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Non-Profit

First of a Kind Conversation

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On May 9, 2018, Publicis Health opened its doors to host a first of a kind (FOAK) event before the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce New York (NGLCCNY) Members Monthly Mixer (M3) in Manhattan.

“Hosting the WBENC/NGLCCNY panel discussion and M3 Mixer aligns with our commitment to building healthy, efficient and productive relationships through the engagement of minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned and LGBT-owned business enterprises,” said Mark Prince, director, supplier diversity, Publicis Health.

BEQ Pride magazine was on location for this special event, billed as A Conversation with WBENC and NGLCC Certified Businesses.

Rob Finkelstein“The concept for this event is something I have been working on since I first joined the NGLCCNY Executive Committee in 2014,” says Rob Finkelstein, supplier diversity chair, NGLCCNY and national legal industry council co-chair, NGLCC.

The supplier diversity committee members include Joanne Balady of Balady Promotions, Robin Dillard of The Business Equality Network/BEQ Pride magazine and Tony Ray Meyer, Jr of TripleBonded.

“It seemed obvious to me that, whether our businesses are certified by WBENC, NMSDC or NGLCC, we can all learn from each other, work with each other and together provide creative, efficient solutions when fulfilling both private and public contracts,” says Finkelstein. For a host of reasons, Finkelstein says it took years to get this event off the ground, and he’s thrilled that it finally happened. With the blessing of both NGLCC and WBENC, Finkelstein’s team worked closely with Candace Waterman, prior to leaving her role as Vice President of WBENC for her new role as CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).

The goal of the event was to facilitate introductions and a dialog between successful WBEs and LGBTBEs certified by WBENC and NGLCC respectively. Invitations were extended to several business owners and the team was thrilled to welcome owners of three businesses certified by WBENC, one by NGLCC and one business certified by both WBENC and NGLCC. Finkelstein says the team was careful to ensure representation from various industries among the panelists— general contracting/construction, legal services, project management office/services, cloud computing/big data and marketing/promotions.

We followed up with the panelists for highlights of the event.


Peggy Del Fabbro

Peggy Del Fabbro
CEO of M. Davis & Sons, WBENC Certified

BEQ Pride: In addition to the advice you shared at the beginning of the event to get involved, attend events and be prepared, what additional advice do you have for diverse small business owners looking to make the most of their certification? 

Del Fabbro: Be patient. Sometimes it takes a while for the right opportunity to present itself with a corporation you are pursuing. Be persistent, yet patient.

BEQ Pride: Why did you decide to get involved as a panelist in this first of a kind event between NGLCC and WBENC outside of a conference setting at a grassroots level?

Del Fabbro: I was asked to participate by my good friend Cindy Towers. She has been talking about what a tremendous organization the NGLCC is, and I wanted to find out more. But really, the bottom line for me is that I like to help others get the most out of their certification. I remember the struggles I had not knowing what to do and how to navigate the WBENC network. I want to help other diverse suppliers avoid the mistakes that I made.

BEQ Pride: Please complete the following statement: supplier diversity would be even better if…

Del Fabbro: We could connect more Corporate Prime Suppliers with Diverse Suppliers and connect the dots with multiple tiers of opportunity for diverse suppliers.

Jacquie Cleary

Jacquie Cleary
President and CEO of Atlas, WBENC Certified

BEQ Pride: In addition to the wonderful advice around determining the consumer of your services within the target organization so your supplier diversity contact can focus on helping you gain visibility and close business, what additional advice do you have for diverse small business owners looking to make the most of their certification? 

Cleary: Continue to use a pronged approach when reaching out to procurement, supplier diversity, and the end user. Be patient and maintain the connections you make at conferences and even in your personal life. Relationships are everything!

BEQ Pride: Why did you decide to get involved as a panelist in this first of a kind event between NGLCC and WBENC outside of a conference setting and at a grassroots level?

Cleary: I thought it could make a greater impact for a smaller, regional group to hear our stories. All the panelists knew each other and being able to reference others in the room gave more credibility and transparency to our messaging. My hope was to have a more immediate impact as well as be available to mentor or keep the conversation going as needed. I have gotten a lot out of my involvement with WBENC and I need to keep paying it forward by supporting and promoting other minority-owned businesses.

BEQ Pride: Please complete the following statement: supplier diversity would be even better if…

Cleary: Supplier diversity would be even better if suppliers weren’t thought of within such stringent categories. One of the benefits of working with smaller companies is their creativity, innovation and ability to get things done on a shorter timeline. I believe this kind of change would have a great impact not only on the suppliers, but on the supplier diversity professionals themselves who would get more satisfaction and accolades because by thinking out of the box, they will be able to impact more successes.

Joanne Balady

Joanne Balady
Founder/President of Balady Promotions Inc., WBENC and NGLCC Certified

BEQ Pride: You have a unique perspective as a woman with a dual certification. What additional advice do you have for diverse small business owners looking to make the most of their certification? 

Balady: In order to really get the most of your certification, you need to get out there and meet the WBENC and NGLCC leadership team members, corporate supplier diversity professionals as well as fellow WBEs and LGBTBEs. You have the opportunity to see many of the same professionals at the conferences and events of both organizations, but I truly believe in the givers’ gain philosophy—by volunteering on committees, you will help the organizations while increasing your visibility and credibility to active and influential members of these organizations. This is a great way to build long-term business relationships and friendships.

BEQ Pride: Do you find there is an actual benefit to having both certifications in terms of access to more opportunities, more relationships, community engagement, belonging or some other way? 

Balady: Many supplier diversity professionals are excited when I tell them I am certified with both organizations. They are able to recognize the spend with each certifying organization when they do business with a dually certified company.

BEQ Pride: Please complete the following statement: supplier diversity would be even better if…

Balady: I would like to see more programs to help support and develop suppliers who have the capabilities, but not the scale, to work with larger corporate partners.

BEQ Pride: Please feel free to share anything else you’d like about the experience.

Balady: I didn’t start off engaged in any of the programming or opportunities. I did not volunteer or contribute to any committees and that did not help me stand out, grow relationships or help my community. Over time I realized that I needed to have a more meaningful connection to the LGBT community, especially as a woman business owner. Now I take every opportunity to share my unique story. By doing this, I have become a very proud and dedicated supporter of the NGLCC. You have to put yourself out there, be seen and sometimes take risks. This was a fantastic event! I look forward to our next collaboration.

David Ricciardi

David Ricciardi
President/Founder of Proximo, NGLCC Certified

BEQ Pride: As someone who attends and is engaged with many local, regional and industry-specific diversity events, what additional advice do you have for diverse small business owners looking to make the most of their certification? 

Ricciardi: You’ve really got to leverage this as a network, one that is very deep and very wide. You need to be at places to meet people and keep reminding them who you are. If you “click” with someone and it’s someone with whom you want to pursue a business relationship, you’ve got to put in the time.

People don’t do business with acquaintances, but rather with people they know and trust. This goes for people at corporations and people who work and own other diverse businesses. Don’t dismiss partnerships with other suppliers, as these lead to other opportunities you might not otherwise find. So, get out there and get talking, repeatedly, show up, volunteer. Do what you need to in order to get people to know you and want to work with you.

BEQ Pride: Do you find there is an actual benefit to attending the other non-LGBTQ focused diversity events? 

Ricciardi: Absolutely. Your prospects and partners are there, too. The more often they see you, the better. These events are other touch points. Plus, there are so many more prospective partner companies – other diverse businesses – to meet. Some of my best partners are non-LGBTBEs. Moreover, if you believe in diversity as a tool to make business stronger, then you need to diversify beyond your own community – otherwise, you yourself have not bought into diversity.

BEQ Pride: Why did you decide to get involved as a panelist in this first of a kind event between NGLCC and WBENC outside of a conference setting and at a grassroots level?

Ricciardi: (Laughs) I was asked to! More seriously, I’ve sat on many panels before, nationally and locally. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but anytime I can help tell this story, I’m happy to do so. If you learn anything from my experience, then I’ve helped grow this “diversity network” in some small way. Plus, it’s a way to meet new people and create new touch points!

BEQ Pride: Please complete the following statement: supplier diversity would be even better if…

Ricciardi: If it was more holistic. That may sound vague, so let me explain. There’s always been a lot of focus on Tier 1, which is fine, but there are fewer and fewer opportunities to work with large corporations, especially as a small supplier. We collectively talk a lot about Tier 2 (and Tier 3, etc) but do little to actually grow this. Corporations need to do better to bring their Tier 1’s into the supplier diversity fold. The advocates of supplier diversity, which includes corporations, chambers, councils, thought leaders, and suppliers, need to bring the message of the benefits of diversity in the supply chain to companies outside of the Fortune 500. We need to integrate these new buyers into our “network”. We need to align and scale our offerings to appeal to the $2 billion company, the $20 billion or a $200+ billion company. And we need to educate everyone (especially current suppliers), as to how this expanded network will help them, and where they fit into the supply chain. It’s a big topic, I feel, and one that has not been successfully addressed.

Cindy Towers Esq.

Cindy Towers, Esq.
Co-Founder/President & CEO of JURISolutions, WBENC Certified and NGLCC Corporate Partner

BEQ Pride: In addition to the wonderful advice you shared at the event around developing relationships and doing your homework, what additional advice do you have for diverse small business owners looking to make the most of their certification?

Towers: Always keep in mind that supplier diversity professionals are introduced to thousands of diverse businesses each year. Before reaching out to them, put yourself in their shoes and think about how you can help them gain confidence in you and your company, and how you can help them help you. For example, coming prepared with a case study on the value you brought to one of their competitors helps them a lot more than you simply telling them about the value you offer. Supplier diversity folks can become your strongest advocates but it is up to you to do the heavy lifting and help them help you.

BEQ Pride: Why did you decide to get involved as a panelist in this first of a kind event?

Towers: I was incredibly honored to be asked to be a panelist. I have been involved in WBENC for 10 years and in 2017 we made the business decision to become a National Corporate Partner of the NGLCC. Seeing both of these organizations up close, you cannot help but get excited about the synergy between them. I am thrilled to be a part of both organizations and look forward to rolling up my sleeves to help the companies they certify gain access to more business.

BEQ Pride: Please complete the following statement: supplier diversity would be even better if…

Towers: More companies understood the business case for supplier diversity and how a diverse supplier base will position a company for greater innovation, cost savings and efficiencies. While the number of robust supplier diversity programs is growing, there is more work to be done especially in certain types of organizations like law firms.


This was truly a collaborative event by all accounts, a chance to establish great relationships and learn from one another. One supplier shared that having your photograph on your business card when attending conferences where corporate partner representatives receive literally thousands of business cards makes sense. Another shared how she found success by providing a simple update or status report to her supplier diversity contact when she sees them at conferences. Each panelist shared useful information, helpful practices and insights on making the most of certification.

“Now that we have opened the door to collaboration, I hope that we can attract even more suppliers, regardless of their diversity certification(s), to future similar events,” says Finkelstein. “We have received some wonderful feedback about the event, but we would certainly love to hear more. If any [diverse] business owner or corporate partner have any feedback, suggestions, comments, or thoughts on ways of engaging or more collaboration, please contact me at rob@nglccny.org.”

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.