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Helena Fonseca serves as Public Procurement Coordinator Program at the Organization of American States (OAS), and Technical Secretary of the Inter-American Network of Government Procurement (INGP)

Location: USA

Jennifer Geiling

The City of New York’s Mayor’s Office of Contract Services

Deputy Director, Policy and Partnerships

Bio

Jennifer Geiling is Deputy Director for Policy and Partnerships at the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, leading policy reform, public-private partnerships, and external communications efforts. In this role, she served as Executive Director for the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee, a Mayoral initiative to create business reforms within the human services sector and expand the City’s partnership with human services nonprofit organizations. Jennifer began her career as a corporate lawyer and has served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service at New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Jennifer is an alumna of the University of California at Berkeley, holds a Juris Doctor from George Washington University Law School and a Masters in Public Administration from New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

What is your professional background and how did you become involved in the world of commerce and contracting? 

Since the beginning of my career, within the OAS, I have worked on central matters for the promotion of transparency, integrity and institutional strengthening of governments around the Americas, where I have succeeded consolidating my technical expertise related to the design, execution and monitoring of regional cooperation projects; as well as political awareness skills to engage High-level authorities and build technical capacities to specialists in public procurement.  

Throughout this path I have lead relevant actions which have contributed to the achievement of important results as Technical Secretary of the INGP such as (i) the consolidation of the Network as the main regional forum and community of practice for cooperation; (ii) settlement of the INGP as a reference for global procurement networks; (iii) worldwide promotion of Latin American and Caribbean procurement practices; and (iv) elevation of public procurement as a strategic area to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).  

Furthermore, due to my commitment and contributions, public procurement topic was featured as a key area in the highest regional political fora such as the Eight Summit of the Americas - Document of Lima on Democratic Governance to Combat Corruption-; and the OAS General Assembly who recognized the INGP as an hemispheric technical cooperation mechanism within OAS Member States.

What are two personal achievements and contributions through your career?

Supporting diversity and inclusion

As Deputy Director for Policy and Partnerships at MOCS, I lead initiatives to support the Mayor’s mission to establish NYC as the fairest big city in America. I focus on leveling the playing field for Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) and small organizations. The backbone of these efforts is enabling greater access to City contracting through technology innovation, relationship development and public awareness campaigns. Through the NRC, I brought small, community-based organizations to the table to ensure our policy decisions were equitable, balanced and inclusive. My team leads the digital integration of City Council’s discretionary contracting portfolio – making it easier for nearly 2,000 organizations to contract with the City and streamlining the contracting process for more than 6,000 awards. I’m currently on a campaign to engage the City’s 10,000+ certified M/WBEs in electronic procurement, which offers expanded business opportunities specifically for these stakeholders.

Raising the reputation of contracting in organization, geographic area or sector.

As NRC Executive Director, I lead the design and implementation of dozens of policy reforms across 41 City agencies, with nearly 1,000 nonprofit business partners, impacting thousands of contracts. Most notably, the Health and Human Services Cost Manual, developed by the NRC, standardizes cost treatment, budgeting and expense claiming across the City’s $7 billion contracting portfolio. It creates a standard, transparent and inclusive policy that makes it easier for all businesses and the City’s 40 Mayoral agencies to manage their contract budgets and financial obligations. New York City was the first in the nation to create this framework, establishing a model for other municipalities and private foundations.

As Deputy Director at MOCS, I established the agency’s first public relations team that is charged with raising the reputation of City procurement, contracting and our office. We have advanced a narrative that is taking hold and transforming our position in the City and elevating our work. I speak regularly on the significance of contracting and procurement professionals and have been featured by media outlets through podcast and writing engagements. My work was recognized by the Frederick P. Hayes Foundation, awarding innovative contributions to the delivery of public services.

Covid-19 has illustrated the critical importance of helping women to realise their professional aspirations - what role have you played or are you currently playing within your organization to support women in their roles?

As a member of the MOCS executive team, I serve on panels that target women in leadership roles in an effort to inspire women to lean in and lead. I also lead on M/WBE engagement initiatives that target greater inclusivity of women in City contracting – speaking regularly at community and business convenings and Mayoral initiatives. As an alumna of New York University Wagner School of Public Service and an adjunct professor, I have spoken about my professional journey as a woman and served as a counselor for other women considering careers in public service. I mentor the women on my team, encouraging them to lead with confidence and promoting them as they realize success and growth. Finally, I note that I served as a principal member of the City’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Health and Human Service team, designing policies and practices to support ongoing services during the COVID-19 pandemic and in reopening.