MED Week 2016 Award Winners – Get to Know Them!

Just Bucket Excavating, Inc. | Willie Davis Jr.

For the last 16 years, Just Bucket Excavating, Inc has been delivering excavating, grading, paving, trucking and ecosystem restoration services. They provide exceptional customer service with a high attention to workmanship.  With a collaborative spirit, Willie and his team offer thorough estimating and is always on-schedule and strives to be on-budget.

Twirl Advertising & Design, LLC | Jennie Rodriguez and Victor Echevarria

Twirl Advertising & Design got their start in 1999 as the freelance effort of Jennie Rodriguez. It has since evolved into an LLC partnership with her husband, Victor Echevarria. Twirl is a full-service strategically creative shop that understands how to position your brand for success, communicate key messages and develop the marketing materials to translate it across multiple media platforms.

For the last 25 years, Jennie & Victor have been working with entrepreneurs, small businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations as well as large corporations within different industry sectors across the nation. Clients have benefited greatly from their diverse set of experiences and natural intuitiveness. One example is their work with the Portland Development Commission (PDC) where they received an award for the rebranding of Lateral Agile Partnerships (LAPS) into Talentwell, an online platform connecting government/agency opportunities to minority A/E/PTs. Another example is their contribution to the Port of Portland Mentor/Protégé program as marketing consultants to participating small businesses such as Bailey’s Construction, Viking Engineering & Construction, PMG Asbestos and Nemariam Engineering & Associates.

As volunteers, they have lent their creative skills to many socially driven non-profits, such as the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, and Christopher House Social Service Center. They are involved with two Portland-area nonprofits – Jardin Portland Foundation, whose mission is to foster the development of equitable, prosperous, and sustainable cities and the Business Diversity Institute, which helps minority-owned and woman-owned businesses through education and training. Through their efforts – alone and through business collaborations – Twirl has won several Summit International Awards, as well as an IABC Quill and PCC Trumpet Award.

Twirl is a MWESB certified (# 9200) firm in the State of Oregon.

Rhonnda Edmiston | Howard S. Wright

As Northwest Division business equity development director for Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty Company, Rhonnda Parsons Edmiston provides direction, leadership and accountability in developing and integrating strategic Diversity & Business Equity initiatives across the Northwest Division. Rhonnda acts as the organization’s diversity thought leader by continually communicating actionable insights and delivering direction to the Northwest Division. She contributes expertise in developing and implementing corporate supplier diversity initiatives with her peers across the company as a member of Balfour Beatty’s National Supplier Diversity Team. Rhonnda acts as the primary point of contact and HSW representative to external partners and communities for Diversity & Business Equity. Since joining the company in 2010, Rhonnda has also steered the Northwest Division’s activities to encourage high school students to consider construction industry career pathways.

Rhonnda enjoys working with Northwest community organizations that foster the growth and development of diverse small businesses and young people and is actively engaged with the following organizations:

  • Advisory Board Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs
  • Board of Directors Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
  • Board of Directors Portland State University Business Outreach Program
  • Board of Directors Portland Workforce Alliance
  • Board of Directors Business Diversity Institute
  • Advisory Committee member Seattle Construction, Architect, and Engineers (CDE)

Rhonnda received her B.S. in business administration from Portland State University and master’s degree in business administration from the George Fox University. Outside of the office, she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, spending time at Pacific City, and traveling the world. She is also a certified yoga instructor and volunteers for Living Yoga, an organization that brings the study and practice of yoga to kids, youth and adults in correctional facilities, drug treatment centers, and behavioral/mental health facilities.

Kelly Stevens-Malnar | State of Oregon

Kelly Stevens-Malnar has been a public servant with the State of Oregon for 14 years. She currently manages Oregon’s Cooperative Procurement Program and Small Business Programs at the Department of Administrative Services, Office of Procurement Services.

Kelly has been an Advisory Board Member for the Oregon Association for Minority Entrepreneurs for the past 5 years. She also sits on the leadership team for Salem Capitol Connections which provides the Oregon entrepreneur with the opportunity to connect with public and private entities in meaningful and sustainable way. She also plays a pivotal role in developing and delivering Connect-2-Oregon statewide events that promote educational resources and strategies to small business who are interested in doing business with governmental entities in Oregon.

Kelly brings to the state 15 years of high-tech private-sector product marketing experience, and an additional 5 years of operating her own brokered goods business out of Phoenix, AZ.

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Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity

Government contracting goals aim to mitigate the effects of inequities that result in the exclusion of minorities, women, service-disabled veterans, and emerging small businesses. Certification opens access to government projects that have specific requirements awarding a percentage of the contracting dollars to disadvantaged and emerging small businesses.

COBID’s goal is to foster an environment where every entrepreneur can compete fairly regardless of the ethnicity, gender, or disability of the owner or the size of the business itself. We strive to help owners of disadvantaged and emerging small businesses access opportunities to compete for public contracting opportunities—a field where minorities, women, service-disabled veterans, and emerging small businesses encounter barriers. When firms owned by disadvantaged individuals participate in contracting, these historically underserved businesses advance, helping enhance and strengthen our local, regional, and state economy.

MED Week 2015 Award Winners

Sustainable Interiors | Dana Pittman

Dana Pittman grew up in Seattle, Washington and graduated from Franklin HS. In 1984 Dana joined the military, where she was trained in the military police corp and later trained as a correctional prison guard. Dana was stationed at Fort Lewis after her tour in Panama. She has a strong background in the military, followed by business, personel and healthcare management. Her primary strengths are in communications, relationship building and logistics.

Dana’s education came largely after her work experience. She studied business and physocology while on active duty and theology at Beacon University. She spends a lot of her personal time counseling individuals through grief and addictions to live a full, healthy, and joy-filled life. Her passion is to see others experience the full expectations of their lives.

Dana Pittman and Colin Higginbottom founded Sustainable Floors in 2005. They met in Bible college and came to appreciate and respect one another as students.  “Dana always showed up on time, had her notebook ready, and got A’s on every test,” Colin recalls.  It didn’t take long for the two to form a partnership in business.

They started their businesses on Fort Lewis primarily, coupling Dana’s military experience with Colin’s flooring experience. Within months of opening the business, the first ever Sustainable Interior Showroom was developed. From Fort Lewis and a Sustainable mission, Sustainable Floors became Sustainable Interiors and began to branch out into Oregon, California, Montana, and now Hawaii, and Colorado.

As a businesswoman, Dana spends a lot of time networking and reaching out to other small businesses. The insight gained led her to join the Small Business Task Force (SBTF), intiated by the Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB). The SBTF role was to develop recommendations for CPARB’s consideration on how the industry can open up opportunities for small businesses including minority and African American-owned business. As vice-chair, efforts of the SBTF resulted in new language being introduced and passed for HB2328 JOC.

From 2012 thru 2014 Dana served as President of the board of directors for the Entepreneurial Institute of Washington. As a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit their mission is to create equality for small businesses. They do this through providing businesses advisory and technical assistance to streamline organizational systems. They focus on increasing the technological capabilities and leadership skills of the owners and their workforce. This allows small businesses to develop a resilient base of job-creating entrepreneurs in Washington State.

Dana has a daughter, Cassandra, who is a Cornish graduate. Cassandra and her husband Dereck had Dana’s first grandchild, Lilyana in 2013 and are expecting another in 2016.

Nemariam Engineers & Associates | Haregu Nemariam

Haregu Nemariam, PE, the principal Engineer and owner of Nemariam Engineers & Associates, LLC (NEA), has over 25 years of transportation engineering and management experience gained from working in both the public and private sectors. Haregu has a civil engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a licensed civil engineer in the states of Oregon and Washington.

Prior to establishing NEA in August of 2010, she was employed by CH2M HILL. While at CH2M HILL, Haregu had the opportunity to provide traffic engineering services on several high profile projects such as the Westbound Nalley Valley Interchange in the State of Washington.

Her public sector experience includes working for State of Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) as well as City of Concord and City of Los Angeles in California.  While at government agencies, Haregu provided full traffic engineering services to the agencies’ roadway designers, land use planners, managers and general public.

Nemariam Engineers & Associates, LLC (NEA) formerly known as Haregu Nemariam Engineering, LLC (HNE) is a full services professional transportation engineering consulting firm founded by Haregu Nemariam. The firm focuses on development traffic impact analysis, intersection improvements, construction staging/traffic control contract plan preparation, lighting/ITS design as well as innovative transportation safety solutions for all modes of transportation.

In the past five years NEA has successfully completed numerous traffic impact studies for developers and prime consultants.

NEA is a DMWESB certified (# 7323) firm in the State of Oregon.

Gabriele Schuster, Procurement Manager | Metro

Gabi, moved to Portland 18 years ago because she fell in love with Portland and Oregon.  Gabi grew up in a family that cared about sharing with others and contributing to the community.  She has worked in the non-profit sector and started at Metro 15 years ago with the desire to  serve the public. In 2012 she was asked to lead the Procurement Services division at Metro, which she recognized as an opportunity to work more closely with the public and create contracting opportunities for small businesses.  During the past years Gabi has meet many wonderful people through her outreach work in trying to create equity in contracting and her desire to make a difference has grown. Thanks to the many small business owners who provided their feedback over the past 3 years, Gabi has learned a lot and continues to learn about the needs of small businesses located in the Metro region.

When she’s not at work, Gabi enjoys volunteering, hiking, biking, meeting friends and hanging out with her 4 cats.

Gabe Silva | Business Oregon

Mr. Silva has been employed as a Small Business Services Coordinator for the Oregon Business Development Department (OBDD) since June of 2008 and employed within Oregon state government for 25 years.  He is a member of the Department’s Business Finance Team and his responsibilities include contract management of the Small Business Development Center Network (SBDCN), Government Contract Assistance Program (GCAP), and the “Grow Oregon” state contract. He also manages the Business Retention Services Consultation Program which incorporates and connects consultants with small business owners experiencing severe business challenges.  He is bilingual (Spanish) and delivers presentations in Spanish about OBDD programs and services to organizations and business throughout Oregon.

From August 2004 trough May 2008 he was employed as the State Equal Opportunity Officer/Methods of Administration Coordinator for Workforce Investment Act Programs with WorkSource Oregon.

As an Entrepreneur, Mr. Silva has experienced the challenges of small business ventures. Business ventures included procurement consulting, private investigation and Spanish translation. As a Private Investigator (Silva Investigations, LLC), he specialized in Unclaimed Property, ADA and Civil Rights, Wage and Hour, Workers’ Comp. and bilingual/Spanish investigations.

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Multnomah County

Multnomah County is committed to providing equal and equitable opportunities that encourages Minority, Women and Emerging Small Business (MWESB) firms and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) to compete for contracting opportunities. They are seen as leaders in our community beginning with their Sustainable Purchasing and Social Equity Policy and programs which guide efforts throughout the county and make meaningful contributions to the small business community.

Multnomah County continually seeks to leverage their leadership to maximize inclusion efforts through creative partnerships with other agencies. One of their outreach effort this year, sponsored jointly with Metro, attracted over 250 firms and nearly 400 persons in attendance.

Additionally, Multnomah County provides leadership across the state through active involvement in legislative issues which directly impact minority firms on public projects. They are a vocal force and advocate for getting more minority firms certified.

Multnomah County has been an outstanding partner to BDI by providing a home for our meetings and legislative updates at our Diversity Practitioners Summits and monthly Breakthrough Breakfasts. They have a track record for garnering outstanding small business participation on their construction projects as demonstrated on the Sellwood Bridge Replacement Project, proudly resulting in the mentoring and growth of several minority owned businesses.  An example of this effort would be PacificMark Construction Company which, as a part of the project, successfully completed the small Construction Manager/General Contractor Training.

Multnomah County continues to innovate its social equity and small business inclusion practices as being demonstrated on their Downtown Courthouse replacement project.  These tireless efforts, along with many others, firmly positions Multnomah County as a champion of small business growth and
development