Session 2

Sub-contracting to Perfection: The Design of a Perfect Partnership

Moderator:  Natasha Pinol, Founder and CEO, NP Communications

Natasha Pinol is the founder/CEO of NP Communications LLC, an editorial and communications consulting services business located in Arlington, Virginia. The small boutique firm provides services in editing, writing, communications and events management, public relations/branding, and outreach in support of the clients’ mission. Natasha has over 15 years of combined experience in media relations, strategic communications and public affairs in the environment and conservation sectors, and she has a background in journalism and international relations.

Speaker:  Tim Denning, Vice President, Business Development, STG, Inc.

​Tim Denning is currently the Vice President Business Development for STG.  Prior to joining STG, Mr. Denning was Senior Director of Business Development with DSA, Inc., where he focused on the company’s most strategic business development opportunities. Prior to DSA, Mr. Denning held various positions within L-3 Communications, where he rose from an analyst position to become the youngest Director, then youngest Senior Director, at the multi-billion dollar government contractor.  Tim is completing Doctoral studies in Public Administration from West Chester University.  He has an MA certificate in Contracts and Procurement Management from the University of Virginia, an MBA in Finance and MA in Political Science from Lehigh University, as well as a BA in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University where he played Varsity Baseball.  He is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM).  Active in the Arlington and greater DC community, Tim is a member of Leadership Arlington, serves as the Chairman of the Arlington Community Development Advisory Committee (CDCAC), and is on the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Volunteer Leadership Council.  He and his American Bulldog Hugo are very active PAL volunteers visiting hospitals, nursing homes, and libraries.

Certify to Success: Strategically Understanding Best Practices to Grow Your Business

Moderator: Kathryn Dolan, Director, Business Development and Outreach Services, Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity

Ms. Dolan is currently serving as Director, Business Development and Outreach (BDOS) for Virginia’s Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD.)  She brings over 30 years in economic development experience as well as several years in the private sector to serve in this position.  She oversees statewide BDOS team which provides services and resources for Virginia small businesses start-up and growth as well as access to government contracting, with special emphasis on Virginia government procurement. The agency, SBSD, is Virginia’s economic development agency for all Virginia small businesses and is the center point for Virginia government certifications for small, women-owned or minority-owned firms and home to Virginia’s Small Business Financing Authority.

Speaker:  Alexandra Piotrowski – Economic Development Specialist, US Small Business Administration

Alexandra Piotrowski works as an Economic Development Specialist and grants manager for the Women’s Business Centers in the Washington Metro Area District Office of the Small Business Administration. She advises and trains businesses in the community about all the resources that the SBA provides to owners. Her previous work experience was counseling small businesses in Senegal, West Africa as a Small Enterprise Development Agent with the Peace Corps.

The Color of Money: Financial Resources to Take Your Business Global

Moderator: Aaron Miller, International Trade Manager, Virginia SBDC George Mason University

See Above.

Panelist: Federico Manno , VEDP International Trade, Fulton Bank
Federico Manno is currently a Vice President – International Banking Group and employed by Fulton Financial Corp., a large regional bank with sophisticated international banking capabilities.  He employs SBA and Ex-Im Bank Export Working Capital Guarantees and export credit insurance to mitigate commercial and political foreign receivables risk for commercial companies.  Prior to joining Fulton bank, he served as a Trade Finance Vice President at M&T Bank, structuring trade finance products for commercial customers and local correspondent banks.  Federico received a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs & Economics from George Washington University.

Panelist: John Strayhorn – President, Global Insurance Services
John Strayhorn is the President and founder of Global Insurance Services, LLC,an export/domestic credit insurance brokerage company located in Ellicott City, Maryland.  John has over 26 years of experience in international banking, trade finance, export and domestic credit insurance.  He worked as an international banker at The First National Bank of Maryland, BB&T Bank, and Royal Bank of Canada Centura.  John studied Chinese Language and history at the Beijing Foreign Language Teachers College in Beijing, China and has a B.A. in History and a Certificate in East Asian studies from the University of Maryland.

Panelist:  Michael Jackson, Lead Business Development Officer, Export-Import Bank of the United States

Michael K. Jackson serves as Lead Business Development Officer on the Minority and Women-Owned Business team at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). In this capacity, he cultivates and manages relationships with business organizations that represent Asian American, Caribbean American and veteran-owned businesses. Immediately prior to joining EXIM, Mr. Jackson served as an Economic Development Specialist and the District International Trade Officer with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Prior to beginning his career with the federal government, Mr. Jackson spent over a decade in the private sector and held sales and marketing positions with several Fortune 500 corporations in the banking and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors.  Mr. Jackson earned an MBA in International Business from American Intercontinental University and a B.S. in Government & Politics from the University of Maryland’s Europe campus in Heidelberg, Germany.  Mr. Jackson is proud veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

Panelist:  Toni Visnjic, Chief Financial Officer, Maxtena, Inc.

As Chief Financial Officer, Toni oversees the key financial functions of the company, including cash management/treasury, financial reporting to the board of directors, bank lending sources, company operations and human resources. Toni has more than 10 years of experience in finance roles for both public and private companies in various diverse industries. His expertise includes specialization in company restructuring, business processes, investment banking, as well as treasury and financial management, financial statement preparation and reporting. Toni earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Finance from Virginia Tech.”

Tara R. Palacios, Mistress of Ceremony

Tara R. Palacios is the Director of BizLaunch, Arlington’s Small Business and Entrepreneurial
Assistance Network in Arlington County, Virginia. She has received numerous awards for her steadfast commitment to the small business community including: 2005 Small Business Advocate Award by the Arlington Small Business Development Center (SBDC); 2010 District Director Award and the 2006 Minority Small Business Champion of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration; and, the 2013 Entrepreneurship Partner Award by the Business Development Assistance Group (BDAG).  She has a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and an M.S. in Marketing Communications from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Senator Mark R. Warner, Co-Host

Senator Mark R. Warner was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2008 and reelected to a second term in November 2014. He serves on the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget, and Rules Committees as well as the Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Vice Chairman.  
From 2002 to 2006, he served as Governor of Virginia.  When he left office in 2006, Virginia was ranked as the best state for business, the best managed state, and the best state in which to receive a public education.The first in his family to graduate from college, Mark Warner spent 20 years as a successful technology and business leader in Virginia before entering public office. An early investor in the cellular telephone business, he co-founded the company that became Nextel and invested in hundreds of start-up technology companies that created tens of thousands of jobs.  Senator Warner, his wife Lisa Collis, and their three daughters live in Alexandria, Virginia.

Session 3

Beyond Healthcare: Opportunities for Businesses at INOVA

Moderator:  Kathryn Dolan, Director, Business Development and Outreach Services, Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity

See Above

Speaker:  Peter Jobse, Managing Director, Inova Strategic Investments, Inova Health System
Pete is a Managing Director of Inova Strategic Investments and the Inova Personalized Health Accelerator. He is responsible for leading Inova’s innovation investing and development for companies that are transforming Inova and global health services.  Pete has been a corporate officer for publicly traded high technology companies, founder of a venture funded startup company and CEO of a non-profit innovation investment and consulting company. Prior to joining Inova Strategic Capital, Pete served as the CEO of the Center for Innovative Technology.

WMATA:  Tracking the Opportunities for Suppliers

Moderator:  Tara Palacios,  Director, Arlington Economic Development, BizLaunch

See Above.

Speaker: Richard Owens,  Purchasing, WMATA

Expand Your World: Best Practices Going Global 

Moderator: Aaron Miller, International Trade Manager, Virginia SBDC George Mason University

See Above.

Panelist: Brady Edholm, Vice President, Interlink Capital Strategies

Mr. Edholm is an international development, finance, and business strategy professional with broad global experience and an expertise in emerging economies. He currently works for Interlink Capital Strategies a consulting, financial advisory, and private equity fund management firm focused on emerging markets with an expertise in lending directly and accessing Development Finance Institutions (DFI's) and Export Credit Agencies (ECA's) worldwide to fund transactions using proprietary quantitative and qualitative analysis and underwriting. 

Panelist:  Mary Bezzini, Chief Executive Officer, Godman Power Group, Inc.

Mary Bezzini has 20 years of experience working on software and energy design projects worldwide, as a government contractor and consultant, supporting US Customs and Border Protection, US Army, and Navy. Ms. Bezzini was a member of President Obama’s trade mission delegation to the 2015 Africagua Conference in Fuerteventura, Spain. She is a featured speaker and presents workshops on government compliance, international business, and energy resource technologies. Ms. Bezzini holds BA and MAIS degrees from George Mason University, with additional training in business and engineering technologies.

Panelist:  Lee Oppenheim, Vice President, Business Development, Precision Tune Auto Care

Lee Oppenheim is the VP of Business Development for the Precision Tune Auto Care brand and has more than 15 years of franchise development and brand expansion experience, is an expert in exporting, market research, site selection, mergers, construction and franchise development. He is a member of the District Export Council of the US Commerce Department for the DC / VA USEAC and is currently serving a 4 year appointment to the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Small and Minority Business (ITAC 11) for the Department of Commerce.  Through Lee’s efforts Precision Tune Auto Care is the recipient of an Export Achievement Certificate from the US Commerce Department.  Lee grew up in Saudi Arabia for more than 8 years and has visited and worked in more than 25 countries.

Karen Blackwell, Keynote Speaker

Karen Blackwell is the Manager for Supplier Diversity and Development for Nestlé and  responsible for this initiative in North America by focusing on minority, women, and veteran owned and other small businesses owners accessing procurement opportunities within Nestlé USA, Nestlé Purina Pet Care, Nestlé Waters Company, Nestlé Professional, Nestlé Health Sciences and Nestlé Nutrition.Before joining Nestlé, Karen was an Assistant Deputy Mayor of Economic Development, and led the Small Business/Job Training programs for the multi-billion dollar Alameda Corridor Construction Project.  She’s owned her own M/WBE certified business, and was a City Planner for Los Angeles resulting in her unique view of entrepreneurial success in today’s economy.   Originally from Philadelphia PA., Karen has a B.S. from Beloit College in Wisconsin, a Masters from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is a CORO graduate who is married with adult children and 2 lovely granddaughters.

Tracy Wiley, Opening Remarks

Tracey Wiley was appointed by Governor Terence R. McAuliffe in August of 2014 to lead the newly formed Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity. Wiley’s charged with the reorganization of the agency and elevating the Governor’s initiative to advance procurement opportunities and the utilization of Small, Women and Minority (SWaM) Owned Businesses in the Commonwealth during his administration.    Prior to the appointment, Tracey Wiley was serving as President of the newly merged Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC).  She is the former founder and business owner of Gordon-Tracye Advertising and Public Relations, LLC, a Virginia MBE. She is a Richmond native who attended Richmond Public Schools and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from Old Dominion University.

Morning Program


MONDAY, APRIL 24, 2017  |  8:00 AM - 1:00 PM

John Vihstadt, Welcome Remarks

John Vihstadt has been actively engaged in neighborhood, community, and public school activities since moving to Arlington more than 30 years ago. He was elected to the Arlington County Board in April 2014 in a special election to complete the unexpired term of Chris Zimmerman.  Mr. Vihstadt is a partner with the law firm Krooth & Altman, LLP in Washington. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the National Housing Conference.  Prior to joining Krooth & Altman in 1989, Mr. Vihstadt served three years as Executive Assistant to the President of Ginnie Mae. Prior, he worked for the Select Committee on Aging, U. S. House of Representatives.  Mr. Vihstadt received his B.A. degree and J.D. degree from the University of Nebraska. He is a member of the American, District of Columbia, Nebraska and Iowa Bar Associations.    He has lived with his wife and two sons in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood since 1989. His daily commute includes a combination of carpooling, Metrorail, Metrobus or ART Bus, and walking.

Session 1

The Sweet Life: Doing Business with Nestlé

Moderator:  Rita Ricks, Rita Ricks, LLC

Rita Ricks is a Spiritual Coach, Business Coach, Inspirational Speaker, Workshop Facilitator, Award winning Entrepreneur and the author of PERMISSION GRANTED! A JOURNAL OF SPIRITUAL EPIPHANIES.  Rita began her career as a middle school teacher and she has been a successful entrepreneur for over 30 years – first as a partner in a fashion boutique, then the founder and CEO of Mirror Enterprise INC. (MEI) a professional and personal development training company.  MEI partnered with Richmond City and surrounding Counties, over a 7 year period, to provide training to approximately 3,000 individuals.Rita earned her B.S. in Sociology from Virginia State University and her M.Ed. in Adult Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She received executive management certificates from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.   Rita completed training from the RUAH School of Spiritual Direction focusing on contemporary urban Christian spirituality. 

Speaker:  Karen Blackwell, Manager, Supplier Diversity and Development, Nestle

See above.

Show Me the Opportunities: The Fundamentals of State & Local Procurement

Moderator:  Karen Smaw, Director, Business Diversity, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
Karen Smaw serves as the Director of Business Diversity for the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA).  In that capacity she is responsible for the development and implementation of programs and services that facilitate the attraction, retention and growth of minority, veteran and woman-owned businesses in Fairfax County.
Ms. Smaw has served on the boards of several non-profit and business organizations including George Mason University, University Life Advisory Board.  She currently serves on the board of directors for the Northern Virginia Workforce Development Board, Leadership Fairfax and the Community Business Partnership, and is the recipient of several awards recognizing her contributions in the field of economic development.  

Speaker:  Courtney Mustin, Business Services Manager, Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier DIversity
Courtney is the Business Services Manager covering the Central and North Central Regions of the Commonwealth for the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity.  She’s been employed by the Commonwealth for 17 years, in that time serving as a DBE and SWaM Certification Officer, later as a Procurement Advocate assigned to 52 state agencies as the liaison for those agencies’ SWaM Champions. Prior to her association with the Commonwealth Courtney owned three separate but affiliated businesses:  Gulfstream Limousine Company, TransLink Corporation, and Metropolitan Taxicab Company dba The Richmond Connector.  Those companies operated in the metropolitan Washington and Richmond areas for 12 years.   She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Sweet Briar College, a master’s degree in Mathematics Education from UVA, and she completed the MBA program at the University of Richmond in marketing and finance.

Speaker: Jason Im - Coordinator for Supplier Diversity and Outreach, Fairfax County Department of Procurement and Material Management
Jason Im is the Coordinator for Supplier Diversity and Outreach at Fairfax County. As part of the Department of Procurement and Material Management, he ensures that the connection between the County and the business community is both inclusive and strong. As part of this effort the Supplier Diversity program conducts workshops, consults on sourcing strategy, and organizes the annual Fairfax County Vendor Forum.

At the End of the Rainbow: Resources to Support Your Global Business

Moderator: Aaron Miller, International Trade Manager, Virginia SBDC George Mason University

Aaron Miller is the international trade manager for the Virginia SBDC at George Mason University assisting Virginia companies to expand globally.  He was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve on the Virginia - Washington DC District Export Council (DEC).  He has served as the primary international trade analyst for the Director of Operations at the U.S. International Trade Commission from 2007-2010.  Aaron speaks Mandarin and taught American Culture and Literature at Changzhi Teacher’s College in Shanxi, China. He holds an M.A. in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University, and a B.A. in Anthropology from Miami University.

Panelist:  Bill Fanjoy - Director of Commercial Service, Virginia and Washington, DC, U.S. Department of Commerce

Bill Fanjoy is the director of multiple Commercial Service offices of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Executive Secretariat of the Virginia and Washington, DC District Export Council (DEC). Bill’s regional expertise is in Sub-Saharan Africa, where he led many successful U.S. exporting clients and the Trade Winds Africa Trade Mission - the largest ever U.S. Government-led trade mission to Africa and recipient of the Commerce Secretary's Silver Award.  Bill recently served 6 weeks in Accra, Ghana as the Acting Senior Commercial Officer, and subsequently served as Acting Senior Commercial Officer in Luanda, Angola, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait City, Kuwait and Amman, Jordan.

Panelist:  John Elink-Schuurman, VALET Program Manager, VEDP International Trade

John Elink-Schuurman manages Virginia Economic Development’s international trade accelerator program, the Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program. John assists Virginia exporters shape and execute measurable international business plans, across industries and markets. The VEDP’s International Trade program offers a range of customized trade promotion services designed to help Virginia companies identify new markets, develop market entry strategies, and expand their global footprint. Prior to joining the International Trade team, John worked on the VEDP’s FDI team, recruiting European companies to invest and expand in Virginia.

Panelist:  James Gordon, Cultiva Solutions