Opening applications for the Next Level DEIA Program to established small business owners in the Columbus Region

The business world recognizes that diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) are equally good business practices and the right thing to do. While many larger companies have made significant investments to implement effective DEIA strategies the cost and expertise required are often not feasible for many small – mid-sized businesses.

To directly address this need, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio are partnering to launch Next Level DEIA, an accelerator program for small to mid-sized business leaders to design and implement a customized DEIA strategy for their business.

Next Level DEIA will provide a framework for small-mid-sized business leaders to determine where they are on their DEIA journey, build a customized DEIA action plan, and receive coaching as they implement the plan in their organization. This program will be no charge to the participants.

The Workforce Board is pleased to partner with the Chamber of Commerce on this initiative. In a time when there is fierce competition for talent, helping businesses attract, develop, and retain talent from a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences is an important strategy for the continued success of the Central Ohio economy.”

Quote from Lisa Patt-McDaniel, CEO, The Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio

Small businesses have just as much to gain from focusing on DEIA as the larger businesses in our region. They may not have the capital to commit to such an endeavor, though. That’s why Next Level DEIA is a great opportunity for these business leaders to develop customized DEIA Action Plans and with DEIA experts to offer guidance and support during their implementation phase.

Quote from Don DePerro, President and CEO, The Columbus Chamber of Commerce

Applications for the first cohort are set to close on Friday, June 17, 2022, with admissions rolling for the second cohort planned to start in January 2023. To learn more, visit https://columbus.org/next-level-deia/.


Cohort 1:

  • Application Timeframe: June 2022
  • Program Duration: July 8, 2022 – December 2022
  • Implementation Support: January 2023 – June 2023

Cohort 2:

  • Application Timeframe: November 2022
  • Program Duration: January 2023 – June 2023
  • Implementation Support – July 2023 – December 2023


Onboarding Session:
Venture Suite
780 Mt. Vernon Avenue
Columbus, OH 43203

Program Sessions:
Transcontinental University
565 Metro Place South, Suite 3920
Dublin, OH 43017

PROGRAM DESIGNERS & FACILITATORS:  interesting people who are involved…

  • Don DePerro, Columbus Chamber of Commerce
  • Lisa Patt-McDaniels, Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio
  • Sherrice Sledge-Thomas, Columbus Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Kelly Fuller, Columbus Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Opal Brant, Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio
  • Dr. Ted Sun, Transcontinental University
  • Cody McMichael, Transcontinental University


Sherrice Thomas, VP, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access at The Columbus Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Phone: (614) 496-1143

Opal Brant, Director, Business Solutions, WDBCO
Phone: (614) 559-5062 ext. 408
email: obrant@wdbco.org

About The Columbus Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The Columbus Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s goal is to connect identified potential pipelines to employers through facilitating connections and events that bring job seekers together with HR professionals and decision-makers within our membership. Our mission is to improve the economic well-being of under-served individuals through enhanced access to workforce development programming and employment opportunities.

About the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio

The Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio (WDBCO) is a Non-Profit Organization that plays a leadership role in regional workforce initiatives. Our mission is to partner with area businesses and community organizations on workforce needs so that people are fully employed at their ability and potential in the thriving Central Ohio economy. WDBCO is also the fiscal agent and strategic leader of the local OhioMeansJobs Columbus-Franklin County Job Center, located at 1111 East Broad Street inside the Jerry Hammond Building.