NaVOBA and Capital One, in partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), announced the 2018 LGBT Veteran’s Business Enterprises® of the Year as part of the LGBTUnity Conference in Philadelphia. NaVOBA’s Veteran’s Business Enterprises® of the Year is a prestigious honor bestowed annually to an elite selection of America’s veteran business owners working as supplier partners to NaVOBA’s Corporate Allies.

“At Capital One, we value unique perspectives and see firsthand how ensuring diversity in our supply chain creates better solutions for our associates and customers,” said Jim Gorzalski, Chief Procurement Officer, Capital One.  “We’re very proud to sponsor the 2018 LGBT Veteran’s Business Enterprise® of the Year recognition and are excited to elevate the success of the entrepreneurs highlighted by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association.”

The Veteran’s Business Enterprises® of the Year demonstrate the finest attributes crucial in leading a flourishing business; sustained business growth and success; and an extensive aspiration to cultivate veteran entrepreneurship as well as a commitment to give back to their communities. To be eligible to receive the award, the nominee must be a U.S. military veteran business owner who actively runs the company. The 2018 LGBT Veteran’s Business Enterprise of the Year Awards program was also supported by NaVOBA Corporate Allies Wells Fargo and Shell.

“NaVOBA’s Veteran’s Business Enterprise® of the Year awards have celebrated the incredible diversity of America’s military entrepreneur community,” said NaVOBA President Matthew Pavelek. “We’re honored to collaborate with our friends at the NGLCC to celebrate these amazing LGBT veteran business owners and share their remarkable stories.”

Kaleen E. Love

NaVOBA Vice President Mimi Lohm kicked off the ceremony and introduced Kaleen E. Love, Vice President, Chief of Staff, Retail and Direct Bank at Capital One. Justin Nelson, NGLCC Co-Founder and President discussed the importance of the intersectionality between the veteran’s and LGBT business communities.

“The NGLCC is proud to celebrate the first class of LGBT Veteran’s Business Enterprises presented by our partners at NaVOBA. Collaboration across our communities is essential for the most inclusive and successful economy that works for all of us. We look forward to always promoting the stories of those who prove that being out and being a hero, in both business and in service to our country, never need to be mutually exclusive,” Nelson said.

Next, Jarrod Sheets, Supplier Diversity Manger at Wells Fargo spoke followed by NaVOBA Board member Brian Hall, Supplier Diversity Manger at Shell.

Julie Benson Rakes, Program Manager, Supplier Diversity at Capital One introduced the 2018 LGBT Veteran’s Business Enterprise® of the Year Honorable Mentions: Adler Archer, president of Allasys and Carlton Brown, owner of Occasional Occasions by Carlton. In addition, NaVOBA awarded two firms as the 2018 LGBT Veteran’s Business Enterprises® of the Year; Les Burleson, president of VersaPro Group and Naomi Scales, owner of MarFran Cleaning.

Les Burleson, VersaPro Group
Les Burleson graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a BS in Business Management, Regis University with an MBA in Marketing, and has completed extensive, doctoral-level coursework in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation (IDD&E) at Syracuse University. Mr. Burleson is a 21-year Air Force veteran and served as a critical member of the Nuclear Triad as an Air Force Missileer.  He also served as the Commandant of Cadets and was responsible for all AFROTC military training at Syracuse University and partner schools in the area. In recognition of his dedication and service to country, Mr. Burleson was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. Mr. Burleson is an expert in Adult Learning Theory; Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation (IDD&E), and is also a published author in this field.

Naomi Scales, MarFran Cleaning
Naomi and her wife Marilyn have two daughters, Marci and Francesca  hence MARFRAN, and they are the proud grandparents of one grandson Jace. Naomi is a service-disabled veteran and during her time on active duty in the Coast Guard she received the National Defense Service Medal for service during Desert Storm, The Marine Safety Office Houston Administration Executive of the year for her volunteer work and her support and promoting of the USCG. MarFran was created in 2006 primarily as a commercial cleaning and residential carpet cleaning company. Naomi continued to work with the Post Office until 2010 when the demands of MarFran increased and she decided it was time to take the leap.  MarFran Cleaning, LLC is a now a full service janitorial and Lawn Care company with over 43 employees with contracts throughout the USA.

Honorable Mentions

Adler Archer, Allasys
Adler Archer is an American technology entrepreneur and healthcare researcher. Leveraging nearly two decades of success at the US Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Allasys, Adler helps public sector organizations operate and communicate at their peak. Through his firm Allasys, Adler has provided strategy and technology solutions to industry leading organizations including Johns Hopkins Medicine, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Belgian Federal Parliament and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. Adler is a proud military veteran, having served on active duty in the US Air Force from 2000 – 2004. He has lobbied for important veterans’ causes including “Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery for Veterans” as well as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

Carlton Brown, Occasional Occasions by Carlton
Founded in 1994 by Carlton A. Brown, Occasional Occasions by Carlton has been serving clients, corporate and private, throughout the Atlanta Metropolitan area. Co-owner of “The Irwin Street Market”, and former co-owner of “Hilda’s…A Breakfast to Write Home About” both located in Old Forth Ward, Atlanta. Also the creator of the food product line “Hilda Brewer Brown” (seasonings, sauces, sweets and savories) Specialties: Contemporary Southern Cuisine, Vegan-Vegetarian Options, In-House Trained Staff & Bartenders, Corporate and Private Menu Planning with over 900 options, Off Premise Catering, Personal Chef Services, Intimate Dinners, Multi-Cultural Cuisines, Picnics, Barbecues, Weddings, Boxed Luncheons, Breakfast, Receptions, Award Ceremonies, Holiday Catering, Office Party, Commitment Ceremonies, Brunch, Memorial Funeral, Bereavement and all Special Occasion.

About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities – good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families – benefits us all.

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Ashleigh Freda
(724) 362-8622 ext. 103