Women-owned Small Business Workshop focuses on resources and connection

Written by
Gwen McNamara
April 1, 2024

More than 75 representatives from women-owned small businesses joined the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) for a free workshop for women-owned small businesses on March 27 at the Laboratory. 

"Today is all about resources, opportunity and networking," said Hekima Qualls, PPPL's chief procurement officer, during the opening remarks.  

Attendees learned how they can partner with the OSDBU, the DOE's Office of Science, Brookhaven National Laboratory and PPPL. The event included talks on resources, networking over lunch and a vendor exhibit. 

"The need for more inclusion is very important to our procurement efforts," said Geri Richmond, the under secretary for science and innovation at the DOE, in recorded video remarks. "Women-owned businesses need to be brought into the fold of the DOE, and we are working to remove barriers." 

woman at podium speaking to a seated audience
Tamara Miles, principal deputy director of small business programs for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), shares resources and information. (Photo credit: Michael Livingston / PPPL Communications Department)

Attendees appreciated the chance to meet DOE officials and Lab representatives in person. 

"As a small business [owner], I had difficulty finding out how to participate as a subcontractor," said Jacqueline H. Hines, CEO of SenSanna, a company that makes wireless sensors for harsh environments. "I've enjoyed learning more about PPPL and Brookhaven and how to connect with everyone." 

"Today has been very helpful," added Jennifer Ruspini, CEO of Ruspini Management Solutions, which focuses on environmental, structural and construction management. "Meeting face-to-face with people who can get me where I want to go has been invaluable."

Workshop speakers included Ron Pierce, OSDBU director; Tamara Miles, principal deputy director of small business programs at the OSDBU; Mary Rogers, small business liaison officer for Brookhaven National Laboratory; Shyeka M. Hopkins, outreach and marketing specialist for the New Jersey district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration; and Hekima Qualls with PPPL. 

Steve Cowley, director of PPPL, shared a prerecorded welcome, along with in-person greetings from Tim Meyer, PPPL’s chief operating officer; Kristen Fischer, PPPL’s chief financial officer; and Brandon Thorne, director of the Office of the Vice President for PPPL.

Group photo of people standing
More than 75 representatives from women-owned small businesses joined the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to learn about how to engage with the DOE and national laboratories like PPPL and Brookhaven National Laboratory. (Photo credit: Michael Livingston / PPPL Communications Department)

PPPL is mastering the art of using plasma — the fourth state of matter — to solve some of the world's toughest science and technology challenges. Nestled on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, New Jersey, our research ignites innovation in a range of applications including fusion energy, nanoscale fabrication, quantum materials and devices, and sustainability science. The University manages the Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the nation’s single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. Feel the heat at https://energy.gov/science and https://www.pppl.gov.