WBEs join Astra’s Board of Directors

Astra’s 2012 Board of Directors (pictured above from left to right) is led by, Board Chair, Gay Adams, U.S. Bank. Vice-Chair of the Board is, Olsa Martini, Olsa Resources, Inc. Olsa is also Co-Chair of Astra’s Leadership Forum. Sandra James of Private Eyes, Inc. has stepped up to be Secretary & is Co-Chair of the Leadership Forum. Both Olsa and Sandra represent Astra at WBENC as National Forum Representatives. Mary Jo Jaurez, Native American PTAC continues as Treasurer.  Fernando Hernandez, Microsoft, is in-charge of Astra’s Development Committee. Heading up the Global Committee is Caroline Gladding, Johnson & Johnson. Sam Artis, URS, continues to lead the Government Committee. Joining the Board for the first time are  Suchi Gupta, Pure Design Solution (Marketing Committee Chair) & Arlene Inch, TransPak, Inc.  Julia Rhodes, Kleenslate Concepts LLC and Diane McClelland, Astra Women’s Business Alliance continue as Board Members.

The Bottom-Line Benefits of Being WBENC Certified

Business is all about the bottom line. Fortunately, supporting women-owned businesses not only helps level the playing field and generates good will for a company, it also makes good business sense. By working with the women- owned business community, corporations gain access to a powerful market segment. Our corporate members tell us they’ve saved millions of dollars and become more effective marketers due to their relationships with women-owned business suppliers.

And how does that benefit the bottom-line of WBEs? Astra (WBENC) WBE, Mary Kariotis, President & CEO of Merrimak Capital recently reported that the company’s new business volume has increased more than 50 percent since last year.  “The dramatic spike in business is primarily a result of our heightened focus on Fortune 500 companies producing essential consumer products. Many of Merrimak Capital’s new investment grade clients were attracted to competitive rates, but also to the fact that the company is woman-owned.  As a result, Merrimak can meet vendor diversity compliance requirements.” Merrimark obtained WBENC certification in 2009. Merrimak serves equipment leasing and asset finance needs of public and private companies worldwide, spanning many growth industries.  Women’s Business Enterprise Certification makes it possible for Merrimark customers to qualify for Tier One Diversity Spend Credit.

Wondering how to get started? Check out our recent Webinar on how to use your WBENC certification in 2012.

Not sure which “BIG” companies to pursue? Start by visiting Astra’s Corporate Member’s web resources (Quick links are posted on our Corporate Membership Page.) to determine who you should be targeting. Each company is set up a little bit differently but offers an insight as to what drives diversity at their organization. Plan to meet  Corporate Representatives at an upcoming event.

Meet the Leadership Forum

The Leadership Forum represents a partnership and a powerful link between Astra and WBENC, the national organization for women that provides certification. Olsa Martini and Sandra James Co-Chair Astra’s  Forum as well as representing Astra at WBENC’s Women’s Enterprise Leadership Forum as Chair & and Vice Chair. Led by successful women business owners representing, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Northern California and Washington – the Leadership Forum serves as the voice of our region, communicating with WBENC to let them know our members’ needs and challenges so they can be addressed through future national events and programs. The Leadership Forum also connects women-owned businesses with each other so that they can network, share ideas and offer solutions. This includes hosting regular gatherings featuring guest speakers and lots of time for member mingling. Joining your State’s Leadership Forum is easy & provides you with an opportunity to get involved. Want to learn more? Just reach out to a Forum Leader in your state and introduce yourself today.

(Pictured above from Left to Right: Co-Chairs: Olsa Martini & Sandra James; From Alaska, Cary Foster & Gail Morrison; from Idaho, Janell McGill;  Montana, Anna Kazmierowski and Denna Korting; from Northern California,  Sandy Hunter; from Oregon, Nancy Gudekunst; from Washington Julia Winnicki, Sandy Winston & Kristina Roth.)