Ascend Long Island

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Christopher Bennett
Diversity Compliance Manager within MTA Construction & Development

Christopher currently reports directly to the Chief Administration Officer of MTA Construction & Development, in the Operations department. 

Prior to this position he served as the MWBE/SDVOB Procurement Compliance Manager for the Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority (MTA) for six years reporting directly to the Agency’s General Counsel and Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer. He has over 23 years of specialized legal, sales and procurement experience. Having worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Inc., Verizon Telecommunications and the N.YC. Department of Education. He also served as the Director of Business Development for the Urban League of Bergen County, New Jersey. Mr. Bennett has worked as an Adjunct Professor at Metropolitan College of New York, in Tribeca, teaching courses in Conflict Resolution, Negotiation, Business Law and Managerial Writing. Mr. Bennett currently reports directly to the Chief Administration Officer of MTA Construction & Development, in the Operations department. He has been recognized as one of the “Next Generation Leaders of Diversity” in his field by the Diversity Agenda Magazine (October 2018). Additionally, he has serves on the MTA Bridges & Tunnels Diversity Council. Mr. Bennett is active in many community, civic, and professional organizations. He is particularly committed to causes promoting education, business and politics. He served three terms (six years) on the Board of Trustees for Roseville Community Charter School in Newark N.J. Chairing the Governance committee. He is a member of the Deacon Board at Trinity Baptist Church in Hackensack N.J. and He is an alum of the Bergen Leads leadership program and as a result was selected as part of the Host Committee for the NY/NJ 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey. HE e is an active member of the Founding chapter of 100 Black Men of New York and a Lifetime member of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc initiated through Gamma Chapter. Bennett also supports Tri-Arc Community Development Corporation as an advisor. He received his Bachelors of Arts from Tufts University graduating with a double major in English and Philosophy and his Juris Doctor from Hofstra University School of Law.
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Dean Bennett
President/CEO of J.K. Bennett and Associates, Inc.

Dean is the President/CEO of J.K. Bennett and Associates, Inc. (JKB), a New York-based management consulting firm.

Dean E. Bennett is the President/CEO of J.K. Bennett and Associates, Inc. (JKB), a New York-based management consulting firm established in 2010. JKB specializes in business development, supplier diversity management, government relations and securing procurement opportunities in the public and private sector. JKB is proud to be a NYS Certified Minority-Owned Business Enterprise. After heading up his firm, Mr. Bennett was appointed in 2011 by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at Empire State Development (ESD) as Executive Director of the Division for Minority and Women Business Development (DMWBD.) In his role of executive director, Mr. Bennett was responsible for the development of the statewide MWBE procurement policy as requested by Article 15A of the executive law. He was selected to provide the leadership reflective of the MWBE economic development goals of the Cuomo Administration. The Division’s key objectives were to encourage and assist over 110 New York State agencies and authorities that engaged in contracting activities to award a fair share of state contracts to MWBEs; to review applications submitted by businesses seeking MWBE certification; to maintain a directory of certified MWBEs to promote the business development of MWBEs through training and technical assistance, outreach efforts to state agencies and MWBEs; and to facilitate administrative adjudication of disputes related to Article 15A. Mr. Bennett also served as Director of Equal Employment Opportunity and Deputy Director for the Office of Minority Affairs for Nassau County, where he was charged with overseeing MWBE outreach and compliance for over 40 different government agencies in Nassau County. As part of these responsibilities, Dean served as project manager of the first Disparity Study in the history of Nassau County. Mr. Bennett has a Business Management/Economics degree from Hofstra University as well as a Masters of Science in Human Resources from the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees Long Island Chapter for Career Opportunities for Accounting Professionals sponsored by the NY State Society of CPA’s and he is active in the Nassau County First Tee Program. Dean serves on the Board of Regents for NYUWinthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY. He has served on the East Woods School Board of Trustees in Oyster Bay, New York and has been a member of the Hofstra University Alumni Board. Mr. Bennett resides in Baldwin, New York with his wife and three children.
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Vanessa Best
CEO, Precision HealthCare

Vanessa is an award-winning CEO, executive consultant, and keynote speaker dedicated to excellence.

Vanessa is passionate about underserved, disadvantaged, people with disabilities, minorities, and empowering women. She has led her team working with healthcare systems (private, state and federal) to maximize reimbursements thru cutting-edge revenue cycle solutions along with physician advisory services. The federal division supports The US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy to “Drive Change and Create Opportunity” for employees with disabilities throughout US Health and Human Services (HHS). The Construction Division helps prime contractors keep their employees safe thru Precisions Safety Training Programs. Vanessa Best serves as a champion and advocate with focus on underserved Minority and Women Owned businesses (MWBE). Initiatives include: Women Entrepreneurs of New York City (WeNYC); SBA Nationwide Emerging Leaders Program; HealthCare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge and the Chase Foundation Ascend @ Hofstra University.
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Laura Fetter
Senior Assistant Dean, Center for Entrepreneurship

Laura is the Senior Assistant Dean and Entrepreneurial Assistance Center (EAC) Program Director for the Scott Skodnek Business Development Center (BDC) and Center for Entrepreneurship.

Laura Fetter is the Senior Assistant Dean and Entrepreneurial Assistance Center (EAC) Program Director for the Scott Skodnek Business Development Center (BDC) and Center for Entrepreneurship planning and implementing programs and events for the EAC. Additionally, Laura provides technical assistance to business owners completing and submitting the New York State Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) application. Laura earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hofstra University.
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Barbara Roberts
Entrepreneur in Residence

Barbara is Entrepreneur in Residence at both Columbia Business School and Hofstra University. 

Barbara B. Roberts is Entrepreneur in Residence at both Columbia Business School and Hofstra University. She is also former NY Chair of Tiger 21 and a speaker and writer about all stages of entrepreneurship, family businesses and the economic progress of women. An economist by training, previously Barbara held senior positions on Wall Street and was the first woman to serve on Dean Witter's board of directors. Barbara also served as president and CEO at the stock photography company, FPG International, now part of Getty Images and at the museum audio tour company, Acoustiguide. Barbara has served as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Small Business and Agricultural Advisory Committee and as a member of the Suffolk County NY Planning Commission. As an Entrepreneur in Residence for over ten years, she has helped to launch hundreds of start ups, is an active angel investor and serves on the boards of several private companies. Barbara is the author of four whitepapers about entrepreneurs: Life after an Exit, The Owner's Journey, Women's Entrepreneurial Journeys and Flightpaths. She is certified as a master business coach by the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara and trained in facilitation and mediation. Barbara has an Economics and Philosophy degree from Goucher College.
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BOC Network

Business Outreach Center Network’s mission is to improve the economic prospects of traditionally underserved groups, with a focus on low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs and their communities, and thereby create genuinely brighter futures.

Get one-on-one advisory services in the following areas: Credit evaluation and repair – Our counselors will work with you to identify and maximize key personal and business credit opportunities. Receive a customized credit action plan to get your credit score to where it needs to be to meet your business financing goals. Loan readiness – Get your business ready for financing! Our team will walk you through financing options and what lenders look for. You’ll learn how to present your business to lenders to increase your chances of receiving a small business loan. Financial management – Learn how to manage your business finances and form positive cash flow with the help of our team. Gain business bookkeeping best practices and avoid costly drawbacks before they happen to you. Financial statement preparation – Master how to collect and publish key business financial statements including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.
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