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Come hear Dee Hays' journey to one of Oklahoma's Most Admired CEO's of Excellence Engineering! Dee will share her secrets for winning multiple consecutive awards as one of the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned businesses in the world.
Where: VIRTUAL via Zoom (https://startupgrind.zoom.us/j/84339052613?pwd=SWVsNWsremVkRy9qeElQd0V4Y05mUT09)
When: Thursday, June 25, 5:30 - 7:30 PM
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Dee Hays, P.E. is the Founder and CEO of Excellence Engineering, which has grown to a multi‐discipline firm providing turnkey projects from concept through operational completion. Both Dee and Excellence Engineering have received multiple awards as a top CEO and fastest growing firm. Dee graduated from Kansas State University and from the OPM program at Harvard Business School.
Dee Hays, P.E. is the Founder and CEO of Excellence Engineering, LLC. Dee earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State University in the late 80’s, and graduated in 2017 from the OPM program at Harvard Business School. Dee is a board certified Professional Engineer licensed in 38 states and maintains a model law status with the National Council of Professional Engineers.
Dee is an accomplished CEO and has received numerous awards and distinctions throughout the years.
- 2020 ‐ Named one of Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEO’s.
- 2016, 2017 and 2018 ‐ Nominated for Oklahoma Women of the Year and named one of “50 Making a Difference” by the Journal Record
- 2018 – Inducted into the Oklahoma Women of the Year Circle of Excellence by the Journal Record
- 2014 ‐ Honored with the Enterprising Women of the Year Award by EW Magazine
While working as an engineer, Dee founded Excellence Engineering in 2001 with the primary focus on delivering to clients a better engineered package for their projects, providing boutique quality support, and building a team that excels in passion and talents. Excellence Engineering, LLC has grown to a multi‐discipline engineering firm providing turnkey projects from concept through operational completion. Excellence Engineering received national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) in 2013 and is WOSB and HubZone certified by the US government in 2015.
Under Dee’s direction and vision, Excellence Engineering has gained many awards and recognition including:
- American Express list of 50 Fastest Growing Women‐Owned businesses in the world in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
- #285 on the distinguished Inc. 500 list for 2014, and has continued to be on the Inc. 5000 list for 2015, 2016 and 2017.
- Nominated by the esteemed Oil and Gas Awards and was runner up as the Southwest Region’s Engineering Company of the year 2014.
- #1 fastest growing privately held company in Tulsa by The Journal Record in 2014.
Dee is a member of; The prestigious Women Presidents’ Organization, Women’s Business Council –Southwest, WBEA/South Texas and South, Society of Women Engineers, The National and Oklahoma, Societies of Professional Engineers, The International Women’s Forum, The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, The Society of American Military Engineers, Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance Advisory Board member, Go Red for Women for the Oklahoma Heart Association and the Oklahoma Commission for the Status of Women. Dee is the previous Chairman for the Sac and Fox Economic Development Holding Company Board and most recently was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Workforce and Economic Development for the State of Oklahoma.
Founder & CEO
Program Director & Capital Access Manager
VP of Commercial Lending
Malachi Blankenship is a Venture Advisor for i2E, investing in startups. At i2E, he supports the overall business commercialization efforts for local startups including the development of business strategies, capitalization and milestone planning, market research, competitor analysis, preparation of investor presentations and facilitating access to the Angel and Venture Capital markets. He specializes in areas related to software and technology. Malachi is market-facing in his activities and outreach efforts to ensure the entrepreneurial sector in Oklahoma is aware of i2E’s capabilities and how to access those. Malachi actively engages with several ecosystem building initiatives including: Oklahoma Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Forum, Tulsa Startup Series, The Black upStart, Techstars Startup Weekend, HYPE, Tulsa Collab, Youth Entrepreneurs and Love's Cup. Prior to joining i2E, Malachi was the co-founder for a technology startup that launched a geo-tourism platform to better connect communities in real time. He received his undergraduate and MBA from The University of Tulsa while competing as a student-athlete. He is an active volunteer and mentor for One Hope Tulsa (a non-profit that helps underserved children through tutoring and sports training). He also serves on the board for 36 Degrees North, The Forge, Oklahoma Venture Advisory Council and TYPROS.
Candice Matthews-Brackeen is the Founder and CEO of Lightship, the Cincinnati based portfolio service firm and fund whose family of companies include entrepreneur education programs Hillman and NewMe. Lightship companies work together in support of tech driven startups led by underrepresented entrepreneurs.
As CEO of Hillman, the first entrepreneur education program in the Midwest providing support exclusively to WMBEs, Candice has influenced state policy around economic inclusion in addition to establishing meaningful partnerships with companies like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and Chase in support of Hillman’s work.
Candice has over 15 years of entrepreneurial experience including co-founding Hello Parent, a national safety technology partner of the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. She later founded the Cincinnati Chapter of the Black Founders Network (BFN), to address the need for increased diversity and inclusion efforts in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Candice currently serves on the board of the Cincinnati Squash Academy, the Advisory Board for the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University, and has recently served on the Board of Directors at Beech Acres Parenting Center where she chaired the Parenting Innovation and Technology Committee. She also holds a Director seat on the board of the Justin T. Wright Suicide Prevention Initiative and Depression Research Foundation. She is a recipient of both the Venture Ohio Catalyst of the Year and the Cincinnati Business Courier Women Who Mean Business awards, and maintains a busy fundraising schedule, working diligently to identify and develop transformative tech startups. She sits on the Advisory Board of the Global Accelerator Network and also serves on the Cincinnati Squash Academy Board. Candice holds a BA Economics from the University of Cincinnati where she was a Hewitt-Kautz Fellow.
Jeff Burdge is the Kiva Tulsa Lead for the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation. Prior to his position as Kiva Tulsa Lead, he was the claims manager for John Christner Trucking in Sapulpa, OK. Before that he served multiple claims positions for State Farm Insurance. Jeff graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2010 with a BS in Geography and a minor in Emergency Management.
Jeff is a Tulsa native, graduating from Tulsa Union. He is involved with multiple nonprofit organizations & events including Health Outreach Prevention Education, Arthritis Foundation, and CREATE Gala for ahha Tulsa. He was named one of Tulsa’s New Leaders in 2014 and was also awarded a Governor’s Commendation in 2014.
Outside of work Jeff is a dog dad to Phoebe, his yellow Labrador, an avid foodie, lover of travel, and a Potterhead.
Rudy Upshaw is a career Commercial Banker with a proven track record of helping companies reach their growth for over 25 years. Rudy describes himself as a trusted advisor to businesses helping them reach their God-given purpose. He loves working with business leaders and has worked with business from startups to well established companies with decades of experience. Rudy uses his talents and experience to help owners grow their business, avoid issues before they happen and work through challenges when they arise. Rudy specializes in helping leadership teams understand their financial position and resources as well as sourcing capital to meet the owner’s strategic goals. He is also an entrepreneur working with business owners in his own consulting business outside of his daily duties as a commercial banker. He can be reached at RudyUpshaw.com or by mobile at (918) 970-0790.
Rudy grew up in northwest Arkansas and received is BSBA in Financial Management from the University of Arkansas. Rudy has worked with commercial clients in community, regional and national banks. He moved to Tulsa in 2014 to work with commercial clients in the market. He and his wife Patricia live in Bixby. Rudy and Patricia have 7 children and 4 grandchildren between them. When Rudy is not meeting with business leaders or having large family gatherings, you’ll find him on the trails mountain biking, cycling or running to keep fit for his clients!
True North Ventures
Alex Lobodiak directs the business development operations for GeoSafe and owns a boutique consulting company, True North Ventures. He is passionate about reducing emergency response times through easy-to-use interoperability software and guiding entrepreneurs through their changing business landscapes.
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