March 6th, 2009
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Thom Ruhe is director of entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In addition to guiding several new initiatives within the foundation, he is leading a joint venture between the Foundation and the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce focused on leveraging America’s entrepreneurial leadership to advance economic growth in the United States and around the world.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Ruhe was the founding Chief Marketing Officer for JumpStart, a nonprofit economic development organization created to accelerate the growth of high-potential, early-stage companies in Northeast Ohio. While there, he and his staff served as adjunct staff to venture financed portfolio companies and directed the creation of an online social networking site for entrepreneurs, angel investors, business mentors and service providers; known as IdeaCrossing.
Formerly, Ruhe was president of Optiem LLC, where he led the growth of a nascent marketing practice to a nationally recognized interactive marketing, communications and public relations agency. Earlier in his career, Ruhe held consultative positions in technology integration, marketing, finance, sales, and management. His experience spans several entrepreneurial endeavors as well as working with Fortune 500 companies.
Judith Roussel has served as Illinois District Director of the SBA since December, 1999. In this capacity, she is responsible for the promotion and delivery of U.S. government programs providing Capital Access, Entrepreneurial Development, International Trade Development and Procurement Assistance to more than 1 million small businesses in the state of Illinois. Programs are delivered through SBA staffs in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, as well as by major resource partners, including SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Small Business Development Center Network.
For nearly a decade, Roussel served as Associate Administrator in business development and procurement policy-making positions at SBA’s Headquarters in Washington, DC. She was responsible for development of programs and strategies to assure small businesses a fair share of the nearly $300 Billion annual federal contracting budget. Chief among her accomplishments was the negotiation and implementation of a public/private partnership agreement with General Motors, Ford and Daimler Chrysler under which the three auto makers increased purchases from minority-owned businesses by more than $3 Billion over a three year period.
During her tenure in Washington, Roussel served as the SBA Senior Procurement Executive and was the 1999-2000 Co-Chairman of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) Board of Advisors. She served as the U.S. Government’s Representative to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Small Business Procurement Subcommittee and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) SME Procurement Summit in Taipei, Taiwan. She served as an Expert Presenter before the United Nations World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland and co-authored a guidebook for developing nations on using public procurement systems to develop a strong small business sector.
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