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2023 Winner

Lee Lewis, Jr., Highmark Health

Lee E. Lewis, Jr. is the Director of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion at Highmark Health, based in Pittsburgh. Lee joined the organization in April of 2021 and is responsible for the pursuit of robust goals to create remarkable health care experiences by leading the pursuit of mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses owned by diverse leaders that will enrich and empower the communities it serves. Prior to joining Highmark Health, Lee led a multiple award-winning program as Global Supplier Diversity Manager for the world’s largest and most successful car rental company.

Managing eleven billion dollars in diverse spend, he has been recognized by organizations such as WeConnect International, the Airport Minority Advisory Council and Small Business Monthly magazine. Lee received BBA from Texas Southern University and earned MAR, MDiv and Doctorate of Ministry degrees from Liberty University. Over the years, he has served on numerous
boards and committees of community based and national advocacy organizations and is a co-founder of the St. Louis Supplier Diversity Professionals Network.

View Lee's Acceptance Speech

2023 Winner

Lawrence B. Wooten, American Water

Lawrence (Larry) Wooten: has over 30 years of supply chain and supplier diversity experience. Reporting to the Chief Procurement Officer Larry of American Water leads the company’s supplier diversity strategy across the business.

Prior to joining American Water Works Inc. Larry held leadership positions with: United Rentals North America, The Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council (WRMSDC), Pitney Bowes Inc. , MeadWestvaco, Time Warner Corp. and Sikorsky Aircraft (Subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.) His responsibilities varied in nature depending on the state of the supplier diversity program, from building programs from the ground up to enhancing and reinvigorating an existing programs, Larry has exceeded expectations and built a reputation as someone who takes personal responsibility for the success of the supplier diversity process

Larry spent the majority of his professional career with United Technologies Corporation (UTC), Sikorsky Aircraft Division. He held various positions of leadership throughout his time with Sikorsky, including Strategic Sourcing Manager, Program Manager, Requirements Planning Manager and Supplier Diversity Manager. Providing leadership and management of annual spend of $900 million to ensure diverse suppliers had the opportunity to compete for contracts awards. Lawrence was the lead advocate to ensure the company achieved both internal and external goals associated with U.S. Government contracts. Larry also held the position of Commodity Manager with the responsibility of managing annual raw materials spend of $30 million.

View Larry's Acceptance Speech

2022 Winner

George Robinson, UPMC

George Robinson II is Director of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion for UPMC. He joined UPMC in April 2018 to enhance strategic planning and execution in the UPMC Supplier Diversity Program. Robinson brings to this position over 20 years of experience in Business and Engineering Administration, Government Management and Diverse Business Development. Prior to joining UPMC, he was responsible for the creation of Development (Real Estate) Services Group as Manager of Development Services for The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA). Before relocating to Pittsburgh in 2013, Robinson last served as Deputy Director of Public Utilities for the City of Toledo, Ohio and managing the city’s $521 million Federal Consent Order engineering and construction program (The Toledo Waterways Initiative).

Mr. Robinson presently serves on several local boards, including Life’s Work, Engineering Society of Western Pennsylvania, Southwest Pennsylvania Engineers Outreach (SPEO), Riverside Center of Innovation, RiverLife, Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council (EMSDC), Laurel Highlands Boy Scouts of America, and the Pittsburgh Historical Landmarks Foundation, among others.

Mr. Robinson is graduate of the inaugural cohort of The Advanced Leadership Initiative (TALI) Executive Leadership Academy held in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The Academy is an eight-month executive development certificate program provided by the Tepper School of Business focused on building the pipeline of African-American executives in the Pittsburgh region. A Toledo, Ohio native, he previously completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical and Environmental Engineering, an MBA with specialization in Operations Management, and Ph. D studies (ABD) in Higher Education Leadership at the University of Toledo (Ohio).

View George's Acceptance Speech

2021 Winner

Chuck Stefanosky, Independence Blue Cross

Chuck Stefanosky is director of Strategic Sourcing and Procurement at Independence Blue Cross. In this role, he develops and executes sourcing and supply chain strategies to improve the company's processes while supporting Independence’s 30+ year commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Over the course of his two decades with Independence, Stefanosky has shown a deep commitment to advancing diverse businesses and bolstering Independence’s longstanding and impactful supplier diversity program. His work helps to create opportunities for growth among businesses that are owned and controlled by women, veterans, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community.

During Stefanosky’s tenure, the company saw a number of key milestones, including:
• The launch of an African American Supplier Mentoring program
• Landmark spending with diverse businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community
• Award recognition for the company’s commitment to supplier diversity

Prior to joining Independence in 2002, Stefanosky held management positions at DecisionOne, Roy F. Weston Laboratory, and Delaware Container.
Stefanosky is a sought-after advisor and speaker on best-in-class supplier diversity programs. He earned a master’s degree from Penn State and a bachelor’s degree from Gannon University.

View Chuck's Acceptance Speech

2021 Winner

Heather Herndon Wright, VISTRA Corp.

Heather Herndon Wright has served as a Supply Chain Diversity Professional for 32 years in the Private, Public and Non-Profit Sectors as well as a being a certified WBE where she Executive Produced the Eagle Award Winning documentary “BUSINESS: America’s Game – Where are the Women?” and the book, The Seeds of Success. She is a Master Compliance Administrator, a Certified Professional In Supplier Diversity and a Certified Professional in Supply Management and currently serves as the Director of Supply Chain Diversity & Sustainability for Vistra Corp. This role leads the effort for the development, promotion, and oversight of a national strategy and architecture to increase the inclusion and growth of both Diverse and Small Business Enterprises across the supply chain from Suppliers to Channel Partners. It also has responsibility for ensuring Vistra suppliers have Environmental, Social and Governance policies in alignment with Vistra’s objectives.

She also serves on the board of Directors for the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the DFW Minority Supplier Development Council and serves as Chair of the National Association of Veteran Owned Businesses Board of Directors.

She loves to dance, loves the Lord and is madly in love with her husband Randolph Wright, their 3 children, 4 grandchildren and her grand dog Geronimo!

View Heather's Acceptance Speech

2020 Winner

George Ehrgott, CTDI

George Ehrgott had been responsible for Strategic Sourcing and Supplier Diversity at Communications Test Design, Inc – a global high-tech company. George started with CTDI in 1980 when they were but a small business and has grown with the company – being responsible for the development of Procurement, Materials Management, and their Supplier Diversity Program. He has been the Chairperson of the WBEC of PA/DE/sNJ (now WBEC-East), Certification Committee Chair (and still active on the Committee), part of the Program Committee, and on a number of WBENC national committees. He was honored by WBENC as a He4She Champion in 2017.

Along with his work in our Council, he participates in the WBE Canada Certification Committee, played leadership roles in the technology industry’s Supplier Diversity group now known as tech:SCALE, and was a Board of Director for the EMSDC for a number of years.

Married with three children – family, music, and great food are the important pieces to understand his life.

View George's Acceptance Speech

2019 Winner

Ajamu Johnson, Comcast NBCUniversal

Nominator Peggy Gionta of Partner's Consulting shared that Ajamu Johnson's support and mentorship has been instrumental to her company's success in developing a stronger client relationship with Comcast NBCUniversal. According to Pegggy, Ajamu is a great mentor who is always willing to answer a question or provide coaching. He is truly “present” and makes himself available, which is a testament to his commitment to increasing diversity within his organization.

Photo Caption (left to right):
  ▫ Awardee - Ajamu Johnson, Comcast NBCUniversal
  ▫ Nominator - Peggy Gionta, Partner's Consulting

2018 Winner

Anna Hakobyan, AstraZeneca/MedImmune

Nominator Cynthia Towers of JURISolutions noted that Anna Hakobyan has been a game changer for her both personally and professionally, especially because of her passion, commitment, high standards and unparalleled business acumen. Anna always goes well beyond matching WBEs with current opportunities. According to Cindy, she gets to know the WBEs and when she finds a company she feels she can help, she blazes a trail for them to gain access to opportunities within the organization.

Photo Caption:
  ▫ Awardee - Anna Hakobyan, Government Compliance & Supplier Diversity Lead,     AstraZeneca/MedImmune

2017 Winner

Loren Hopkins-Taylor, DuPont

“We recognize that when WBEs are introduced into our supply chain, the result is a sustainable, diverse and inclusive supply chain that mirrors our employee base and creates value both for DuPont and our local economy.” - Loren Hopkins-Taylor

Photo Caption (left to right):
  ▫ Nominator - Peggy DelFabbro, M.Davis & Sons, Inc.
  ▫ Awardee - Loren Hopkins-Taylor, DuPont
  ▫ Amy Holland, WBEC Awards Chair, The Day & Zimmerman Group, Inc.

2016 Winner

Manuel A. Diaz, Johnson & Johnson

“I believe that Supplier Diversity is a competitive advantage, enabling corporations to conduct business in wider geographies and to more effectively identify and address customer needs - it is a business imperative for corporations who wish to remain in the forefront of innovation.” - Manny Diaz

Photo Caption (left to right):
  ▫ Tabitha Stanislaw, Chair, WBEC PA-DE-sNJ
  ▫ Awardee - Manuel A. Diaz, Associate Director, R&D Quality & Compliance Operations,
    Johnson & Johnson
  ▫ Nominator - Barbara Bosha, President, Bosha Design+Communications
  ▫ Amy Holland, WBEC Awards Chair, Buyer & Supplier Diversity Administrator,
    The Day & Zimmerman Group, Inc.

2015 Winner

Narciso “Pat” Patterson, Verizon Communications

According to Peggy Del Fabbro, nominator, the relationship between M. Davis & Sons and Verizon has helped her grow as a leader in her company. One of the most important statements that she could make about him is that he does what he says he’s going to do – in her book, that’s everything. Nominator Cindy Towers also said Pat has worked tirelessly to identify key decision makers in the legal space and has arranged for meetings with very influential stakeholders. Throughout their business relationship, Pat has “been extraordinarily proactive as opposed to just reactionary.”

Photo Caption (left to right):
  ▫ Nominator - Cynthia Towers, JURISolutions, Inc.
  ▫ Awardee - Narciso “Pat” Patterson, Verizon Communications
  ▫ Nominator - Peggy Del Fabbro, M. Davis & Sons, Inc.

2014 Winner

L. Jay Burks, Comcast Corporation

According to Fran Friedman Griesing, nominator, L. Jay Burks goes above and beyond the usual steps to identify, encourage, mentor support and promote WBE firms within his company and beyond. He is genuinely eager to support WBEs and his enthusiasm for his role is unique. His energy and efforts to advocate within his own company and to others has made a significant difference. Kathie O'Donnell, nominator, referred to him as "Superman," reflecting both his mild-mannered demeanor as well as his ability to remove obstacles. Superman is a tireless worker. The easiest path to boost his WBE spend numbers would be to limit his efforts to larger WBEs, but L. Jay is the guy who has time for the small fry, says Kathie. Passion is often an overused word, but it is fitting to describe his approach to his job.

Photo Caption: (left to right)
  ▫ Nominator - Fran Friedman Griesing, Partner, Griesing Law, LLC
  ▫ Awardee - L. Jay Burks, Supplier Diversity Manager, Comcast Corporation
  ▫ Nominator - Kathie O'Donnell, Principal, Corporate Distribution Ltd.

2013 Winner

Deborah Morgan, Johnson & Johnson

“I am honored and blessed to receive the Advocate of the Year award from the Women’s Business Enterprise Council. Working with Bosha Design is a model for collaboration and teamwork.” - Deborah Morgan

Photo Caption (left to right):
  ▫ Nominator - Barbara Bosha, President, Bosha Design, Inc.
  ▫ Advocate Award Winner, Deborah Morgan, Associate Director, Quality Systems and Strategy,
     Johnson & Johnson.

2012 Winner

Sue Kozik, Independence Blue Cross

"Always striving to identify the ideal solution, the nominee provides a level playing field for suppliers, offering ample opportunities for WBEs to come to the table to share their ideas, insights and proposals. Forward-thinking in every sense of the word, she recognizes that the IT field still has a long way to go in terms of gender equality, and she is cognizant of the need to get WBEs involved in the conversation." - Peggy Gionta

Photo Caption: (left to right)
  ▫ Nominator - Peggy Gionta, President, Partners Consulting
  ▫ Awardee - Sue Kozik, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of
    Independence Blue Cross

2011 Winner

Dennis Voulopos, Johnson & Johnson

“I am greatly honored to receive the WBEC Advocate Award and I must say quite surprised. To me I have always believed in strong professional relationships to drive outstanding results and to also always give everyone an opportunity because you never know where the next best idea will be coming from. People to me have always been a company’s best asset that is never fully utilized.” - Dennis Voulopos

Photo Caption: (left to right)
  ▫ Awardee - Dennis Voulopos, Manager of Procurement operations, Johnson & Johnson,
    Lititz Manufacturing facility
  ▫ Nominator - Patricia Frances, President, Chaucer Press