Columbia University Facilities and Operations Supports Pioneering Collaborations in Economic Empowerment at Ascend National Conference

July 26, 2023

Columbia University Facilities and Operations (CUFO) showcased its commitment to fostering economic inclusivity at the distinguished 2023 Ascend National Conference held in July at Loyola Marymount University. The two-day event brought together program managers across the national Ascend ecosystem and focused on providing minority-owned businesses with personal strategies for growth.

At the conference, Columbia’s Assistant Vice President of University Supplier Diversity Tanya Pope presented the “Ascend NYC Market Access Case Study”, sharing strategies on the development of anchor councils as well as forging alliances between private industry organizations and Ascend city programs to create opportunities for businesses of color. Pope also participated on a panel where she shared her expertise on leveraging data collection to improve program performance.

L-R: Tanya Pope, AVP, University Supplier Diversity, Columbia University, John Rooney, Area Director, Economic Inclusion at Gilbane Building Company, Ugochi Onyeukwu, Director, Diversity Equity Inclusion, NY Philharmonic and Kevin V.G. Wells, Esq. Chief Diversity Officer at Wildlife Conservation Society.

“Building capacity for minority-, women-, and locally-owned businesses (MWL) in our community is an important commitment for Columbia University, said Pope. “Through our partnership with Ascend NYC, we hope to provide a model for other institutions and organizations to support programs like Ascend in helping entrepreneurs in New York City’s underserved communities grow their businesses.

The Ascend NYC delegation with all mentioned above and Nancy Carin, Executive Director, BOC Network/BOC Capital Corp, Ryan Widenhouse, Finance Manager, BOC Capital Corp, Scharlene de la Cruz, Manager, University Supplier Diversity, Columbia University, Melania Perez, Supplier Diversity Manager, Wildlife Conservation Society, Deborah Romain of Deb Romain Consulting Ascend NYC/CU Grow graduate firm, and Michelle McClymont, Equitable Development Programs Manager, BOC Network.

As an anchor institution for the program, Columbia collaborates with Ascend NYC to help MWL businesses establish relationships, scale their operations, and increase opportunities to grow the University’s network of diverse, qualified suppliers. Additionally, Pope serves as a lead for the Market Access team for Ascend NYC, joining other partners from educational, healthcare, and cultural institutions to collaborate on leading supplier diversity practices and opportunities. 

MWBE firms that have been in operation for a minimum of 2 years with experience working on larger projects are invited to explore for more information.