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Chicago Purchasing Council

Founders of the Chicago Regional Purchasing Council
Founders/Founding Members:

AT&T (formerly Western Electric)
AMOCO (formerly Standard Oil of Indiana; now part of BP)
Bell & Howell
Carson Pirie Scott
Chicago Chamber of Commerce
Chicago Urban League
CNA Insurance Companies
Commonwealth Edison
Continental Bank (acquired by Bank of America in 1994)
First Chicago Corporation
Hewlett-Packard Company
Illinois Bell (owned by AT&T)
Inland Steel Company
Jewel Food Stores
Lockheed Corporation
Montgomery Ward
National Can Company
R. Donnelly & Sons
Sears Roebuck Company

Following the Chicago riots in the mid-1960s, several corporations with headquarters and operations throughout the region realized one of the underlying causes for the riots was the lack of investments in the black communities which contributed to the lack of jobs and lack of opportunities to develop, grow and expand business opportunities for businesses in those communities.  Further, there was no platform to dialogue and connect with business owners regardless of the social and political climates.

A one-day business fair was established to provide black business owners the opportunity to meet corporate personnel responsible for sourcing products and services locally and regionally. The outcome of this fair resulted in several corporations and non-profit organizations deciding that meeting with these business owners once a year was beneficial. However, one-day a year was not sufficient to establish on-going, productive business relationships.

Thereafter, created the Chicago Regional Purchasing Council in 1968, the first minority purchasing council in the United States.  The work, vision, leadership and financial support these companies and entities provided to this council led to the creation of the first office of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) located in Chicago, and the establishment of a network of minority supplier development councils throughout the country that remains in existence today.

These companies and non-profit entities were the pioneers and trailblazers that laid the foundation for the inclusion of minority businesses in private sector and public sector economies, commerce and industries.

Billion Dollar Roundtable


The Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc. (BDR) is a not-for-profit organization that provides thought leadership and solution-driven exploration of key issues and best practices in supplier diversity. The BDR member companies, among the world’s largest and most important business firms, each spend $1 billion or more annually for a broad range of goods and services from certified Tier 1 companies whose owners are minorities and women, making meaningful and measurable contributions to the economic growth and viability of diverse companies.

The BDR was founded in 2001 by Don McKneely, chairman and chief executive officer, TexCorp Communications Inc.; Sharon Patterson, president and chief executive officer, Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc., and Shirley Harrison (retired). Rick Hughes, a retired chief procurement officer with Procter & Gamble Co., serves as the current BDR chairman.

Current BDR members are:

• AT&T Inc.
• Avis Budget Group Inc.
• Bank of America
• The Boeing Co.
• Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
• Comcast NBCUniversal
• Dell, Inc.
• Ford Motor Co.
• General Motors Corp.
• Honda North America
• IBM Corp.
• Johnson Controls, Inc.
• Johnson & Johnson
• Kaiser-Permanente
• The Kroger Co.
• Microsoft Corp.
• Procter & Gamble Co.
• Toyota Motor North America
• Verizon Communications Inc.
• Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

A key measurement for BDR member companies is the spend component. The consolidated Tier 1 spend of minority and women-owned enterprises for member companies reached a record $75.0 billion in 2015, up from $67.0 billion in 2014. Consolidated Tier 2 diverse spend for 2015 was $21.9 billion, up from $17.6 billion the previous year. Member spend is audited annually by a third party.

A major achievement for the BDR was the publication of  “Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc. Supplier Diversity Best Practices,” a compendium that examines 12 specific best practices in supplier diversity.

Other BDR accomplishments include:

Launch of the iChannel/BDR Network Mobile App - available to everyone
Development of an “ambassador” support program for prospective new members
Creation of the Capital Connector for Growth initiative, or “The Triad,” to explore the capital needs of diverse suppliers
Development of a platform for supplier diversity practitioners for “Establishing the Value of Supplier Diversity”
Serving as a participant and sponsor of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Sponsor an annual BDR Appreciation Dinner produced and executed using inspiring speakers including an Olympic gold medalist, corporate executives and diverse company leaders
Participated in global supplier diversity conference in London sponsored by the Minority Supplier Development UK Ltd. (MSDUK)
Published paper entitled “Advancing Mature Supplier Diversity Programs”
Published paper about the return on investment for supplier diversity with the University of Washington (BDR’s research partner)
Received the Bridgeman Organization of the Year award in 2014.
Developed a template for supplier diversity practitioners on “Working with Advocacy Groups.”

The BDR website is located at.

Susan Au Allen, Esq.

US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce

Susan Au Allen came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1970 at the invitation of the White House. She received her J.D. from the Antioch School of Law and an LL.M. in international law from Georgetown University Law Center. For 18 years, she practiced law in Paul Shearman Allen & Associates of Washington, DC and Hong Kong, and became nationally recognized for her work on immigration, international trade and investment.

In 1984, Ms. Allen founded the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC) with a group of civic and business leaders in Washington, D.C, and became full time president & CEO in 2001. A strong and effective advocate for Asian American issues on Capitol Hill and in the White House, her achievements garnered an appointment by President George H.W. Bush to the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States (1991-1996). She was also appointed vice chair of the Republican National Committee's New Majority Council organized to reach out to minority communities across the nation; and served as its surrogate speaker from 1997 to 2000.

In the corporate world, she is recognized for her work in diversity. She is a member of the Diversity Council of the Premier Automotive Group (Aston Martin, Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover), TimeWarner, Wyndham International, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, NASA Minority Business Advisory Committee; the Board of Trustees of Excelsior College in New York; Secretary of Labor's Committee on the Future of the Workplace of the President's Council on the 21 st Century Workforce; and the Kennedy Center Community Board.

Ms. Allen has also served on the National Advisory Board of the Women's Small Business Summits, the Board of Trustees of The Washington Initiative, Washington Board of Trade, the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council, the Board of Directors of the Virginia Small Business Finance Authority, and the diversity boards of AMTRAK, the U.S. Marine Corps and American Red Cross.

Her op-eds on issues related to business have been published in numerous national publications. She has also appeared as a commentator on C-Span, CNN, CNBC, ABC, Fox News, PBS public affairs programs and a television program produced by The World Affairs Council of Montreal, Canada.

Among the awards she has received are the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers' Diversity Advocacy Award , NASA Special Recognition Award for Extraordinary Efforts in Promoting Small Business Programs Nationally and Internationally , Business Person of the Year Award from the League of Korean Americans-USA , and AT&T Spectrum Award for Advocacy for Minority Business Opportunity

Married, with two sons, Ms. Allen resides in McLean, Va.

The Founders Of Liberty Bank

The story of Liberty Bank is one of civic activism, courage and perseverance. From the day Liberty Bank opened its doors in the heart of Seattle’s multiethnic Central District neighborhood in May 1968, as the first multiracial bank west of the Mississippi River, the Institution was regarded by members of the community just as the name of the banking establishment implies: A guidepost for liberating opportunity and economic equality. The idea of a minority-owned financial institution had been born in 1952 by members of Seattle’s Prince Hall Grand Lodge, a Masonic Order for African Americans, as they witnessed African Americans’ isolation from the economic prosperity of Seattle’s metropolitan core. Unequal treatment of minority entrepreneurs by mainstream lending establishments and restrictive, discriminatory housing covenants within Seattle led to disproportionate poverty, particularly in Seattle’s Central District where many African Americans were pressed to move after World War II. Members of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge initially founded the Sentinel Credit Union in 1958, but strove to establish a bank that could offer such critical services as home and business loans and checking accounts to members of the community, as well.

JAMES C. PURNELL , one of the crusaders and founding members of the Sentinel Credit Union, worked endlessly alongside nine other neighborhood pioneers and his wife MARDINE PURNELL —a passionate advocate for black equality in her own right—in a grassroots movement localized in the basement of the Purnells’ home. From this basement, the group organized the bank’s Board of Directors, devised the bank’s charter, and housed the stock certificates from more than 500 Seattle shareholders—nearly 80% of whom were African American—who had confidence in the power a minority-owned bank could provide for the financial assurance of the entrepreneurial class.

In 1967, after years of appeals for financial investments, numerous bank charter rejections, and strife in obtaining land to construct the envisioned bank, the group’s bank charter, the Supervisor of Banking and Comptroller of Currency finally granted approval. The bank did not disappoint the Central District’s residents. “It was a place where people could go and get a start, get a foothold into financial security,” commented former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice. An elevated number of minority-owned businesses arose in the area, as well as a growth in the number of construction projects and home ownership, largely due to the opportunities afforded by Liberty Bank.

The ten founding board members of Liberty Bank included many trailblazers within the community: HOLBROOK L. GARRETT , civil rights activist and the first African American electrical engineer in the Pacific Northwest; DR. ROBERT N. JOYNER, JR. , one of Seattle’s first African American physicians; THE REV. DR. SAMUEL MCKINNEY , a social activist and pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church; MARDINE PURNELL , a founding member of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club in Seattle; JACK H. RICHLEN , a Jewish Russian immigrant who owned a number of successful businesses in the Central District, including a small butcher shop and later a popular mini-mart specializing in fried chicken, and who purchased the land for the intended building site of Liberty Bank; and GEORGE T. TOKUDA , a first-generation Japanese American born in the Mukilteo Lumber Company’s community housing project known as “Japanese Gulch,” and who went on to establish two prosperous pharmacies in Seattle’s International District following his taxing internment during WWII in southeastern Idaho’s Minidoka Relocation Center.


Founding Board Of Directors
Pictured From Left To Right
Dr. Robert N. Joyner, Jr. • Munro S. Wilson • Mardine Purnell • Dr. James E. Jackson • James I. Burton • Holbrook L. Garrett • Rev. Dr. Samuel McKinney • George T. Tokuda • Larry Cruwell (Cashier) • Jack H. Richlen

Founding Board Member & 1st President (Not Pictured):
Joel F. Gould

Organizer & President 1971-1983 (Not Pictured):
James C. Purnell

Margaret Z. Richardson-Wiley

Former Executive Director
National Minority Supplier Development Council

A native of the rural farming town of Jackson, North Carolina, Margaret Z. Richardson-Wiley's resolute character led her to become one of this nation's leading figures in bringing transformative opportunities for minority entrepreneurs. Richardson-Wiley's ancestors were freed slaves, and her parents grappled to preserve their own land and farming venture against obstacles of racial discrimination in the American South during the early decades of the 20th century.

Richardson-Wiley acquired a nursing education followed by a career in the beauty industry leading to the position of vice president at Summit Labs in the 1960s—one of only two African American-owned manufacturers of black-oriented hair care products in the nation at the time. Richardson-Wiley's firsthand knowledge of the challenges encountered by minority business owners led her to reposition herself at the New York City office of the National Minority Purchasing Council, which later became the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)--a non-profit organization incorporated in 1973 and committed to providing increased procurement and business opportunities for minority-owned businesses.

Richardson-Wiley's passion and skill quickly propelled her up the ladder within the institution, first as the executive director of the New York/New Jersey regional branch and, in October 1978, to the central role of executive director of the national organization—notably the first woman to hold that position. Richardson-Wiley left a lasting legacy of expanded business opportunities for minority-owned suppliers, and widened the horizons of the NMSDC's reach.

By the time Richardson-Wiley retired in the early 1980s, she had decentralized the management of the NMSDC's network by establishing vice presidents to run branches in six geographic regions to better supervise and cultivate the ever-growing relationships of the organization with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies; sought to leverage minority entrepreneurs by launching a nation-wide program to certify minority-owned firms; advanced the NMSDC's partnerships with the national government; initiated incubator training programs for minority business owners to help them submit stronger bids and manage larger orders among large-scale suppliers; and identified early on the need for minority entrepreneurs to delve into business ventures within high-tech industries.

Firoz H. Lalji

Zones, Inc.

More than 30 years after arriving in the United States, Firoz H. Lalji has lived the ultimate American success story. Born of Indian ancestry in the East African country of Uganda, Lalji became the principal provider for his household at 24 when Idi Amin ousted his family from their home and their sugar-cane processing and coffee plantation business. Lalji immigrated with his family to Canada in 1971, completely impoverished. He banked on his finance skills honed while earning his degree at the London School of Economics to navigate the sea of obstacles in his entrepreneurial ambition.

In Vancouver, BC, he swiftly built a life for his family, founding the successful Kits Cameras photographic retailer chain in 1973 that eventually numbered 225 locations in both Canada and the Unites States. Lalji moved to Washington state in 1981 and, following the sale of Kits in 1997, he co-founded Zones, Inc. in 1988--a nationwide provider of progressive technology solutions to business and public sectors. In 1989, he found the real estate investment company Fana Capital Corporation.

Lalji had reinvented and revolutionized Zones, shaping the company into the fifth largest private company headquartered in Washington for 2013. In hopes of fueling success for other emerging minority entrepreneurs, Zones, under Lalji's leadership, was a founding corporate partner of the University of Washington's annual one-week immersive Minority Business Executive Program. Lalji additionally established the Program for African Leadership, a public charity which supports the development of the next generation of African leaders by providing funding for 15 participants at the London School of Economics annually, as well as other programs to benefit his home continent of Africa.

Don McKneely

Business News Group

Don McKneely was engaged in the community newspaper business when he recognized a glaring need for a one-stop media source covering the entrepreneurial development occurring within all ethnic and underserved communities in America. Determined to be the editorial voice for these minority communities, McKneely launched the magazine Minority Business News USA (MBN USA) in 1988. At its founding, MBN USA was a solo venture with McKneely attending all of the minority business-related events, researching and composing stories, shooting photos, selling advertising, and distributing the magazine to vendors.

From the start, McKneely has stressed the mission of MBN USA to "always focus on relationships" and "articulate the value of minority business and diverse markets." This strategy opened up partnerships with business communities and corporations alike. A quarter of a century later, MBN USA is now "America's #1 magazine about minority business and supplier diversity," and has spawned the sister publications Women's Enterprise, Asian Business News and American Indian Business News.

McKneely's passionate belief in the power of leveraging astute partnerships to infuse diversity in suppliers for small, medium and large-scale businesses alike led him to co-found the non-profit Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR). BDR unites large corporations who spend a minimum of a billion dollars per year with minority suppliers, and aspires to inform on the best strategies to create sustainable partnerships between minority-owned businesses and the rest of corporate America.

Charles Timothy Haffey

Vice President
Corporate Purchasing

Charles Timothy Haffey (d. 2012) demonstrated steadfast commitment to social equality and equalizing the economic playing field throughout his life. Haffey spent the entirety of his professional career at the well-established international research and pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. His years of dedicated service led to the distinguished position of Vice President of Corporate Purchasing for the corporation. Haffey's sense of dutiful obligations to others was apparent with the impact he made in Pfizer's private-sector supplier practice while in this position, advocating for diversity in the company's supply base.

In 1979, the leadership of the National Minority Business Council (NMBC) noticed Haffey's fortitude. The NMBC, still in its adolescence, had been chartered in 1972 to expand business and educational opportunities for minority entrepreneurs, and its council leaders were seeking a means to transform the corporation into a "full-time" entity. The NMBC approached Haffey for his guidance. Haffey promoted the value of the NMBC to the executives of Pfizer, securing the organization a donated office space within Pfizer to serve as the institution's first real home.

Following Haffey's retirement from Pfizer in 1984 he became an instrumental figure for the NMBC, enlisting his time as the NMBC's Corporate Executive Volunteer to relentlessly promote the growth of the organization and build corporate partnerships. Haffey "represents the type of courage and dedication, and the leadership and foresight for the cause… way before his time," reflects NMBC President and CEO John F. Robinson.

Alexis Herman

Former Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor

Alexis Herman, who served as secretary of Labor in the administration of President Bill Clinton -- the first African American in that Cabinet position -- offers a high-level resume in government service and private enterprise.

Her top positions mirror a career of accomplishment. As secretary of Labor, Herman was responsible for regulating areas like labor and employment, pensions and workplace safety. But ask Herman about her some of her accomplishments and what truly stands out in her career, and she will tell you about her work as a 20-something advocate for women as head the Department of Labor's Women's Bureau in the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

In that role, Herman, inducted into the Minority Business Hall of Fame for 2007, challenged corporations to makes diversity in hiring a priority. During her tenure, Herman launched and advocated training programs to give women skill sets as many of them entered the labor market for the first time, and she pushed for opportunities for women business owners.

Such advocacy for women in the late 1970s was tricky, Herman said in an interview with MBN USA , because at the same time support was fervent to create business opportunities for minority-owned enterprises.

"We still struggle with that today," Herman said, who runs Alexis Herman & Associates, a consultancy from Washington. "We said this is a big pie that we all have to share in and we can't substitute one for the other."

Herman, a graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans, said she is proud to have been in a position as director of the Women's Bureau to co-chair the first women's business owners initiative for the federal government. Legislation followed in 1979 to afford women with more opportunities.

"We had no policies at all in place for doing business with women entrepreneurs. There were no government programs that either encouraged or required the participation of women business owners," Herman said.

Following her stint of service in the Carter Administration, Herman worked actively with

Fortune 500 corporations to assist them in setting up some of the first supplier diversity programs - helping companies to "roll up their sleeves" and get about the business of diversifying their supply bases.

Part of that was changing a corporate mindset that would use the excuse, "We would hire them if only we could find them," Herman said.

"In supplier diversity, we said we've got them and we can find them. You've got to have the commitment to use them," Herman said.

Supplier diversity is no less important today than in the 1970s and 1980s, Herman said. In fact, the stakes are exponentially higher today, she added.

"It's very important that we recognize that the future growth and strength of our country is in direct relationship now to the growth of people of color and women in our country. We need to make sure that we relate to the customer base that is going to be part of the future growth of our country," she said.

Herman, a native of Mobile, Ala, noted the vitality of the small business segment of the U.S. economy, where typically minority- and women-owned businesses are competing.

"When you look within that segment and who are those small business owners, largely they are women entrepreneurs. Small businesses are the biggest the contributors today to job creation in our country. So, minorities and women are key to any kind of economic growth for our country in the future," Herman said.

Herman said access to capital remains a vexing issue today for entrepreneurs, particularly minorities and women.

"We can do a better job particularly in the private sector to strengthen access to capital by looking at more long-term commitments and being clear in terms of contractual relationships and business investments and how you create partnerships that aren't a year or two years. Corporations can really help a business grow by forming real, lasting partnerships," Herman said.

The Tuck School of Dartmouth

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth--ranked No. 1 in the business school rankings by The Wall Street Journal and Forbes for 2005--has been leading minority executives toward success since 1980.

Tuck's Minority Business Executive Programs were the first one-week management programs created specifically for executives of minority-owned firms, providing equal access to the nation's top quality management education. At the time, many minority-owned businesses had achieved success through participation in the U.S. SBA's 8(a) program, yet failed to survive the transition to competing for contracts in the open market once they were no longer part of that set-aside program. In establishing these programs, Tuck hoped to reverse that trend by facilitating the growth and development of the minority business community.

From the beginning, partnerships with the nation's leading corporations, resource organizations and government agencies, which share an interest in developing the minority business community, have been vital to the many accomplishments of these programs. Over the years, sponsors have underwritten their minority suppliers' attendance, donated to the scholarship fund and provided ongoing program support. The Tuck MBEP Alumni Association has also been active in raising scholarship funds from program alumni so that emerging firms could benefit from participation.

Tuck has partnered with the Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce, to help maximize the effectiveness of MBDA's national support system for MBEs by intensively training 200 of their business consultants. Their consultants will transfer this knowledge to a national portfolio of MBE firms, thereby extending Tuck's reach to MBEs that cannot come to New Hampshire for the MBEP experience.

It is part of Tuck's mission to provide thought leadership in minority business development. The world-class faculty provide the important business tools, sharpen critical thinking, develop new insight and deliver competitive advantage to the executive participants. Tuck has recruited a number of supplier diversity experts whose combined industry knowledge and leadership provide a critical advisory role in strategically growing and expanding these programs.

Today, more than 3,000 executives of minority-owned firms have benefited from participation in Tuck programs.