About Us


  • Established in 2008, VBN is a membership organization responsible to an Executive Advisory Board constructed to guide strategic thinking and decision making. The board includes national leaders in business, government and education, most of whom are themselves veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

  • We provide assistance for veteran business owners to become viable suppliers of a myriad range of goods and services. Our focus is on education and training. We prepare our members to be ready for any assignment within their core competency.

Co-Founding Chairman Emeritus

Major General Harry Brooks Jr., U.S. Army (Ret).

“It’s important that the business community feel comfortable with the activities of this initiative as it will become the central point of contact for major corporations and government agencies who are seeking to conduct business with veteran and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, ” says General Brooks.  Brooks was the former commander of the Army’s 26th Infantry Division and the 6th African American appointed General of the Army. “Our task will be to provide oversight and ensure that each of the policies are in full compliance with standard and acceptable rules and regulations found in the marketplace.”

While Gen. Brooks is currently inactive due to personal priorities, he remains a beacon of light and inspiration for the Network. His guidance and wisdom provides the framework for the Network to thrive and to provide meaningful direction for the members and supporters.

Executive Advisory Board

The Board will be responsible for reviewing and approving the programs and policies of VBN as it conducts its business. Co-Chairmen of the board are Major General Harry Brooks Jr., U.S. Army (Ret), and Dick Rizzo, Vice Chairman of Tutor Perini Building Corp.

Dick Rizzo, Vice Chairman of Tutor Perini Corporationdickrizzo

As a long-time supporter of supplier diversity programs, Dick Rizzo asserts that “A strong commitment to our veterans includes getting them into viable procurement opportunities in corporate America.” Rizzo, a U.S. Army veteran and recent recipient of Casino Design’s 2013 Sarno Lifetime Achievement Award, goes on to state, “ We are happy that corporate America recognizes and is committed to hiring veterans; now we need to make sure these same companies are just as committed to giving veteran and disabled veteran owned firms an opportunity in the supply chain.”



Dr. Sandra Owens, PhD,, UNLV School of Social Work

Dr. Sandra Owens is a UNLV associate professor of social work and a Hartford Faculty Scholar.

Owens is actively involved in leadership roles in a variety of community organizations, and she recently served as President’s Fellow in the cabinet of UNLV President Neal Smatresk. Dr. Owens holds a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley; and a Bachelor of Arts, and a Master of Social Work from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her father served in the U.S. Army. She is developing national research related to veterans and their family issues following active duty service.

Carlos McDade, Colonel, USAF (Retired)CarlosMcDade

Carlos McDade, Colonel, USAF (Retired) is General Counsel for the Clark County School District in Nevada, the fifth largest school district in the United States.  He supervises the Office of General Counsel (OGC) that advises the Superintendent and staff regarding legal matters including employment law for 37,000 employees, the drafting of contracts, inter-governmental agreements, real estate documents and a public broadcasting TV station. Colonel McDade served in the Air Force as Chief Appellate Defense Counsel, prosecutor and defense counsel and twice as Staff Judge Advocate.  He utilized his LL.M. in Environmental Law to serve as the Air Force Eastern Region Environmental Counsel. He practiced in the law firm of Black and LoBello in property and business law.



Michelle KantorMicheleKantor

Michelle Kantor heads up the Federal Government Contracting Practice Group in the Chicago office of McDonald Hopkins LLC. Michelle has more than 26 years experience practicing in government contracting, procurement law, corporate law, and litigation. Michelle serves as General Counsel to the Federation of Women Contractors. She is a frequent lecturer and speaker for the Women’s Business Development Center for the Midwest and for Michigan. Michelle has been an instructor for MBE and WBE Turner Construction Management Training since 2000. Michelle assists clients in federal, state and local government contracting and procurement, SBA 8(a), HUBZone, SDVOSB, VOSB, WOSB and EDWOSB, MBE/DBE/WBE, and small business (SB) certifications and appeals, federal and state government Mentor-Protégé submissions, Mentor-Protégé agreements, and supplier diversity programs. Michelle earned a J.D from Loyola University of Chicago Law School in 1987.


DavidGabelDavid Gabel, Vice President, Strategic Alliances

David Gabel, Vice President, Strategic Alliances – Interface, Inc (www.interface.com) the world’s largest manufacturer of carpet tile. Experienced marketing and sales professional, formerly with Tyco, having held leadership positions in sales, marketing, business development and supplier diversity. He holds an MBA from New York Institute of Technology, and is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. Gabel is also a member of the Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University.  At Interface he not only directs the corporation’s strategic alliance strategies with global giants in real estate management, manufacturing and construction, he provides executive leadership for the company’s minority, women, veteran and other targeted partner’s program. He has been an avid supporter and sponsor of MWBE and veteran programs throughout his corporate career.

VBN Operations Team

  • Ron Washington, Acting National Executive Director, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran
  • Brenda R. Smith, Director VBN Corporate & Government Relations, U.S. Army Veteran
  • Rudy Brewington, CMDR. USN (Retired) Director VBN Communications
  • Dan McKinzie, Director VBN Field Operations, U.S. Army Veteran
  • Gaylord Thomas, Director VBN Community and International Relations, U.S. Army Veteran

The success of our program depends in part on our corporate and government partners’ commitment to supplier diversity, and in creating an environment where veteran and service disabled veteran owned small business can compete.  The following roster of corporate and former corporate senior supplier diversity professionals represents the nucleus of our vast network of corporate and government agency inclusion experts.  They are a ready, willing and able resource available for guidance on issues of supplier diversity, specifically, and larger issues in the world of procurement.

 Advisory Council

  • Chris Lewis, VBN Senior Advisory Consultant, Former President SRMSDC, NMSDC Affiliate
  • Joe Coe, Director of Diversity, Boyd Gaming
  • Kenyatta Lewis, Senior Director, Supplier Diversity MGM Resorts, U.S. Army Veteran
  • Ron Garnet, President Council for Supplier Diversity, VBN Senior Advisory Consultant
  • Arthur Williams, Esq., Former General Council, Reynolds Electric, U.S. Army Veteran