The 20th annual State Agency Recognition Awards (SARA) honored state departments, small business (SB) and disabled veteran business enterprise (DVBE) advocates, and state employees for outstanding achievements in SB & DVBE advocacy and contracting for fiscal year 2018-19.

The 20th annual SARA Ceremony was held on January 29, 2020 at the Citrus Heights Community Center.

Presented by the California Department of Veterans Affairs, these two awards are presented to an individual and a business. The individual award goes to an individual in state government who is a champion of the disabled veteran business enterprise program. The business award goes to a disabled veteran-owned business that works with the state and supports of veteran entrepreneurs.

The winners are:

John Palmer, Servexo U.S.A.
Individual Excellence

Veterans Business Outreach Center, Region IX
Coreena Conley, President and CEO, and Robert Beamer, Chairman of the Board
Business Excellence

Departments that achieved 30 percent or more small business participation and 5 percent or more disabled veteran business participation were recognized with a Notable Achievement award.

The winners are:

  • Department of Aging
  • Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
  • Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeal Board
  • California Arts Council
  • Delta Stewardship Council
  • Department of Developmental Services
  • Department of Education Diagnostic Centers
  • Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
  • Department of Fair Employment and Housing
  • Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • Franchise Tax Board
  • Department of Industrial Relations
  • Office of the Inspector General
  • Department of Insurance
  • Military Department
  • Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Department of Pesticide Regulation
  • Public Employment Relations Board
  • Department of Rehabilitation
  • San Diego River Conservancy
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • California School for the Blind
  • California School for the Deaf – Riverside
  • Secretary of State
  • Sierra Nevada Conservancy
  • Board of State and Community Corrections
  • Commission on State Mandates
  • Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development
  • Office of the State Public Defender
  • Office of Tax Appeals
  • State Treasurer
  • State Water Resources Control Board
  • Student Aid Commission
  • Office of Systems Integration
  • Department of Tax and Fee Administration
  • Tax Credit Allocation Committee
  • Commission on Teacher Credentialing
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • California Victims Compensation Board

Presented by Wayne Gross, Business Outreach Liaisons, Department of General Services

The department that made the largest increase in their small business or disabled veteran business enterprise participation percent from Fiscal Year (FY) 2017-18 to FY 2018-19, while also achieving at least 25 percent small business or 3 percent DVBE participation, was recognized with a “Most Improved” award. The award was given to five departments based on the sizes of the departments and broken down by small business participation and DVBE participation.

Most Improved Small Business Participation winner

San Diego River Conservancy
Extra Small Agency (under $250,000)
Participation rose from 43 percent to 79 percent

California Tax Credit Allocation Committee
Small Agency ($250,000 - $2 million)
Participation rose from 18 percent to 73 percent

State Treasurer
Medium Agency ($2 million - $20 million)
Participation rose from 30 percent to 40 percent

Employment Development Department
Large Agency ($20 million - $50 million)
Participation rose from 28 percent to 37 percent

Military Department
Extra Large Agency (over $50 million)
Participation rose from 32 percent to 57 percent

Most Improved DVBE Participation winners

Debt Limit Allocation Committee
Extra Small Agency (under $250,000)
Participation rose from 17 percent to 37 percent

Public Employment Relations Board
Small Agency ($250,000 - $2 million)
Participation rose from 19 percent to 34 percent

State Treasurer
Medium Agency ($2 million - $20 million)
Participation rose from 3 percent to 20 percent

California State University, Humboldt
Large Agency ($20 million - $50 million)
Participation rose from 3 percent to 7 percent

Military Department
Extra Large Agency (over $50 million)
Participation rose from 9 percent to 28 percent

Presented by Keith Boylan, Deputy Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs and Demeshia Swanson, Certification Manager, Department of General Services

This new award was given to two individuals who, as buyers for the state of California who conduct procurements with small business and DVBEs, awarded contracts to the largest variety of businesses.

The winners are:

Kimberly Page,  California Highway Patrol
75 different small businesses awarded over 200,000 dollars across 150 procurements

Tammy Kirkwood, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
75 different small businesses awarded over 3 million dollars across 330 procurements

Margaret Cortez, Department of Veterans Affairs
21 different DVBEs awarded over 600,000 dollars across 40 procurements

Presented by Nancy Huth, Certification Manager, and Christopher Calceta, Certification Officer, Department of General Services

This new award was given to an individual who, as a buyer for the state of California who conducts procurements with small business and DVBEs, made exceptional use of the SB/DVBE Option procurement method. Doing so supports the preferred use of small businesses and DVBEs in state procurement, and helps departments achieve their SB and DVBE goals.

The winner is:

Connie Smith, Department of Veterans Affairs
conducted over 200 SB/DVBE Option procurements

Presented by Araceli Mohseni and Jolene Graham, Business Outreach Liaisons, Department of General Services


The leadership of the advocate steering committee was recognized for their dedication, hard work, and support of more than 200 small business and DVBE advocates throughout the state of California.

The honorees are:

Andrea Pina, Department of Consumer Affairs

Nina Martinez, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – Headquarters

Shaironda Morris, Department of Rehabilitation

Tracy Bowen, California Highway Patrol

Presented by Michael Aguillio, Business Outreach Liaison, Department of General Services, and Chair of the SB/DVBE Advocate Steering Committee


This award recognizes three small business and DVBE advocates throughout the state of California for exemplary work and success through outreach efforts, performance measurements, and notable improvements.

The winners are:

Brandon Chastain
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Avenal State Prison
Bronze Award

Lauren Boehnke and Mike Fairbanks
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Institution for Men
Silver Award

Yolanda Flores
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, North Kern State Prison
Gold Award

Presented by Darvin Manuel and Jermaine Carter-Gibson, Business Outreach Liaisons, Department of General Services


The Agency of the Year Award honors three agencies or departments for their best practices, creativity and outstanding achievements to advance the State’s small business and DVBE programs. The winners of this year’s agency of the year award demonstrated their commitment and success across the areas of outreach efforts, performance measurements, and notable improvements.

The winners are:

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Institution for Men
Bronze award

Department of Public Health
Silver award

Department of Consumer Affairs
Gold award

Presented by Rhonda Smith, Chief of Strategic Sourcing and Acquisitions Branch, and Anda Draghici, Office of Small Business and DVBE Services Certification Program Manager, Department of General Services.


This new award celebrates three organizations that recognize and honor the state’s small business and DVBE programs. These organizations, mostly counties, cities, transportation agencies, utilities, and other local municipalities are reciprocity partners of the state of California. Their efforts, although outside of state government, also benefit the small business and DVBE communities.

The winners are:

East Bay Municipal Utility District
Bronze award

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Silver award

Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Gold award

The Finalists are:

  • County of San Diego
  • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  • San Diego Association of Governments
  • San Diego Unified School District

Presented by Julian Canete, President & CEO, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce


This new award is in memory of Angel Carrera Jr., Chief of the Certification and Outreach Branch at DGS who passed away in 2019. The award recognizes and celebrates a leader in state procurement who, like Angel, supports small businesses and DVBEs in state procurement and is a tremendous leader.

The winner is:

Ramon Carlos
Department of Veterans Affairs

The Finalists are:

  • Edris Diaz, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Avenal State Prison
  • Lisa Tackett, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Men's Colony
  • Maribel Garcia, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Wasco State Prison Reception Center
  • Paul Waters, California Children and Families Commission

Presented by Angela Shell, Deputy Director of the Procurement Division and Chief Procurement Officer, Department of General Services


This award is given to the state department, agency or individual whose best practices, innovation, and advocacy efforts have allowed them to go above and beyond in exceeding the state’s Small Business and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise contracting goals.

The winner is:

Rich Zmuda
Department of Water Resources

Presented by Julie Lee, Acting Secretary, Government Operations Agency


Presented for the 13th year, this award honors the state agency or department that best demonstrates excellence and innovation in providing contracting opportunities to Small Businesses (SB) and Disabled Veterans Business Enterprises (DVBE). It is a prestigious honor given to the department or agency that models a superior standard to which other state departments can aspire.

The winner is:

Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development

Presented by Isabel Guzman, Director of the Office of the Small Business Advocate, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development


Contact

Office of Small Business and DVBE Services
Department of General Services

707 Third Street
West Sacramento, CA 95605
DGSSARA@dgs.ca.gov