At Kent State, each university project has to go through one person: Veronica Cook-Euell, Manager of the Supplier Diversity program.
Cook-Euell informs business owners of contract opportunities Kent State may have and keeps university administration informed about qualified, diverse contractors for its various projects.
“I work as an advocate for minority and women-owned businesses to help them gain access to opportunities for contracts,” Cook-Euell said.
In April, Cook-Euell was presented with the Communicator of the Year Award by the National Association of Educational Procurement for writing blog and magazine articles on the importance of supplier diversity and how to achieve it.
“[These articles] helped my peer supplier diversity professionals and helped raise awareness about some different perspectives of doing this work,” Cook-Euell said. “They were written to help drive an understanding of our roles in supplier diversity.”
She has also been the recipient of the Asian American Commerce Group Supplier Diversity Leadership Award in 2016, the Women of Power Award from the Akron Urban League in 2015, the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council “Advocate of the Year Award” in 2014 and nominated again in November 2015, as well as the Minority Business Advocacy Award from Black Pages Ohio in 2012.
Cook-Euell was recently invited by the U.S. consulate to Sao Paulo, Brazil to discuss supplier diversity with community members and business owners.
“I gave six or seven major presentations while I was there. I met with business leaders, chambers, Afro-Brazilian business owners and universities, all in the name of supplier diversity,” Cook-Euell said. “I was able to understand where they’re coming from and they were interested in how [Kent State] embraces supplier diversity. It was an amazing opportunity to understand not only the need they have to do this work, but also the voids that exist in terms of opportunities for diversifying.”
One thing that surprised Cook-Euell upon visiting Sao Paulo was the need to adjust her teaching as supplier diversity manager.
The majority of Sao Paulo is Afro-Brazilian, but they hold a very small share of contracts, said Cook-Euell.
She had to transition from talking about minority companies in terms of race to instead talking in terms of under-representation.
“It was a lot to do in just the five days that I was there, but it is all because they have the understanding that supplier diversity is something they should embrace,” Cook-Euell said. “The love, the kindness, the genuine care for humankind that they showed me was just unbelievable. They have great ideas, they want to grow and they realize that change is needed.”
Brandon is a correspondent. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.