Access To Economic Growth

The purpose of the Summit is to educate entrepreneurs on the government and corporate level programs benefitting minority-owned businesses. This is an inclusive event, marketed to all members of the local business community including Asian-Americans, women, veterans, service-disabled, LGBT, and other communities.

Our Speakers Will Cover These Issues On The Minds of All Businesses:

Logistics &
Supply Chain

Access To




Register Here

$59.00 for AACG
$99.00 for Non-members


Lt Governor Jon Husted will be our Keynote Speaker at the reception.

Register Here For The Reception

$10.00 for AACG
$15.00 for Non-members

Complimentary Parking from Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter
at Columbus Commons Garage

The Columbus Commons parking garage beneath the Columbus Commons greenspace.

The entrance to this garage is located at 191 South Third Street, just past Town Street and the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square. Make sure to bring your ticket with you to be validated at Kegler Brown’s Conference room.


The event will be held at Kegler Brown, Hill & Ritter Conference Room with the main conference from 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., followed by a business networking reception at Market 65 from 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Schedule is as follows:


11:30 am — Registration/Box Lunch Provided


12:00 pm — Welcome

Welcome-Shyam Rajadhyaksha, AACG President

Introduction of MC Maria Durant

Joy Kouns Lewis, AACG Executive Director


12:15 pm — Keynote Speaker, Frank LaRose, Secretary of State


12:45 pm — Break


1:00 pm — Access to Capital To Grow Your Business

Tiffany Whitner, Vice President, First Merchants Bank

Moniqua Spencer, Advantage Capital

Monica L. Womack, Chief, Minority Business Development Division
Ohio Department of Development


1:50 pm — Break


2:00 pm — Strategies for Logistics & Supply Chain For Your Business

Randy Rhodes, Vice President of Operations, MES

Suzanna Zhu, SVP Supply Chain Operations, Bath & Body Works

Maxwell Posival, Advisor, PCMS Logistics

Vinita Mehra, Global Business Director, Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter


2:50 pm — Break


3:00 pm — Workforce Solutions for Your Business

Opal Brant, Director of Business Solutions, Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio

Tom Poole, Talent Acquisition Director, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Chris Ferruso, Legislative Director, National Federation of Independent Businesses

Kevin Boehner, Director of Small Business and Workforce Polity, Ohio Chamber of Commerce

Jeffery Johnson, Project Manager, Ohio Jobs & Family Services, Office of Workforce Development


4:00 pm – Closing Keynote – Mark Fleming, Senior Portfolio Manager, Fifth Third Bank


4:30 pm — Economic Summit Reception – Market 65 Restaurant – 65 East State Street, 1st Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215


5:00 pm — Remarks – Lt. Governor Jon Husted


7:00 pm — Reception Ends





Jon Husted

Lt. Governor
State of Ohio

Jon Husted started his life in a foster home before being adopted by his loving parents, Jim and Judy. He is the oldest of three children and was raised in Northwest Ohio’s Williams County. The small community instilled in him the importance of faith, family, and hard work that serve as the foundation of his public service. He graduated from Montpelier High School and earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Dayton (UD).

Jon was an All-American defensive back for the Dayton Flyers and a member of UD’s 1989 Division III National Championship Football Team. After receiving his Master’s Degree, Jon remained in the Miami Valley and served as the Vice-President for Economic Development at the Dayton-Area Chamber of Commerce.

Throughout his time in elected office, Jon has demonstrated repeatedly his ability to get things done that have a positive impact on Ohio and its residents.

As Secretary of State, Jon made it his mission to make Ohio the best state in the Midwest to do business by improving customer services and reducing wait times for entrepreneurs. Under his leadership, the state moved beyond week-long processing of paper forms and made it possible for businesses to interact with the state over the internet with the click of a button. He has also reduced the cost for starting a business in Ohio by 21 percent — making Ohio the least costly state in the Midwest to start and maintain a new business.

In 2017, Secretary Husted announced the efficiencies in his office had not only allowed him to cut the fees the state charged on Ohio entrepreneurs, but also eliminate the need for taxpayer funding for the government office entirely for the remainder of his term in office – a move that has saved taxpayers millions of dollars.

This record of cutting cost and saving money to Ohio’s taxpayers is nothing new. As House Speaker, Jon led the passage of the most conservative state budget in 40 years, which included at the time, the largest income tax cut in Ohio’s history.

Of all his responsibilities, Jon considers his most important role as that to be a loving husband to his wife Tina, and father to Alex, Katie and Kylie.

On November 6, 2018, Jon Husted was elected to serve as Lt. Governor of the State of Ohio. Husted also previously served as Ohio Secretary of State, Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, and a member of the Ohio Senate.

Frank LaRose

Secretary of State
State of Ohio

Frank LaRose became Ohio’s 51st Secretary of State on January 14, 2019, bringing to the office years of hard-earned leadership skills and public service developed as a U.S. Army Reservist, State Senator, U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret, and Eagle Scout.

As Secretary of State, he oversees a statewide constitutional office responsible for administering elections and incorporating new businesses. Secretary LaRose principally serves as the state’s chief elections officer, working with 88 county boards of elections to ensure the security, accuracy, and accessibility of Ohio’s voting process. In 2020, he helped guide the state through the unprecedented challenges of a presidential election conducted at the height of a global pandemic, successfully managing the highest voter turnout election in state history.

Secretary LaRose also positioned Ohio as a leader in election security and vulnerability assessment, putting more resources than ever into cybersecurity improvements, data retention, and post-election audit protocols. He created the office’s first Public Integrity Division, launching a bipartisan Election Integrity Task Force and empowering a full-time investigative unit to review alleged violations of state election laws. He authorized the most aggressive effort in the history of the office to ensure the accuracy of Ohio’s voter rolls, requiring regular audits of registration data and working with the state attorney general to prevent and potentially prosecute non-citizen voting activity. Secretary LaRose also modernized the office’s campaign finance disclosure system, improving the electronic accessibility and transparency of public reports, and he became one of just four secretaries of state nationwide to win a coveted award for innovative voter outreach and poll worker recruitment programs.

As the lead statewide agency responsible for helping businesses get organized and opened, Secretary LaRose’s administration assisted job creators in registering more new ventures than at any time in Ohio’s history. He also worked with the General Assembly to enact the most significant business modernization reform since 1994, providing new options for organizing LLCs and improving the office’s electronic filing system for business start-ups.

Prior to his election as Secretary of State, LaRose served as a member of the State Senate, where he led efforts to increase government transparency and efficiency, particularly in the areas of elections administration and regulatory reform. Among numerous recognitions, LaRose earned the Legislator of the Year award from the Ohio Association of Election Officials for his efforts to improve Ohio’s election process.

LaRose developed his strong work ethic and sense of responsibility at a young age while working on a small, family-owned farm in Northeast Ohio. After graduating from Copley High School, he fulfilled a lifelong dream of enlisting in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne, ultimately serving as a U.S. Special Forces Green Beret. During his decade in uniform around the globe, LaRose received numerous commendations and honors, including the Bronze Star. He continues to serve as an Army Reservist and helps to support his fellow veterans and advance the cause of patriotism as a member of the VFW and as a local board member for the Green Beret Foundation. LaRose graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in

Consumer Affairs and Business. A life-long Northeast Ohioan, he now lives in Central Ohio with his wife, Lauren, and their three daughters.


Maria Durant

News Anchor

Maria Durant is a six-time Emmy Award-Winning Reporter for ABC 6 and FOX 28 News.

She has also received numerous Associated Press Awards and has been honored with several awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.

She says she’s always wanted to be a reporter. When she was a little girl, she used to go around the neighborhood interviewing her neighbors. Then she’d send the tape to her grandparents so they could see where they lived. As the daughter of a Military Naval Officer the family moved often… so there were plenty of tapes mailed out.

Maria says she feels very privileged to be able to tell stories and to keep viewers informed about what is happening in their community.

A graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science little did Maria know she would someday become a news story herself.

Maria is a two-time Breast Cancer survivor. But instead of hiding her diagnosis, Maria shares her story in hopes of helping others.

Maria is involved with several cancer organizations … and as a Filipino she especially wants young Asian American Women to know that it can happen to them. But that early detection is the key.

Maria is also involved with many other community organizations such as the Asian Festival, Pelotonia, and At The Table.

Maria came to ABC 6 and FOX 28 after working in Huntington/Charleston, West Virginia.


Moniqua Spencer

Senior Vice President
Advantage Capital

Ms. Spencer is an experienced banking and finance professional. She is currently a Senior Vice President at Advantage Capital, a growth equity firm founded in 1992, with over $3.6 billion AUM.  The firm focuses on high growth and high wage business investing in communities where access to investment capital has historically been hard to find. As a member of the Investment team, Moniqua helps mid-sized companies access capital to facilitate growth and to create/retain jobs. 

Her defining moment in realizing her passion for working in underserved markets came when she served on the leadership team of a statewide community development organization. As the EVP of Lending and Programs, she was responsible for the administration, management, and deployment of multiple lending and grant programs. She further gained significant expertise with the New Markets Tax Credit Program, having been directly responsible for closing over $125MM in NMTC loans during her tenure.

Her banking experience includes retail, business banking, commercial real estate and community development. She received numerous awards for top sales production and portfolio revenue growth. She is often recognized for being featured in a television commercial that advertised the business banking services for a regional bank.

She is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where she received a bachelor’s of science in business administration, with a major in marketing.  She has continued studies through the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education series.   

Ms. Spencer is committed to making a difference in her community. She has served on multiple boards over the years primarily focused on underserved businesses and youth. Currently, she serves as Past-Chair of the Board of Directors for Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI), Board of Directors for Communities in Schools of Ohio, and was most recently appointed to the Board of Directors for The Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity (WCEO). 

In her spare time, she enjoys reading, music, and the arts. She is the proud mother of three children RJ, Alexis, and Nicholas.

Tiffany Whitner

Vice President
First Merchants Bank

Monica L. Womack

Chief, Minority Business Development Division
Ohio Department of Development

Monica L. Womack is the Chief for the Minority Business Development Division at the Ohio Department of Development
(Development). In her role, Monica provides vision and leadership to support the growth and sustainability of minority, women, and disadvantaged businesses in the state of Ohio. In doing so, she engages with strategic partners at all levels of government, develops private-sector partnerships, and listens to the needs of business owners.

Prior to her newest role, Monica served as an Associate Vice President with the Columbus Urban League. She provided leadership and operations oversight to both the Financial Empowerment Services department and the Workforce and Career Services department. In this role, Monica was able to leverage resources between programs to support constituents and business owners in the Central Ohio community.

Monica has a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Financial Management Services and a Master of Public Administration, both from Franklin University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in business administration with a focus on supporting the growth and sustainability of minority-owned businesses. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, and has one adult son, William Maynus II, who is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and lives in Lexington, Ky.


Randy Rhodes

VP of Operation, Global Sourcing, Transportation, and Engineering

Having been with the company since early 2011, Randy Rhodes is one of the earliest additions to the “MES Family” and an integral and driving part of MES’ growth.

As VP of Operation, Global Sourcing, Transportation, and Engineering, he is the interface with the company’s largest and most strategic suppliers and freight forwarders, while also coordinating with Global quality teams throughout the US, Mexico, Europe, China, India, and Vietnam.

Randy worked for Honda for over 15 years and has extensive experience in lean manufacturing, quality, project management and business development.

As manufacturing continues in constant transformation, along with COVID closures and transportation challenges, Randy understands the importance of developing North American sources with a direct eye on Mexico. While continuing to support MES supply chain initiatives, he works with different freight forwarders and trucking companies to create an environment of timely delivery with a mind on cost from MES sources.  

Randy has been fully involved in the strategic diversification of our supplier base in India, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Mexico taking advantage of the increased productivity and price competitiveness of each location. Thanks to Randy, MES has a large supplier database, out of which many suppliers have become preferred with periodic audits in place. Developing complex sourcing scorecards and supplier selection methodologies, Randy enabled MES to have a good understanding of the capabilities of each in terms of size, volumes, processes, commodities, and portfolios.  With the recent trend of re-shoring, Randy is pushing hard to develop suppliers in Mexico over multiple commodities to support MES customers’ requirements of domestic content and shorter supply chains.  

Susanna Zhu

SVP Supply Chain Operations
Bath & Body Works


Maxwell Posival

PCMS Logistics

Maxwell Posival is an experienced international trade and logistics professional. For the last 12 years, he has worked with small, medium, and large companies in managing their logistics and global procurement challenges. He currently is a Qualifying Individual (QI) and license holder for a Federal Maritime Commission Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier and have experience as a freight forwarder and as a cargo shipper. Maxwell has a proven track record in developing and managing new trade lanes for companies. Recently, he has been working with the Ohio Corn and Wheat Association in developing new markets overseas for Ohio farmers.

Vinita Mehra

Global Business Director
Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter

Vinita Mehra serves as leader of Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter’s Global Business practice and is qualified and licensed to practice law in both Ohio and India. Skilled in strategic counseling regarding the tax and legal issues important to clients considering expansion into other markets, Vinita advises corporate clients regarding a broad range of complex national and international corporate transactions and intellectual property issues. Vinita represents U.S. companies in international transactions on a wide variety of legal issues, including outsourcing agreements, joint ventures, tax structuring, mergers and acquisitions, project finance, licensing, intellectual property protection, management, and operational strategies, and more. She also counsels non-U.S. companies on the legal and tax issues pertaining to expanding their business operations in the U.S., and provides guidance on intellectual property commercialization, and on federal trade compliance issues such as export control regulations, FCPA and more.


Opal Brant

Director of Business Solutions
Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio

Opal is a talent strategist who loves to help companies attract and retain the best talent, while also helping individuals thrive in their career.  As the Director of Business Solutions with the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio (WDBCO), Opal leads a high-performing team that serves companies in the Central Ohio region.

In June 2019, she relocated to Ohio from Baltimore, MD. In Baltimore, she focused on talent management solutions and economic inclusion strategies at Johns Hopkins Health System in the Human Resources Office of Strategic Workforce Development. In her role, she spearheaded initiatives to help incumbent employees access career advancement opportunities within the system. She also led economic inclusion hiring projects partnering with local community-based agencies, local government, and non-profit organizations. With her visionary perspective on workforce development programs, Opal worked with current staff, community adults and youth to upgrade their skills focusing on development, engagement, and retention.

Opal started her role at WDBCO in 2019 as an associate director of business solutions. Within eight months, and in the start of a pandemic, she transitioned to the role of director. Two months later, she onboarded a high-performing dynamic business solutions team. Transitioning to leadership during such a tumultuous time in workforce gave her a unique perspective on methods to maintain internal and external motivation, innovation, and adaptability. Opal merges her passion for connecting people to purpose with her mission to help companies create an environment where people want to work, learn, and grow.

Chris Ferruso

Legislative Director – Ohio
National Federation of Independent Business

Chris Ferruso is the legislative director for NFIB’s Ohio overseeing public policy advocacy and government affairs for the organization’s 21,000 members statewide. He has been in this position since April of 2010.  Mr. Ferruso joined NFIB in April of 2007 as the Ohio Member Benefits Manager.  In this position he managed the administration and marketing of the NFIB member benefits program in Ohio as well as representing small employers on a state agency advisory council.  He currently serves as chair the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice, a coalition dedicated to improving and preserving a fair and balanced civil justice climate.  

He came to NFIB after four years in the office of then-Ohio State Senator Steve Stivers.  Mr. Ferruso first served as the administrative assistant to the senator before being promoted to the position of legislative assistant.    

Mr. Ferruso holds a degree in political science from the Ohio State University. He resides in Westerville with his wife Melissa and two sons Nicholas and Jack.

Kevin Boehner

Director, Small Business and Workforce Policy
Ohio Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Boehner currently serves as Director of Small Business and Workforce Policy at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. He has been in this role since 2018 and staffs the Ohio Chamber’s Ohio Small Business Council as well as their Education and Workforce Development Committee. Prior to joining the Ohio Chamber, Kevin worked at the Ohio House of Representatives for State Representative Jeffery Rezabek. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in political science with a minor in history. Kevin lives in the Columbus area with his wife and daughter.

Tom Poole

Talent Acquisition Director
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center


Jeffrey Johnson

Project Manager
Ohio Jobs & Family Services
Office of Workforce Development

Jeffrey Johnson is currently a Project Manager 2 for the Office of Workforce Development at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services where he is responsible for the statewide DEI outreach program.  

Prior to joining the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Jeffrey was the Chief of the Minority Business Development Division of the Ohio Department of Development. As Chief of the

Minority Development Business Division, Johnson works closely with the Minority Business Advisory Council and seven Minority Business Assistance Centers located around the state.

Previously, Johnson was the Vice President of Government and Non-Profit Lending at JP Morgan & Chase providing expertise in bonds, loans and tax credits. Johnson brings more than 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry, including 15 years’ experience working with government municipalities and community organizations. As an active member in his community, Johnson has served as a board member to the New Albany Joint Park District, New Albany Plain Local School

District and Columbus Urban League.  He is currently serving on the board of St. Vincent Family Services, as a member of the leadership team as Board Secretary, and as a commission member on the MLK Holiday Commission.  

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and a master’s degree of business administration from DePaul University Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. He and his family reside in New Albany, Ohio.



Mark Fleming, CFA

Senior Portfolio Manager
Fifth Third Bank

Mark serves as a portfolio manager, managing assets for families, business owners, corporate executives, and other working professionals.

He started his career at Fifth Third Private Bank as an equity trader in 2007. Mark moved into roles in equity research and strategy in 2009, where he developed the bank’s quantitative models used for stock selection and is a member of the bank’s investment committee. Prior to Fifth Third, he worked for JPMorgan Asset Management in Columbus, and from 2012-2015, he served as vice president at FSI Group, a long/short equity hedge fund and community bank-focused private equity firm.

Mark was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and has lived in several locations throughout the Midwest. He currently lives in Westerville, Ohio, with his wife and three sons.

Mark graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Business Administration concentrated in Finance and Bachelor of Science in Economics.




Register Here

$59.00 for AACG
$99.00 for Non-members


Lt Governor Jon Husted will be our Keynote Speaker at the reception.

Register Here For The Reception

$10.00 for AACG
$15.00 for Non-members