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WIPP Member Spotlight - Jeanette Hernandez Prenger

Posted By Laura Berry, Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Jeanette Hernandez Prenger 
President & CEO
ECCO Select
WIPP Member Since 2012

 

Join us for the October Community Connection webinar on October 21 at 2 PM ET to hear Jeanette’s discussion with WIPP leadership.

 

Jeanette Prenger

This is an unprecedented time. How has the global COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?

We have been extremely fortunate in how we have navigated through this time. I must admit, the first couple of weeks were unsettling. Some of our clients were drastically affected by the shutdown. Their own client portfolios consist of industries that were negatively affected in a very severe way. Their return to normal will take longer than some others. We had quite a few contractors released during the first couple of weeks that were within those industries hit the hardest. 

We worked with a sense of urgency and knew which clients would have an increased demand due to the pandemic. We focused on those industries and offered our clients several options to help support business continuity. 

The pandemic has enabled me to look back at similar challenges we faced after 9/11. One of the first things we did was to look at how quickly we could reduce variable expenses. I was so naïve about the consequences of how hard 9/11 impacted our economy. I thought we would be back to normal in a short period of time. I should have reduced headcount and gone through additional cost-cutting measures much sooner. 

When our country shut down due to the pandemic, we immediately knew that we would have to go on a drastic cost reduction exercise. We did not need to reduce headcount, but we did reduce expenses, and that enabled us to be in a better cash flow position to survive this economic environment for a much longer period.  

I am proud to say that we are tracking better than budgeted for the year due to our sense of urgency. We have also seen how well we can work from home as we have maintained or exceeded productivity prior to the pandemic. Like other companies that chose to allow associates back in the office, we offer a choice of where they work as well as flex time. For those who come into our office, we practice social distancing and follow local guidelines to provide a safe and healthy environment.  


How has WIPP helped during this time? 

The emails and webinars have allowed us to stay connected and informed with what is going on across the country, as well as within our government. Knowing what our elected leaders are contemplating as well as understanding bills that have passed and policies coming out of D.C., allows us to identify how we are affected and if we need to do anything different in our operations. Having the ability to hear how this affects us as women business owners is a huge asset in helping us make business decisions.

Thank you for being a leader in our community, including sitting on the Board and LAC, testifying before Congress, and referring new members. How has WIPP’s advocacy and updates assisted you in developing your business or becoming more profitable?

I love meeting other women business owners. I learn so much from their stories, successes, and challenges. We have formed relationships with a couple of other WIPP members and we continue to look for businesses who complement our offerings and can be potential teaming partners.  

I read and distribute the advocacy and updates communicated to our WIPP members to my executive team. They glean applicable content and share with their organizations. WIPP communications have been timely and have motivated me to become better acquainted with my elected officials so that they know how their decisions affect entrepreneurs. If I did not have access to this information, I would be unaware of key decisions or conversations that could negatively impact women-owned businesses or could be unfavorable to entrepreneurs.

What are some common hurdles you see for women business owners? 

One of the hurdles I see for women business owners is accelerated growth and access to capital. We do not see very many women-owned businesses with exponential growth unless they take on investors. I have questioned my own growth strategy and struggled with the thought of bringing on investors to fund mergers and acquisitions. Do I self-fund when money is so cheap? Do I try to continue to grow organically? I would love to see how my story compares to other successful businesses. 

Would you share your proudest moment as a business owner?

A lot of proud moments come to mind when I think about being in business for almost 25 years. I think my proudest moment as a business owner was when we moved into a commercial building that we purchased. So many of my associates complimented us on our investment. They viewed the purchase as our commitment to growing a legacy business with a culture that promotes continuous improvement and excellence in all that we do. 

There is a sense of security that comes from being in a company that works like a family. We work hard to do our best, not only for ourselves but for our families, this business, and our community.

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network?

Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to new people. Find others in your industry and view them as potential partners, not competitors. 

This organization is an asset for women business owners and should be part of your portfolio of membership organizations. The information, data, and educational webinars support our businesses in understanding the political environment, policies, and decisions that affect us. It is also a great networking organization that encourages professional and business development opportunities.

 


ECCO Select

Learn more about Jeanette and her team at ECCO Select at https://www.eccoselect.com.

 
Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Tina Patterson

Posted By Laura Berry, Monday, August 3, 2020
Updated: Monday, August 3, 2020
Tina Patterson

Tina Patterson

Principal

Jade Solutions, LLC 

https://www.jadeitesolutions.com

Member Since 2015

 

Join us for the August Community Connection webinar on August 19 at 2 PM ET to hear Tina’s discussion with WIPP leadership.

 

This is an unprecedented time. How has the global COVID-19 pandemic affected your business? How has WIPP helped during this time?

 

WIPP has been a reliable source to help me identify information and resources to maintain my company’s viability and make sure my company is compliant and current with changing regulations and requirements. 


The proposal and grants management support line of business as well as project management line of business pivoted quickly to an online format. While much of our proposal management work was previously virtual, now the number of stakeholders participating has increased.


My company’s Alternative Dispute Resolution line of business has been impacted by COVID-19: previously scheduled arbitration cases have been postponed to a future date, parties in cases assigned to our docket after March 2020 are asked to present first-choice dates and second -choice dates. The second-choice dates are requested in the event laws prevent the parties from convening in person and the hearing needs to be rescheduled. 

 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

 

The biggest takeaway for me from WIPP advocacy actions is to respond when organizations such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) requests input from the public. The more input received the more likely the issue is to get attention and be revised or reconsidered. 

 

I take the same approach when I receive requests from my Senators or Representative. Since I became involved in WIPP and have attended WIPP hosted webinars, advocacy updates, and conferences I have better insight into how proposed legislative changes impact my business, including how to identify federal agency priorities, along with the people, processes, and organizations to answer my questions and provide accurate information. 

 

What are some common hurdles you see for women business owners? What has changed since you became involved in WIPP?

 

What has changed since I became involved in WIPP is my mindset about my business, how I spend my time and those who I surround myself with. I’ve always had mentors and to some extent sponsors. I pay close attention to the health of these relationships and as a result realized that a few relationships had run their course. I have also found colleagues who could loosely be described as a “mastermind group” or “accountability group” as an antidote for founder’s fatigue.

 

Some common hurdles I see for women business owners are 

  • establishing market competitive rates or fees;
  • being ambivalent about requesting what is needed or desired;
  • being reticent about seeking a mentor or sponsor because they believe they aren’t ready or fear that the request will be denied; and
  • learning to say “no.” 

I can speak to these challenges and hurdles, because I have faced them all. I have a desire to help other businesses succeed, yet I found myself being too flexible with clients whose actions or behaviors were warnings I ignored or gave the organization a second chance when the engagement should have ended. I’ve learned that by releasing a client that is not a fit, space is created for a client that is a fit. 

 

Another challenge was clearly articulating payment terms and expectations. One of the company’s first clients didn’t pay for services for 90 days – the delay negatively impacted my company for months. We are now clear about payment expectations and the consequences of nonpayment.

 


Would you share your proudest moment as a business owner? 

One of my proudest moments as a business owner was just last year when I found out Jimmy Rhee, Maryland Special Secretary of Small, Minority, & Women Business Affairs wrote a letter in support of my application to receive the Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) award from the Capital Region Minority Supplier Diversity Council (CRMSDC). 

 

The day I received notification that my company was an award recipient I was attending a conference where Secretary Rhee was speaking to the conference attendees. I later approached the Secretary to thank him and share the outcome with him. He not only remembered my company, he also took the time to discuss with me his ideas to increase opportunities to engage small, minority- and women-owned businesses. 

 

What is your favorite part of being involved in the WIPP network? 

My favorite part of being involved in the WIPP network is that the network has many accomplished, intelligent women business owners who are knowledgeable, approachable, and ready to assist. Many will take time from the busy schedules to answer a question, provide advice, or offer a word of encouragement.

 

Connect with other members who you meet – find out what they do and let them know what you do. The connection may result in an opportunity to collaborate to respond to a solicitation, a referral source, or resource to help your organization be more effective or efficient. 

 

 

Is there anything else you wish readers would know about WIPP?

WIPP is focused on keeping its members informed about policies and legislation that may impact women-owned businesses in all sectors regardless of size. This is not a “ladies who lunch” organization. The staff is approachable, resourceful, and responsive.

 


Jade Solutions
Learn more about Tina and her team at Jade Solutions, LLC at https://www.jadeitesolutions.com.
 
 
 
Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Nancy Aber Goshow

Posted By Laura Berry, Friday, May 1, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Nancy Aber Goshow
Nancy Aber Goshow Partner
Goshow Architects
WIPP Member Since 2003

 

Join us for the May Community Connection webinar on May 20 at 2 PM ET to hear Nancy’s discussion with WIPP President & CEO Candace Waterman.

Mission and Vision:

 

Goshow Architects is one of the largest woman-owned architectural firms in New York City. We design healthy, sustainable energy efficient buildings and spaces for the public good and positive social impact for communities and individuals. Our mission is to create architecture that inspires people, collaboration, sustainability and innovation by building for the public good and designing for the future.

Goshow Architects has four specialty design teams: 
education, infrastructure, housing, and transportation. 

  • High schools, community colleges, universities;
  • Water supply and wastewater treatment facilities;
  • Market rate and supportive housing;
  • Ferry and rail terminals.

You are based in New York City. Tell us about how you’re handling the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. 

Right now, our education and housing projects are on temporary pause, 77% of our revenue sources are shut down, 60% of our active projects paused. 

Thankfully our infrastructure and transportation projects are increasing in number and moving forward. We are architectural design subconsultants to six large international engineering firms and two large transportation engineering firms, so these second-tier opportunities will keep us busy until our prime contract projects start up again. 

The US Postal Service has stopped delivering mail to our entire midtown Manhattan office building. As a business that depends on payment checks sent through the US mail, my once a week visit to the post office has become a nightmare. I can only go once a week, between 1 and 3 p.m. I stand in line with 40 others, for 45 minutes to request our office mail for the past 7 days, then I wait again for another 30 minutes while our mail is retrieved from a remote storage room in the building. The air conditioning is not on, so everyone is masked and sweating. The post office and my office is only a 3-mile round trip walk from my home. I walk to my office twice a week. Taking a taxi, a bus or the NYC subway is not an option I would consider.

Our design work has continued without interruption because we are very experienced and efficient working remotely. Our design work is produced by cloud-based collaborative software, and it’s more efficient for our clients. Having an office in New York City has forced us to develop remote working solutions to get us through prior events like Superstorm Sandy, extended snow days, and subway strikes. But those events only lasted a little more than a week.

Working remotely is not a challenge for our staff. It’s the duration of the New York City pause and the physical separation of our collaborative teams that is beginning to wear on all of us. We miss working with each other on a daily basis. We hold weekly All Company Team, (ACT) Meetings on Zoom. Seeing each other helps to fill the person-to-person interaction we miss most in our collaborative design process. We are also holding Zoom cocktail parties as another way to connect our staff.

 

Goshow Architects is celebrating 40 years of business. WIPP will be celebrating 20 years next May. What led you to join WIPP in 2003?

I met WIPP co-founders Barbara Kasoff and Dr. Terry Neese while we were trying to move the Women's Equity Contracting Act forward in the early 2000s. I am a successful WBE and DBE government contractor for New York State and New York City and joined WIPP to learn about how to qualify, find, and win federal government contracts as a woman-owned business. At that time, WOSB firms were winning less than 3% of the federal spend [of the 5% goal]. 

 

Can you tell us any stories about what it was like to be part of the founding membership at WIPP?


It was very exciting and thrilling to walk into congressional hearings to give relevant testimony and actively participate in federal policy hearings. It was even more exciting and thrilling to see legislative outcomes we initiated and language we contributed.


Early on, I testified to a Congressional committee on size standards for federal contracting, which at the time had not been changed since 1976. I went to Capitol Hill and the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) was against changing the standards because, of course, there were other firms that stood to profit from keeping the standards the same. We ended up moving the standards for architecture from 3.5 million to 7.5 million. 


I also love that WIPP is truly nonpartisan. In 2008, we sent WIPP delegations to the Democratic and Republican party conventions. I remember attending a convention with WIPP Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan as well as Barbara Kasoff and Mary Schnack, who have both since passed away. We were all watching the live broadcast of Chris Matthews. All of a sudden, there he was with a microphone in my face asking me what I thought about Sarah Palin. Thankfully, I had been taught by Mary how to do a PR interview pivot, and I answered that “At Women Impacting Public Policy Public we are nonpartisan. Anytime a woman is running for office, that’s a good thing.”

 

As a long-time WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network?


Working with other like-minded business owners in the ongoing fight for increased procurement opportunities for women-owned businesses. After 12 years of pushing the federal government to promulgate the rules for the WOSB/EDWOSB program in the SBA, we finally achieved our goal. I am a proponent of the program; however the EDWOSB designation has not helped me to win any contracts. We still have a long way to go to get our fair share of the federal spend. 

Through WIPP, I also learned all about how to receive an 8a designation. I won two 5-year IDIQ Contracts with the GSA and USACE as an 8a architecture firm. I ended up presenting for the ChallengeHER program, helping other women-owned businesses learn from our challenges.

 

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network?

Particularly for federal and state contractors, join at a WIPP level that offers you opportunities to join the Procurement Committee. Attend various industry day events at agencies and represent WIPP at those industry days.

As someone who has been in business as long as I have, I tell all businesses who become certified as a WOSB, EDWOSB, DBE to develop a sound marketing strategy to leverage their certification.


Any other advice for women-owned businesses in the current challenging climate?

This too shall pass. This is the worst we’ve been through, but in the 40 years we’ve had the firm, we’ve survived more than seven downturns. The bad part is we’re on the downturn. But the good part is that when the upturn kicks in, profitability will run ahead of expenses. Once expenses start to increase and catch up, profitability will be more difficult to maintain. So we all need to be ready to take the best advantage of the economic growth that will come after the pandemic is over.

 



Goshow Architects

Learn more about Nancy and her team at Goshow Architects at https://www.goshow.com.

 

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

 


Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Michelle Kantor

Posted By Laura Berry, Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2020
Michelle Kantor

 

Michelle Kantor

Member, McDonald Hopkins

 

WIPP Member Since 2013

 

 


What led you to join WIPP?

 

The majority of my clients over the past 30 years have been women-owned businesses. I have a passion to help them succeed and grow. WIPP is, by far, the premiere national advocate of women-owned businesses. I am a member of the board of directors of the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), a regional partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as well as general counsel to the Federation of Women Contractors in Chicago (FWC)WIPP has immensely helped both the WBDC and FWC with keeping apprised of federal laws and regulations that can impact women-owned businesses. 


As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network

 

Meeting awesome women business owners and playing a part in advocating for them through my association with WIPP. 


As a law firm, how does McDonald Hopkins help federal contractors?

 

McDonald Hopkins Federal Government Contracting and Procurement Group helps federal contractors in numerous ways. I lead the group and am thrilled that we have the expertise and capacity to handle our clients’ contracting and business needs. We frequently help clients with corporate transactions including buying and selling their companies, succession planning, Novations, federal bid protests, size protests and NAICs code protests, SBA 8(a), WOSB, SDVOSB, HUBZone, WBE, MBE certification and appeals, contract review and negotiation, FAR compliance assistance, business ethics and EEO policies, requests for equitable adjustment and claims, suspension and debarment proceedings, contract disputes, SBA Mentor-Protégé agreements, joint ventures and teaming agreements, CPAR appeals, and contract disputes.

 

 

What are some common hurdles you see for federal contractors in your work? 

Common hurdles I see for federal contractors are trying to stay ahead of competition, access to capital for small businesses, and understanding SBA and federal acquisition regulations and compliance.

 

 

This month you’ll be hosting a WIPP Education Platform webinar on succession planning. Why are you passionate about that topic?

 

I have represented countless large and small women-owned businesses and other small businesses throughout my legal career. I have watched them put their life blood into their business to grow and build a legacy for their families and employees. While these business owners are technical experts in their fields, few businesses really have the time or key knowledge to plan the succession. 

 

Many women-owned businesses then end up simply closing up or selling for less than market value because they did not have a good plan in place. Being able to help business owners to plan and provide them good legal and practical advice fulfills me.

  

 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

 

My biggest takeaway from WIPP is never give up. Women can and do make a huge difference in shaping the policies and future of our nation. Take advantage of the wonderful benefits of your WIPP membership. 


Is there anything else you wish readers would know about WIPP?

 

The members of WIPP are so fortunate to have such top-notch leadership with Candace Waterman and her outstanding professional and very knowledgeable staff.


 

McDonald Hopkins logo

Learn more about Michelle and her team at McDonald Hopkins at https://mcdonaldhopkins.com.

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Sue S. Tellier

Posted By Laura Berry, Monday, March 2, 2020
Sue Schweim Tellier 
President
JetCo Federal Supply
https://www.jetcofederal.com

Sue Tellier

What led you to join WIPP? 

I learned about WIPP through a random Google search. I was looking for a deep, clear understanding of the status of the federal WOSB program. I think I joined within five minutes of landing on the website. 

My first year, my involvement with the organization was very superficial. I read emails and clicked through to the website. When I renewed my membership, I realized how much value WIPP brought through webinars and a level of involvement I wasn’t maximizing. I applied to become part of the Leadership Advisory Council, and I quickly became a super-fan. 

As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network? 

This is a tough question to answer. I get actionable ideas or new knowledge from every WIPP webinar, so I really value the educational aspect. 

But I think the face-to-face interaction with WIPP members trumps this in terms of “favorites.” Talk about inspiring. I’ve met brilliant, creative women through WIPP – and they have been generous with ideas.
 

As a federal contractor, what do you gain from WIPP Membership?

One of WIPP’s Policy Priorities is “Create parity for WOSBs in federal contracting.” And these aren’t just words. This priority is achieved through the deliberate development and implementation of strategic tactics. In addition to making a difference in Washington, D.C., WIPP communicates their activities effectively to the membership, allowing us to become an educated extension for the talented Advocacy Team.

Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. WIPP earned their positive reputation for advocacy. It’s evident that decision-makers on the Hill respect WIPP’s opinions and ability to mobilize WOSB contractors. 

What is your proudest moment for JetCo Federal?

Watching my employees embrace our company wide values as a filter. This year, so many things clicked into place for our growing team. We went from 4 to 14 employees in one year, which can really devastate the culture of a small business. With great deliberation, our leadership team developed our “what, how, and why” statements into concise bullets of greatness. 

JetCo Federal supplies warehouses with consumables, and we solve shipping and logistics challenges. I get it – this does not sound glamorous. 

But every JetCo employee understands that every truckload requires a win. It HAS to be on time. We HAVE to re-win the client’s trust with every successful shipment. EVERY employee – from sales to operations to support – understands that to our client, it’s not just a box. It’s not just a label. It’s not just a pallet. Each one of these can shut down a line. I love seeing the intensity on the part of our employees in TRULY embracing this. 

I have other small things related to our growth too. I’m proud that we are a small business with ISO 9001:2015 certification. I’m super proud that I’m moving this month from a 5,800 square foot facility to one that is 16,100 square feet. But I’m most proud of my employees embracing change and our company's purpose.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with JetCo Federal?

When my company was young, we dealt with the normal scrappy start-up challenges. I remember at that time longing for the days when the company was well-established enough to feel sustainable. Our company is a teenager now – we are 13 years old in 2020. The challenges associated with growth carry more weight. 

My biggest challenge was me. We created and achieved strategic goals. We grew. Blah, blah, blah. But I was in the way in terms of connecting each leadership team member and each employee on how they contributed. 

As a result, I was not challenging my talented employees to stretch, and I was not giving them a sense of purpose. We changed that in our 2020 strategic planning, and the difference is profound. 

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network? 

Get involved. Assume your fellow WIPP members want to be helpful and generous with their knowledge. And share your talents with the organization. It makes us all stronger. 




JetCo Federal Learn more about Sue and her team at JetCo Federal Supply at https://www.jetcofederal.com.

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.
 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Karen R. Jenkins

Posted By Laura Berry, Saturday, February 1, 2020
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2020
Karen R. Jenkins

Karen R. Jenkins
President & CEO
KRJ Consulting, LLC
https://krjconsulting.com

What led you to join WIPP? 

It was important for KRJ Consulting, LLC (KRJC) to become engaged, in a thoughtful way, to an organization with a strong network with like-minded small business owners, who share similar challenges and successes, and WIPP was a perfect fit.

Being a member of the organization has been critical in understanding the issues that impact our business now and in the future. Most of all, WIPP advocates for its members, provides a blueprint for us to proactively champion for our businesses, and keeps us engaged on a regular basis. Joining such an impactful organization was an imperative for KRJC. 

As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network?

My favorite part of being involved in the WIPP network is interaction with and getting to know such an incredible and accomplished group of women who are as passionate about the policies that impact their businesses as they are about growing their organizations. The level of thought, ideas, and action is a powerful inspiration. 

As a federal contractor, what do you gain from WIPP Membership?

The thing that I’ve gained from WIPP membership is access to federal decision makers – from contracting representatives to policymakers – that have informed my company’s direction. Whether it is participating in WIPP webinars, including last year’s advocacy briefing about proposed rule changes, or participating in the sessions on Capitol Hill, my membership has helped shape our macro-level view of how we need to be connected to those who are making decisions that widely affect women-owned businesses like KRJC. 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

My biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions are two-fold: Paying attention to the briefings and updates before final decisions are made by lawmakers in my state and in Washington, D.C., and gaining insight and suggestions from WIPP leaders who are consistently advocating for its members. 

What is your proudest moment?

The proudest moment for KRJ Consulting was when the U.S. Small Business Administration selected me as the South Carolina Female Small Business Person of the Year in 2019. At that moment, all of our hard work, tenacity, and the challenges we overcame were recognized by local and state SBA leadership. The experience was such an honor and has made me even more committed to growing KRJC and expanding our community involvement, especially with other small business owners in Columbia. 

 

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?


Our biggest challenge came about four years ago, when my father, for whom I was the primary caregiver, passed away after a long illness. Shortly after, my son suffered a life-threatening ruptured brain aneurysm just after graduating from high school. He was in rehabilitation for several months in another state, and I chose to manage my businesses at the rehab facility, while commuting home for meetings and outreach to potential customers. 

We lost a lot of revenue during the two family crises, but during my son’s rehab, I committed to rebuilding KRJC. From regularly calling contracting officers and small business specialists to searching for and responding to as many RFPs as possible, I was determined that my business survive. 

As a result of consistent outreach and advocating for KRJC, we have quadrupled our revenue since 2016. While this was a very difficult challenge and a stressful time, thankfully, my son has recovered and KRJC continues to grow financially and we have been able to increase our team each year. 

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network?

I would recommend that new members be fully ready to engage when they affiliate with WIPP. Whether attending the annual conference, serving on issue committees that are of particular interest, and participating in topical webinars, active participation means getting the most out of your membership! 



Learn more about Karen and her team at KRJ Consulting at https://krjconsulting.com.

KRJConsulting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

 

 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Amina Elgouacem

Posted By Laura Berry, Friday, January 3, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2020

 

 

Amina Elgouacem

President

NEOSTEK, Inc.

http://www.neostek.com

 
Amina Elgouacem

What led you to join WIPP?


When I started NEOSTEK in 2010, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Woman Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) certification program was not in place yet. I didn’t have a contracting vehicle and my designation was Small Business, which means I have to compete against the large Small Businesses in IT. 


I came across a ChallengeHer event, with a networking session held at the Department of State, geared toward educating businesses on the WOSB program and how it helps remove barriers for competition and allow women-owned companies to have an opportunity to compete and win contracts in the federal government. 


A year after the WOSB program was put in place, I won my first prime contract at the Department of State; it was competed as an EDWOSB set-aside contract. I decided to join WIPP as a member in 2013 to stay up-to-date with policy affecting my business. I realized that the WOSB program at that time still had limitations compared to other set-aside programs, there was a $4 million cap on competed contracts, and there was no sole source designation. 


I then decided to apply to join the WIPP Leadership Advisory Council (LAC) to provide input to policy affecting WOSBs and to become a mentor to new businesses. Affecting policy and change is bigger than any one of us; it really requires input from all to tell the story and get the support we need to make an impact.

 

As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network? 


My favorite part of being involved with WIPP is to collaborate with like-minded, smart women business entrepreneurs who share the same passion to affect change, who share similar stories, and face similar challenges, and who understand that policy and advocacy is the way to get the word out and affect change. 


Also, my involvement with the LAC has given me an opportunity to be a panelist in business events and reverse industry day events to represent the WOSB community, to provide our perspective and experiences, and also to publicly provide advice to business audiences based on my experiences and what I have accomplished so far. Thanks to WIPP, I was interviewed and quoted in a Forbes article on “Study: Women Small Business Owners Being Shut Out of Major Government Contracts.” 


I also had an opportunity to get in front of the House Small Business Caucus last year to share my experience on government contracting, challenges we face, and how policy can help with our members of the Congress. It’s really about being able to give back and affecting change.

 

As a federal contractor, what do you gain from WIPP Membership?


By being a WIPP member as a federal contractor, I get the most up to date information on policy that affects my business. You also have a network of other federal government contractors and entrepreneurs who are willing to help and support you through your journey as an entrepreneur as you grow your business through different levels. You may have questions about policy such as the WOSB Sole Source and how it works and get more detailed information to educate your customers on the program. 


You may find your next mentor at WIPP. Whether you just started your business, or you are outgrowing your small business status and you’re looking for advice on what’s next. You will find another woman who has that experience at WIPP. You will find women who have sold their businesses and who acquired other businesses. By attending events, including ChallengeHer and conferences, I’ve had an opportunity to meet with these outstanding bright women entrepreneurs from various backgrounds and experiences, and it’s just amazing to be part of the experience and hear their story.


What is your proudest moment for NEOSTEK?


It’s hard to select a proud moment when you’re a small business, as every milestone you achieve brings tears to your eyes, because you know you made it and you worked so hard every step of the way to get there against all the odds, so I will choose one. 


I was proud to be on the cover of the CIOReview Magazine and getting a four-page spread on the topic of “Precision Records Information Management to Facilitate Modernization,” after being interviewed and being selected as the cover story, along with being named one of the Top 10 Enterprise Information Management Consulting/Services companies of 2019 alongside IBM. 


The article and the achievement are the culmination of a lot of hard work in order to be known in our industry as the best service provider in Enterprise Information Management serving the federal government sector. This means we are not going back, we are only going forward, we will roll up our sleeves and continue climbing high. It will take patience, and perseverance.



What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with NEOSTEK?


The most challenging part when you grow as a business is planning for hard times and sustainment and being able to ride the wave. You have to plan years in advance and prepare for low times to keep your workforce employed. You can never put all your eggs in one basket and win a deal that is too big to lose. 


When a large business decided to take our subcontracted work with a one-week notice and no reason, we were prepared because we had just won a few new contracts that we worked hard to get for years, but we had to make a tough decision on who to keep. It was one of the most challenging moments because we had the best employees, who were the best performers on that contract, and we were able to keep most of them because we prepared. 

 
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Learn more about Amina and her team at NEOSTEK at http://www.neostek.com
NEOSTEK
Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.


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WIPP Member Spotlight - Cindy Towers, Esq.

Posted By Laura Berry, Monday, December 2, 2019

Cynthia (Cindy) Towers, Esq.
President & CEO
JURISolutions Legal
http://www.jurisolutions.com
WIPP Member since 2014

 

Cindy Towers

What led you to join WIPP?

I was introduced to WIPP by a colleague at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) when I shared we were thinking about launching a government contracting division of JURISolutions (known then as “JuriStaff”). Suffice it to say, I was “all in” when I discovered that WIPP is a nonpartisan organization focused not only on the federal procurement process, but also on the broader goal of leveling the playing field for all women entrepreneurs through legislative advocacy and education.  
As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network? 

 

Although there is much to love about WIPP and the WIPP network, I would have to say advocacy opportunities on Capitol Hill has been the most fun and rewarding. WIPP makes it so easy for ordinary business owners to step-up and contribute to the collective impact of the organization. 

 

As a federal contractor, what do you gain from WIPP Membership?

WIPP has been instrumental in helping us grow as a federal contractor thanks to its robust educational platforms. WIPP offers numerous webinars, workshops, and live events offered through the WIPP Education Foundation, WIPP Education Platform, and ChallengeHER events. We also gained access to an amazing network of subject matter experts in the WIPP community, some of whom we hired as consultants. 

 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

Advocacy works! As a woman in business for over 20 years and a frequent mentor to the next generation of women business owners, I have often heard frustrated complaints from women about things like disparity in access to capital, workforce development in STEAM fields, and pay equity. After participating in WIPP’s successful efforts in 2015 to secure sole source authorization for the WOSB program, I can say with confidence that echoing WIPPs message on these issues through Congressional outreach works!

What is your proudest moment for JURISolutions Legal?

Running a company while raising three children seldom leaves me with a shortage of stories surrounding the horrors that can occur when my two worlds unavoidably intersect. While I could carpet a small country with all the notes on my mistakes, one of the best moments in my career to date is the day I actually got it right! 
It was the week of my oldest daughter’s 10th birthday which just happened to coincide with an event my clients were expecting me to attend. What a dilemma! Do I miss the event or do I miss my firstborn’s milestone of reaching double digits?


Then I had an idea: “Honey, how you would like to go to a black tie gala with mom for your birthday?” She was thrilled! She not only received a license to buy a fancy dress, but she was going to get to spend the night in a hotel with mom! Alone!  

 

However, what started out as a simple idea on how to avoid the unbearable guilt of missing my daughter’s birthday proved to be so much more for both of us. In addition to the gala, I took my daughter to some of the educational programming. As I watched her listen attentively and hang on every word spoken by the woman giving the keynote, it occurred to me that this trip was no longer about alleviating guilt. It was about setting the stage for the next generation of successful women. It was about being face-to-face with real life role models teaching her that there is no limit to what women can achieve. 

 

While I have an incredible amount of respect for formal education, that day my daughter and I were taught lessons you just can’t learn in school. For my daughter, she got her first taste of all the opportunities that await her and for me, the flame was lit for my commitment to doing my part in leveling the playing field for women and other diverse groups in business.

 

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in business?

While there are challenges every day in business, I believe the one I am most proud of was figuring out a way to not only survive during the economic downturn of 2007 to 2009, but also to prosper. By leveraging the talent displaced by many of our clients, we were able to repackage that talent back to our clients in and innovative and cost effect manner. It was undeniably a win/win for everyone.

 

What advice would you give to a new WIPP member?

The best advice I can give to a new member is to educate yourself on all that the network has to offer and take advantage of as many resources and opportunities to engage as you can. Equally as important is to be ever mindful of giving back and paying it forward to others in the network.  

 

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Learn more about Cindy and her team at JURISolutions Legal at http://www.jurisolutions.com.

JURISolutions

 

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Denita R. Conway

Posted By Laura Berry, Friday, November 1, 2019
Updated: Thursday, October 31, 2019
Denita R. Conway

Denita R. Conway

President & CEO

PROVEN Management

https://www.provenmgmt.com

WIPP Member since 2015


What led you to join WIPP? 


I have been a government contractor since my firm Proven Management was conceived. I decided to join WIPP for various reasons; however, the primary reason was to gain an understanding of how policies can and will impact my woman-owned small business. Further, it was important for me to immerse myself with women who share a common interest in business advancement and equality.

 

As a federal contractor, what is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?


Hmmm, there is so much. I think the highlight is being a part of change. I love the idea that we are in the forefront of what is happening and to have our voices heard. One of the best feelings is knowing that I’m a part of the organization that achieved the Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification program. That was collaboration at its best.


Every voice counts. Working together is the strength of WIPP. The WIPP leadership is engaged and committed to seeing equality and fair practices. I have learned so much as a business owner about economic policy and current legislative initiatives. I have placed what I have learned to practice and I am convinced that WIPP has had a huge impact on my business growth and overall vitality. 


You were highlighted as a success story in your region’s 2019 SBA Resource Guide.

What was that like? 


Monumental. When I received the call that I would be featured as a success story in the 2019 SBA Resource Guide, it was surreal. Being recognized as a “Business Woman to Watch” and for the opportunity to share how the SBA has helped shape me and my business is exactly what owning a government contracting business is all about. I was delighted to be featured, but more importantly, I was thrilled to share my story. 


What is your proudest moment for PROVEN?


It’s so hard to choose one moment - so, here are my highlights: First is when I was voted as SBA 2018 - Washington, DC Small Business Person of the Year. Followed by the days my daughters decided to join the PROVEN Management team to ultimately help me create a legacy for future generations. 


However, the true moments of sheer joy come when our firm has the opportunity to assist agencies solve their problems. There’s no denying that overwhelming immediate feeling of humility and accomplishment.


What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with PROVEN?


The biggest challenge was understanding how to run and maintain a successful business in a changing political climate, while also operating in a male-dominated industry. Through it all, I have learned to accept failure, to embrace my mistakes, to be patient and most importantly, to be kind. Everything will not always go my way, but everything works out in the end. 


What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network? 


Don’t merely sit on the sidelines to watch…utilize the resources and engage with the brilliant community of business owners. The WIPP community is full of women and men looking to help others achieve success. Plus, when we have people committed to change, we all win.

PROVEN

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Learn more about Denita and her team at PROVEN at https://www.provenmgmt.com.


Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.


Tags:  leadership  Membership  spotlight 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Pamela O'Rourke

Posted By Laura Berry, Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Pamela O’Rourke
Founder & CEO
Icon Information Consultants
WIPP Member since 2007
Pamela O'Rourke

 

What led you to join WIPP?

A fellow entrepreneur and WIPP member suggested I join based on my background and my goal of making a difference in my community. How could I not join? 

I am a female leader and as such, I believe that part of being successful is making time to give back and to give your time to causes, especially those most close to your heart. I am a very active Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) member, and WIPP very much aligns with my views of female leadership and empowerment in the business world.

 

As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network? 

I love the camaraderie between my fellow female leaders and me. We are out there working hard to make a difference in the world, through our participation in WIPP and through our own careers. 

 

It is truly special when you have a diverse group of women solving problems. I believe that the very best solutions come from open and transparent discussion among female leaders with varying backgrounds, education, experiences, and professional skill sets, but with the same purpose of improving our society. It has been such a pleasure working alongside these women. They take time out of their busy schedules with the common goal of changing the world for the better. 

 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

Staying aware of what is happening in the public policy world is so important. This has been a chance for me to share my leadership skills with a group of talented women. There are so many benefits to participating in public policy change advocacy besides affecting your society. It has led to new experiences and lasting relationships with fellow business-minded women.

 

What is your proudest moment for ICON?

I was thrilled in 2009 to be named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. It was truly a special moment for me. After so many years of hard work and dedication to growing ICON Information Consultants, LP, and especially as a female entrepreneur making my mark in the industry, I was thrilled to be recognized with such a prestigious award.

 

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with ICON?

The truth is, with any entrepreneurial endeavor, it can be a roller coaster ride. Changes in the economy and the way companies employ individuals directly influence my business. If I could give any advice to fellow female entrepreneurs, it would be to ride the roller coaster, celebrate your successes and work even harder during the downtimes. One of my mottos that I live by is never, ever take no for an answer. Remain persistent and never give up.

 

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network?

Thank you for joining us! Please make the time to get involved and give back. It is so important to make connections and WIPP is a wonderful way to do that. It is an amazing opportunity to connect with women. It is worth the time and the reward is so valuable, knowing that you made a difference, no matter how big or small, in the world.

 

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Learn more about Pamela and her team at ICON:

Icon Information Consultants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.


 

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more Calendar

9/21/2020
FountainHead: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Panel Event (VIRTUAL)

9/29/2020 » 10/1/2020
WIPP Virtual Symposium on Cyber Resiliency

10/14/2020
WIPP Advocacy Update - October 2020

10/19/2020
WIPP Intersectionality Series

10/21/2020
WIPP Community Connections - October 2020

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Jeanette Prenger (Hernandez)President & CEO, ECCO Select, North Kansas City, MO — September 2020 Member Spotlight

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