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Different By Design

SEPT 4,5,6


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Corporate Member
Listed MBE
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NonProfit / Gov't Agency


GATEWAY is the Gulf South's premier annual business conference for corporations, government, nonprofits, and minority business enterprises. This two-day event draws hundreds from across the United States to New Orleans, Louisiana, providing a venue for thought-provoking discussions, relevant training, efficient matchmaking and recognition of the region's first in class businesses.


This year our theme is DIFFERENT BY DESIGN. Last year we were focused on helping people THINK DIFFERENTLY. This year we are implementing new ways to get more ethnic minority businesses engaged with the SRMSDC so we can intentionally drive more diverse supplier spend.  

Why Should You Attend?

To network. One massive reason for attending GATEWAY is to meet with likeminded people and industry peers. GATEWAY brings together people from all different geographical areas who share a common interest – supporting diverse suppliers who in turn support our regional economy.


To expand your field of knowledge. At GATEWAY, you will undoubtedly learn something new.  It may be a new technique, a unique opportunity, or a new way of handling a business issue.


To learn from BIG thinkers and leaders. GATEWAY gives both entrepreneurs and corporate professionals a platform to share their thoughts, perspective, and ideas with a variety of people from similar, related, or completely different industries.


Expand your network of influence. It may not seem like a significant thing, but GATEWAY is an excellent way for you to meet new people regionally.  We pull a vast number of large regional and national corporations, ethnic minority business owners, civic and government leaders together under one roof.  It doesn’t matter if you are a CPO of a large multinational company or an emerging business, you may meet someone at a meal function, in the exhibit hall or at a reception that could positively impact your business.


Get Immersed & Inspired.  We are changing what it means to interact with people at a conference.  Today, people want to be inspired, and once they are inspired, they are engaged.  We are creating an experience to help people get inspired again about diversity and the business of diversity.  

The Speakers



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Mark Lewis 

Managing Director, Communiqué 

Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Mark received his BS degree in Finance from Boston College and an MBA in Marketing from Tulane. He joined IBM in 1981 and received many awards including Rookie of the Year in the Southern Region and a Golden Circle award in 1988. Mark voluntarily left IBM in February 1994 and helped formed Communiqué, a New Orleans based Internet Service Provider (ISP).  Mark has self-published two Give A Damn books with the most recent book called, GIVE A DAMN! – The Ticket to Cultural Change”(  As a recent #1 Amazon best-selling author, GIVE A DAMNdiscusses the challenges facing society and business, how we got to where we are today, what needs to be done, and how a GIVE A DAMNattitude can make a difference, both professionally and personally

Blanca Robinson

Founder and owner of VIVA Consulting Group

Blanca is a strong advocate of small businesses, a dynamic presenter, an experienced trainer in the areas of business strategy and leadership development. She has an extensive background in corporate America encompassing 20 years, followed by 18 years in non-profit executive management as former President of the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South. This formed a well-rounded career that developed and strengthened her leadership skills while sharpening her analytical, communication, and presentation skills. 


VIVA Consulting Group is a professional consulting company that works with business leaders and executives to provide strategic solutions that focus on the best ways to improve performance and the bottom line. 







Chuck Faush

President of the FSE Company

Erskine “Chuck” Faush is CEO of The FSE Company, an experiential marketing company helping both public and private companies to focus, find solutions and drive engagement. Crafting and curating Alabama’s largest innovation and entrepreneurial event that annually gives seed and startup capital now exceeding $200M in valuations and in cooperation with the immediate past President of the US Conference of Mayors, launching THE YARD HBCU infrastructure, innovation and inclusion platform awarding $1M in scholarships, internships and fellowships are two of Chuck’s 2019 highlights. 


2010 -2015, Chuck served as Mayor’s Chief of Staff, City of Birmingham which experienced workforce and economic growth with transformational projects in public and private sectors garnering global “resurgence” media attention.  


Following City Hall, he returned to his passion and led the newly created entertainment division for Summit Media, owner and operator of radio stations across the southeast and as President developed Diversity & Inclusion experiences. As a veteran broadcaster with more than 1,000 plus hours in front of and behind the camera and numerous award-winning marketing campaigns, Chuck has a unique vantage point that shapes new experiences.

Nenette Gray

CEO/Founder of Lemonade Creative Marketing, LLC

Nenette Gray is a speaker and Founder/CEO of Lemonade Creative Marketing, LLC, a promotional marketing agency. Her company focuses on helping businesses maximize the return on their promotional marketing dollars using branded promotional merchandise, print and packaging. Nenette spent nearly 20 years working with Fortune 500 companies in Marketing Management and as an award-winning Sales Consultant. In 2010, her company laid her off along with 1,400 colleagues. At that time she decided to turn the lemons of losing her pharmaceutical career into lemonade! In September 2010, she founded Lemonade where she brings her positive energy and zest for marketing to her clients.




Jonathan Kobe

Systems Engineer – Fortinet

Jonathan brings over 18 years of experience to Fortinet, specializing in leveraging his cross-practice experience in assessing and securing complex enterprise networks. Before Fortinet, he was a Consulting Systems Engineer for a large U.S. technology partner. He is a Louisiana State University graduate with a BS in psychology and a minor in electrical engineering.

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Dr. Valerie D.W. James



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Chief Leadership, Learning and Efficiency Officer of VisionSpot Consulting Group

Clients, peers, former administration, and staff have called Dr. Valerie D. W. James the architect of accelerated learning, leadership, and operational efficiency strategist for companies, and professionals whose aim is to take their careers, teams and organizations higher. She is the Founder of VisionSpot Consulting Group, LLC, home of the SMB School of Leadership BOOST CAMP®. A business management firm with a national reach. She is a Harvard trained leader and author of four works: three books on leadership and one on professional development.


Dr. Valerie has been studying, assessing, and researching organizational management and leadership practices since 1994. She spent over two decades, leading sales, service, and human resources teams, and her tenure includes nine years at middle management and seven years of executive-level leadership in human resources and administration management. 


Her aptitude for leadership effectiveness, talent development, and process improvement strategies help expand the knowledge, growth, and engagement of employees at all levels. Dr. Valerie’s advice is highly sought-after by current and future leaders, as well as C-level executives. She has studied leadership abroad and holds a doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University. 

Dr. Valerie has received numerous leadership and service awards for streamlining processes, building continuity between leaders and their teams, and increasing customer and employee retention levels well into the 80th percentile, along with accolades for designing and launching leadership and organizational learning and training centers across the globe. 

Greg Dyer

Regional Director, PSCM, Gulf of Mexico, BP

Supply Chain professional with 23 years of procurement and supply chain management experience in the oil and gas, chemicals, and alternative energy industries. Deep global experience in category strategy development, supplier management, contracting, negotiations, market intelligence, counterparty due diligence, and operational procurement. Additional experience in inventory management, project management, and system implementation (SAP, Ariba).


Experienced leader of direct and indirect teams (up to 80 indirect reporting lines). Well regarded for values and behaviors. Strong influencer and communicator. Excellent relationship management skills, active project management, and efficient in the use of various systems.


Strong performance/execution delivery bias with excellent performance history with a track record of exceeding delivery year on year. I have achieved through individual and team performance value-added (Expense, Capital, Revenue Enhancement, and Working Capital) savings for BP over $500m net.




Kamal l. Latham

CEO of U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority

Kamal I. Latham has helped facilitate over $5 billion in economic growth throughout his nearly 20 years of combined experience as a non-profit executive, entrepreneur, Fortune 500 adviser, U.S. diplomat, and Wall Street financial analyst. 


Latham advanced numerous successful initiatives during his career including facilitating over 70 business growth recommendations being adopted by local governments in Florida, designing a strategy resulting in millions of dollars in new revenue for a Fortune 500 company, helping negotiate a multi-billion dollar trade deal between the United States and China, securing European support for a multi-million dollar Middle East/North Africa investment program, and helping raise approximately one billion dollars in debt and equity capital for financial services corporations. 

Born and raised in New York City, Latham earned a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Temple University. He has lived and worked in North America, Europe, and Asia. Latham is a two-time recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Meritorious Honor Award for his role in brokering bilateral trade agreements. He and his wife Jonnel have a son and daughter. 

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Summary Agenda


4:00 - 6:00 pm

Early Registration

6:00 - 8:00 pm

AMERICAN RED CROSS - 'Sound The Alarm' Fire Safety Volunteer Reception


8:00 - 3:00 pm


8:00 - 8:45 am

Thursday Kick-Off Breakfast Speaker

9:00 - 10:00 am

BP/SRMSDC Prime Supplier Roundtable - Invitation Only

9:00 - 12:00 pm

Thursday Morning Breakout Sessions

Networking Breaks- Immersion Studio Lounge

  9:30 -  9:50 am

10:30 - 10:50 am

 11:30 - 11:50 pm

12:00 - 1:30 pm

Keynote Luncheon

1:30 - 1:50 pm

Networking - Immersion Studio Lounge

2:00 - 4:00 pm

Business EXPO

Recognition Reception

4:00 - 6:00 pm


8:00 - 8:45 am

Friday Kick-Off Breakfast Speaker

9:00 - 9:20 am

Networking - Immersion Studio Lounge

9:30 - 12:00 pm

Business-to-Business Matchmaker

12:00 - 12:20 pm

Networking - Immersion Studio Lounge

12:30 - 2:00 pm

Leadership Awards Luncheon

2:00 - 3:00 pm

After Conference Networking

Conference Ends

3:00 pm

Tasha Harvey

Vice President, Business Development Officer

In her current role as V.P. Business Development Officer, with Advantage Capital, Tasha Harvey is responsible for generating senior and subordinated debt investments through the firm’s government-guaranteed lending team, with a focus on investing capital in small businesses located in underserved communities across the country.  Before joining Advantage Capital, Mrs. Harvey has held senior positions at several lending institutions, including Bank of America and Woodforest National Bank.  She brings over 20 years of experience in Business & Mortgage Banking, Economic Development, and creating Strategic Community Partnerships.  She currently serves as a Business Advisor at Houston Women’s Business Center and is a national member of the Urban Financial Services Coalition.

Over the years, Tasha has developed a sharp eye for identifying inefficiencies within an organization that often stunts growth and profit.  With the tenacity and passion to empower others, she also leads her own consulting agency, "Strategy Essentials Group LLC," where she and her team specialize in Business Development Optimization & Profitability Analysis.  Additionally, other divisions of the company offer Real Estate Services as well as Financial Literacy Coaching concentrating in markets of low to moderate-income.

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The Venue

Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Discover the culture of the Crescent City at Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Centered downtown near Champions Square, Smoothie King Center, and minutes from the historic French Quarter, Arts District, and Mississippi Riverfront. There’s no better place from which to explore the eclectic vibrancy of New Orleans.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70113 (504)-561-1234. Upon arrival check into Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Signs will be posted throughout the hotel to direct you to conference locations.  The cutoff date for the room block is August 20, 2019. The room block link is:

The Venue
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Different By Design

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