Meet the Speakers at the September 21st ConnXSmart Strategic Sourcing Event

Next week, buyers and diverse suppliers will meet at our inaugural sourcing event held at Revel OTR. Here they will foster strategic business relationships and exchange product and service innovations built to strengthen and sustain global supply chains.

Representatives from our community partners will kick off the event by introducing opportunities, resources, and information available through their organizations in a series of brief three to five-minute speeches before networking and appointments begin. Get to know our partners and their backgrounds in their bios below.

Michele Blair

Michele-BlairMichele serves as director of development for the City of Mason, one of the fastest growing cities in the Ohio. Michele joined the City in August of 2000. She has more than 20 years combined experience in economic development and public administration and consulting. In the city of Mason, she is the director of the economic development department, acts as the executive director of the Mason Port Authority, the managing director of Mason Tech Elevator, advisory committee member of CincyTech USA, and a board member for the European-American Chamber of Commerce Cincinnati chapter. The ConnXus office resides in the thriving Mason Tech Elevator building along with Top Gun Sales, KPG Creative and The Deciding Factor. Her focus is global business attraction and recruiting new business in the corporate, high tech, research and design (R&D) and industrial sectors. She also manages incentive financing, master land planning and development, marketing.

Jo Haight

Jo-HaightJo is the purchases group manager at Procter & Gamble (P&G). She has over 17 years of experience at P&G working in purchasing. She has worked in a variety of positions within the purchasing department at P&G, including baby care materials, health care/Iams packaging, marketing, and innovation development. Her expertise is in consumer products, strategic sourcing, supply management, and global sourcing.

Jillnell Joiner

Jillnell-JoinerJillnell is the senior supplier diversity manager for the American Red Cross, traveling throughout the country to conduct workshops about “How to Do Business with American Red Cross.” An exceptional supplier diversity professional with over 20 years of experience in procurement and supplier diversity, Jillnell uses the workshops as a catalyst for connecting with and for training potential woman-owned business enterprises (WBEs) and minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs). The workshops were started in 2015 in collaboration with six National Minority Supplier Diversity Council Development Council (NMSDC) offices. Senior management works directly with Jillnell to maintain a successful supplier diversity program. Jillnell is a tireless advocate, liaison, and go-to person for diverse vendors who wish to do business with the American Red Cross.

Sheila Mixon

Sheila-MixonSheila is the executive director of Ohio River Valley Women’s Business Council (ORV-WBC), the regional chapter of the national Women’s Business Enterprise Development Council (WBENC). She has more than 35 years of experience in the financial services industry, business development and not-for-profit organizations. Her expertise includes program development for small businesses, strategic planning, and project management and relationship management. She provides strategic direction for the operations of the certification process, program development and corporate engagement. Sheila was recently appointed to the Academic Advisory Council for Business Degree Programs at Union Institute & University and is a member of the City of Cincinnati’s small business commission, the Small Business Advisory Council. She currently serves on the board of directors for HCDC.

Bjorn Simmons

Bjorn-SimmonsBjorn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer for the tech startup company Wyzerr, Inc. and works as a StartupCincy community catalyst, collaborating with and amplifying the excitement of the entrepreneurial community. His company Wyzerr is an insights organization with the goal of making market research accessible and affordable for all businesses. Their solution Wyzerr Smartforms is a customizable, game-like interface that makes the survey process quick, fun, and easy. He is an advocate for the power of insights and actualizing the voice of customers to optimize satisfaction and operations. His expertise lies in marketing, political affairs, grassroots organizing, consulting, and entrepreneurship.

Jacqueline Neal

Jacqueline-NealJacqueline is the president and chief executive officer of the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council (OMSDC) with over 20 years of experience leading teams and managing businesses to achieve stakeholder objectives. Before heading the OMSDC, Neal served as president of Columbus-based Glory Foods Inc. Neal was also the partner and founder of a successful real estate investment partnership in Washington D.C. and has more than ten years of experience in marketing positions with Quaker Oats Company, Heinz Pet Products, and Kraft Foods North America. Neal also owns J. Neal Consulting LLC, a Columbus-based business-consulting provider. She has expertise in leveraging consumer insights and marketplace trends to develop marketing strategies and business plans, and has a history of collaboration and relationship building with diverse consumers, retailers, agencies, and partners.

Candice Matthews

Candice-MatthewsCandice is the founder and executive director of Hillman Accelerator, a startup accelerator she created along with Ebow Vroom and former Cincinnati Bengal, Dhani Jones. Hillman Accelerator focuses on companies led by underrepresented individuals in tech by developing venture backable companies. Established in 2017, this statewide effort will display how the state of Ohio strives to move the needle on diversity with this new program. Candice’s team at Hillman has solidified solutions-based partnerships that allow Hillman companies to work on strategic objectives of their national corporate partners. Her expertise lies in social media marketing, brand development, entrepreneurship and data analysis.

William Thomas II

William-ThomasWilliam is the co-founder of the non-profit organizations MORTAR Cincinnati and BLOOM Africa. For his efforts in fighting inequities, creating opportunities and driving social change, William was recently recognized as one of Forbes 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs. He has spent many years working to create better systems and policies in Cincinnati and nationwide around education, including working as a Community Engagement Manager at Cincinnati Preschool Promise. William has expertise in fundraising, community outreach, and non-profit development.

The speakers will be amongst the crowd during the networking portion of the event to field questions from both suppliers and buyers about the resources their respective organizations offer to help grow and develop your business. Grab a glass of wine and some food, and connect with them; they are here for you.