The Fourth Annual Meet the Decision Makers African American History Month Business Breakfast was held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 21. Meet the Decision Makers celebrated three dynamic, high profile officials—Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Metropolitan Water District Chairwoman Gloria Gray and Monique Earl, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Meet the Decision Makers strives to connect small & minority business owners with real contracting opportunities in the public and private sectors. Upgrade LA was thrilled to announce that Skanska USA has spent over $200 million with minority and disadvantaged business owners over the past five years in the LA region.

With more than 150 small business owners, faith leaders and community leaders in attendance, Meet the Decision Makers honored Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for his dedication to public service. West Basin Municipal Water District Director, Gloria Gray was celebrated for her excellence as the first African American chairwoman in Metropolitan Water District of Southern California history, and Ms. Monique Earl for her leadership and innovation in public finance and transportation. KJLH radio personality, Dominique DiPrima served as mistress of ceremony.

Chairwoman Gloria Gray shared words of wisdom with the audience, stating that “Water should be a way of life. Water conservation is very important” and Monique Earl emphasized that, “Transportation sits at the center of social justice in which leadership matters, representation matters, having power matters. The question is, what are you going to do with it?”

Mark Ridley-Thomas encouraged small business leaders and participants to “show up, lead, and make sure that we have an opportunity to hear from you to impact meaningful change throughout Los Angeles.” Also present was LACCD Board President Mike Fong and representatives from the offices of Sen. Kamala Harris, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and State Controller Betty Yee.

Meet the Decision Makers: Leaders on the Move was sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), Metropolitan Water District (MWD), Skanska, Accenture, Kiewit, Los Angeles Rams, Metro, Olivarez Madruga Lemieux & O’Neill, Suez, Turner, Water Replenishment District of Southern California, and West Basin Municipal Water District. An exclusive raffle of an autographed football was sponsored by the Los Angeles Rams.

Meet the Decision Makers, was established as a public forum in 2014 to connect elected officials and major public sector decision-makers with small business owners, faith leaders, and engaged citizens. In the past, Meet the Decision Makers has heard from decision makers such as City Attorney Mike Feuer, City Councilman Gil Cedillo, Supervisor Hilda Solis, Metro CEO Phillip Washington, and LAWA CEO Deborah Flint.

Learn more about Meet The Decision Makers by calling Nicole Clark Reed at (310) 815-8444 or email info@upgradela.com.