14:21 PM

UST Leaders Participate in Panel Discussion for Governor’s Small Business Summit – Houston

Dr. Nicole McZeal WaltersThe Governor’s Small Business Summit-Houston was hosted in partnership with the Governor’s Commission for Women, the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Texas Workforce Commission.

Both UST Chief Legal Counsel Gita Bolt and the University’s Vice Chair of the UST Board of Directors Denise Castillo-Rhodes, MBA ’92, serve on the Governor’s Commission for Women.

Bolt was instrumental in expanding UST’s participation at this year’s event. Expert participants from St. Thomas included Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters, dean of The Kolbe School of Innovation and Professional Studies: Walters served as the higher education representative on the Workforce Development and Retention panel. Also included was Prof. Eric Botts, director of the Center for International Studies Global Security Program, who contributed on the cybersecurity panel.

The Governor’s Small Business Summit-Houston event was held on Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Bayou City Event Center.

Prof. Eric BottsPanel topics included:

  • Marketing and social media
  • Finance and Funding
  • Alternative Funding
  • What it Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur
  • Cybersecurity
  • Workforce Development and Retention

The Summit aims to help women-owned small businesses and aspiring female entrepreneurs reach new heights on their business journey. This event offered a variety of sessions bringing together local, state and federal resource partners to provide key insights on critical business topics and connect women business owners with the resources and information needed to start, strengthen and grow their businesses. 

At the event, attendees had an opportunity to network with other women business owners and meet experts who shared timely, relevant and actionable advice on many small business subjects. The Summit also featured a Women-owned Small Business Pitch Competition.

Dr. Walters spoke on the Workforce Development and Retention panel and discussed the key economic trends in Texas, emphasizing the strong growth potential of the greater Houston area.

“Higher education will play a significant role in preparing employees for a growing workforce, particularly in our region,” Walters said. “From 2021 to 2031, Texas is expected to create an average of 1,683,000 job openings annually, stemming from new jobs and vacancies due to retirement and other reasons.”

The Workforce Development and Retention panel moderator was Sofia Adrogue, partner of Diamond McCarthy LLP. Other panel members were Juliet Stipeche, director of Human Services for Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions, and Dr. Melanie Rodriguez, CEO and leader coach for Elevate Latinas.

Prof. Botts spoke on the Cybersecurity panel moderated by Dr. Michelle Penn-Marshall of Texas Southern University. Joining Botts were Jerrell Conerly, Department for Homeland Security, ISA cybersecurity consultant, and Heather Hughes, vice president for Stroz Friedberg. 

“We discussed the steps small businesses can take to improve their cybersecurity and the threats they face,” Botts said.