Procurement officers of select U.S. government agencies including USPS, City of Houston, Small Business Administration (SBA) – who are among the world’s largest buyers of products and services that represent some $500 Billion in annual expenditure – will share the nuts and bolts for beginners, key information for seasoned suppliers, and other invaluable strategies and opportunities in federal contracting for the benefit of minority and diverse suppliers of all levels.
Public Information Officer/External Affairs ManagerCity of Houston Office of Business Opportunity
Public Information Officer/External Affairs Manager
City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity
Jose Luis Jiménez joined the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) in February 2018 as the Public Information Office/External Affairs Manager. As leader of the External Affairs Division, he supervises three employees charged with managing relationships with the Mayor, City Council & external stakeholders. He also developed & implemented a multi-faceted marketing plan to promote brand and increase engagement with target audiences. Other duties include writing speeches for top City staff, producing a TV show and responding to media requests.
Jose previously worked as a journalist, starting his career at media outlets in Florida before moving to California and finally settling in Houston.
Jose was born and raised on the island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands and graduated from Florida International University with a double major in journalism and political science. When not working, he enjoys helping his wife cook and create art alongside their pet poodle Gabby.
Senior Director, Small Business and Education OutreachPort of Houston Authority
Senior Director, Small Business and Education Outreach
Port of Houston Authority
Gilda Ramirez directs the Small Business Development and Maritime Education for the Port of Houston Authority. Since the inception of the Small Business program in 2002, the Port Authority has awarded almost half a billion dollars in contract awards – or about 39 percent of all eligible Port Authority contracts to local small businesses and there are nearly 1000 registered small businesses in the program.
Ramirez also directs the Port Authority’s Maritime Academy Program, a public/private partnership designed to help fill the maritime employment pipeline with bright, well-trained, young talent.
Now in its sixth year, the program is anchored by two Houston Independent School District high schools – Stephen F. Austin and Jack Yates – and Galena Park, Pasadena and Channelview school districts also have Maritime programs. The program is so highly regarded by HISD that it earned the Port Authority recognition as one of the school district’s Partners and they designated Austin High School as a Maritime Magnet School.
Ramirez brings a rich portfolio of civic service and recognition. She has been named “Hispanic Executive of the Year” by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; was awarded the Texas Business Alliance’s “The One Woman Soaring Heights Award”; Women on the Move, and Government Procurement’s Small Business Advocate.
Ramirez worked for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County for 18 years prior to joining the Port Authority. She holds a bachelor of arts in Public Administration and Boston College’s certification in Corporate Community Relations.
Director - OSDBUU.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Director - OSDBU
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Mauricio P. Vera is a career member of the Senior Executive Service and serves as Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). In this role, Mr. Vera leads USAID’s efforts to provide maximum opportunities for small businesses to participate in agency contract awards through outreach, education, and creative procurement initiatives. Under Mr. Vera’s leadership, USAID achieved significant and unprecedented improvements in its small business accomplishments. Specifically, USAID’s grade on the Small Business Administration’s Procurement Scorecard increased from “F’s” to “A’s”, including an “A+” in 2014. In 2016, Mr. Vera received a Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, a prestigious career recognition awarded to only five percent of the Federal Government’s Senior Executives for sustained superior accomplishments and inspirational leadership.
From 2001 to 2008, Mr. Vera successfully managed the Small Business Program at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Previously, Mr. Vera established and managed the Smithsonian Institution’s Supplier Diversity Program. Mr. Vera, a native of Chile, earned an MBA from George Mason University and a B.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland.
Acting Director, OSDBUU.S. Department of Agriculture
Michelle E. Warren
Acting Director, OSDBU
U.S. Department of Agriculture
In December 2015, Michelle Warren was appointed Deputy Director in the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Recently, she’s been serving as Acting Director. It is her responsibility to provide maximum opportunities for small businesses to participate in USDA contracting activities. Michelle hosts and participates in Small Business events all over the country with high level USDA officials.
Educating, and Supporting the Buyer and the Seller is OSDBU’s core value.
Michelle’s philosophy is, “Think about what you want to do, DO IT, then think about what you have done!”
Mrs. Warren is a graduate of Virginia State University located in Petersburg, VA with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business and Economics. She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, Rodney, their daughter, Jasmine and son Rodney Warren III.
Director - OSDBUU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Jean Lin Pao
Director - OSDBU
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Jean Lin Pao is the Director for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), serving as the principal advocate for utilizing small and disadvantaged businesses in federal contracting to meet HUD’s mission. As a member of the Senior Executive Service in a cabinet-level department, Ms. Pao has over twenty-five years of federal experience in small business advocacy, enterprise human capital management, employee engagement and training, budgeting and acquisitions, information technology planning, administration, business management, strategic planning, program evaluation, and policy development. Previously, she served as the General Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research and Chief Management Officer/Deputy Assistant Secretary for Business Management and Administration in HUD’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer. Ms. Pao holds a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies from Barnard College, Columbia University and a Master of Public Policy from the Harris School, University of Chicago. She is an Excellence in Government Senior Fellow and a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award. She is also a certified executive and leadership coach.
Director - OSDBUU.S. Department of Homeland Security
E. Darlene Bullock
Director - OSDBU
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
E. Darlene Bullock was appointed as the Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) in January 2020. She served as the Acting OSDBU Director in June 2019 and the OSDBU Deputy Director in June 2015. Ms. Bullock is responsible for implementing the Department’s small business procurement programs across DHS’ $21 billion procurement operation, which awards approximately $6 billion each year to small businesses.
Ms. Bullock joined the OSDBU in January 2011 as the Program Manager for several small business programs to include: 8(a), small disadvantaged, and women-owned. As a Desk Officer, she provided technical procurement and small business support to four DHS operational contracting offices.
Before joining the OSDBU, Ms. Bullock was a Division Director and Contracting Officer in the DHS, Office of Procurement Operations (OPO). OPO is one of the largest procurement divisions in DHS obligating about $4 - 4.5 Billion a year. Her division was responsible for supporting the Office of the Secretary and other high-visibility offices at DHS Headquarters. Ms. Bullock oversaw and managed the award process of the first DHS-wide Program Management, Administrative, Clerical, and Technical Services (PACTS) Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts which were set-aside for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs). PACTS had an estimated value at $1.5 billion. The award of PACTS I enabled DHS to meet and exceed the 3% SDVOSB goal for the first time in Fiscal Year 2010. DHS continues to meet or exceed the SDVOSB goal.
With over 28 years of experience in procurement, federal assistance, and acquisitions management, Ms. Bullock has held leadership positions at several Federal and local agencies including DHS, U.S. Agency for International Development, U. S. Department of Commerce, District of Columbia Government, and the U.S. Army.
Ms. Bullock began her acquisition career with the U.S. Army successfully completing the Department of Defense contract specialist intern program. She was a Certified Federal Contract Manager (CFCM) with the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) and maintains her FAC-C Level III Certification in Contracting. She has completed various Federal Executive leadership courses throughout her career. She has an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Business and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park and a MBA in International Management from Southeastern University.
Manager, Professional & Technical ServicesUnited States Postal Service (USPS)
Manager, Professional & Technical Services
United States Postal Service (USPS)
Prashanth Kallat is Manager of the Professional & Technical Services (P&TS) Category Management Center (CMC), in the Supply Management (SM) organization. He is responsible for more than $500 million in annual expenditures for Professional Consulting, Technical & Non-Traditional, Advertising & Creative, and Sustainability & Environmental services.
Prashanth has over 24 years of experience working with the US Government in various supervisory and managerial positions. He has over 14 years of contracting experience, most of it with the Postal Service in SM, and three years with the Department of the Treasury with significant experience in various specialized contracting fields including Professional Consulting, Technical Services, Package Services, Equipment and Materials.
Prashanth has a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from the Bangalore Institute of Technology, Master of Business Administration and an Advanced Certificate in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. He has a Certified Professional in Supply Management designation from the Institute of Supply Management, Certified Professional in Contracts Management designation from the National Contracts Management Association, and a Federal Acquisition in Contracting Certification (FAC-C) level III from the Department of the Treasury. Prashanth graduated from the USPS Managerial Leadership Program in 2012 and he was recognized by the Vice President of Supply Management in 2011 as the “SM Professional of the Year”.
Program Manager, Supplier DiversityUnited States Postal Service
Rupert Warner, Jr.
Program Manager, Supplier Diversity
United States Postal Service
In his position as Purchasing and Supply Management Specialist, Program Manager Supplier Diversity, Mr. Warner is responsible for managing programs that promote Supplier Diversity through the nine–elements of the U.S. Postal Service Supplier Diversity Corporate Plan. He conducts projects for the design, development, implementation, evaluation, monitoring, administration, and improvement of national programs that promote advancement opportunities for diverse business groups.
Warner is a graduate of National-Louis University of Chicago, where he obtained both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in business management.
Houston District DirectorU.S. Small Business Administration
Houston District Director
U.S. Small Business Administration
Tim Jeffcoat is the Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration in Houston. He oversees the delivery of SBA programs and services in Houston and the surrounding 32 counties of Texas.
Most of Tim’s career has been private sector leadership roles in international business, marketing and business development. Tim’s career has required international assignments and global responsibilities.
Tim is a graduate of Auburn University with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Tim also has a BS degree in Music Business and a BS in Marketing.
Tim enjoys teaching economics classes in graduate school, has completed 4 iron-distance triathlons as well as the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, and was nominated for the SBA IKE Award in the category of Most Valuable Player.