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Barbara Ashe

National Director

Ms. Ashe is the President of the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation (MCCCF) and serves as the National Director of the Veteran Institute for Procurement. She is also the Executive Vice President at the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC).

As President of the Foundation, Ms. Ashe launched the Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) in 2009 and oversees the strategic development of the program, manages a dedicated team of professionals in executing the program that now trains 350 Veteran-owned small businesses a year nationwide on how to accelerate their success in the federal marketplace.

Ms. Ashe also manages the MCCCF Board of Directors. She attends and is often asked to speak at national conferences about the VIP program. The U.S. Small Business Administration honored Ms. Ashe in 2023 with the SBA Legacy Business Award, the Director’s Award in 2020, and the Veteran Small Business Advocate of the Year Award in 2011. In addition, the National Veteran-Owned Business Association honored her in 2017 with the Veterans Business Advocate of the Year award.

In her capacity as Executive Vice President, Barbara oversees the GovConNet Council and GovConNet Committee and works closely with the President in the strategic development of the Chamber’s programs, events, Board of Directors, and overall management of the organization.

Ms. Ashe has a 25-year history of successful business management/development as well as strategic/operational planning. Well-respected in the public and private sector, she has an exceptional resolve to maintain professional integrity in all areas of responsibility and is able to form long-term productive relationships. She is adept at the development and review of complex budgets. A mission-oriented problem-solver, Ms. Ashe brings a creative and pragmatic approach to her work for the betterment of the organization and community she serves. Earlier in her career, she was the Baltimore Area Manager at the Burroughs Corporation, which, after its purchase of Sperry, became the Unisys Corporation.

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Mauricio Vera

Assistant National Director

Mauricio Vera serves as the Assistant National Director of the Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP), supporting the Director in all aspects of leading and managing the program, including strategic development and execution.

Prior to joining the VIP team, Mauricio had over 30 years of professional experience advocating for all categories of small businesses in Federal contracting. He served as a career member of the Federal Government’s Senior Executive Service (SES) for almost 13 years as Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU).

In that role, Mauricio led USAID’s efforts to provide maximum opportunities for U.S. small businesses (SB) to participate in agency contract awards through outreach, education, and creative procurement initiatives. Under his leadership, USAID achieved significant and unprecedented improvements in its SB accomplishments. The agency increased its contract awards to small businesses every year under his tenure, increasing by tenfold during that time, culminating in the highest dollar obligations (over $900 million) ever awarded worldwide in Fiscal Year 2020.

In his last five years at USAID, he shifted his office’s focus to the agency’s overseas missions and these efforts resulted in a tripling of SB dollars awarded overseas. In 2016, Mauricio was awarded a Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, a prestigious career recognition awarded to only five percent of the Federal Government’s Senior Executives for his “sustained superior accomplishments and inspirational leadership”. Mauricio also served as Chair of the Federal OSDBU Directors Interagency Council for four years and is a recognized senior level speaker at Congressional, industry, and inter-agency events.

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Cecilia Vergara

Chief Financial Officer

As the Chief Financial Officer, Cecilia Vergara is responsible for the organization’s finance functions, including accounting, audit, treasury, information technology, human resources, and risk management. She brings over 20 years of executive experience spanning various industries including, non-profit, consulting, technology, and telecommunications companies. She is a lifelong learner who excels at problem-solving.

Cecilia's unwavering dedication to public service and her tireless efforts to promote equity throughout the State of Maryland has been regonized with an appointment by Maryland Governor Wes Moore to serve on his Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Cecilia brings her experience in A133, government grant compliance, and OMB experience to the National Veteran Institute for Procurement team. Armed with experience in big data, Cecilia was instrumental in maintaining the integrity of the graduate data, designing reports, designing an interim database, and the successful implementation of Salesforce. Before joining VIP, she was the Director of Finance and IT at a large, national youth organization, consulted with several companies including SER (acquired by Siemens) to lead post-acquisition audit and forensic accounting, Qmobile startup VC-funded mobile media company, and other clients supporting OIG audit.

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Patty Brown

Senior Program Manager

Patty Brown joined the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce in September 2012 as Director of Program Management. In this role, Patty was responsible for critical management, development and implementation of Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce GovConNet programs, which include the GovConNet Institute, Federal Procurement Conference, On-Site agency visits, GovConNet Member Meetings, GovConNet Council Meeting and Forums. She also assisted the EVP with the execution of the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation programs which include The Veteran Institute for Procurement [VIP], Green Business Forum and the Fundraising Golf Tournament.

With the rapid growth of the VIP Program, in the fall of 2016, Patty’s focus shifted to help manage the expansions of the training programs. As the Lead Program Manager for VIP, Patty’s main responsibility is seeing through the execution of the programs from inception to completion. She also helps to streamline processes based on identified best practices in efforts to improve on efficiencies. Patty also helps the EVP with the management of both the Curriculum and the Fundraising Golf Tournament committees as well as the grants reporting.

Prior to joining the MCCC team, Patty spent 12 years at FedBid, Inc. The primary objective of the company is to facilitate interaction between the government procurement community and the private sector. Its web-based platform utilizes a reverse auction model that creates efficiencies in the purchasing process. Benefits include cost avoidance (both monetary and hours worked) as well as the reduction in procurement lead time.

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Brian Brooks

Marketing and Communications Director

Brian Brooks is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Veteran Institute for Procurement. He is responsible for building brand awareness and visibility for the organizations using a variety of digital marketing tactics. Brian's career spans over two decades, where he consistently demonstrated his leadership acumen, strategic intellect, and impeccable execution skills.

Before joining the VIP team, Brian's professional journey included influential senior-level roles where his thought leadership helped pave the course for marketing success. He has a track record of uniquely crafting strategies that align with long-term company objectives.

He brings a history of consistently delivering measurable results by leveraging innovative thinking and using a metrics-driven approach to his work. He has a proven track record of launching new brands, enhancing brand awareness, and meticulously managing substantial budgets.

In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, Brian is well-versed in the intricacies of digital platforms and the latest marketing technologies. His proficiency in this arena keeps him at the forefront of digital marketing.

Over his career, Brian has cultivated exceptional marketing teams. He excels in collaborating with senior-level executives and cross-functional teams, ensuring marketing efforts harmonize seamlessly with business objectives.

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Robert Bohannon Jr.

Program Systems Manager

Robert Bohannon, Jr. is the Program Systems Manager of the National Veteran Institute for Procurement, the nation’s leading entrepreneurship program specifically for federal procurement.

Robert oversees the technologies and systems that support VIP’s mission, initiatives, and partners, applying his experience in process building, Salesforce, and data management to accelerate the success of veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in the federal marketplace.

Throughout his career, Robert has utilized his analytical and technical skills to help create reliable systems that can be counted on to produce results. Whether it was for major pharmaceutical manufacturers, publicly traded businesses, universities, or a small family-owned business, he provided the same level of care and energy to ensure that the end-product could be relied upon as long as needed.

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Melissa Leigh Childress

Program Manager

Melissa Leigh Childress joined the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce in February 2018 and is a Program Manager. In this position, Melissa Leigh supports the critical administration and implementation of multiple MCCC meetings and programs, notably the Veteran Institute for Procurement, GovConNet, and the Foundation.

Melissa Leigh brings to MCCC and VIP 15+ years of event and conference management experience. Her background includes 10+ years in the nonprofit sector (Marketing, Fundraising and Conference & Event Management) and 5+ years in the corporate sector (Information Technology & Services Industry).

She has managed myriad events, including speed scrabble tournaments to benefit Literacy Volunteers of America, accounting conferences at the University of Georgia, and Oracle and Microsoft conferences at the Georgia Aquarium. During her professional career, Melissa Leigh worked with a number of organizations, including the NATSAP, Center for Poverty Solutions, Outward Bound, the Georgia Society of CPAs, and Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta.

Prior to joining MCCC, Melissa Leigh managed 400+ presenters, the Continuing Education program, and the curriculum/programming for NatCon; one of healthcare’s biggest and best-rated specialty conferences for 5,500+ attendees, which features a film festival, 20+ concurrent breakout sessions, digital poster sessions, headliners, thought leaders, Ted Talks and more.

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Dorothy Callahan

VIP Development and Strategic Relationships Manager

Dorothy Callahan is the Manager of VIP Development and Strategic Relations for the National Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP), the nation’s leading veteran entrepreneurship program specifically for federal procurement.

Dorothy Callahan is a passionate small business advocate with over 30 years of experience in Acquisition, Contract Management and Supplier Diversity supporting the private sector and federal government. With a background working with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), Defense Acquisition Relations (DFAR), Small Business Administration (SBA) Size Standards, and a variety of federal, state and local regulations. A thought Leader who makes a positive impact on an organization through her innate ability to leverage relationships, research and customer requirements, helping to drive increased revenue to achieve a company’s ambitious growth strategies. She is a seasoned veteran in managing multiple subcontractors and partners for large and mid-scale procurements.

Throughout her career, Dorothy has worked for Large Prime Federal Contractors as an advocate and relationship executive for B2B between Government and Industry. While working at National Government Services (NGS) a subsidiary of Elevance Health, she developed and enabled small business utilization strategies for the business development, capture and program teams. She worked diligently to identify small business partners and to assist NGS in meeting contract requirements that can provide the maximum competitive advantage.

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Erin Foy

Marketing and Communications Manager

Erin Foy is the Communications and Marketing Manager of the National Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP), the nation’s leading veteran entrepreneurship program specifically for federal procurement. Erin joined the organization in June 2020.

Erin assists in leading strategic communications to support VIP’s mission and initiatives, applying her experience in advertising, graphic design, and social media marketing to accelerate the success of veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in the federal marketplace.

Prior to joining the VIP Team, Erin worked as an intern at the Walt Disney Company. She was also a communications intern at the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

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Eileen Foy

Program Coordinator

Eileen Foy joined the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce in February of 2023 as a Program Coordinator. In this position she supports the Veteran Institute for Procurement by onboarding program participants, preparing program related training materials and providing on-site assistance throughout the training to ensure that the program runs smoothly and effectively.

Eileen brings to MCCC over 30+ years of instructional design experience as well as exposure to utilizing learning management systems and e-learning platforms. She has been responsible for the planning, development and execution of a variety of training programs for both the National Flood Insurance Program administered through FEMA as well as the Property and Casualty and Information Technology industries. She has been involved in every aspect of the training process from identifying training needs, establishing learning objectives and desired outcomes, creating curriculum, designing educational material, conducting training, administering and analyzing post-training assessments, and managing training budgets. She has facilitated training at the local, national, and international level.

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