Governor Moore Announces Nichelle Johnson as Maryland’s First Minority Business Enterprise Ombudsman

Published: 1/16/2024

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Wes Moore today announced that Nichelle Johnson will serve as Maryland’s first Minority Business Enterprise Ombudsman in the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs. Johnson’s broad scope of responsibilities includes working with prime contractors and minority business enterprises to resolve issues that arise during contract performance; develop policies and guidance to assist agencies in implementing program compliance; and oversee data collection of documented nonperformance by prime contractors.

"I am grateful that Nichelle has raised her hand to serve Maryland in this new leadership position. Our entire administration is confident in her ability to advocate for our minority-owned businesses and help us grow a more equitable economy," said Gov. Wes Moore. "As the first Minority Business Enterprise Ombudsman in Maryland history, Nichelle will work to forge stronger partnerships between our small businesses and state government. And in doing so, she will position us to win this decade."

Johnson has a 20-year record of helping entrepreneurs start and expand their businesses in the private sector, providing technical support and IT services as both a prime contractor and subcontractor. Johnson served in the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs across 70 state agencies and departments to collect annual and quarterly performance data, develop compliance best practices, and train minority business enterprise liaisons statewide. She also operated as a program subject matter expert to executives, legislators, state personnel, and stakeholder organizations and led  training programs for minority business owners and entrepreneurs.

“Nichelle has been a key member of our team for more than four years,” said Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs Special Secretary Y. Maria Martinez. “This promotion acknowledges the great work she has been doing and our confidence in her abilities to influence positive outcomes for the minority business enterprise community.”

In her new role, Johnson will ensure that the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs is represented and engaged in advising state personnel on program requirements and will participate in the state’s Senior Procurement Advisory Group, the Minority Business Enterprise Advisory Committee, and the Procurement Improvement Council. She will also develop new training programs for both prime contractors and minority business enterprise subcontractors to help ensure final contract outcomes meet established program goals. 

Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a graduate level certificate in leadership and management from the University of Maryland Global Campus.

The Moore-Miller administration is working to close the racial wealth gap and promote access to work, wages, and wealth in part through increasing state government’s performance toward reaching its 29% Minority Business Enterprise program participation goal. Last February, Governor Moore signed an executive order to promote data reporting and compliance on state agency performance, a first for a Maryland governor.