Entrepreneurship was never a consideration for Andrea Garris Jackson. She wanted to be an attorney and hoped to attend college right after high school. However, upon learning her mother didn’t have the money to send her to college, she met with an Army recruiter at her high school who shared information about the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Army College Scholarship Fund. Without hesitation, Jackson enlisted and landed both funds for college.
After completing her service at Fort Leonard Wood, Jackson enrolled in college at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Upon graduation, she worked for the U.S. House Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC. Later, she landed a job in the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development. Jackson was hired as a Staff Assistant and subsequently appointed as the Acting Director for the office. Her assignment was to increase the success rate of minority and women-owned businesses in securing procurement opportunities with the City. During her first year on assignment, Baltimore City spent $44 million with minority and women enterprises and by her fourth year, City spending was up to $105 million annually with these firms.
Several years after leaving city government, in 2008, Jackson launched DPN Group, LLC, a management consulting firm that works with corporations to increase the success rate of small, minority, and women businesses securing contract opportunities in the private and public. In addition, the firm oversees workforce development initiatives. Her first client was an organization overseeing the redevelopment of 88- acres of land in East Baltimore. Jackson’s firm is the third- party program manager and compliance monitor. To ensure prime contractors reached their women business goals, she developed the Women’s Contractors College at EBDI. Five cohorts later, its graduates successfully secured over $2 million in bonding for their businesses. As of September 2017, the project has netted over $38.6 million in contracts for women firms.
To further her mission to assist women-owned businesses, she sought the assistance of the Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center and Morgan State University’s Entrepreneurial Development Assistance Center in Baltimore. The group collaborated and in 2014 held the first Maryland Military and Veteran Women Business Conference. The conference’s mission is to ignite entrepreneurial synergy in Maryland by bringing together veterans, active duty personnel, military spouses, business owners, emerging entrepreneurs, organizations, government agencies and the private sector to share best practices and provide resources on how to do business together. To date, the conference has gathered over 545 veteran-owned businesses to provide resources, business development and procurement opportunities.
The conference draws participants such as Tiffany Daniel, 26- year combat Army veteran who deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. She is the owner of Curves, a women’s fitness facility in Fort Washington, MD. In 2017, she was selected as the Women Veteran by Conference Board. During the symposium, Daniel was able to share her entrepreneurial journey while networking with other women and gaining valuable information to enhance her business operations.
While Tiffany had never attended the seminars in previous years, but she was nominated for the award by Dr. JoAnn Fisher, founder of the Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. Dr. Fisher has been participating in the conference since its inception. She had this to say, “This conference is an exciting event and is necessary for the recognition of our Women Veterans in the business world. This organization gives back by recognizing other Women Veteran business owners every year who are leading the way.”
The 5th Annual Maryland Military and Veteran Women Business Conference will be held on Friday, April 27, 2018 at the War Memorial Building, War Memorial Plaza, 101 N. Gay Street, Baltimore MD 21201, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm. Participants will learn about grant funding for their business, certification, building an advisory board and using social media to grow their business. The conference is free for active duty military, retirees, veterans, spouses and dependents. All are welcome.
For more information, visit marylandwomenvets.com or call DPN Group LLC, (410) 347-7558.