The DEAI ALLiance of Northwest Ohio Hosts Connect 2024

Crystal Harris Darnell, Minority Suppliers Chair and Felica Clark, Board President of DEAI Alliance of Northwest Ohio

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

On Tuesday, May 14, the DEAI Alliance of Northwest Ohio hosted its Connect 2024, a networking event for minority-owned businesses, from 6-8 p.m. at the Glass City Enrichment Center, 815 Front St. The full event offered an evening of networking for minority businesses to connect with larger corporations.

Hundreds attended the event Tuesday for a dynamic and exclusive networking opportunity. Attendees enjoyed food catered by Tastefully Two and drinks provided by Poco Piatti. This is the second ‘Connect’ event hosted by the DEAI ALLiance.

“The ALLiance is made up of organizations within the region and we use our influence to make connections,” said Felica Clark, president of DEAI ALLiance.  “Our mission is to promote access, inclusion [and] diversity not only in the workplace but with minority businesses also.”

“This event is intended to use our influence and our connections to link minority marginalized businesses to corporations who have a goal to increase their spending with minority vendors,” stated Clark.

Businesses and supporters present included the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Minority Business Assistance Center, Ivy Development Agency, Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, Lucas County, Metroparks Toledo, City of Toledo, TARTA,  Key Bank, Huntington National Bank and more.

“These businesses have come to showcase the business opportunities that they have available and to start networking and collaborating with minority businesses,” she said. “Relationships increase through collaboration. This is what that is meant to create.”

The DEAI ALLiance of Northwest Ohio was formed in May 2022 after Toledo’s first annual Diversity Employment Career Fair. The event was largely successful, but the organizers agreed that it was clear that more work was necessary to make Toledo a better, more inclusive place to work and do business.A committee was created, and meetings were held monthly throughout the year. In 2023, the committee formally named itself the DEAI ALLiance of Northwest Ohio and held its second annual event alongside the Ohio Minority Supplier Diversity Conference. This two-day event included a Supplier Diversity Conference, a career fair, a panel discussion aimed at educating local CEOs on the importance of DEAI initiatives, and breakout sessions for regional DEAI and HR professionals.

After the second annual event, The ALLiance continued meeting, sought formal 501(c)3 status and continued efforts to plan a third annual summit. The summit was held in April 2024.

The DEAI ALLiance of Northwest Ohio is made up of DEAI professionals from the region. (source:

To learn more about the DEAI Alliance of Northwest Ohio visit