Last month I attended’s 13th Annual Multicultural Business Conference in Las Vegas, NV. It was a wonderful opportunity to network and establish new relationships! That’s really the point of this conference, networking – meeting people that work to foster greater inclusion in the business community. It’s also about recognizing all sorts of accomplishments and sharing in each other’s successes – does this by giving out awards. This conference is designed for anyone with an interest in building our economy, educational system and, overall, a better society for us all through diversity and inclusion. A few sentences from their website will give you an idea of what the conference offered:

The conference [brings] together entrepreneurs, corporate diversity practitioners, government agencies and colleges/universities, practice-based participants with an interest in the issues of the multicultural business and community. The conference examines the concept of multiculturalism as a positive aspect of a global world and globalized society.

The conference [seeks] to explore the full range of what diversity means and explore modes of diversity in real-life situations of living/working together in community. The conference looks at the realities of diversity today, critically as well as optimistically and strategically. The conference is a place for speaking about diversity, and in ways that range from the ‘big picture’ and the theoretical, to the very practical and everyday realities of diversity in organizations, communities and civic life.

For the second year in a row, ATR International was recognized as one of the Top 500 MBEs in the country. We’re very proud of our ability to contribute to the continued progress in making our society more successful through a commitment to inclusion. We take pride in moving the economy forward by assisting people with employment opportunities. In our role as a staffing supplier, as well as in our own internal practices, we’re committed to making the workforce as strong as possible by helping companies employ individuals that reflect the diversity of our country. The conference was a great opportunity to meet with so many others who share our commitment and are working to make it a reality each day.

The venue and logistics were spectacular – whether it was the music, the food, the speakers or the size of the sessions – it all worked. A big thank you to Kenton Clarke and his terrific team! I won’t soon forget Erika Dunlap waking up a somewhat sleepy morning crowd by having us all dance Gangnam Style to kick off the award ceremony breakfast. You can only imagine what it was like to have a room full of professionals in business attire galloping left to right! On a more serious note, everything about the conference facilitated communication and networking. It was fantastic to have so many opportunities to meet people and have a real conversation, right from the start at the opening night reception at the beautiful Wynn Hotel. After that, no matter where you went, you were likely to see a familiar face and to have a chance to really connect. After all, it’s the diverse alliances that we create at events like this that help us all to succeed!

It was also inspiring to hear from the presenters about their efforts and success in promoting and supporting diversity efforts at their firms and in their communities. There were some very interesting presentations from giants like CISCO and Walmart and from smaller businesses with no less impressive success stories as well. Again, I can’t stress how informative and nice it was to hear from others in our community and have the chance to really speak with like-minded individuals. The opportunity to meet and learn from each other was invaluable. I would like to mention a few of the friendly, welcoming, and hardworking Supplier Diversity Managers I had the privilege to meet and spend some time with. It was a delight to speak with Robyn Snyder with Lockheed Martin, Jesse Crawford with Verizon, Karen Blackwell with Nestle, Darraugh Butler with The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Kathy Homeyer with UPS, and Madison Gunter with Cisco. All of these companies are lucky to have such great individuals representing their corporation! For those of you who I did not get a chance to spend as much time with this year, I look forward to next year!

Finally, since one of the main reasons for the conference is to recognize the hard work and success of many talented people working at many committed companies, I would like to honor and congratulate the following leaders who were recognized as a Champion of Diversity. Through their efforts, the MBE community will continue to grow and succeed. Congratulations! Let’s celebrate their achievements, hard work, and commitment in our MBE community. Together we can continue to make businesses more successful, our economy stronger and our lives better by recognizing the importance of diversity and fostering an ever inclusive society!

Rocky Equsquiza, Vice President, Multicultural Markets – AARP

David L. Campbell, Vice President- Safety, Security & Environmental – American Airlines, Inc.

Deborah J. Levine, President, Editor-in-chief – American Diversity Report

Renee A. Watson, Manager, Bexar County’s SMWBE Program – Bexar County

Aly Jetba & Shabnam Rezaei CEOs – Big Bad Boo

Kate Armstrong, Supplier Diversity Manager – BP

Mark Williams, Business Development Manager, Americas Channels Distribution – Cisco Systems, Inc.

John E. Taylor, Senior Global Supplier Diversity Manager – Delphi Automotive Systems

Cristina Villacinda-Farr, Supplier Diversity Program Consultant – Empleos and Employment

Darraugh Butler, Supplier Diversity Program Manager – Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Cynthia Turner, Supplier Diversity Program Manager – Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Connie Glaser, Keynote Speaker and Diversity Expert – GenderTalk Works, Atlanta Business Chronicle,

Dawnita J.Wilson, Director, Inclusion Initiatives – Highmark, Inc.

Fred Lona, Senior Director Supplier Diversity – Hilton Worldwide

Berlon Hamilton, Supplier Diversity Leader – Hospira

Farad Ali, Vice President – Institute of Minority Economic Development

Robyn H. Snyder, MS2 Undersea Systems Supplier Diversity Program Manager – Lockheed Martin MS2

Kristie Strom, Chief Sales Officer – Mach 1 Global Services, Inc.

Sandra Scott, Director, Technology Procurement – Marriot International

Michele Ruiz, Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Strategic Consultant, Blogger & Vlogger –, Ruiz Strategies

Karen Blackwell, Manager Supplier Diversity North America – Nestle USA

Mona Lisa Faris Placey, President & Founder – Professional Woman’s Magazine, Hispanic Network Magazine, Black EOE Journal

Joyce Christanio, Supplier Diversity Manager – Sprint Nextel Corporation

Dr. Cecila Carter, Vice President, Global Community & Civic Affairs – Starbucks

Barbara A. Taylor, Senior Manager Supplier Diversity – The Boeing Company

Lisa Sandos, Supplier Diversity Manager – The Principal Financial Group

Adrienne C. Trimble, Manager, Supplier Diversity Purchasing – Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America

Matt Thursam, Supplier Diversity Manager – Walt Disney World Company

John Forsyth, Chairman and CEO – Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Susan Wolper, President & CEO – Wolper Information Services

Carol Evans, Founder and President – Working Mother Media

Valentin Casteneda, Director, Strategic Sourcing – YMCA of the US

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Angelique Solorio
Corporate Outreach Manager/Supplier Diversity
ATR International

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