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Procurement & the Pandemic: Helping Cities Do Business With Minority-Owned Businesses

Watch this webinar to learn why it matters that governments be intentional about the businesses they buy from.

August 11, 2021

Watch Next City and Living Cities for the 3rd event in our live webinar series on public procurement, race, and the pandemic. When 10 cities were chosen for a second City Accelerator cohort on Inclusive Procurement in 2019, each set out to adopt strategies informed by lessons from the work of Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Milwaukee in Culture, Collaboration, and Capital, a guide for the public sector.

This webinar features Rodney Strong, author of the guide and technical advisor to the cities in the City Accelerator, who has been working on this issue since the 1980s.

Attorney Strong will provide a brief historical context for this work, and some details from the year-long journey during which municipal government professionals managed - in spite of, and sometimes because of new pandemic-induced realities unfolding on the ground around them - to achieve specific and measurable outcomes for disadvantaged business enterprises. Then, along with representatives from the cohort, Philadelphia’s Nefertiri Sickout and Nashville’s Michelle A. Hernandez Lane, the conversation will dive into how how public servants and city leaders can learn from the obstacles overcome so far and accelerate the pace of procurement reform in their own communities.

With the support of Citi Foundation, the City Accelerator brought together cities with different cultures, histories, populations, industry sectors, and local laws to answer the same question. Join us to learn what solutions they pursued when they asked themselves: In the wake of the pandemic that has disproportionately shuttered and threatened businesses owned by people of color, how can we use our purchasing power to close racial income and wealth gaps?


Rodney K. Strong, Chairman of Griffin & Strong, P.C.
Rodney K. Strong is chairman of Griffin & Strong, P.C., a law and public policy consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. He consults on public policy with several state and local governmental entities. And he represents a range of public entity and corporate clients, specializing in public contract, community development and real estate law. Strong also serves as the outside general counsel for the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority. He is the supplier diversity consultant for the State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, being renovated in Atlanta. He is widely considered one of the foremost national experts in the area of procurement disparity research and supplier diversity program development. His experience in these areas began in 1985, when then-Mayor Andrew Young appointed him as the city’s director of contract compliance, a position he held until 1992.


Nefertiri Sickout, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
Nefertiri Sickout serves as Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer of the City of Philadelphia, where she leads the Mayor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and supports the Office of LGBT Affairs, Office for People with Disabilities, and Office of Economic Opportunity.  Under Nefertiri’s leadership, the Office is advancing a comprehensive strategy, in partnership with city departments, to implement more intentional efforts to produce greater racially equitable impact related to each agency’s workforce, budget, core services or programs, procurement and community engagement.

Nefertiri joined the Mayor’s Office in 2016 and served initially as an Assistant Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and later as a Deputy Diversity and Inclusion Officer, before serving in her current role. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Nefertiri worked at Pepper Hamilton LLP, where she practiced commercial litigation. Nefertiri began her career in community-based advocacy around issues that affect the well-being of vulnerable families and children. In addition to her work experience, Nefertiri earned a BA in psychology from Clark Atlanta University, an MA in infant education from George Washington University, followed by a Masters in developmental psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a law degree from Villanova University School of Law.


Michelle A. Hernandez Lane, Chief Procurement Officer/Purchasing Agent, Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County Government
Michelle Hernandez Lane was appointed by Mayor Megan Barry as Metro Nashville’s Chief Procurement Officer/Purchasing Agent in June of 2017. Michelle has responsibility for all of the City’s bidding and contracting activity. In this role, Michelle provides vision, leadership direction and structure to the procurement function so as to drive effective and value-added purchasing planning and sourcing aligned with the priorities of the Metropolitan Government. During her time as the CPO, Michelle has provided leadership to the City’s efforts to conduct overall procurement reform.

Prior to this role, Michelle served as the City’s first Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). In this role, Michelle was charged with implementing the Mayor's agenda to ensure that all parts of Metro Govt. are diverse and inclusive.

Michelle’s career with Metro Govt. began in 2001 as she worked to develop the existing small business program. In 2008, Michelle began her role as Director of the Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance and implemented a program designed to promote the inclusion of minorities and women in the City’s procurements. In 2013, Michelle was appointed by Governor Bill Haslam to the Advisory Council on State Procurement.

Michelle holds a B.A. from Fisk University, an M.S. from Cumberland University. Michelle has been certified as a Professional Public Buyer, is a Certified Compliance Administrator, and Certified Grant Professional. She holds memberships in the American Contract Compliance Association, the National Institute of Government Purchasing, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Michelle has called Nashville home since 1993 and hails from Palm Springs, Ca.

This webinar series is underwritten by Living Cities and its City Accelerator, an initiative that drives inclusive economic opportunity through procurement and which is supported by the Citi Foundation. All who register will receive a copy of the Next City ebook, “The Power of Procurement,” plus the upcoming report from the most recent City Accelerator cohort, which has been focused on “Doubling the Adoption of Procurement Processes to Promote Economic Equity.”

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