President’s Remarks – April 9, 2014 Annual Meeting

Good afternoon!

Thank you to Toyota and South Coast Paper for their support. Toyota has been a strong supporter of the Council and are not just members of this Council but a valued national member of the NMSDC.

Kenny Loyd reached out to me some months ago and attended a meeting we had for MBEs and expressed an interest in getting involved with us and we certainly appreciate his support.

This month marks my third year with the Council.  I can vividly remember my first Business Opportunity Fair, only having been on the job for a matter of days and I remember attending the Annual Meeting. I walked into a conference room that had seating for about 30-40 people.

The board chair called the meeting to order, introduced a slate of officers, called for a vote and adjourned the meeting – all in less than 15 minutes! I looked at my staff and said, “that’s it”?

I made my first note and I wrote, “expand the annual meeting to a real meeting”.

After the trade show we had a “debriefing” and we walked through all of the components of the two days.  We started with the workshops, then moved through the entire calendar of events which included the annual meeting, the exhibits, welcome reception and the luncheon….and we made some changes.

Change is never easy – especially when you have been doing something the same way for a long time.  Things were going well BUT, they could be better.  There’s always room for improvement and growth.

We put the Annual Meeting on the first day of the BOF – extended it from 15 minutes to around an hour and half and developed a full program – what you see today.  We opened it up to the public – we invited community stakeholders and we shared information – we made it into what an annual meeting should be.  We moved the workshops from the first day to the second day in the morning so that the day would flow better – from workshops, to the luncheon to the exhibits.  We utilized technology – encouraging people to register for the workshops so that our presenters and facilitators had an idea as to who would be in attendance and we added a little twist to the corporate luncheon speaker.  We decided that our speaker didn’t always have to be someone talking about supplier diversity but instead it could be someone that could offer insight and perspectives to us on a larger scale. In a nutshell – we changed.

When I started with the Council we were in the beginning stages of NMSDC’s strategic plan – so literally, when I walked in the door, I was faced with change.  Rather than fight it, I embraced it.

Tony Robbins said, “Change is inevitable, progress is optional.”

I volunteered to serve on strategic plan implementation committees and offered my assistance as needed to the national organization.  I decided to be part of the process, not part of the problem ….and trust me, there were problems along the way.  Our board of directors decided to embrace the change as well and supported the efforts of the NMSDC – Many of them also serving in advisory capacities and on committees as well.

In October 2012, members of our board and staff attended the national conference in Denver, CO where we learned that the NMSDC had decided that 12 councils would be eliminated by the end of 2013.

That was quite a shock to all of us but after the initial shock wore off, we were able to see that it was for the betterment of the network and so again, we embraced the change – well, most of us.

All of 2013 proved to be very challenging as we were paired with the Councils that we would merge with. For me personally, for our board and our staff we had a particularly difficult road ahead as the merger process proved to be contentious at best.

Some of you may know that I wrote a book in 2008 – it is my autobiography, titled “Unflappable” .  Unflappable means “having or showing calmness in a crisis”.  One of my former bosses described me as being “unflappable under pressure” in an interview he did about me when I made the decision to leave corporate America in 2005 to spend more time with my then infant son and to move to the Cincinnati area with my family.  I had never thought of myself as being unflappable but,  it’s a pretty accurate definition of my personality….but I will tell you, 2013 and this restructuring and merger definitely put my unflappability to the test!

We got through a process – it was not the process that was designed for us by the national organization and ultimately, they had to intervene to make a decision as to which Council would be the lead Council to move the new territory forward.  The former Indiana Council was selected as the go forward council but only after our board’s leadership was called into question by those who were determined to fight NMSDC in this process and after my leadership as President was also questioned by those who chose to engage in an effort to derail the process that had been thoughtfully laid out.  Ultimately, there was no merger – there was instead an expansion of territory that still would achieve the objectives of strengthening the network and providing a higher level of service to our constituents.  While the process was difficult, we never lost site of what our mission is and throughout the entire process we were honest, fair and 100 percent transparent and chose not to “major in the minors” because we recognized that what NMSDC was asking us to do wasn’t personal – it was for the greater good of serving our corporate members and MBEs.

Damage was done, relationships were affected but we continue to reach out to our constituents in the hopes that you all can see the bigger picture and know that we are here to serve you.

All that being said, I had to find some humor to keep me sane while going through this process and I ran across this comic that expresses how I felt perfectly.

I am not sure if you can read it on the screen but the caption says, “No more mergers until I get this one cleaned up” because it was a mess!

I do want to take an opportunity to thank our board of directors for their support and for their participation in the process last year.  I specifically want to thank our executive committee Ken Beteet, Michael Jennings, Tim Blagsvedt, James Duke, Debra Simmons Wilson and David Gadis;  our merger committee chaired by Brenda Burke which included Jesse Moore, Alan Johnson, Rob Halter, Debra Simmons Wilson, James Duke and Joe Smith.  Our consultants, Dave Sternberg  and Nick Parkevich from Loring & Sternberg, attorney Dave Blachly of Densborn Blachly LLP and the Integration Team who you will hear more about shortly AND the Mid-States staff for their patience and support.

Now that we have a new identity and an expanded footprint this is what we look like:

First, our name.  Over the years this council has had a few different names.  We were the Indiana Business Diversity Council or IBDC – we were the Indiana Regional Minority Supplier Development Council or IRMSDC, then we were the Indiana Minority Supplier Development Council or IMSDC.  Now, we are the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council.  Many of you have already taken it upon yourselves to determine the acronym for us – because it is a mouthful.  I have seen and heard us referred to as MSMSDC, MMSDC and a few other variations but if you want to use the acronym, the correct one is the Mid-States MSDC.  Can I get everyone to say it with me?  Mid-States MSDC.

The National organization is rebranding as well.  I just returned from Washington DC yesterday where NMSDC unveiled the new national brand and logo along with the new branded identities for the regional affiliates.  All of those new logos will be implemented across the network next month.

We are headquartered, here in Indianapolis with a regional office and staff in St. Louis.

Many of you will remember that we had an office in Evansville for many years that was generously donated to us by St. Mary’s.  We have closed that office but we still have one staff person who is based in Evansville to ensure that our corporate members and MBEs still have support and we continue to hold events in the Evansville area as well.

The Indianapolis office will be staffed by five – myself, our Executive Vice President, Ivan Baird, a director of corporate relations (to be hired in 2015), our executive project manager Denika Thomas and a new hire – Kay Williams, our executive assistant.

The St. Louis office is staffed by our newly hired executive director Rhonda Carter Adams and she will be hiring an executive assistant and an assistant director of MBE services soon and as previously mentioned, we still have one staff person in Evansville and that is Lynn Kirkland, our director of MBE services.

We are confident that the current staff and those soon to be hired will continue to provide you with the support that you need and we look forward to growing together.

Thank you.

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