Chancellor Robert J. Jones
Robert J. Jones serves as the 10th chancellor of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Jones began his academic career at the University of Minnesota establishing himself as an internationally recognized authority on plant physiology and spending more than three decades as a distinguished faculty member and academic leader. His tenure at Illinois has been distinguished by significant initiatives increasing access and affordability for all students and to foster a more diverse and inclusive university.
Dale Joseph Morrison, Esq.
Dale J. Morrison, Esq. currently serves as Associate Director in the Office of Procurement Diversity at the University of Illinois and has a wealth of knowledge and experience with supplier diversity programs. Mr. Morrison oversees all aspects of the University’s Supplier Diversity Program to ensure that businesses owned by minorities, women, persons with disabilities and veterans receive procurement opportunities.
Sharla D. Roberts
Sharla Roberts is a results-driven leader with over 30 years of procurement and diversity experience in the public and private sector. Ms. Roberts has advocated and worked diligently in creating programs to foster the growth of small and diverse businesses. She currently serves as the Director of Procurement Diversity at the University of Illinois and is responsible for ensuring that disadvantaged businesses are afforded every opportunity to participate on contracts throughout the University of Illinois System.
Carly McCrory-McKay is the Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. She’s been with the organization for ten years and is responsible for business retention and attraction, marketing Champaign County, and supporting the county’s economic development efforts in partnership with local municipalities, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Parkland College, private industry, and other community organizations.
Maria Thompson currently serves as Procurement Manager at Facilities & Services at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Thompson has been in this role for the past 12 years and is responsible for Contract management, purchasing of material, equipment, and services. In 2019, Thompson was appointed to develop and implement programs to increase supplier diversity at Facilities & Services.
Brad Henson, JD
Brad Henson is a USMC veteran and a law degree from the Thomas M Cooley Law School. He started at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2004 in the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration, moving to Purchasing and Contracts Management Office in 2010 as a contract coordinator, becoming director in 2015.
Tristan Brown has a lending background with almost 2 years of commercial lending experience at Justine PETERSEN. Within that time, his team has serviced over 225 local small businesses within the Central Illinois region, working closely with not-for-profits, SBDCs, municipalities, local lenders and others. He manages partnerships, transactions, loan closings, and relationships throughout the state of Illinois.
Robert J. Owens
Bob Owens has worked in business development for nearly twenty years. He owned and operated his own investment firm while assisting his producers build their own practices. He developed successful agencies across the country as a mentor and business coach. He most recently joined DCEO in 2023 as a Business Development Specialist helping small businesses throughout the State of Illinois obtain financing through various lenders.
Matt Simpson is a father and Community Development Strategist based in Rockford, Illinois. He has 12 years of experience working in economic development, neighborhood level community development and public administration. His passion for entrepreneurship and business development lead him to the role he occupies today – African American Business Development Manager with the IL Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Kathy Larson has worked in economic development for over 20 years; currently coordinating economic development initiatives and financing programs at the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission for the past 14 years. She assists many communities, agencies, and businesses with financing, program management, grant management, funding coordination, development incentives, economic impact analyses, and other development resources.