Inslee appoints Lekha Fernandes Director of Office of Minority and Women’s Business


Governor Jay Inslee today announced the appointment of Lekha Fernandes, Director of the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE). Fernandes will replace Lisa van der Lugt who had served as manager since 2018.

The OMWBE is responsible for advancing statewide efforts to increase access, remove barriers, and promote accountability for the inclusion of minority and women-owned businesses in spending opportunities. public. The Businesses for Minorities and Women program includes a comprehensive certification process, small business development support services, as well as compliance, accountability, reporting and assistance to public bodies in achieving their various spending goals. . The agency leads the Governor’s Sub-Cabinet on Business Diversity and works with state agencies and institutions of higher education to promote fair and inclusive purchasing practices. OMWBE is also working with small businesses owned by people of color and women, and veterans to secure more government contracts.

Fernandes has extensive experience leading high performing teams, conducting legal analysis, managing grants and contracts, and overseeing program performance and budget. Prior to this appointment, Fernandes served as the Southwest Coast Regional Manager in the Employment Security Department. She led the oversight of the agency and WorkSource programs. Prior to his time at ESD, Fernandes owned and operated a workforce development grant management business as a contractor for the State of Michigan.

“Lekha’s leadership, professional experience and background will make her an excellent director of the OMWBE. Her client-focused approach will serve our agencies and small businesses well,” Inslee said. “OMWBE is instrumental in helping small businesses owned by people of color and women and state agencies to partner and provide inclusive and equitable business opportunities. We are grateful for Lisa’s leadership with OMWBE over the years. 2018, and we know that Lekha will build on the great work being done across the state.I also want to thank Sarah Erdmann who served as the interim director.

“I am excited to be a part of the OMWBE’s mission and vision as we create equitable systems for small businesses owned by people of color, women and veterans to participate in government contracts,” said Fernandes. “I am grateful for the incredible work already done and encouraged by the direction we will take as an agency and as a state.”

Lekha holds a JD from Lewis & Clark College, Northwestern School of Law and an MBA from Willamette University.

Fernandes’ appointment takes effect on September 12.

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