more than $20 billion in dollars paid to both NYC/ NYS certified MWBEs and MTA certified DBEs.

As a recognized industry and community leader, Mr. Garner has had a real impact on the MTA and the MWDBE Business Community, but his work and avid vision do not end there. He is an active member of the Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, a sought-after speaker on effective MWDBE Programs across the nation, an advisor on MWDBE matters to various U.S. Cities and States including the City of Buffalo, the City of Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and the State of New Jersey. 

Mr. Garner hopes to bring his deep breadth of M/WBE programming experience, his vast network of M/WBE advocates and champions, and a proven track record to the City of New York as it’s first Citywide Chief Business Diversity Officer, and Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs.

I. Javette Hines | Citi

Director, Global Head of Supply Chain Development, Inclusion & Sustainability

IlLonka (Javette) Hines is the Director, SC Supplier Senior Group Manager, and Global Head of Supply Chain Development, Inclusion, and Sustainability at Citi. Javette leads Citi’s efforts to ensure the consideration and inclusion of diverse firms within Citi’s sourcing practice. She works across the firm to align supplier selection efforts a global strategy to continue to spend $1B with diverse suppliers globally, support capacity and supplier development, and create awareness and understanding of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) matters.

Javette has over 25 years of experience in supply chain management, operations, leadership, diversity, and management, including 11 years at International Business Machines (IBM). She holds a Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades Education from Clark Atlanta University, a Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law, and holds a certificate as a Certified Professional Supplier Diversity (CPSD) from the Institute of Supply Management. Additionally, she earned a certificate in Human Rights from the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from eCornell, as well as a certificate in Leading Effective Decision Making from the Yale School of Management.

Cheryl McCants | MBEIC Chair

Founder and CEO, Impact Consulting Enterprises

Cheryl McCants, founder and CEO of Impact Consulting Enterprises, is a bilingual and versatile professional with a passion for excellence and success. She is known for her expertise in public relations, digital communication strategy, diversity, equity and inclusion, and project management.

This former news producer, veteran talk show host, and communication director for sports giant Nike, holds multiple degrees, more than three decades of industry expertise, and constantly seeks new levels of learning and understanding.

In addition to leading her team in innovative and effective global community outreach, rebranding, digital marketing, and public relations campaigns, Cheryl is recognized as an award-winning professional communicator and business strategist, crafting fresh and compelling stories that enhance clients’ reputations and bottom lines.

She remains actively involved in various boards and organizations, including serving as chairperson for the NY & NJ Council’s MBE Input Committee. Cheryl’s expertise spans both the private and public sectors while crossing multiple industries and countries. Cheryl McCants is a true leader in her field.

Punita Patel | Guardian Life Insurance

Head of Supplier Diversity & Sustainable Procurement, ESG

Punita Patel serves as Head of Supplier Diversity & Sustainable Procurement, ESG at Guardian Life Insurance.  At Guardian she is responsible for enterprise Supplier Diversity and ESG aligned supplier programs.  Prior to joining Guardian, Ms. Patel’s broader experience includes investment banking, consulting, business development, technology commercialization, leading sustainable supply chain and procurement functions, managing operations domestically and internationally.

Jeanine Pedoto | Prudential Financial

Vice President, Supply Chain Sustainability, Global Sourcing & Procurement

Jeanine is Vice President, Supply Chain Sustainability at Prudential Financial. She is recognized as a strategic and collaborative leader as well as a driver of change. Jeanine is passionate about supplier governance, including risk, diversity and sustainability. 

Jeanine leads Prudential’s Supplier Diversity and Supplier Sustainability Program as well as the Company’s Centralized Due Diligence team. In addition to her responsibilities, Jeanine is actively involved in Prudential’s Women’s Business Resource Group.  She is also a Board Member of both the NY NJ Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC) and the Women Business Enterprise Council NY (WBEC). 

Throughout her career, Jeanine has focused on results and impact with experience creating, building, and enhancing organizations and programs. Jeanine continues to develop her skills and knowledge across all aspects of supplier diversity, supplier sustainability and vendor risk management.  

Jeanine graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a BBA in Finance and has an MBA in Investments from Fairleigh Dickinson. Jeanine currently lives in Bergen County, New Jersey with her husband and three children and their goldendoodle.   

An Phan | Business Consortium Fund

Chief Programs Officer

An Phan is a results-driven leader with 20 years of experience in consumer and small business lending, bringing extensive expertise and experience in operations, business strategy, credit, direct marketing, product development, and program management. In his role at BCF, he is responsible for launching and developing programs for the Diverse Supplier Finance Institute. These programs are aimed at empowering Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) to access corporate and government contracts through targeted training, capital access, and networking opportunities. He also serves as a member of the Development Committee. Before joining BCF, Mr. Phan held senior executive positions at fintech startups, where he led value-driven initiatives to enhance sustainable growth through various products and strategies. Mr. Phan also worked at Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and McKesson, where he spearheaded complex enterprise initiatives spanning multiple business lines, distribution networks, channels, customer segments, products, and geographies. Mr. Phan earned a Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California.

Ruben Rodriguez | Business Consortium Fund

Chief Lending Officer

Ruben Rodriguez is an experienced business professional with over 30 years of in-depth knowledge of finance and small business lending with JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, and Hudson Valley Bank (Now Webster Bank). He joined the Business Consortium Fund in May 2012 and is involved in all aspects of the BCF with particular focus on managing the organization’s loan portfolio, including loan underwriting.

Before joining the BCF, Ruben managed the loan portfolio for Seedco Financial Services, Inc. (currently known as TruFund Financial Services, Inc.) a national non-profit organization that provides affordable capital, hands-on business assistance and solutions to small businesses, non-profit organizations, and real estate developers.

Ruben received his BA degree in Economics from Lehman College in the Bronx in 1989.

Trung Tieu | Well Fargo Bank

Supplier Diversity Program Manager

Trung Tieu is a passionate champion of diversity, equity & inclusion and an advocate for diverse-owned business enterprises. 

Trung joined Wells Fargo & Company as a Supplier Diversity Manager in 2022.  He works closely with sourcing to align suppliers to categories. In addition, he works to advance supplier development/accelerator programs, certification validation, inclusion of diverse suppliers for end-to-end sourcing engagements, drive diverse growth spend, as well as be a relationship manager for lines of businesses including: 

  • Consumer Lending
  • Corporate & Investment Banking
  • Wells Fargo Technology
  • Enterprise Operations 

In his most recent role, he drove economic inclusion by increasing the development and utilization of diverse-owned business enterprises as a Supplier Diversity Manager at PepsiCo. He began his career in the Quaker Foods & Snacks division where he monitored innovation launches and designed product development tracking processes.

He currently serves on the board of the NYNJ Minority Supplier Development Council (NYNJ MSDC) and is co-chair of the NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce) Procurement Council. He has previously served as co-chair of the National Minority Supplier Development Council’s (NMSDC) Consumer Products Working Group and as co-chair of the NGLCC Corporate Advisory Council. Beyond supplier diversity, he has served on the board of the LGBT Community Center of Milwaukee and as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Windy City Performing Arts. 

Trung holds both a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where his research focused on “coming out” and identity construction. Trung is also a proud graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Business LGBT Leadership Institute. 

Trung lives in New York with his husband. He has a wide array of interests including travel, live theater, sci-fi and fantasy fiction, and of tabletop / online RPGs.

Dawn Wells | Northwell Health

Assistant Vice President of Supply Chain

Dawn Wells is a supply chain professional with a public health heart.  She currently serves as Assistant Vice President of Supply Chain at Northwell Health, New York’s largest healthcare provider, serving NYC, Long Island, and Westchester.  In this role, she leads supply chain operations for the Health Systems’ Ambulatory Care Network comprised of more than 830 physician practices and outpatient facilities.  In addition to these responsibilities, Dawn takes an active role in championing and facilitating programs that impact all levels of the organization.  She has been a consistent champion of diversity; representing the supply chain as a member of the diversity and health equity council and corporate social responsibility committee. In 2019, she chartered the health systems supplier diversity council that is charged with creating a cross-functional action plan, ensuring that there is a system wide commitment to maintaining the diversity of the Health System’s suppliers, putting in place standardized processes for measuring goals and success, and partnering with external agencies to educate and deliver information to diverse suppliers within the communities served.   

Dawn joined Northwell Health in 2003 as a member of the project implementation team that established the framework for integrating finance, supply chain, and human resources under a shared-services umbrella. Over the years she has defined and redefined her position and responsibilities in response to the organization’s rapid growth.

Dawn currently serves on the board of the NYNJ Minority Supplier Development Council.  She holds a B.S. in Business and a Master of Public Health from Adelphi University.

Avis Yates | Technology Concepts Group

President & CEO

As CEO of Technology Concepts Group International (TCGi), Avis Yates Rivers sits at the helm of a multi-million-dollar company she built from the ground up. TCGi delivers value in 4 pillars:  Technology Solutions, Procurement Solutions, Strategic Services, and Workforce of the Future. In 2017, TCGi was deemed the third fastest-growing woman-owned business, by the Women Presidents’ Organization, a New York-based advocacy and education group for women entrepreneurs. In 2020, TCGi was named Supplier of the Year, Class III, by the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council (EMSDC). 

A strong believer in the late Shirley Chisholm’s ideal that “service is the rent you pay for the privilege of living on this earth,” Avis subscribes to both the principles and the practice of being ‘in service.’ She is a long-time advocate for the increased utilization of minority and women-owned businesses and a change agent for increasing the meaningful participation of women and people of color in technology. 

Avis released her book, “Necessary Inclusion: Embracing the Changing Faces of Technology,” in January 2017.  This book not only breaks down the challenges of recruiting more women and people of color into the tech industry but also provides a road map to solving this ever-expanding problem. 

Avis serves as a Director on the Board of a select group of non-profit organizations and is the National Spokesperson for NCWIT’s “Sit With Me Campaign.” Avis also serves on the board of NCWIT and the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBEC-Metro NY and DMV). Recently, Avis launched the TCGi Foundation to help break down the barriers for Black girls and women in computing.  Scholarships were created in the name of two fallen TCGi team members, Dawna Colbert and John Fitzpatrick, and are awarded every year to deserving Black women pursuing an education in computer science, IT, or engineering.

Don’t miss a beat! Check out our calendar for a full list of upcoming events and seminars from the Council.

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