Multicultural Business Summit

Multicultural Business Summit


The annual Multicultural Business Summit is our annual networking and training event for small business owners and small business supporters to learn about procurement-related topics.

This year’s theme, New Opportunities Post-Pandemic, includes a focus of doing business with healthcare systems and the University System of Georgia. Experts will be present to speak and network for future contracting opportunities.

Join us at The UGA Gwinnett campus on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the Summit will wrap around 2:00 p.m. Lunch is included with general admission tickets. Tickets to break-out sessions will be available once all general admission tickets have been sold.


General Admission:


 Friday, Oct. 22, 2021
8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


UGA Gwinnett Campus

2530 Sever Rd

Lawrenceville, GA 30043



8:30 a.m. | Registration and Networking

9:00 a.m.
| Welcome

9:15 a.m.
 | Panel: Doing Business with University System of Georgia

10:30 a.m.
| Panel: Doing Business with Healthcare Systems

11:30 a.m.
| Lunch with Keynote Speaker Louis Enrique Negron

12:30 p.m.
| Networking

1:00 p.m.
| Breakout Sessions


Breaks will be included throughout the day.

This event will take place on the University of Georgia Gwinnett campus.
Current University System of Georgia guidelines strongly encourage mask wearing inside campus facilities.


9:15 - 10:15 a.m. | Panel: Doing Business with the University System of Georgia

Moderator: Julian Bailey with Georgia DOAS State Purchasing Division

Julian Andrea Bailey currently serves as the Communications and Supplier Outreach Manager with the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, State Purchasing Division. She is responsible for managing State Purchasing communications initiatives, as well as supplier relations and training. She conducts training on the procurement process and systems in Georgia. In addition, Ms. Bailey manages the State of Georgia Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification process. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from Howard University and a Master of Business Administration degree in Management from Troy University. She is a Professional Certified Marketer with the American Marketing Association.

Catherine Ice with Kennesaw State University

Catherine Ice is the head of the Contract Management team and the College University Procurement Officer (CUPO) for Kennesaw State University (KSU).  In her current position, she has led KSU to receive the University System of Georgia’s 2019 Excellence in Procurement Award, Comprehensive University Champion; she has taught at DOAS’ Georgia Procurement Conferences, NIGP The Ga Chapter’s, conferences and the University System of Georgia’s Interact conference. She has a wealth of procurement knowledge and experience from private and public industry. Catherine has a baccalaureate degree from Agnes Scott College and has a lifetime certification from the Institute for Supply Management as a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.)  She has also earned her Georgia Certified Purchasing Manager (GCPM), Georgia Certified Purchasing Card Administrator (GCPCA), Request for Quotation (RFP) and Negotiations certifications from the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS).

Bruce Burbank with Georgia Gwinnett College

While accumulating over thirty years of governmental procurement experience, I enjoy the challenges presented daily to stay abreast of new techniques to procure that I’ve learned while working for different companies and professional organizations, in my roles. Bruce has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management with a minor in Project Manager and developed skills in assets, logistics, management of people and processes, change management and customer service. He loves guiding individuals who are curious about the procurement process.

Ajay Patel with Georgia Institute of Technology

Ajay Patel is currently the Director of Procurement at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  He has over 20 years of direct and indirect procurement experience purchasing a variety of commodities in various industries including higher education, automotive, utilities, apparel, textiles and consumer goods and packaging. Ajay has spent the majority of his career in the industry working for companies such as Ford Motor Company and Georgia Pacific.  He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

Karmen Milton with Georgia State University

Karmen Milton serves as the Interim Sr. Director of Business Services at Georgia State University.  With six campuses throughout metro Atlanta, the university serves more than 54,000 students and is among the most diverse colleges and universities in the United States.  Mrs. Milton began her career with the University in 1991 and has fulfilled a variety of roles serving the university’s extensive financial, procurement and operational needs.  Mrs. Milton received her Bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University with a focus in Sales and Marketing Operations.

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. | Panel: How to Do Business with Healthcare Systems

Crystal King with Grady Health System

Crystal Anderson King is an award winning advocate for diverse suppliers and civil rights. She joined Grady Health System in March 2019 as the Director of Supplier Diversity & Equity. Before joining the health system, Crystal enjoyed a 15-year career at Georgia Power Company where she worked in multiple disciplines including Sales Compensation, Contract Management, Corporate Relations and Supplier Diversity. Crystal earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Robert Morris University in Chicago. She currently serves on the Local Board for AID Atlanta and the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Business League. She is a two-time Atlanta Business League Woman of Influence and former co-chair for Super Tuesday. Crystal was recognized as one of the “40 Influential Women of 2020” by the LA Wire.

Wellstar Health System

Wellstar is one of the largest health systems in Georgia. They know that giving people easy access to their services and locations is an essential part of great care. They offer: 11 hospitals, 10 emergency departments, 300+ medical office locations, 9 cancer centers, 55 rehabilitation centers, 3 hospice facilities, 1 retirement village, 21 imaging centers, 17 urgent care locations, 5 health parks. One of their procurement experts will be joining the panel to discuss how small businesses can work with Wellstar.

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Lunch Keynote

Louis Enrique Negron, Executive Director / COO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta

Louis Enrique Negron

Born and raised in Oakland, Calif., to Puerto Rican parents, Negron’s story, both personally and professionally, is unique. After a decade-long stint in higher education, Negron returned to the nonprofit world, where over the years he worked with agencies such as Year Up, United Way of Atlanta, United Way of Transylvania County, Operation HOPE and Supportive Housing Communities.

Negron had a personal epiphany in 2016 after a stroke and he became an ordained minister and certified wellness and life coach. In May, Negron was awarded a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry from Mercer University. He previously earned a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Louis Negron was named executive director and chief operating officer of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta in February.

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. | Breakout Sessions

Access to Capital

Moderator: Alex Simmer with Atlantic Capital Bank

Alex has been a Senior Vice President, Business Banking & Not-for-Profit at Atlantic Capital Bank since July 2019. Prior to joining Atlantic Capital, she was a banker at Wells Fargo with a focus to support the Hispanic Business community as she is Bilingual. Alex has 15 years of experience as Business Banker and Commercial Lender in the Gwinnett Community and Atlanta Metro Area. Specializing in commercial real-estate lending and business lending, SBA, Lines of credits to various industries such as: Medical, Manufactures, Distributers, IT and B2B. She works with companies from startup mode through growth and maturity.

Chris Clay with ACE

Chris Clay brings over 10 years of professional banking experience concentrated in the community banking sector with further specialization in regulations as they pertain to the Community Reinvestment Act, small business & community development lending. Chris served as an advisory board member for a multistate Community Development Financial Institution and an Affordable Housing Agency serving the City of Atlanta and the State of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Chris has a passion for community service and views himself as an advocate of equitable communities. Chris earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Georgia Gwinnett College and his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia Military College. Chris is currently completing his MBA program at Georgia College & State University.

Bud Crawford with Coeur Capital

Bud Crawford is currently a Partner and Co-Founder at Coeur Capital, Inc.. Mr. Crawford has over 14 years of banking and financial services experience. Mr. Crawford began his career at Bank of America, leading the implementation of numerous LEAN Six-Sigma projects. Mr. Crawford left Bank of America to become COO and Equity Partner at Libertas Financial Corporation, a factoring company based out of Atlanta, GA. After helping lead the sale of Libertas to First Bank and Trust, Mr. Crawford took over as CEO of PrimeArc Capital, LLC (“PrimeArc’). During his tenure as CEO, PrimeArc increased EBITDA by 300% and the company qualified for the Inc5000 list in 2020. In 2021, Mr Crawford helped found Coeur Capital, Inc., a specialty finance firm set up to acquire the assets of PrimeArc through a management buyout. Currently, Coeur provides both factoring (facilities from $10,000 – $2,000,000) and ledger lines of credit (facilities from $500,000 – $2,000,000).

Bart Njoku-Obi

How to Leverage Your Certification

Bart Njoku-Obi with UGA SBDC Multicultural Business Division

Bart’s expertise spans strategic planning, sales operations, business process improvement, B2B partner ecosystems, and M&A. He’s entrepreneurial-minded with management and project experience at VC-funded technology startups and large enterprises, coupled with public service in regulatory compliance. He’s garnered over 16 years of experience in legal counsel and business risk mitigation. Bart’s worked with several firms in Silicon Valley CA including Hewett-Packard in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale, and start-up ventures in Georgia, North Carolina, and overseas. He’s a Certified Manager of Quality /Organizational Excellence by the American Society for Quality.

Doing Business with Gwinnett

Tony Harris

Tony was named the Pre-Construction Division Director in May of 2021. He joined Gwinnett County Transportation in May of 2017 and has over 26 years of Gwinnett County Government experience. 22 of those years was spent in Water Resources. For the last four years, Tony has managed the Transportation Utility Permitting Division. He developed new utility policies and procedures to adhere to new State laws and has been a great asset to the Transportation Department. Tony has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Construction Management, Master’s degree in Project Management and a Master’s in Business Administration with a minor of International Business. Tony grew up in Gwinnett County and has a wife and three children. He is very active in his church and community.

Doing Business with Gwinnett

Holly Cafferata

Holly began her career with Gwinnett County in 2008. She worked in the Administrative Office of the Courts prior to joining the Purchasing Division in 2009. Holly worked as a Purchasing Associate and a Purchasing Manager before being promoted to Purchasing Division Director. Holly earned a Master’s Degree of Business Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Georgia. She is a member of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing and the Georgia Chapter of NIGP. Holly has received her certification as a Certified Public Procurement Officer (CPPO) and Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB). She has over 12 years of experience in public sector procurement.

Doing Business with Gwinnett

Shantell Wilson

Shantell R. Wilson is the Economic Development Manager of Business Outreach for Gwinnett County Government Office of Economic Development

She is responsible for business outreach, retention and expansion. She works alongside business and industry to ensure their success in the Gwinnett community through eliminating barriers, providing access to tools and resources and stronger relationships with County officials. Shantell hosts Coffee and Conversation, a premier networking event for business owners and leaders to get face time and establish relationships with County officials. Shantell graduated from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Economic Development and holds a Masters of Business Administration from Walden University. She is a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association, International Economic Development Council, Gwinnett Young Professionals, International Council for Shopping Centers and the Rotary Club of Gwinnett County.

Business Implications In The Time Of COVID with Ipsum Diagnostics

Lauren Spanjer Bricks
CEO and Co-Founder, Ipsum Diagnostics

Sandy Springs native Lauren Spanjer Bricks is at the forefront of lifesaving COVID-19 testing. Lauren is the co-founder and CEO of Ipsum Diagnostics, an independent, CAP accredited, clinical and anatomical pathology testing laboratory.

By the end of 2019, Lauren recognized that the existing molecular Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology used to identify the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection, was being conducted on relatively inefficient PCR instruments typically used for research. The only tests that were available required too much time and could process only 96 patient samples at a time. She knew the answer for increasing COVID-19 testing capacity nationally was to develop tests that utilized faster instruments. Her goal, to process four times the number of patient samples (384) at a time, was ambitious. But if she could develop this test and receive an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), she could share the proprietary protocols with other laboratories and immediately boost national COVID-19 testing capacity.

Business Implications In The Time Of COVID with Ipsum Diagnostics

Leah Roberts
COO, Ipsum Diagnostics

Leah Roberts helped to develop a high-capacity COVID-19 test that provided rapid and accurate results, helping launch a period of unprecedented growth for Ipsum Diagnostics. Thanks to her efforts, Ipsum’s test method became one of the first in the nation to receive the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval and an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Leah, a molecular biologist, joined Ipsum in December 2019, just as COVID-19 was emerging. Ipsum’s senior executives quickly expanded her role to manager during the height of the U.S. outbreak, to maximize her contribution.

Business Implications In The Time Of COVID with Ipsum Diagnostics

Colin Rogers
Co-Founder, Partner and VP of Business Development

Slowing a pandemic was nowhere in his career plan when Colin Rogers was majoring in history and playing football at Furman University. Rogers had planned to teach or head to law school. A move into medical sales ultimately led him to start Atlanta-based Ipsum Diagnostics. Ipsum is an independent molecular laboratory he co-founded with Lauren Bricks, a veteran of the laboratory industry. The company started helping in the fight against COVID-19 in April 2020 by pioneering a way to quadruple the number of tests per day that can be processed on one instrument.





All programs of the UGA SBDC are open to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.