Klassi Duncan currently serves as Director of the Women’s Business Resource Center and the Contractor’s Resource Center at the Urban League of Louisiana. The Centers provide small business education, counseling services, and access to resources to women and minority entrepreneurs across Southeast Louisiana. In this role, Klassi is responsible for the oversight and management of the organization’s operations, programming, and staff. Her responsibilities include establishing and leading the strategic direction of the organization, developing market-specific training curricula and special events, fund development and management, fostering strategic partnerships, and growing the Centers’ impact in the community.
In 2018, Klassi was named one of Gambit New Orleans Magazine’s “40 Under 40”leaders to watch in New Orleans. She also received the “Tech Innovator of the Year Award” during the 2018 National Urban League Whitney M. Young Leadership Conference, as well as, the 2018 Partner of Year Award from the Women’sBusiness Enterprise Council-South.
Under her leadership, the Women’s Business Resource Center was awarded the 2017 Women’s Business Champion Award by the U.S. Small Business Administration,Louisiana District Office for their work in promoting and developing women-owned businesses across the region.
In 2017, Klassi created and produced the Urban League of Louisiana’s first annual Women in Construction Convening,a one day event dedicated to providing women in construction and supporting fields with a platform for professional development, education and networking. In the same year, Klassi also created and produced the Urban League ofLouisiana’s annual Veterans Small Business Breakfast and Resources Summit. The purpose of this annual event to thank veteran entrepreneurs for their service, to celebrate their business accomplishments, and to support their entrepreneurial aspirations.
Prior to assuming her current role, Ms. Duncan served as the Director of Business Support & Evaluation for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at Delgado Community College, New Orleans, La. In this role, she led the Business Support Services team in providing advising and technical assistance to small businesses. She alsooversaw the program’s Measurement and Evaluation function to capture and assess the critical impact metrics of participating businesses before, during, and after graduation. Prior to this role, she served as a Business Advisor for more than three years in the program.
Ms. Duncan began her professional career as a Buyer at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI, where she was responsible for the procurement of various products and services throughout her time with the company, including catalyst internals and IT products and services. In 2008, Ms. Duncan assumed the role of Manager of Supplier Diversity & Sustainability at Covidien, a healthcare manufacturer, in Mansfield, MA. There she was responsible for developing and implementing a strategy and program for the inclusion of small and diverse businesses into the strategic sourcing process, and for working with these businesses to build capacity and increase operational efficiencies. She was also responsible for developing the sustainable sourcing strategy which included product stewardship, materials compliance, and environmentally preferable sourcing policies for various products.
Klassi currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Women Business Owners – New Orleans Chapter as the Chair of Programs. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Homer A. Plessy Community School in New Orleans and serves as the Chair of the Development Committee. Klassi is an active member of: United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Association for Women’s Business Centers,National Association of Women in Construction – New Orleans Chapter, Value Louisiana: Regional Sustainability Committee. Klassi also supports various other organizations and cause-based non-profit organizations, including Warriors for Willow – MSD Foundation and the Saul’s Light Foundation.
In addition, Klassi is often called upon to serve as a speaker or host to various groups and constituents. In collaboration with the New Orleans Citizens Diplomacy Council, she has been able to support the US Department of State’s International Visitor’s Leadership Program by providing insights on entrepreneurship and guidance on scalingfor business growth to a number of business leaders and women entrepreneurs from around the world.
In 2016, Klassi was published in the Huffington Post blog What’s Working: Small Businesses where her article “The Power of the Pivot: Knowing When It’s Time to Change Direction” was featured. She is also a regular speaker during the annual Essence Music Festival’s empowerment series, speaking in 2016, 2017, and most recently, during the 2018festival on the topic of scalability for entrepreneurs.
Ms. Duncan earned a BS in Business Management and a Master’s in Business Administration at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL. She is also a Certified Professional in Supply Chain Management and a Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity.