LTC Jason Borg

Deputy District Commander

US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

As the deputy commander of the Chicago District, Lt. Col. Jason Borg assists the district commander in water resources development in the Chicago metropolitan area, an area of about 5,000 square miles with a population of more than nine million. The district’s primary mission focuses on flood risk management and storm damage reduction, navigation, environment, regulatory, navigation, emergency management, and interagency and international services.

Eric Ness

Eric Ness is the District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Wisconsin District as well as the Acting  Regional Administrator for Region V of the U.S. SBA. As District Director, Eric is responsible for the delivery of SBA programs throughout Wisconsin. Eric joined the SBA in 1990 as a Commercial Loan Officer where he had the opportunity to work in both processing and liquidation of loans. He has served as Finance Chief and Assistant District Director for Economic Development. In December of 2001, Eric assumed the position of Wisconsin District Director.

John Dickert

Current Mayor of Racine, WI & recently announced President and Chief Administrative Officer of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

John Dickert was elected in May, 2009 by the people to bring a vision to Racine, Wisconsin. One part of his vision as well as one of his first acts as Mayor was to create a budget with zero percent increases without sacrificing services or jobs. One major asset Mayor Dickert believes Racine has is what he calls “our greatest natural resources and gems”; our lake and our river.
Reelected in 2011, Mayor Dickert has continued his mission of expanding businesses; create new partnerships and maintaining the city’s course of fiscal responsibility. As a community member Mayor Dickert has been involved with such organizations as the Optimists Club, The NAACP, the Racine Zoological Society, The Urban League, the Downtown Racine Corporation and as a coach for Special Olympics. Mr. Dickert recently announced he will be accepting the positions of President and Chief Administrative Officer of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

Robert P. Theel, FAIA

Chief Architect, Great Lakes Region GSA
Director, Design & Construction Division

Robert P. Theel, FAIA, serves as the U.S. General Services Administration’s Chief Architect in the six-state Great Lakes Region headquartered in Chicago. He is the senior advisor to the Regional Administrator of GSA and the Regional Commissioner of the Public Building Service (PBS) regarding federal architecture, design, construction policy and innovation. He provides leadership for the regional design and construction programs for United States Courthouses, Federal Office Buildings and Border Stations.

Robert is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). In 2016 he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and has served on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Chapter.

David A Rose, Esq.

Managing Partner
Rose Consulting Law

David A. Rose, Esq., a managing partner in Moser Rose, also known as Rose Consulting Law, a firm practicing throughout the United States and internationally based in Valdosta Georgia.  Along with his Partner, Gary Moser, they practice primarily in the area of Federal Contracts and Procurement, business formation issues (LLCs, Domestic Corporations, Joint Ventures, Teaming Arrangements, 8a and Small Disadvantaged Applications to SBA, Mentor-Protégé, Affiliation and Ostensible Subcontractor Issues, etc.), buy/sell of firms, and with the establishment of subsidiary entities in foreign locations from the Caribbean to the Mid and Far East.

A graduate of the National Law Center at the George Washington University School of Law, he holds three law degrees and undergraduate degrees in engineering and mathematics.

He currently holds the active rank of Lt Col in the United States Air Force Reserves where he is one of the primary legal advisers to the Commanding Officer of the Air Force Reserves

Colonel Bob Underwood

Business Development Manager
Eaton Corporation

Colonel Bob Underwood, USMC (ret) works for Eaton Corporation as a Business Development Manager on the federal team with a primary focus on Navy and Marine Corps installations.  Eaton,  a $20B global manufacturer based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is on the leading edge of power systems and electrical applications, products and services.  Bob’s focus is on microgrids, energy surety, energy resiliency and critical infrastructure requirements.  Eaton is currently looking for qualified Small Business partners to better meet the needs of our DoD customers.

Pamela Sydelko

Director of the Systems Science Center
Argonne National Laboratory

Pamela Sydelko is the Director of the Systems Science Center, which is part of the Global Security Sciences Division at the Argonne National Laboratory. She is also a PhD Research Student at the Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, United Kingdom. She has 28 years experience in systems science and analysis and has led the development of numerous innovative modeling, analysis and decision support technologies, focusing on integrated multi-component software systems. Key modeling/analysis domains include national security, sustainability, and critical infrastructures.

Bonita M. Carrol, MBA

Deputy for Small Business
United States Amy Corps of Engineers Chicago and Detroit Districts

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approximately 37,000 dedicated Civilians and Soldiers delivering engineering services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide.

With environmental sustainability as a guiding principle, their disciplined Corps team is working diligently to strengthen our Nation’s security by building and maintaining America’s infrastructure and providing military facilities where our service members train, work and live. They are also researching and developing technology for our war fighters while protecting America’s interests abroad by using their engineering expertise to promote stability and improve quality of life.

Suzanne Ferris

Senior Associate
HGA Architects & Engineers

Suzanne Ferris launched her career in the A/E/C industry more than 15 years ago.  She is currently a Senior Associate for HGA Architects and Engineers, a nationally recognized design leader, driven by a collaborative culture and deep knowledge of sustainable technologies. As an interdisciplinary firm, HGA strives to integrate the unique perspectives of architects, engineers and planners to create inspiring, efficient, and lasting results.  Ms. Ferris manages business development activities for the firm’s Energy + Infrastructure Sector, where she has been integral in growing the firms’ portfolio relating to central utility plants, energy master planning, commissioning and retro-commissioning, and high performance buildings.

Ms. Ferris holds a Bachelor’s Degree in East Asian Studies from the George Washington University.

Janis E. Kaiser

Procurement Center Representative
United States Small Business Administration

Janis E. Kaiser is a Procurement Center Representative at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Government Contracting, Area IV, in Chicago Illinois.   Prior to joining SBA, Ms. Kaiser championed small business as the Deputy for Small Business at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Midwest at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois for fifteen years.  Ms. Kaiser has worked in the contracting field since 1994 and is a DAWIA Level III certified Acquisition Professional.  Ms. Kaiser is a recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award and the Society of American Military Engineers 2012 Government Small Business Advocate Award for the Navy.  Ms. Kaiser holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barat College.

Emma A. Kowalenko

Kowalenko Consulting Group, Inc.

Emma Kowalenko, Strategic Planner, Lean 6 Sigma Certified, Coach and Mentor founded Kowalenko Consulting Group, Inc. (KCG) in 1988.  The multi-disciplinary consulting services provided by KCG to public, private, and nonprofit clients include:

  • Environmental planning and engineering, for transportation projects and real estate development
  • Change management, for organizational health and success in changing times
  • University online education production, facilitation, and implementation, for transitioning and working professionals
  • Partnership and mentorship building, for public sector projects
  • Cross-cultural competency, for bridging professions, sectors, and U.S. and overseas small and large business cultures
  • Business, program, and professional development, for staff engagement and retention
  • Communication and foreign language proficiency, for navigating a global economy

“I am dedicated to enhancing organizational health, developing professional talent, and building relationships and creativity. I openly share my network to link people to each other, to opportunities, and to resources. Connecting Veterans to education and professional advancement is a priority.”



William “Wim” Massie

Chief, Acquisition and Assistance Branch
Resource Management Division, Region 5

The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment. EPA’s purpose is to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;

Melissa D. Meade, PE

Senior Fire Protection Engineer, Woolpert

Melissa Meade is a registered professional Fire Protection Engineer. She has her Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and her Masters of Science in Fire Protection Engineering from University of Maryland. She is a Senior Fire Protection Engineer with Woolpert in their Chicago office and has been working in fire protection design and consulting for 14 years. Melissa has served as Designer of Record, Quality Control Specialist, and Independent Technical Reviewer for new construction and renovation for many Department of Defense (DoD) projects and private facilities. Project types include aircraft hangars, simulator facilities, barracks, child development centers, hospitals, assembly facilities, elementary schools, mixed-use facilities, and more. She has experience in design of fire protection systems, construction support services, means of egress analysis, and building assessments. She has a passion for innovative technical solutions and developing alternate methods of compliance that are acceptable to authorities having jurisdiction. Melissa is a member of the Board of Directors for the Society of American Military Engineers, Lake Michigan Post.

Jeffrey Gerbensky

Branch Chief Construction, Great Lakes Acquisition Center, Department of Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spends over $22.5 billion annually. The mission of the VA is to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.”

Richard Goodman

US Coast Guard Lake Michigan Sector (USCG)

Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan is comprised of 21 Coast Guard Stations/Units that are responsible for 1,638 miles of shoreline and approximately 19,000 square miles of surface water.  The area of responsibility for Sector Lake Michigan includes jurisdiction in four states:  Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan; in addition to the majority of Lake Michigan and numerous intercostal waterways.

Kenneth Seymour

Contracting Officer
Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC)

NAVFAC is the Systems Command that builds and maintains sustainable facilities, delivers utilities and services, and provides Navy expeditionary combat force capabilities. Naval Station Great Lakes is located in Lake County in northeastern Illinois. Naval Station Great Lakes was established in 1911 as a naval training station.

Linda M. Sorn P.E.

Acting Deputy for Project Management
United States Army Corps of Engineers

Ms. Linda M.Sorn is currently serving as the acting Deputy for Project Management in the Chicago District. Prior to this assignment, Ms. Sorn served as the Chief of the Chicago District’s Technical Services Division.

Ms. Sorn also served as Environmental Engineering Section Chief and Assistant Chief of the Engineering Division prior to being promoted to Chief of the Project Management Branch in the Chicago District.

Ms. Sorn received her Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 1988, and earned a Master of Science in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Campaign in 1991.

Jean Marie Thiel

Belonger Corporation

Mrs. Thiel owns and operates a specialty trades Mechanical Contracting Company including all HVAC/R aptitudes, waste water, plumbing, as well as offers Construction Management, Facility Management, and Energy Based Performance Contracting. Experience in construction and services industry going on 26 years, specializing in federal and DOD relations, joint venturing, and mentoring. Recognized as the “first” formally sanctioned 8a Mentor-Protégé for the federal government in the state of Wisconsin. Jean has participated on numerous round tables and expert panel sessions pertaining to Women and Minority Small Business advocacy and outreach, such as President Obama Small Business Round Table summit of 2009, SBA Outreach events, and Tribal/Native Workshops. Jean is the acting Board Member of the following organizations: American Indian Chamber of Commerce, American Indian Construction Trade Counsel, The Business Council, {affiliate Milwaukee Metropolitan Chamber Commerce}, Plumbing Mechanical Contractors Association, Ethnically Diverse Business Coalition, Emerging Construction Business Incubator, Wisconsin Procurement Institute, and WI-JATC (Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee) Recipient of several State, Federal, and National recognitions.

Wisconsin Procurement Institute (WPI)

WPI works throughout the State of Wisconsin — in rural and urban areas — with large, small, well-established and newly created businesses in areas of manufacturing, technology, construction, research, IT and services. WPI works closely with Federal, State and Local small business programs to maximize the opportunities and market success for disadvantaged, minority, woman, disabled and veteran owned firms as well as those located in designated HUBzone and distressed areas.