For Southwest MSDC's MBEIC, representation matters

By Kayla Carnes


When asked about the significance of a career transition, many leaders might be inclined to answer with a detailed list of personal and professional accomplishments. 


For Nicole Navarro Velesiotis, chairwoman of the Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council’s (SMSDC) Minority Business Enterprise Impact Committee (MBEIC), the most significant aspect of her latest position is ensuring minority business enterprise (MBE) representation. 


“Right now, more than ever, is one of the most important times for MBEs to be involved and have a voice,” she said.


Navarro Velesiotis — who holds dual roles as vice president at Santana Group and vice president of Integrated Human Capital (IHC) — was selected to join MBEIC as chairwoman at a significant time in the committee’s history


“Debbie pivoted in extraordinary ways during COVID: facilitating meetings on ZOOM and negotiating multiple federal contracts, all before handing off the baton to me,” said Navarro Velesiotis of Deborah Trevino, former MBEIC chair, and founder and CEO, Treco Services Inc.


“I’ve learned a lot in my first year,” she added. “The transition from all-virtual to easing back into in-person events has allowed for many new faces in attendance, further pushing diversity into the national spotlight.”


The voice for all

Trevino, who was MBEIC chair from 2020-2022, now acts as a personal mentor for Navarro Velesiotis. She is quick to point out the added benefit of Navarro Velesiotis’ status as a certified MBE in her advocacy for ongoing minority-owned business representation on the committee. 


“The goal of MBEIC is that we are successful in reaching the MBEs, ensure they experience growth, and get a good return on the investment of their time,” said Trevino said. “Nicole has the ability to advocate for the needs being expressed by MBEs in real time. She doesn’t hold back, especially because she is an MBE, as well.”


Navarro Velesiotis agrees.


“From my perspective, [MBEs] need to act as the voice for other MBEs in the Council. In my role, I ensure we have engagement and are showing up to the table on behalf of all minorities,” she said. “Our existence is important, because without our voice, the structure would topple. MBEs, the MBEIC and SMSDC are a three-legged stool; without each one coming to the table, people don’t know who we are, what we need and what we stand for.”


Celebrating accomplishments and milestones

As SMSDC marks its ’s 25th anniversary just around the corner, both Navarro Velesiotis and Trevino are eager to continue building on the momentum Navarro Velesiotis has established over the last year.


“On SMSDC’s 25th anniversary, I’m most looking forward to celebrating accomplishments and milestones,” said Navarro Velesiotis said. “To me, continued success in our council looks like outstanding attendance at all of our events. A personal goal of mine over this next year is to continue highlighting MBEs as wells well as hosting more events that spotlight what MBEs are capable of.”


Trevino said, “We’ve already started scheduling events for 2025 and 2026!” said Trevino. “My role now is to support Nicole, and everything she facilitates. Her responsibility is huge, and to stay on top of our growth requires I empower her at every step.” 


Looking ahead, Navarro Velesiotis is eager to continue using her position and influence to advance the visibility of her fellow MBEs. 


“When MBEs unite, they can handle larger RFPs [request for proposals] or contracts, allowing goals to be met on a broader scale,” she said.” Unity makes MBEs stronger, and I’m proud to use my voice to represent this group. We learn a lot from each other — and I know we’ll continue to do so.” 

To view or download full article in 2024 MBN Texas volume 2, please click here.


Nicole Navarro Velesiotis Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council SMSDC Minority Business Enterprise Impact Committee MBEIC Santana Group Integrated Human Capital Deborah Trevino

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