$1,000 Special Recognition was Awarded to Four Oklahoma City-based Minority Business Enterprises, or MBEs
2023 OKC Minority Enterprise Development Champion presented to:
Kristin Garcia | Strategic Development and Operations Director of The Verge OKC
Kristin Garcia serves the Strategic Development and Operations Director of The Verge OKC, a 501(3)(c), that connects our rising entrepreneurial community to the people and resources they need to progress their vision and transform great ideas into impactful businesses. Kristin has served as an entrepreneurship and tech ecosystem builder in the Oklahoma City area since moving to Oklahoma in 2017 to serve as the Code Lab Manager supporting startup program development and community tech development programs.
Previously, Kristin worked at a tech startup, Purepost, focused on solving Veteran hiring problems where her brother and father serve as co-founders with their team on the West Coast. She currently serves as the Global Entrepreneurship Week State Coordinator for Oklahoma, a member of the organizing team for 1 Million Cups Oklahoma City, an Adjunct for the OU Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Department and formerly for an Intro to MIS course, and former Board Member of Techlahoma.
Kristin calls San Antonio, TX home and is a proud Army Brat who has traveled the world. She currently lives in Norman, OK with her husband Chris and their 3 dogs.
2023 OKC Minority Enterprise Development Distinguished Leader Award presented to:
Veronica Zelada | Founder and Owner of Cafe Kacao
Veronica Zelada, a remarkable Guatemalan woman, ventured to the United States in search of a brighter future for herself and her three children. Growing up in a large and close-knit family, she learned responsibility from a young age. She pursued education in marketing and business in Guatemala but yearned for new opportunities. In 2001, she made the brave move to Oklahoma, where her entrepreneurial spirit thrived.
Veronica initially worked in the restaurant industry, discovering her passion for culinary arts. Noticing a lack of ethnic restaurants, she envisioned blending Central and South American flavors with American brunch favorites. In 2011, she turned her dream into reality by opening Cafe Kacao.
Cafe Kacao quickly became a popular brunch spot in northwest Oklahoma, known for its unique fusion of flavors. It received numerous accolades, including top rankings on Yelp and recognition from local publications. Veronica's dedication and talent made her restaurant a culinary destination.
Veronica's story is one of determination and passion, showcasing her journey from Guatemala to culinary success in the United States. Her achievements serve as an inspiration, demonstrating that dedication and a dream can lead to greatness.
2023 OKC Minority Enterprise Development Innovative Leader Award presented to:
LaTasha Timberlake | Founder and Executive Director of Lillian Timber Farms
LaTasha Timberlake is native to Oklahoma. She is a lifelong educator with local, national, and international experience serving in various capacities from classroom teacher to school administration. She has over 20 years of expertise in supporting non profits and community organizing. LaTasha has worked with organizations such The Ralph Ellison Foundation, The City of Indianapolis, C.H.U.M.S OKC, Work Ready Oklahoma, Northeast OKC Renaissance, It’s My Community Initiative, Urban Bridge Impact Center, Restore OKC, and Freedom City.
In 2019, she founded Lillian Timber Farms , a non profit 501C3 urban farm, in Northeast Oklahoma City that educates and supports underserved communities with growing organic produce and learning healthy living practices. She and her team of volunteers have grown and distributed over 1,000 pounds of produce, facilitated numerous educational programming opportunities, and supported many local environmental and agriculture based organizations. Lillian Timber Farms is known for its once a month community gatherings coined, "Work Parties" as a homage to indigenous community gatherings that bring the community together to work the land, dance, and break bread with one another.
LaTasha is a member of the Oklahoma Local Agriculture Collaborative Board and the Sustainability Alliance Board. Recently, she has had a vital role in the implementation of the Metropolitan Library System’s “Metro Grows” Program where participants are able to receive free gardening education and check out tools through the local library! Most recently she has been awarded a School Design Center Fellowship through The Oklahoma Public School Resource Center to found her own public charter school. To maintain her Peace and Balance she enjoys traveling, hiking, visiting art museums, spending time with family, reading books, and cooking.
2023 OKC Minority Enterprise Development Selfless Leader Award presented to:
Greg Jones | Owner of Organizational CFO
Greg Jones is a husband to Ericka for 25 years, 3 Young adult children (Jordan, Erick and Elijah) who are creative and entrepreneurs, deacon, and business manager at Church Ablaze, motivational speaker and most of all strives to be a kingdom servant leader. He grew up in Spencer, graduated from Northeast High School and then earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from OU.
Greg is currently a business advisor with the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center, an accomplished community leader with high energy, strong sense of responsibility and motivation for sustainability. His diverse work experience includes over 20 years of Insurance and Risk Management, Economic Development, Training and Education. He has worked with hundreds of small businesses to Fortune 500 companies across the United States developing successful growth and retention strategies.
He gives much of his credit to his parents who instilled work-ethic, pleasant attitude, giving spirit to share what you have with others and accountability in the form of constant encouragement every step of the way. He receives joy taking cruises, working with youth, serving in his neighborhood JFK, NE OKC Renaissance and his Eastside neighbors with Restore OKC.
2023 OKC Minority Enterprise Development Charismatic Leader Award presented to:
Jenny Nguyen | Founder of Bún Box
Jenny Nguyen is a restaurateur and real estate developer. She is well known for operating Lee’s Sandwiches in the Asian District and was instrumental in developing Oklahoma City’s first food hall, The Collective. Last month she launched her newest concept, Bún Box, serving Vietnamese vermicelli noodles and rice boxes. Jenny is a Vietnamese American and currently serves as the Vice President of the Asian District Cultural Association and Vice President of the Oklahoma Contemporary Garde. She is passionate about bridging and building community, personal wellness, and spending time with her one year old daughter Kitson.