The Department of General Services, Procurement Division, recently hosted the 16th Annual State Agency Recognition Award (SARA) ceremony to recognize the Governor’s commitment to meet or exceed Small Business (SB) and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) contracting goals for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.

The 16th Annual SARA ceremony featured 11 different award categories and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) received top honors in multiple categories.

Nina Martinez

Nina Martinez, CDCR Statewide SB/DVBE Advocate

Government Operations Agency Secretary’s Special Achievement Award
Nina A. Martinez, CDCR Statewide SB/DVBE Advocate

This award goes 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 SB/DVBE contracting goals.

The 2015 Agency Secretary Award winner improved participation in the following ways:

  • Leading her department’s SB/DVBE Program, including training, providing staff support, state agency collaboration, and vendor support services.
  • Through her hard work and commitment to excellence, this winner has done an impressive job raising her department’s performance to historic levels.
  • During the last four years, this winner has attended over 140 outreach events to help educate suppliers on how to do business with her department and guide them through the most appropriate competitive bid process.
  • When not in the field, this advocate supports her team by providing resources, materials and information, while supporting and cross-training her peers to further the department’s SB/DVBE objectives.

The department advocate exceeded the small business goal at 32 percent, contracting out $333.1 million to small businesses; and exceeded the DVBE goal at 4 percent, contracting out $40.9 million to Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises.

SARA SILVER Winner: CDCR, Headquarters

This SILVER agency improved participation, by:

  • Participating in 75 outreach event opportunities, training, forums and meetings.
  • Collaborating with various entities to help educate SB/DVBEs on how to do business with CDCR.
  • Their SB participation for FY 14-15 was 33 percent and DVBE participation was 4 percent.

CDCR SB/DVBE Advocate Finalists

  • Annette Holling, Procurement & Services Officer II – California Institution for Men
  • Debra Steward, Materials & Stores Supervisor I – San Quentin State Prison
  • Eleanor Amith, Business Services Officer I – Avenal State Prison
  • Elizabeth Swanson-Callan, Business Services Officer I – California Medical Facility
  • Irene Contreras, Business Services Officer I – Valley State Prison
  • Lisa Tackett, Procurement & Services Officer II – Kern Valley State Prison
  • Sam Venero, Correctional Business Manager I – Ironwood State Prison
  • Keala Barkhurst, Office Technician – California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
  • Linda Langley, Correctional Business Manager I – Wasco State Prison
  • Nina A. Martinez, HQ, Statewide SB/DVBE Advocate
Lisa Tackett, Kern Valley State Prison

Lisa Tackett, Kern Valley State Prison

Advocate of the year PLATINUM winner
Lisa Tackett, Procurement and Services Officer II, Kern Valley State Prison

  • Has been the advocate for over 4 years.
  • Disseminates information, trains staff and is always available to assist by phone or in person.
  • Their SB participation was 80 percent (714 contracts totaling $3.75 million) and their DVBE participation was 8 percent (315 contracts totaling $360,386).
Sam Venero, Ironwood State Prison

Sam Venero, Ironwood State Prison

 Advocate of the year SILVER winner
Sam G. Venero, Correctional Business Manager I – Ironwood State Prison

  • Assisted in training and mentoring staff while helping to foster relationships between staff and the SB/DVBE community.
  • Effectively communicated with vendors and assisted with billing, shipping or invoicing issues promptly.
  • Their SB participation was 86 percent the DVBE participation was 9 percent.

Note:  A full list of winners, nominees, videos, and photos can be viewed at