Shirie HawkinsManaging Resources for the Longterm (Panel Workshop)
Shirie Hawkins, Small Business Development Center, “Business Planning for the Future”

Shirie Hawkins – Shirie is the Director of the Bluegrass Small Business Development Center in Lexington. Her background includes the development of mutually beneficial partnerships with area businesses, as well as training and consultation for entrepreneurs. She has been an active board member of the Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross for 6 years. Shirie is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.

Marilyn LeBourveauMarilyn LeBourveau, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, “Tax Credit Programs”

Marilyn LeBourveau is a Project Manager with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Office of Entrepreneurship. The Cabinet offers programs and services designed to encourage the development of small and micro businesses in Kentucky. Prior to joining the Cabinet, Marilyn worked as a bank branch manager and loan officer in Louisville and then as owner of a landscape contracting business in Jefferson County. Marilyn says her real world experience gives her the ability to help small businesses find their special niche in the 21st century global economy.

Diana HugesDiana Hughes, CPA, Hisle& Company CPA’s, “Business Valuation”

Diana Hughes, a 1993 graduate of the University of Kentucky is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Valuation Analyst, Certified Forensic Insurance Specialist and a partner in the firm of Hisle & Company. Her experience includes audits, tax preparation, business valuations, and consulting and specialized training in forensic accounting and fraud detection and deterrence.

Diana is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, The Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants and The National Association of Valuation Analysts. She has served in multiple positions on the board of both Professional Women’s Forum, National Association of Women Business Owners and Bluegrass Junior Women’s Club. Diana also served six years on the finance committee of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. She currently holds the treasurer’s position on the board of Surgery on Sunday.

Nick RitterCyber Security: They Really Are Out To Get Us! Presenter: Nick Ritter

Nick Ritter joined Fifth Third Bancorp in July 2015 Senior Vice President and Deputy Chief Information Security Officer. Prior to Fifth Third Bank, Mr. Ritter was one of three Global Chief Information Security Officers at Siemens, based in Munich, Germany. During his tenure at Siemens, Mr. Ritter built the Global Cyber Defense program, transformed the information security program and developed a revenue business around Industrial Control Systems security. Nick is thrilled to be back in the heart of the Bluegrass, having attended the University of Kentucky (C-A-T-S CATS! CATS! CATS!), and is looking forward to a great discussion.

Elizabeth ToombsNiche Marketing: How to Build Your Brand,
Presenters: Elizabeth Toombs and Debra Locke
Liz Toombs, C.I.D.
Owner & President, Polka Dots & Rosebuds Interiors
Liz Toombs owns the award-winning decorating firm Polka Dots & Rosebuds Interiors. Toombs is a Certified Interior Decorator who offers complete design services for homes, offices and Greek housing. The work of Polka Dots & Rosebuds can be seen on college campuses around the country, as well as homes and businesses in more than 25 states.

Toombs is a contributor to, and has been profiled in SouthSider, Chevy Chaser and Today’s Woman magazines, and has a monthly segment on Lexington’s CBS affiliate, WKYT.

Toombs is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and is very involved in giving back to the Lexington community. You can find out more at

Debra Locker GriffinDebra Locker Griffin
President & Owner, Locker Public Relations

Debra is the President & Owner of Locker Public Relations. Based in Louisville, this award-winning, boutique firm focuses on lifestyle brands in the beauty, decorating and wellness industries. Debra leads placements for her clients in notable media outlets including The “TODAY” Show, The “Doctors”, MSNBC’s “Your Business”, The New York Times, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire, and The Huffington Post.

Prior to launching Locker PR, Debra was the public relations director for the Lexington-based International SPA Association and Host Communications. Prior to working in PR Debra worked as a reporter and producer for TV stations in Lexington, Louisville, Knoxville and Charlotte, NC.

Adrian Wallace21st Century Entrepreneurs: What Gen Z & Millennials Should Know
Presenter: Adrian Wallace

Adrian Wallace, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Bishop & Chase Foundation, leads various community development efforts in Lexington, Kentucky. He is also a founding partner at Hatemi & Wallace Consulting.

A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Adrian served seven years in the Kentucky Army National Guard as a Recruiter and as the State Assistant Marketing Director, overseeing the Guard’s social media marketing department.

Adrian is a Community Chaplain with the Lexington Police Department and serves on a number of community-wide boards. His expertise is in recruiting, retention and attrition management. Adrian and his wife, Jennifer, have four beautiful girls and one boy, residing in Lexington, Kentucky.

Bill-Huston-1Crowd Fund Your Next Business Startup
Presenter: Bill Huston

Bill Huston, founded Bill Huston Crowdfunding Consulting a crowdfunding consulting and digital marketing company based in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the Chief Consultant and Digital Strategist where his duties are to research the crowdfunding ecosystem for new technologies and best practices, and then to communicate these findings internally and externally through the company blog, eBooks, forum, social media, email newsletter, and any other platforms available. Bill Huston focuses on building excited and engaged crowds for campaigns using social media, email marketing, blogger/media outreach using an inbound marketing strategy modified for crowdfunding.

Bill has over 15 years of experience in digital marketing and fundraising for nonprofits and startups. Ranked as one of the top 19 crowdfunding consultants globally by Inc. Magazine and a sought after speaker. Bill is on the Board of the Entrepreneurship programs at both Simmons College and Jefferson Community College. Bill is a Board of Directors member at the Louisville based Community Living and World Sight. Bill is also the digital marketing director for the Festival of hope. The team we have assembled at Bill Huston Crowdfunding Consulting has over 100 years of experience and are dedicated to growing the startup, tech, and crowdfunding global ecosystems through strategic alliances.

Tawana BainLadies! So You’ve Started a Business, Now What?
Presenter: Tawana Bain

As CEO at NAC Tawana manages business development, market research initiatives and strategic direction of the firm. Tawana is a leading marketing strategist and visionary with a niche in streamlining outsourced services. In addition to NAC, Bain is Co-Founder of the U.S Economic Development Institute (U.S.EDI) – the go to organization for Economic Impact Data and trends in Supplier Diversity, serving both public and private sectors across the country. Bain’s’ clients include Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Humana, Volkswagen, Toyota, Stantec, CH2MHill, and AECOM.

Bain has been featured in Savoy, WE CEO and MBN USA Magazine for her work and success as an African American Women owned company and leader and she has received numerous awards. Bain is a graduate of Brockport University and is the proud mother of two handsome and talented teenage boys.

Mike RunyonExpand Your Brand
Presenter: Mike Runyon

With more than a decade of operational, management, and small business ownership experience in the Information Technology, Managed Services field, Mike Runyon has developed a keen understanding of what it takes to run a streamlined and efficient business focused on the client’s needs. As a matter of fact, Missing Link’s moniker is “We Manage I.T. So You Don’t Have To…”. Missing Link was founded by Bob Ellison in 2002 and when Mike joined as a partner in 2006 the business realigned as a managed services provider. Serving their clients’ technology needs is just part of what Mike Runyon does. He’s (Missing Link) been a member of Commerce Lexington (CLX) since 2006, participated in CLX Winner’s Circle campaign for nine years, served as a CLX Ambassador for eight years. He is also a teacher for Junior Achievement since 2012. Mike enjoys spending time with his beautiful, smart, talented and taller wife of 22 years, Dawn Runyon and their two sons, Trevon and Triston. Mike is known for his “isms” and quotes and thinks these two, although not his, are worthy of your consideration: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Theresa. “The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi.


Is Supplier Diversity Still Relevant in 2016?
Denise Thomas_large v1Presenter: Denise Thomas, 
Director, Corporate Supplier Diversity, The Kroger Co.

As Director of Corporate Supplier Diversity, Denise is responsible for managing all aspects of Kroger’s supplier diversity program.

Denise began her career with The Kroger Co. as a part-time cashier while achieving her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Michigan. She has numerous years of experience with the Company in positions ranging from gift service coordinator, co-manager, division drug/gm sales promoter and store director.

During her tenure in this role, The Kroger Co. has received many accolades for its success in the supplier diversity arena. Since 2007, Kroger has been a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR), a prestigious forum of 20 U.S. corporations that exceed over $1 Billion in annual expenditures with M/WBEs. In 2010-2014 consecutively, the Company has been included in the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Million Dollar Club and selected as one of America’s Top Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities by Diversity

In 2010, Denise was recognized as one of the Top Women in the Grocery Industry by Progressive Grocer. In 2012, she received a Champion of Diversity Award from, Top 30 Champions of Diversity selection from Diversity Plus, Ambassador of Supplier Diversity recognition from MBN USA and was recognized by Women’s Enterprise USA, as one of the 2013 and 2014 Top 50 Women in Supplier Diversity. In November, 2013, Denise was selected as Supplier Diversity “Advocate of the Year” by the South Central Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council.

Denise serves on numerous national and local boards/committees, including the Cincinnati Regional Chamber’s MBA Leadership Committee, Ohio River Valley Women’s Business Council (ORV-WBC) Steering Committee, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Supplier Diversity Committee, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Senior Executive Advisory Board, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC) Board and is currently the Chair of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) regional affiliate, Ohio MSDC.

Thomas Corey v1Thomas B. Corey, Director of Economic Inclusion, City of Cincinnati

As Director, Thomas B. Corey leads the newly created Department of Economic Inclusion with the City of Cincinnati. This new department centralizes economic inclusion initiatives and is responsible for identifying and implementing opportunities to expedite economic inclusion contracting opportunities. The department also advocates and partners with large local companies and stakeholders to insure inclusion is a part of any major construction project/program taking place in Cincinnati/Hamilton County.

Corey has had a distinguished career as a lawyer, mediator and arbiter with extensive experience leading minority business contracting programs. Most recently, he served as Chief Solicitor with the City of Baltimore Law Department. In this role, he was responsible for overseeing the legal and administrative functions of the Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office.

Corey is a member of the Maryland Bar Association, Monumental City Bar Association (past President), District of Columbia Bar, Board of Trustees Baltimore Employees and Elected Officials Retirement Systems, National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, and a former member of the Maryland Stadium Authority Board. He has also received awards from the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, the Baltimore Small Business Resource Center, the Allegany County Branch of the NAACP and the Black Law Students Association.

Pamela BrailsfordPamela Brailsford, Senior Director of Supplier Diversity & Sustainability, Cintas

Pamela Brailsford is Senior Director of Supplier Diversity & Sustainability for Cintas Corporation headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cintas Corporation provides highly specialized services to over 1,000,000 businesses of all types worldwide.

Pamela began her professional career as a Management Trainee at Burke Marketing Research. She continued working in the marketing research field for over 20 years progressing to the senior manager level with responsibilities for vendor selection, management, training and data collection in the US and Latin America.

In addition, she was the president and owner of Jade-Alexander Consulting Group, a consulting company for 11 years providing services in data collection, processing and mystery shopping. In 2007 Pamela took on her current role and is responsible for developing and executing strategies for Cintas’ supplier diversity and environmental sustainability processes corporate wide.

Pamela is a relationship builder, visionary and change agent. As a founding member of the Greater Cincinnati Green Business Council and active supplier diversity professional, Pamela forms relationships and builds many positive bonds to further develop and share her knowledge of supplier diversity, sustainability and general career advice with young professionals.

A native of Lima, OH, Brailsford earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from The University of Cincinnati. Pamela was elected to the board of directors for the South Central Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council (SCOMSDC – now OMSDC) in 2009 and also serves on the board of trustees of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati. She is a graduate of the USA Chamber of Commerce Leadership Cincinnati Program and a 2012 YWCA Career Woman of Achievement.

Pamela is married to John Brailsford and is the proud parent of Lauren Coleman.