Business Advisory Council Members
Adam Holt, American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California
Adam Holt is the Chief Financial Officer and senior executive at Blair, Church & Flynn Consulting Engineers with more than 25 years in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry. He serves a dual role between corporate leadership and program-level planning and management for infrastructure projects. Since 2015, Mr. Holt has represented the American Indian Chamber of Commerce on the High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Linden Nishinaga, Asian American Architects/Engineers Association of Southern California
Linden Nishinaga is a California licensed civil engineer and LEED accredited professional. He has worked primarily in the public sector as a design civil, structural, and earthquake engineer; program and project manager; and supervisor on both horizontal and vertical construction projects. Mr. Nishinaga helped initiate public sector MBE/WBE/DBE programs and duly implemented their required goal achievements on projects he’s managed. He is a lifelong advocate for a world-class, Shinkansen-level, Los Angeles to San Francisco high-speed rail system for California. Mr. Nishinaga is also a strong advocate for civil rights including those for Asian Pacific Americans and was actively involved in the historic Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Mr. Nishinaga represents the Asian American Architects/Engineers Association of Southern California (AAa/e) on the CHSRA Business Advisory Council. He serves on the BAC’s Professional Services Committee as the current Vice Chair.
Margaret Jackson, Berryessa Business Association
Margaret Jackson is the CEO/President of the Small Business Concierge Communications & Digital Media corporation. She has more than 35 years of experience as an internationally recognized and award-winning small businesswoman that promotes healthy commerce between small businesses and the world community. Ms. Jackson advises NorCal Inclusivity Project SBDC, working with African American businesses, publishes the Small Business Concierge Digital Magazine and catalog and serves on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Bernard Johnson, The Bernard Johnson Group, Inc.
Bernard Johnson is President and CEO of The Bernard Johnson Group, Inc., located in San Diego, CA. Mr. Johnson earned his MBA in Finance from National University, a Bachelor’s in Urban Development/Urban Studies from Michigan State University and is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Consultant. Mr. Johnson serves as Vice Chair of the California African American Action Fund and also as a Caltrans Small Business Council member. Mr. Johnson is a Co-Founder, Executive Board Member and Secretary of the California African American Chamber of Commerce (CAACC). He represents The Bernard Johnson Group, Inc. on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Deborah Robertson, California African American Chamber of Commerce
Deborah Robertson is serving her third, four-year term as the mayor of the City of Rialto. Mayor Robertson’s distinguished 45 years of public service exudes her dedication, visionary and distinctive leadership style which thrust the City of Rialto into the national spotlight. In 2014, she was instrumental in developing the first e3p3 Model city, which received state and federal recognition for area programs and services that addressed Environmental Sustainability, Economic Development, and Equity supported by Public-Private Partnerships. In 2021, she was appointed by the Biden-Harris Administration, to serve on the Environmental Protection Agency Local Government Advisory Committee and has spoken before congressional committees. Mayor Robertson is a Board Member and the Government Relations Chair of the California African American Chamber of Commerce (CAACC) which she represents on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Steven Koenig, Celestial Freight Networks, Inc.
U.S. Navy Veteran, Steven Koenig is a California native raised in the San Fernando Valley. After his military service, Mr. Koenig became an entrepreneur for several years before he discovered his true passion for Sales and Diversity with Celestial Freight Networks. Mr. Koenig has been deeply involved in promoting the small business with organizations such as the National Minority Supplier District Council and the Southern California Minority District Council where he was able to advocate for diverse businesses with companies such as American Honda, BASF and other large Fortune 500 organizations. Mr. Koenig has also been able to use his military experience to partner with the U.S. Navy, Veteran’s Administration, NASA and many others, in advocacy of Small Businesses. Mr. Koenig represents Celestial Freight Networks, Inc. on the High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Roan McRae, CMTS LLC
Roan McRae serves as Executive Director of Client Development-West Region for CMTS LLC. CMTS, an DBE/SBE and veteran owned firm, has successfully delivered professional PM/CM and owner’s representative services on major infrastructure projects across the United States since 1984. He has more than 25 years’ experience helping firms of all sizes achieve business growth and strategic planning in the environmental science, engineering, and construction industry. Mr. McRae volunteers his time in support of various charities and foundations and has served as Vice Chair for organizations such as Osteogenesis Imperfecta LA Chapter, Pasadena Tournament of Roses/Rose Bowl Game committees, and Tiger Woods Foundation golf tournament committee to name a few. He represents CMTS LLC on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Jacqueline Pruitt, Construction Contractors Alliance, Inc.
Marvella Steel Placers, established in 2016, by President and CEO Jacqueline Pruitt, a Black Lesbian, ex-offender, addict, and formerly unhoused. Ms. Pruitt began her career in early 2009 as an Apprentice Ironworker for Local 416. In her 3rd year as an apprentice, she became a Lead Ironworker on projects such as Berth 200 in the Port of Los Angeles, the Automated Container Movers in the Port of Long Beach, freeway lane additions, bridges, abutments, and miles of retaining walls and barrier rail on the 91 freeway, and slab on metal decks for the famous Wilshire Grand High-rise. Shortly after achieving her Journeyman status, she became Foreman and built the Hollywood Park Casino on time and under budget. A director of the National Association of Minority Contractors of Southern California since July 2022, she is presently co-founder and president of Construction Contractors Alliance, Inc., championing the growth and development of underutilized construction business enterprises at their nexus with underrepresented populations (the addicted, unhoused, foster care aged-out, and ex-offenders) and underserved communities (Black and other oppressed communities). Ms. Pruitt is co-founder and President of Construction Contractors Alliance, Inc., which she represents on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Debra Roak (Small), CRA Consultancy Group
Debra Roak is the Co-CEO of CRA Consultancy Group LLC. CRA is a strategic consulting firm and a Women-and Minority-Owned Business with a strength-based team focus. Debra is a super-connector and has created multimillion-dollar business growth for her clients for the past 20 years. CRA actively advocates for small businesses focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She represents CRA Consultancy Group on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Des Washington, Fresno Black Chamber of Commerce
Des Washington is a Fresno native, local business owner, community organizer, and a Downtown Fresno advocate. She is a Downtown Academy graduate, 40 under
40 recipient, and has sat on several Downtown Revitalization driven boards and committees. Des is also deeply committed to wealth growing efforts in communities
of color. Des currently serves as the B2B Support Specialist for the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce. At the Chamber, Des handles New Member Relations,
hosts FMBCC’s Home Shopping Experience, and provides technical assistance in Marketing, Branding, and PR Strategies to small business owners in the Central Valley.
Recently, she has been key in building a pipeline to Technical Assistance, managing a team of Business Resource Partners that assist FMBCC’s members in growing
and scaling their businesses. Des represents the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce on the High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Debbie Hunsaker, Fresno Chamber of Commerce
Building a better community since 1971, Debbie was born in Fresno and has been involved in the construction industry for much of her life. She stepped into the role of President/CFO when her father, who founded Alert-O-Lite, passed, and continued to build on that mentorship and commitment to service to new levels. Bringing innovative solutions to Fresno and beyond, Debbie is passionate about the construction industry, and a firm believer in giving back to the community that helped Alert-O-Lite reach new levels. She has taken a company that primarily did traffic control and expanded the sign production and contractors/industrial supplies to a whole new experience. Debbie has built upon the foundation that her father started: To take care of their customers and ensure the service they need to be successful, efficient, and profitable. She represents Alert-O-Lite on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Gene Hale, Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce
Gene Hale, a U.S Army Veteran, is the CEO of G&C Equipment Corporation, President of Gence Corporation and G&C Consulting Services. Mr. Hale has served numerous public and private organizations, including Governor Gavin Newsom’s Minority Opportunity Small Business Council, Caltrans Small Business Advisory Board, the Black Business Association of Los Angeles, the Federation of Minority Business Associations of Los Angeles, the Congressional Task Force on Small Business Development, the Century Freeway Employment Advisory Committee, and the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Pete Varma , Intraline, Inc.
Pete Varma serves as the President/CEO of Intraline, Inc. and Vice President of Nokatu Construction, a Native American Indian, minority owned and operated, construction company. He is President of the National Association of Minority Contractors-Northern CA Chapter and served as the Vice President, nationally. He also served as the Caltrans Statewide Small Business Council Construction Chair to provide input and goals and objectives to improve and increase the participation of small, DVBE, Women, Minority and DBE contractors. Mr. Varma has devoted over 30 years to construction management and procurement services and believes in working with local and small business talent, while utilizing community-based resources. Mr. Varma represents Intraline, Inc. on the High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Veronika Monell, JumpStartNOW LLC
Veronika Monell is the CEO of JumpStartNOW LLC, a strategic marketing firm of committed, honest, confident, and creative people who always strive to grow their clients’ organizations in this fast-paced business dynamic. Every client is unique, and every client’s strategy is a focused approach. The JumpStartNOW team has been marketers, social sellers, and content creators for decades and has worked with hundreds of clients from various industries. JumpStartNOW keeps up with trends, social nuances, and future opportunities. Ms. Monell represents JumpStartNOW on the High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Nick Hill, Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce
Nick Hill III is the President of Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, where he applies his vast knowledge, skills and experiences helping small businesses strategically accelerate their growth and maximize their revenue from a solid foundation. Mr. Hill has worked with numerous organizations such as Kern Minority Contractors Association, CCI logistics, Kern High School District, Friendship House Advisory Board, and represents Kern County Chamber of Commerce on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Shaila Roa Mistry, National Association of Women Business Owners
Shaila Rao Mistry is the CEO and Founder CEO of STEM-Institute, consulting experts for organizational growth, leadership development, strategic planning. As a growth expert, she is a leader in developing global trade, economic development and business, environment, talent protection, risk management and diversity and inclusion for small business. She has a track record of leading policy change, advocacy, governance, and Justice, diversity, and inclusion. She serves at United Nations and is a regular delegate at global UN Summits, addressing matters of economic growth, business best practices in supply chains, gender equity and digital equity. Ms. Mistry represents National Association of Women Business Owners on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Lori Kammerer, National Association of Women Business Owners
Lori C. Kammerer is the principal Legislative Advocate and Policy Director for Kammerer & Company, a full-service government relations and advocacy firm. For over 30 years, Ms. Kammerer has worked to ensure that California’s workers’ compensation system and all policies important to small businesses remain the top priority for the last six Administrations and the Legislature. Ms. Kammerer has consulted for several political campaign management firms, including Odell, Roper & Associates during the 1984 presidential campaign and served as a member of the Presidential Advance Team. Ms. Kammerer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Communications from Pepperdine University and represents the National Association of Women Business Owners on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Rita Ohaya, S3 Consulting Services
As a social and contract equity subject matter expert, Rita Ohaya advocates for small and disadvantaged businesses. Dr. Ohaya has been instrumental in leading social and contracts equity initiatives to maximize opportunities, knowledge transfer, and development for small, diverse, historically underutilized, and marginalized businesses. Through her work and leadership with several corporations and public entities, Dr. Ohaya has instituted training courses and technical workshops that introduce businesses to all facets of operating in the construction sector and has also orchestrated networking opportunities and relationship-building for over 500 small and diverse businesses. On all levels, Rita makes it a priority to connect small and diverse businesses with support services and available resources. Dr. Ohaya represents S3 Consulting Services on the High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Melanie Harrison Okoro, Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce
Melanie Harrison Okoro, PhD, is the Founder, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Principal of Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc in Sacramento, California. Dr. Okoro has more than 20 years’ experience in the natural resource protection, water management and environmental stewardship field. Dr. Okoro is a thought leader and advocate for increasing diversity and inclusion in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce. Dr. Okoro currently serves as a Board of Trustee of Sacramento Splash and represents the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce on the High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Laura Uden , U.S. Veteran Business Alliance
Laura Uden is an ASQ-certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE), a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and an INCOSE Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP). Dr. Uden spent 4 years in the Army working in military intelligence, becoming a sergeant. She has her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering, and her Ph.D. in Management with 30 years’ experience working in the energy and transportation sectors. Dr. Uden started a disabled-veteran woman-owned company, NSI Engineering, working on quality and process improvement in infrastructure projects, with a focus on rail transit and heavy civil design and construction. Dr. Uden represents the U.S. Veteran Business Alliance on the High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Lee Cunningham, Women Construction Owners and Executives
Lee Cunningham, is Chair of Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOE) Legislative Committee and CEO of BT Metal Sales & Fabrication. Ms. Cunningham is committed to public advocacy and small businesses, serving on the Department of General Services Small Business Council, the Arbitration Board for Silicon Valley (Santa Clara County board), Caltrans Small Business Council, Small Business Opportunities Advisory Panel (SBOAP) for the Air Quality Board, San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, and represents WCOE on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
Maritza Acosta, Women’s Transportation Seminar
Maritza Acosta is a registered professional engineer with over 35 years of experience in management, design and construction of transportation and civil engineering projects. Her management experience includes roles ranging from project and program manager, regional transportation manager and focused practice leader. Her design and construction experience includes planning studies, preliminary engineering, final design Plans, Specification and Estimates (PS&E) and Construction Management support of light rail, commuter rail, high-speed rail, rapid transit, freight railroad, state highway, interstate highway, multilevel interchange and local and toll road, projects. In June 2013 Ms. Acosta became principal and owner of Acosta Engineering Solutions (AES) a California based, DBE/SBE certified firm that specializes in design oversight, independent review, QA/QC, agency coordination, project management, program management, and construction management of civil engineering and transportation projects. Ms. Acosta represents Women’s Transportation Seminar on the California High-Speed Rail Business Advisory Council.
- Factsheet: ConnectHSR
- Factsheet: Helping Small Businesses Grow
- Small Business Participation Map
- High-Speed Rail: Creating Jobs
- Community Benefits Agreement - Creating Jobs for Californians
- AASHTO Uniform Audit and Accounting Guide
- Prime Contractor Payments
- Total Active Values Quarterly Report - April 2019
Small Business Program
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