Author: am-admin

Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the supply chain diversity space both nationally, regionally, and locally as well as get the latest NYNJMSDC news.

MBE Spotlight: Sal Austin

Sal Austin is a Senior VP at DGX Security (DGX). He is a security expert, an Internet for ALL Advocate, and a Cloud Champion with over 20 years of hands on experience in the IT and Security Industry. He has extensive experience in business practices, operational leadership, technology and management. Sal is also a community leader who is seen as a role model for inner city, minority, young men and women who are born into poverty and surrounded by drugs and violence. Sal was born into the bottom of the inner city of Orange, New Jersey, surrounded by drugs, violence and crime but he always wanted more for himself. He wanted to become a business man and to give back to the community and society as a whole. As a result, he has been in the IT & Security industry for over 20 years.

Sal’s goal has always been to leave a legacy for others to follow and he believes that it is not where one starts but where one ends. The only way a person can overcome most hardships is education, so he has actively sought out and read self help books, attended lectures and took every free business course available to pull himself up by his bootstraps. Currently, he is a member of the EY minority, small business network, the Chase JP Morgan minority, small business network, and the Microsoft Black Partner Network. This all contributed to helping Sal get ready to accomplish his lifelong goals and dreams.

About DGX Security

DGX Security (DGX) is a value-added, technology reseller. They specialize in IT Modernization, Zero-Trust WIFI, Cloud Services and Artificial Intelligence. They have IT & Security Solutions and Services all in one place. Clients can expect to save money on their monthly cyber security insurance by using their IT Modernization/Cyber Security solutions. DGX is ACDBE, DBE, SBE & MBE certified.

What does being a minority business, or supporting minority businesses, mean to you?

Being a minority business owner or entrepreneur, automatically comes with being a role model and community leader, which I appreciate and take very seriously. I am always willing to share knowledge and words of wisdom with younger brothers and sisters who have recently became involved in business. It is one of the reasons I am so appreciative of being part of so many professional networks.

Each One, Teach One!

How has being certified with the NMSDC helped your business?

We recently became active members but plan to reach out to the corporate members to build relationships and see what technology pain points we can help to resolve. Looking forward to seeing how the NMSDC can help our business.

What is one thing you wish you had known when you were starting out in your career?

The importance of networking and making new friends.

For more information on DGX Security please visit: or follow them on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram

2022 Veterans Day Message

When November 11th was officially named Veterans Day in 1952, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower called upon all citizens to join together in “solemnly remember[ing] the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom.” As our troops continue to serve with dedication and honor, so too do we take this time to recognize the commitment and sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and all other military service members. 

And, more importantly, we use this day as a chance to say a heartfelt thank you to the brave men and women who have served our country. The United States was built on hard-won freedoms, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without heroes like our World War 2, Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and Afghanistan Veterans. Their sacrifice ushered in an era of unprecedented growth and prosperity in our country, and one day alone each year will never be enough to express the deep gratitude of our thanks. 

As a supporter of minority-owned businesses and a stark advocate for supply chain diversity, we owe the crux of our work to the military servicemen and women who’ve defended our freedoms, allowing for everyone’s freedoms of speech and expression and the freedom to secure a future free from want. It’s these fundamental rights, among others, that have created an economy of acceptance and abundance, offering those from all walks of life a seat at the entrepreneurial table. The Council sees this as the embodiment of civil liberties for all, and for that, we will always owe our gratitude to our enlisted military. 

We hope to never forget to not only give thanks, but live thanks. In the words of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, “Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they’ve suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us.”

This Veterans day, be sure to appreciate your freedoms and thank all of those who have won them for you. 


Terrence Clark

2022 Native American Heritage Month

The Council joyfully recognizes Native American Heritage Month this November, using this time to explore and celebrate the heritage, culture, and experiences of Indigenous peoples both historically and in American life today. Though we proudly advocate for Native American business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the year, we believe it is equally important to pay tribute to the sacrifices and achievements they continue to make toward our mission of diversity and inclusion. 

The more than five billion Native Americans in the United States belong to 574 federally recognized tribes across our country. Celebrating Native American Heritage does not mean celebrating one culture, but rather recognizing and honoring the many diverse native nations and each of their unique defining histories. It is a time to celebrate the traditions, languages, and stories of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Island communities and ensure their rich histories and contributions continue to thrive with each passing generation. And, in order to guarantee that every community has the future they deserve, November serves as a time for us as a nation to reassess our commitment to upholding the significant alliances we have with tribal nations and renew our dedication to these ties.

Further, we would be remiss to overlook the significant contributions of Native Americans to our nation and economy. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Native American-owned businesses contribute more than $33 billion to the U.S. economy every year and employ more than 200,000 people. Native American entrepreneurs founded international restaurant chains, profitable casinos, successful financing companies, and indigenous art stores across the country. Additionally, there are tens of thousands of Native American solopreneurs who significantly impact our nation’s financial health and move our economy forward. Native American businesses had an estimated buying power of $140 billion in 2020, a number that is set to continue to grow.

This month, we ask you to take a conscious effort in supporting Native American entrepreneurs and to think deeply about the pivotal role they play in the American economy. If you haven’t yet, this is the perfect time to diversify your supply chains and connect with our Council-certified Native American MBEs. We invite you all to support, celebrate, and honor the Native American teachers, leaders, scientists, activists, and public figures this November.  


Terrence Clark

2022 Healthcare Symposium


About the Event

Wednesday, November 16
8 am – 3 pm

Mt. Sinai Corporate Offices
150 East 42nd Street, 4th Floor
New York, New York 10017

Mount Sinai Health System is proud to partner with the New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council for a Healthcare Symposium. We will focus on the many ways we can advance diversity and sustainability in the healthcare supply chain.

Registration is Free.
All participants must register by Friday, November 11.

*As determined by the CDC, appropriate face masks are required in all healthcare facilities*


8:00 amRegistration
Light breakfast available

9:00 amWelcome & Opening Remarks
Carlos Maceda, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Mount Sinai
Terrence Clark, President & CEO, NYNJMSDC

9:10 amDoing Business with a Healthcare Distributor
Gina Kiefer, Vendor Relations Manager, Medline Industries

9:40 amHealthcare IT
Matthew Grob, Senior Director, Digital Technology Partners – Governance, Mount Sinai

10:10 amSustainability in Healthcare
Sal Tranchina, Senior Director, Environmental Health and Safety, Mount Sinai

10:40 amCapital Program Management in Healthcare Organizations
Douglas E. Carney, Senior Vice President, Real Estate & Facilities and
Chief Facilities Officer, Mount Sinai

11:10 amPanel Discussion: Doing Business with Health Systems 
Carlos Maceda, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Mount Sinai
Malgorzata Gizinska, Sr. Director, Sourcing & Performance Engineering, Montefiore
Keith Tallbe, Chief Procurement Counsel, NYC Health + Hospitals

12:00 pm


1:00 pm
Supplier Diversity Fair

Session Overview

♦ Doing Business with a Healthcare Distributor

Led by Gina Kiefer, Vendor Relations Manager at Medline Industries, participants will learn about the requirements to do business with a major healthcare distributor, especially as health systems aim to improve their supply chain efficiencies—from order placement, to delivery, to the end users.

♦ Healthcare IT

Matthew Grob, Senior Director of Governance in the Digital and Technology Partners Department at Mount Sinai, showcases the digital and technological priorities for Mount Sinai and gives us a sneak-peek into future opportunities in healthcare technology.

♦ Sustainability in Healthcare

Learn about Mount Sinai’s sustainability initiative and the supply chain’s role in environmental stewardship from Sal Tranchina, Senior Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Mount Sinai.

♦ Capital Program Management in Healthcare Organizations

Led by Doug Carney, Senior Vice President, Real Estate & Facilities and Chief Facilities Officer at Mount Sinai, participants learn about what drives healthcare capital needs. From how real estate projects are defined, to how costs are captured, Mr. Carney will discuss the decision-making process and the nuances involved in creating real estate capital assets.

♦ Panel: Doing Business with Health Systems

Learn from senior supply chain representatives about the requirements to do business with large integrated delivery networks (IDN), such as Mount Sinai Health System, Montefiore, and NYC Health + Hospitals.

♦ Supplier Diversity Fair

Get those Capability Statements ready! After lunch, event attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their unique business offerings with Mount Sinai’s supply chain and departmental stakeholders. MBE suppliers should be prepared to present their skills and expertise to various departments at Mount Sinai, including the IT department, the Facilities department, the Marketing department and more.

About the Speakers

Terrence Clark

President and CEO
NY & NJ Minority Supplier Development Council

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.

Carlos A. Maceda

Chief Supply Chain Officer
Mount Sinai Health System

Carlos A. Maceda has worked in healthcare Supply Chain management for more than 30 years. Throughout his career, Carlos has held various strategic and operations management positions at several healthcare facilities throughout the New York City region. Prior to joining Mount Sinai, he served in the United States Air Force and as a Vice President at the financial improvement consulting firm Nexera, Inc., where he provided oversight for both financial and operational performance.

Carlos joined the Health System as a Vice President in 2014. His current role at Mount Sinai Health System is to provide vision and leadership for an integrated supply chain across the organization. He manages all areas of the system’s supply chain—including purchasing, sourcing, value analysis, materials management, and mail services—with the aim of ensuring the purchase of the highest quality materials and services at the best cost. 

Carlos has been instrumental in maintaining the functionality of Mount Sinai’s supply chain throughout the unprecedented and often unpredictable, Covid-19 pandemic. His accomplishments include keeping the Health System’s supply chain intact by building a self-distribution model, maintaining sufficient inventory levels of personal protective equipment and patient care supplies in the ongoing global shortages. 

Carlos is the proud son of Cuban parents who immigrated to New Jersey when he was two years old. He grew up in Union City, home to some of the largest immigrant communities in New Jersey. As a proud member of the BIPOC community, he is a champion for diversity, with a personal mission to increase economic mobility for historically marginalized communities and to bolster the use of underrepresented businesses as suppliers within Mount Sinai’s supply chain. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Bloomfield College and Master’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Health Systems Management from Fairleigh Dickinson University. 

Tiffany Oloke, DBA, CNP, CPSM

Senior Sourcing Lead
Mount Sinai Health System

Tiffany Oloke is a Business Management professional with over 15 years of experience in supply chain management. She currently leads the sourcing for a group of high spend categories at Mount Sinai, including Facilities and Engineering.

Prior to joining Mount Sinai, Tiffany led the supply chain processes for giant nonprofit organizations such as Save the Children Federation as Advisor Strategic Sourcing, where she led major procurement processes, including procurement policy and procedure revamp, supply chain technology re-evaluation, contract negotiation and management, supplier relations, supplier risk management, internal controls valuation, and optimizing cost-saving opportunities. While at Save the Children, she initiated and implemented the Supplier Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program. Tiffany holds a Doctorate degree in International Business (DBA) from the International School of Business, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Massachusetts and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. She also has certification in supply chain management (CPSM) through the Institute of Supply Management, and a nonprofit sector management certification (CNP).

Tiffany is a member of a few globally recognized nonprofit organizations. She currently serves as a board member of the Zonta International Club; a global organization she believes brings a salutary platform in representation of, and advocacy for, women and girls around the world. She is a public speaker and wields a huge ‘megaphone’ in communicating relationship building and stakeholder management.

As an adjunct professor of Business Management, and an academic consultant, she is passionate about prime education and mentorship. Tiffany is a firm believer in causes affecting humankind, and very ardent about causes she subscribes to

Doug Carney

Senior Vice President, Real Estate & Facilities
and Chief Facilities Officer
Mount Sinai Health System

Doug Carney is a Registered Architect in the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania who is certified by the National Council of Architects Registrations Boards and is a former member of the Pennsylvania Architects Licensure Board. Mr. Carney currently serves as the System Senior Vice President for Real Estate, Planning, Design, Construction and Engineering at Mount Sinai Health System and Icahn School of Medicine, an 8-hospital system and medical school in New York. Mr. Carney held a similar position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where he led nine operating departments. Under his leadership, Brigham and Women’s updated the Institutional Master Plan and a Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan, which included the beginning of the hospital’s journey to net zero that Mr. Carney initiated as co-chair of the Climate Action Committee.

Mr. Carney also served in a Senior Vice President role at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Under Mr. Carney’s leadership, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia completed over $2.0 billion dollars of in-place construction and started nearly $4 billion in activity following the Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan of 2019, which he led to provide a roadmap for building scale and expanding the CHOP integrated care network infrastructure. Mr. Carney also led the effort to design and build the South Philadelphia Health and Literacy Center, which was a public-private partnership with the City of Philadelphia that included CHOP’s Primary Care Center, The City Health Clinic #2, the first Free Library Branch of the 21st Century, and the recreation department playground and center. This was the FIRST 100% minority construction contract in Philadelphia at $43M direct costs.

Mr. Carney has significant experience in operations leadership, design and capital program management, and construction project consulting. He has held a Clinical Professor faculty appointment at Drexel University since 2004, where he has taught Real Estate Development and Materials & Construction Management. Mr. Carney has also been a guest lecturer in the Widener University MBA program and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School’s MBA program in the Zell Lurie Real Estate Center for 19 years. He recently developed an “inverted classroom” lecture series on design and construction processes. Mr. Carney has also lectured at Baruch University in the Masters of Healthcare Administration program.

Mr. Carney has specialized in developing and providing strategic leadership for highly effective cross-functional teams in capital projects, facilities operations, and real estate environments in large academic institutional settings. Mr. Carney has also led efforts to systematize and develop innovative management plans for tracking major capital programs and construction management efforts for large, complex projects in the Educational, Healthcare and Corporate Markets and enjoys a record of exceeding stakeholder expectations through careful success planning and outstanding management in construction and facilities operations. Mr. Carney has served on several healthcare and educational boards and committees as Trustee and other capacities.

Malgorzata Gizinska

Senior Director of Sourcing & Performance Engineering
Montefiore Health System

Malgorzata Gizinska joined Montefiore Einstein in March 2020. In her current role as the Senior Director of Sourcing & Performance Engineering, she provides her vision and leadership to the Strategic Sourcing, Performance Optimization, Data Integrity and Project Management functions of Procurement Services. She is responsible for implementing cost effective sourcing strategies for high quality products and services and leading data-driven process and system improvement initiatives which span the entirety of Montefiore Einstein, while working in close collaboration with leadership across all departments. In 2021, Malgorzata led implementation of the Supplier Diversity and Local Buy programs within Montefiore Procurement as a joined effort with Community Affairs.

Before joining Montefiore Einstein, Malgorzata was a senior supply chain leader at Intel Corp where, during her 9-year tenure, she operated as the technical project manager on several of Intel’s major supply chain initiatives which encompassed: integrated data pipeline implementation, business intelligence, integrated data analytics & decision quality process enhancements, and merger integration.

Malgorzata holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Informatics and Computer Science (specialization in Data Science), respectively, and received her MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Matthew Grob

Senior Director of Governance in the Digital and Technology Partners Department
Mount Sinai Health System

Matthew Grob serves as the Senior Director for Governance in the Digital and Technology Partners (DTP) department at Mount Sinai Health System in New York. He leads a team that provides governance and management consulting services to the 800+ member DTP department, including contract management. Special initiatives have included serving as primary DTP lead for merger-related integration and spin off-related transition services agreements, supplier diversity, international services, new hospital planning, launching of the digital health program, and first program manager for cybersecurity.

Prior to joining Mount Sinai, Matthew began his career implementing and managing clinical information systems at an academic medical center. Subsequently, he served with management consulting firms and healthcare software vendors. In addition to serving clients, his responsibilities included knowledge management and methodology development at the executive level.

Matthew has spoken frequently at national conferences and has been designated a Fellow of the Health Information and Management Systems Society (FHIMSS). He holds the credential of a Certified Professional in Health Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS). Matthew is a former member and chair of the HIMSS CPHIMS Technical Committee.

Matthew holds a certificate in Healthcare Leadership Advancement from the Johnson Graduate School of Management of Cornell University, and a degree in Organizational Behavior and Communication from New York University.

Gina Kiefer

Vendor Relations Manager, Distributed Products
Medline Industries, L.P.

Gina Kiefer is a Vendor Relations Manager in the Distributed Products Division for Medline Industries, L.P.  She has responsibility for a portfolio of suppliers, their operational programs, supply chain efficiencies and other business needs of those vendors.

Gina joined Medline in April of 2020, following a five year tenure with a healthcare distributor of orthopedic and sports medicine equipment.  Her roles with that organization included outside sales and residency education and training.  

Gina attended Michigan State University where she played collegiate volleyball.  She has now transitioned to much lower-impact activities; beach days with her dog, long bike rides and enjoying the sights of Chicago. 

Keith Tallbe

Chief Procurement Council
NYC Health + Hospitals

Keith Tallbe is a dedicated public servant, having served NYC Health + Hospitals for more than ten years. In his work he has been instrumental in shaping and organizing the public safety net health care system’s procurement policy and procedures. While doing so, he has ensured that the system’s efforts on supplier diversity are fully integrated into system-wide supply chain decision making. As a result, the system has achieved $747 million in spend to MWBEs in fiscal year 2022, with a utilization of 32.4%, a 3,000% increase in spending in just five years.

Sal Tranchina

Senior Director, Environmental Health and Safety
Mount Sinai Health System

Salvatore J. Tranchina is Mount Sinai Health System’s Senior Director of Environmental Health & Safety Program. He has been with Mount Sinai for 16 years. Prior to Mount Sinai, Mr. Tranchina worked as a Senior Engineering Manager at the IBM Semiconductor Division and as an Environmental Engineer in the nuclear power industry. One of Mr. Tranchina’s responsibilities at IBM was “Environmental Stewardship”, leading a technical team to further advance manufacturing waste reduction, increase chemical recycling and substitution of more environmentally friendly processes. Due to these efforts, he received a number of NYS / Federal and internal awards. Mr. Tranchina received his B.S. & M.S. in Civil Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York. In 1984, Mr. Tranchina received a NYS Professional Engineer’s license.

Joe Wilson

Senior Assistant Vice President of Supply Chain
NYC Health + Hospitals

Joe Wilson is the Senior Assistant Vice President of Supply Chain Services at New York City Health + Hospitals. He is responsible for all Strategic Sourcing and contracting activities, including oversight of the clinical managed services of Biomedical Engineering, Central Sterile, and OR Tech Support Services. Mr. Wilson joined New York City Health + Hospitals in 2015 and was responsible for the creation and centralization of Strategic Sourcing and Value Analysis activities across the enterprise. During his tenure leading Strategic Sourcing, NYC Health + Hospitals has realized $700 million in Supply Chain savings. New York City Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal IDN comprised of eleven acute care hospitals, five large diagnostic treatment centers, five long term care facilities, seventy clinics, a 500,000 member HMO, and also oversees the healthcare delivery for Correctional Health. New York City Health + Hospitals has annual revenues of $9.6 billion. Prior to joining New York City Health + Hospitals, Mr. Wilson led Clinical Strategic Sourcing at NYU Langone Medical Center and the NYU School of Medicine.

Thank You to our 2022 Annual Sponsors

MBE Spotlight: Brett Bucktooth

Brett Bucktooth is the Supplier Diversity Manager at Ongweoweh. Before starting his career he grew up on a small Native American reservation in Onondaga, NY—located just 3 miles south of Syracuse. His first passion in life is lacrosse, which is a part of who the Onondagas are as a people—from birth to death. Lacrosse is deeply rooted in their history as they believe it is a gift from their Creator. As he continued to play the game and excel, the dream of pursuing a college education came true and he was able to earn a degree at Syracuse University. After graduating he played professional lacrosse for 12 years while also working as a financial planner for Mass Mutual. After he completed his professional career, he got married. Brett’s wife’s name is Sateiokwen and in her Mohawk language the translation is, “She picks things up easily”. Fitting as she now harvests medicines and continues to use the language in running her own business. Brett is also a proud father to his children, Brett Jr and Aura, whom each have their traditional Mohawk names.

In 2019, Brett transitioned his career to the world of pallets. He started out at Ongweoweh Corp as an Account Manager, where he oversaw the pallet category for two national accounts. A year later Brett transitioned to become the Supplier Diversity Manager. Since assuming that role he has implemented a new Standard Operating Procedure and fostered numerous business relationships at national conferences and trade shows on behalf of Ongweoweh Corp. One of the biggest takeaways he has learned in his role is being a champion for diverse suppliers and sharing the integral role they play in procuring and sustaining a strong, reliable supply chain.

About Ongweoweh

Established in 1978, Ongweoweh Corp was founded by Frank Bonamie. He started manufacturing pallets in upstate New York until the demand outgrew his work force. He then transitioned from a manufacturer into the national pallet management company it is today. Ongweoweh Corp is a Native American-owned, pallet management company providing competitive procurement, recycling services, and supply chain optimization programs. They provide custom reporting along with data and trend analysis for a very diverse customer base of Fortune 500 companies. Ongweoweh services a variety of industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, grains, chemicals, automotive components, oil, technology, corrugate, retail, and more.

What does being a minority business, or supporting minority businesses, mean to you?

As a minority owned business we understand there is no guarantee of business after an introduction. The hard work and consistent effort of providing trustworthy service while sustaining a healthy relationship are keys to success. As a minority owned business we understand the challenges and adversity small businesses experience. When Ongweoweh participates in an RFP/RFQ we’re forging new relationships with diverse suppliers knowing they’re driving innovation with creative responses to today’s challenges. In 2021 our diverse spend with suppliers exceeded $40 Million. Supporting minority owned businesses goes beyond market share; more importantly it’s good business to work with communities that support at the grassroots level. Strengthening the local economy leads to social and economic development which in turn spurns increased opportunities.

How has being certified with the NMSDC helped your business?

Since joining the NMSDC and becoming Corporate Plus, Ongweoweh has been able to widen its scope of business. By proving our capabilities and utilizing our membership in the NYNJMSDC; attending conferences and trade shows has been beneficial because it enables Ongweoweh to get out in front of prospective targets to create and generate opportunities through building relationships. When we speak about the success of our business we’re also speaking to the success of our diverse suppliers and our customers who believe in having a supplier diversity program being put into action. Partnering with a diverse supplier strengthens, stabilizes and adds flexibility within their supply chain.

What is one thing you wish you had known when you were starting out in your career?

I wish I had known how much industries across all platforms relied on the usage of pallets. There’s a saying I’ve become accustomed to hearing and sharing and that is, “pallets help make the world go ’round.” Now that I have an understanding of the integral role pallets play in the supply chain I have the utmost respect for all mills and lumber suppliers.

For more information on The Ongweoweh Corp please visit: or follow them on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram

MBE Spotlight: Xavier Armand

Xavier Armand’s story as it pertains to The Vaan Group starts back in 2010 when his partner, Chuong Nguyen-Thanh started a consulting group for a prominent E-Cigarette company. It was the new age of E-Cigarettes. Nobody knew what it was, but everybody wanted to get their hands on it. By day they were selling the product at street fairs, nightclubs, and fashion shows, and by night they were building the website. The website grew exponentially—bringing in $1.2 million in the first year. This would become a pivotal point in Xavier and Chuong’s career and would build the foundation of Vaan in the coming year when the E-Cigarette company took a downward turn. Like all entrepreneurs, when one door closes you begin hunting for the next. Chuong and Xavier knew they were far into building the website component of the business, from design to development, and knew what it took to develop a successful build. This was the kick-off to their agency, Vaan, as you know it today. After the early years of Vaan’s foray into website design and development, they began to make inroads with some very well known Fortune 500 companies that brought them in as experts to consult on user experience design and product strategy. Once they got their foot in the door, they continued to leverage their work and demonstrate the real value that they could bring to businesses of any size and across any vertical. As their client list grew in size and stature, they started building out a global team of technologists, which has been the foundation for all of the success they’ve achieved up until this point.

Vaan was officially founded in 2011. Xavier is now formally the Co-founder and CEO of the agency while Chuong is Co-founder and COO.

Vaan is a remote-first digital agency based in New York specializing in building scalable and future-proof eCommerce solutions for brand partners using award-winning design and engineering best practices. They pride themselves on being the bridge between business goals and technology by providing a combination of complex technical solutions and unique memorable designs. Through a problem-centric approach, they turn business requirements, UX requirements, marketing requirements, and creative design into captivating online experiences.

What does being a minority business mean to you?

Being a minority-owned business means a lot to Xavier as a founder, but it’s also one of the guiding values of their company. Growing up he always heard the saying “You can’t receive with a closed fist.” They are driven to support their community both financially but also with their time. He is partners with CodeNation and LEDA which is driven to provide resources and internships to youth in underrepresented communities. Representation matters and in the agency space the number of minority-owned businesses or minority founders is really low. Being in this position they are granted the opportunity to give light to the next generation of minority creatives and future agency founders.

How has being certified with the NMSDC helped your business?

The NMSDC is an amazing organization for many reasons. One is that they help to put minority-owned businesses in front of newer and bigger opportunities but it inevitably falls on our capabilities and what we have to offer that seals the deals. Here at Vaan, we are obsessed with results so this being a space where we can secure opportunities not only based on our background as founders but on the merits of our work as a whole company, means a lot to us.

What is one thing you wish you had known when you were starting out in your career?

Looking back there are a couple of things that come to mind at both the industry level and my career. Industry-wise I wish I knew the value service providers hold to tech solutions or software companies. For my career, I believe in being diligent in social media and building a presence early on would have been beneficial to the brand.

For more information on The VAAN Group please visit: or follow them on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram

MBE Spotlight: Firoz Lalji

Firoz Lalji is chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Zones, LLC.

Throughout the company’s 30-year history, Firoz Lalji has provided the vision and leadership necessary to transform Zones into a global solutions provider and award-winning business enterprise.

Today Zones, LLC, is a global IT solutions provider that delivers products and services to help companies complete their digital transformation – from desktop to the data center – to the cloud and beyond. Zones’ expertise is reflected in our business model focusing on Global Supply Chain as a Service, IT Solutions, Cloud, and Managed Services. As a certified Minority Business Enterprise and holder of an elite Corporate Plus Certification, Zones LLC has proven their ability to support many of the world’s largest corporations.

In addition to Zones, Lalji owns the Fana Group of Companies, an investment holding company operating in the United States and Canada. Prior to his tenure at Zones, Lalji was the founder, president, and CEO of Kits Cameras, Inc., which he built into a chain of 225 stores across the U.S. and Canada. He sold Kits Cameras in 1997 and joined Zones as CEO in 1998.

Lalji was born in Uganda and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the London School of Economics in 1969 and attended Harvard Business School from 1991 to 1993. He serves on multiple advisory boards, including the Board of Directors of US Bank of Washington, the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, the London School of Economics, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Lalji is also founder and chairman of the Program for African Leadership (PFAL) Foundation, which grants scholarships to African students. Additionally, he runs the Program for African Leadership at the London School of Economics.

For more information on Zones, LLC, follow them on LinkedIn or Twitter.

2022 Sustainability Symposium

About the Event

This session will speak broadly about Supply Chain sustainability and its current impact on all businesses, whether minority-owned, small or diverse. It will also focus on understanding Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) as an integral part of everyday business.

Attendees should leave this session with additional insight on Supplier Diversity’s alignment with ESG, awareness about ESG metrics and reporting, and learn more about best practices of those companies that are focused on Sustainability efforts across the globe.

Meet The Speakers


I. Javette Hines

Global Head, Supply Chain Development, Inclusion and Sustainability – Citi

Illonka (Javette) Hines joined Citi Procurement Services in 2008. She manages and sets direction within Supplier Diversity, partners with procurement, community development, applicable business units and workforce diversity on diversity efforts. Additionally, she ensures awareness of current legislation and trends and is spearheading Citi’s role in the groundbreaking Supplier Connection initiative.

Following her arrival at Citi, Javette took on the additional responsibility of developing and implementing a sustainable procurement program within Citi’s Procurement Services organization. The dual role has been a win-win as it ensures supply chain and supplier alignment in Citi’s sourcing efforts, aligns with Operations and Technology’s 2015 sustainable supply chain goals, and encompasses Citi’s overall $50B climate change initiative efforts. Most important, it has allowed for an additional educational platform for MWBEs and a way to further realize a level playing field as well as an understanding of contractual requirements regarding sustainable procurement/ethical sourcing.

Javette has over 20 years of experience in procurement, diversity, contracts, and management. Prior to joining Citi, Javette worked at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) where her responsibilities included recruitment of supply chain talent, management of US and global sourcing activities, strategic planning, as well as software and technical services sourcing.

Javette holds a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Grades Education from Clark Atlanta University and a Juris Doctorate from the Wake Forest University School of Law. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the NYNJ Minority Supplier Development Council; a Member of the Institute for Supply Management, NY and GA State Bar Associations, the NY State Bar Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and a former member and CLE Subcommittee Co-Chair of the Committee on Women in the Law. Javette is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Westchester County of The Links, Incorporated.

Session 1 – Overview of ESG and Reporting

Julia Silberman

Director of Corporate Engagement – CDP North America

Julia Silberman is the Director of Corporate Engagement in North America. She leads the Corporate Engagement team which works with 1,900 of the largest companies in North America that are requested to disclose by investors and customers. The team supports companies from their first CDP response and help them progress towards environmental excellence by adopting best practice in environmental management and disclosure. Previously, as a manager on CDP’s Supply Chain team, she worked closely with companies in the consumer goods, information technology, and telecom sectors to engage suppliers, reduce the environmental impacts of their supply chain, and achieve their supply chain sustainability goals.

Betty M. Huber

Partner – Latham & Watkins

As the Global Co-Chair of Latham’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practice, Ms. Huber advises financial institutions, public companies, private equity clients, and their boards on all ESG matters, including disclosures, transactions, products, governance, and other regulatory guidance. Her financial institution clients include G-SIBs, super-regional banks, community banks as well as various bank trade groups. Drawing on 25+ years of experience providing sophisticated and commercial advice and judgment across a broad spectrum of industries, Ms. Huber helps clients shape and develop ESG strategy, oversight, reporting, and other programs to drive value while providing solutions to carefully address, manage, and mitigate risk. A frequent speaker and lecturer, she has been called by the SEC to testify on climate change disclosures and other ESG topics.

Julia Salant

Carbon Solution Director – EcoVadis

Julia Salant is the Carbon Solution Director at EcoVadis. In this role, she leads the strategy and implementation of Carbon Solution that helps EcoVadis network engage business partners in climate action through GHG emissions disclosure and performance improvement. Prior to joining EcoVadis in 2014, Julia worked across public and private sectors on renewable energy projects, custom energy efficiency solutions and led sustainability analysis of complex supply chains worldwide.

Session 2 – Sustainability Across the World

Ben Ngobi

Global Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability Lead – Accenture

Ben Ngobi leads Accenture’s Global Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability program, where he is responsible for the strategy to embed Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into purchasing decisions, working closely with multiple stakeholders in the company. Mr. Ngobi has also been instrumental in building strategy, operational, and technological excellence with regard to implementing supplier inclusion and sustainability programs.

Ben was responsible for enhancing Accenture’s approach to integrating small medium and diverse suppliers in its supply chain. In addition, he is helping establish innovations/initiatives that support Accenture’s approach to ESG due diligence in procurement, reporting of progress on modern slavery, human rights, biodiversity, audits, stakeholders engagement, and is part of the team setting new corporate goals in supply chain.

Ben participates in several nonprofit organizations around the world in the areas of supplier inclusion and sustainability. He was part of the team that attended the Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris, setting an ambitious supply chain goal that the company achieved on time. He is a speaker on climate and human rights topics within procurement, and a subject matter advisor on implementing supplier diversity programs. Ben has degrees in Business Management and Environment, Development Studies, and International Management from UK universities.

Lullit Jezequel

Procurement Manager, Sustainability & Partnerships – Unilever North America

Lullit is the Procurement Manager, Sustainability & Partnerships for Unilever North America.

She leads the region’s partnership agenda as well as social sustainability programs including supplier diversity, responsible sourcing, and living wage programs — all while being a central point for environmental sustainability programs in plastics and carbon. Lullit joined Unilever in 2017 as Assistant Procurement Manager with a focus on marketing services. Prior to that, she held sourcing and supply chain positions at Avon and the World Economic Forum after graduating from Columbia & Sciences Po Paris with a Master in International Affairs.

Jeremy Capungcol

Vice President, Sustainability & ESG – Citi

Jeremy is Vice President on Citi’s Sustainability & ESG team, which is responsible for developing Citi’s sustainability strategy and key initiatives in collaboration with partners across the firm and for coordinating their implementation. Jeremy leads Citi’s ESG disclosure program, including disclosures on climate/ESG issues and engagement with rating agencies, regulators, and other stakeholders. 

Prior to joining Citi, Jeremy spent over a decade in the architectural and engineering consulting field, working with real estate investment trusts and developers to develop ESG management programs for their portfolios as well as consulting on sustainable, large-scale commercial real estate projects throughout the globe. Jeremy holds a BEng in Mechanical Engineering from The Cooper Union and an MSc in Sustainability Management from Columbia University.

Paige Adams

Vice President, Sustainability & ESG – Citi

Jeremy is Vice President of Citi’s Sustainability & ESG team, which is responsible for developing Citi’s sustainability strategy and key initiatives in collaboration with partners across the firm and for coordinating and monitoring their implementation. Jeremy leads Citi’s ESG disclosure program, including disclosures on climate and ESG issues and engagement with rating agencies, regulators, and other stakeholders. Prior to joining Citi, Jeremy spent over a decade in the architectural and engineering field, working with real estate investment trusts and developers to develop ESG management programs for their portfolios as well as consulting on sustainable, large-scale commercial real estate projects throughout the globe.

Meet Our Event Sponsors


Citi logo

2022 Annual Sponsors

2022 Hispanic Heritage Month

This Hispanic Heritage Month, The Council proudly recognizes the millions of Hispanic Americans who enrich our nation. We celebrate the prosperity of our nation’s Latinx/Hispanic businesses and business owners and applaud communities in New York and New Jersey — and around the nation — that fully commit to their growth and development. 

The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM), announced the 2022 Hispanic Heritage Month Observance Theme to be: “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” We believe this theme encourages people across the country to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities — a core concept reflected in all work carried out by the NYNJMSDC.

This year is the 34th year we will recognize the contributions and importance of Hispanics and Latinos to the United States and those American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate the extraordinary leadership shown by the Hispanic American community, including the achievements of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic-American appointed to the Supreme Court, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, a composer, actor, writer, and activist shaping modern pop culture through the re-imaging of America’s story told through the lens of people of color.  

We also take the time to remember past visionaries like Cesar Chavez, a leading advocate for Latinx and workers’ rights; Roberto Clemente, who overcame racial bias as the first Hispanic American to play major league baseball; and Selena, the pop superstar who brought Mexican Tejano music to the masses. These and many other leaders have made significant contributions to American society, transforming perceptions of Hispanic Americans and serving as shining examples of diversity’s role in modern American culture. 

This September and October, we ask you to uplift and celebrate the Hispanic American entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, teachers, athletes, and other professionals who are unabashedly sharing their heritage and culture to create a long-lasting, positive impact on our society and in our communities. 


Terrence Clark

MBE Spotlight: Partake Foods


Denise Woodard is the Founder and CEO of Partake Foods, a natural food company that was inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies. Partake’s first product — delicious, better for you, allergy-friendly cookies — was launched in 2017 and can now be found in more than 8,000 retail outlets, including Target, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods Market.

Partake also offers a selection of delicious, allergy-friendly products including crunchy and soft baked cookie flavors such as chocolate chip, birthday cake, and double chocolate In 2021, Partake released a line of baking mixes—brownie mix, blondie mix, and a pizza crust baking mix—all available on In January 2022, Partake introduced pancake & waffle mixes in classic & confetti flavors available at select Target stores nationwide.

Denise is the first Black woman to raise more than $1 Million publicly for a CPG food startup. To date, the company has raised over $7.5M from investors including HER, Rihanna, CircleUp Growth Partners, FF2032 and Marcy Venture Partners.

Prior to launching Partake, Denise spent a decade in consumer packaged goods at various Fortune 100 companies. She lives in New York City with her husband, Jeremy, and daughter, Vivienne. She graduated with her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from Arizona State University.

All Partake offerings are certified gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and are free of the top 9 allergens (wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish, sesame and shellfish). The products are made with love, better-for-you ingredients, and offer a variety of flavors that those with and without dietary restrictions can enjoy.

For more information, please visit: or follow @PartakeFoods on Instagram.

Back to top