December 2021 - Small Business and Diversity Spotlight Virtual Event

Presentation File & Attendee List

Presentation File

Attendee List


Our Speakers

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

Sandra Norman - Division Administrator, Civil Rights Division

Sandra D. Norman currently serves as Division Administrator for Civil Rights for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) where she is responsible for Civil Rights Internal EEO and External DBE programs. Prior to being promoted in this role, Sandra served as the Assistant Division Administrator for Civil Rights where she managed the Equal Employment Opportunity Programs for VDOT (Internal).  Before becoming a part of the VDOT family, Sandra was appointed January 23, 2006 by the Governor of Virginia, The Honorable Timothy Kaine to serve as Director for the Virginia Human Rights Council (Council). Also in January 2006, former Governor Mark Warner appointed Sandra as Acting Director to the Council. Prior to both appointments, Ms. Norman was the Assistant Director for the Council, and held that position for five years.  Sandra was employed with the Council beginning May of 1989 where she was promoted from the positions of Executive Assistant and Administrations Operations Manager. Sandra graduated from Averett University with a Bachelor and Master of Business Administration.
Ms. Norman was selected in 2020 to present testimony to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at the United States Congress on the significance of the Disadvantage Business Enterprise Program. She also was selected as one of Virginia Media’s 2020 Women in Business who celebrated women who have been successful in their careers, have made significant impact in the business community and who have served as mentors and examples to others. Just recently, Sandra was named the 2021 Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Recognition Award by the Women’s Transportation Seminar, the Central Virginia Chapter.  

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

Meshelle Howard - Director, Small Business Programs Office (SBPO)

Meshelle M.V. Howard, MCA is the New Director of Small Business Programs for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). As the Director, Meshelle provides managerial oversight and direction for the following socioeconomic program areas: Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE), Small Business Enterprise (SBE), WMATAs new Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Small Business Preference (SBP) programs as defined, regulated and guided by Federal and Local regulations, and WMATA Board Policies.
Meshelle has over 30 years of effective, efficient and results oriented experience in leadership, management, supervision, directing and managing small business programs, performance and inventory management. She is a take-charge professional with exceptional problem-solving skills with the ability to thrive in challenging environments, which show cases her integrity and the ability to be an effective communicator, and team leader.
Meshelle is a retired State of Maryland Transportation Industry Leader in coaching, educating and advising Small Minority Women-owned businesses on Business Practices, Certifications and contracting opportunities. She works tirelessly to strengthen the participation and knowledge base of all small businesses for certification and participation opportunities on Federal, State and Local contracts through outreach, small gatherings and panel discussions, because of such efforts over the years Meshelle has received several awards and is nationally known and recognized for her dedication and contributions to the Small Business Community.
Meshelle is a United States Army Veteran and participated in three wars serving her country. She is a member and volunteer in several organizations that serve the community and national efforts such as; Catholic Charities, Maryland Public Purchasing Association (MPPA) and The Council of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), where she served as Maryland’s president for two terms and brought a record braking COMTO National conference to Maryland, she served as the National Strategic Planning Committee Chair, COMTO National Council of Presidents, COMTO National Conference Planning Committee and presently the COMTO National Industry Awards Committee.
Meshelle was recognized as and received the 2020 Daily Record Maryland’s Top 100 Women Award for her advocacy and mentoring of Small Businesses and Community Service, along with the following other awards:

  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority 2021 Sustainability Award for Equity

  • The Daily Record Top 100 Women in Business 2020

  • COMPASS Champion of Diversity and Economic Inclusion 2019

  • COMTO National Woman Who Move the Nation Award 2019

  • MDOTs Achievement Award for a Woman Who Moves the Nation 2019

  • WTS Woman of the Year Award 2018

  • Black Wall Street Lifetime Achievement Award 2018

  • WTS Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award 2017

  • Vital Magazine Humanitarian Award 2017

  • Maryland Live Black History Month Hero Award 2015

  • Maryland Black Wall Street Award 2014



District Department of Transportation (DDOT)

Andrea Jackson - Deputy Transportation Equity and Inclusion Officer, Small Business Inclusion Office

For the past 21 years, Jackson has served as an advocate for the inclusion of small, disadvantaged, veteran, and minority businesses in contracting opportunities.  She is the Deputy Compliance Officer for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and oversees the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Programs.   Currently, the DBE program monitors over $4 billion in ongoing construction, design, and rehabilitation projects.  Jackson also manages the federal workforce on-the-job training programs, DBE certification, and small business development programs. 
Prior to coming to DDOT,  Andrea was a small business owner serving as a consultant for the Maryland Port Authority, Maryland Department of Transportation, Harbor East, East Baltimore Development Inc (EBDI), LifeBridge Health, and the University of Maryland BioTech Park.  She is well versed in the challenges that small businesses encounter when pursuing government contracts.  As a business owner, Jackson co-founded of the Maryland Military and Veteran’s Women Business Conference which was designed to assist transitioning, retired, and former armed services members with becoming entrepreneurs.
Previously, she served as the Director of Economic Inclusion and Community Communications for Forest City Enterprises.  Her responsibilities included managing the Minority/Small/Local Business Inclusion Program for the Johns Hopkins Science & Technology Park.   She also served as the Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Minority Business Development and Interim Director.  At City Hall, she worked internally to eliminate barriers for MBE/WBE firms participating in the City procurement process.  During her tenure, the City of Baltimore increased its spending with minority-owned and women-owned firms from $44 million annually to $105 million annually. 
Today, Jackson continues to be a passionate advocate for historically underutilized businesses in all facets of the marketplace. 



District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water)

Linda Fennell - Senior Contract Compliance Officer, Contract Compliance and Business Development Program

Linda Fennell is an experienced supplier diversity and inclusion practitioner with over two (2) decades of providing capacity-building resources for minority, women and disadvantaged businesses. Linda brings this passion for helping certified firms to DC Water as a Senior Contract Compliance Officer. Linda’s primary responsibilities include ensuring that minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprises are given an equitable opportunity to compete and win DC Water contracts. Additionally, Linda ensures that individuals who work on DC Water contracts are paid in accordance with federal and local labor laws. Furthermore, Linda serves as the Senior Coordinator for DC Water Works, DC Water’s local hiring initiative. In this role, Linda ensures that DC Water meets the established local hiring goal through assisting contractors hire local residents on its projects.

In her efforts to help grow certified firms, Linda contributes to DC Water’s technical assistance initiatives in which firms can utilize the resources to expand their business capacity. Since arriving at DC Water, led the effort to establish the Business Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is comprised of thought leaders, District government officials and supplier diversity advocates and practitioners. Linda also co-facilitated the DC Public Service Commission’s Advisory Council on Utility Supplier and Workforce Diversity.  Additionally, Linda has increased the Authority’s partnerships with organizations that support and advocate for minority and women-owned businesses. In this role, Linda facilitated conversations with the business community which contributed to the overhaul of DC Water’s Business Development Plan. In her capacity as a Compliance Officer, Linda also recovered lost wages owed to contractors’ workers.

Prior to arriving at DC Water, Linda served as the Manager of the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprises Supportive Services Program.  In this capacity, Linda provided oversight of DDOT’s federally-funded business assistance program where the purpose was to prepare certified firms to be ready, willing and able to work on the agency’s federally-assisted projects. During her tenure, Linda was an early pioneer in developing the capacity of 21 certified firms which enabled them to compete and win stormwater management maintenance contracts.  Linda also leveraged local and federal resources to help certified firms obtain contract financing, comply with federal American with Disabilities Act requirements and federal labor laws.
Linda is a graduate of The Catholic University of America and the American University in Washington, DC.


Our Moderators

Arpan Patel, PMP

Area Manager - Somat Engineering, Inc.

Arpan has over 25 years of business, financial, and technical management experience in fields including infrastructure engineering, finance, land development, and information technology. This includes the management of multi-million dollar projects as a member of leading Wall Street investment banks, as a partner in a real estate development and construction firm, and as the founder and Area Manager of Somat Engineering’s Capital Region practice. Learn more here:


Keith Foxx, P.E.

Principal - FOXXSTEM

Keith Foxx, P.E. is a graduate of Howard University’s School of Engineering. He has practiced as a civil engineer, a certified project manager, certified construction manager and program manager for infrastructure projects throughout the Washington, DC region. He is now Principal of FOXXSTEM, which provides planning, civil engineering design, construction management/inspection and program management services for transportation, water and energy infrastructure projects. He serves on the Executive Board for the American Council of Engineering Companies of Metropolitan Washington (ACEC/MW) and is a Board Trustee for the Fairfax County Public Library System.

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