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Meet Our Team

Bowling Green
Our KY APEX Accelerator Staff is built on experienced professionals, with diverse backgrounds and strong ties to government agencies and contracting companies.
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Nancy Habash Brown, PMP
Executive Director
Lexington Office

Nancy Habash Brown currently serves as the Executive Director of Kentucky APEX Accelerator (KY APEX Accelerator), the primary program for government contracting assistance in Kentucky. In addition, Nancy oversees seven regional offices across the commonwealth to help businesses with government contracting readiness.


Under the guidance of the Department of Defense, her efforts aim to train, coach, and equip businesses to enter and explore the government marketplace as a growth opportunity. These efforts enhance Kentucky’s economic engine by focusing on supporting defense needs, increasing advanced manufacturing, and developing innovative programs that help small businesses increase their capacity to meet government standards. Nancy also lectures businesses on federal policy changes and/or reforms that might impact contractors.


Before this role, Nancy served as a senior procurement consultant as boots on the ground working with Kentucky businesses and advising them on small business certifications, supply chain issues, defense procurement processes, the Federal acquisition regulations, and providing them with subject matter expert tools that lead to government contracting success.


Nancy was able to influence and advance the lives of many disadvantaged women through leading a program focused on workforce development and self-sufficiency in efforts to provide disadvantaged women the opportunity to get back to or enter the job market. Additionally, Nancy worked with CPG Fortune 500 and health care organizations where she facilitated multi million-dollar communications and marketing initiatives to advance business goals.


Nancy is fluent in written and spoken Arabic. Early in her career, Nancy worked as Queen Rania of Jordan’s Public Relations Specialist and helped to establish a new Press and Communications office for the queen. In this role, Nancy communicated important press releases and news to the queen daily and conducted research on microloans for women-owned startups to help female farmers start their businesses in the Middle East.

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Anna Leigh O'Brien
Communications Coordinator
Lexington Office

Prior to joining the KY APEX Accelerator team as Communications Coordinator, Anna Leigh worked in the world of higher education enrollment for four years. Most recently, her role as Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Asbury University allowed her to hone skills in communication, public relations, and recruitment strategy.

Anna Leigh is a native of Lancaster, KY and is proud to call herself a lifelong resident of the Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Spanish from Asbury University.

Jon Olsen, MBA
Senior Procurement Consultant
Lexington Office

Prior to joining  KSTC, Jon was the Procurement Operations Manager for the Corporate Services Office of the Western Area Power Administration. Jon has a total of 30 years experience in Federal contracting and financial assistance award placement and administration.  Within the Department of Energy, he held positions as a Contract Specialist, Grants and Agreements Specialist, and Contracting Officer for the Western Area Power Administration and Golden Field Office. He also was a civilian Contracting Intern with the US Army, and a Contract Negotiator with the US Air Force.


Jon earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alaska – Anchorage, and an MBA from the University of Colorado – Denver.

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Cherie Guilford
Procurement Trainer & Consultant

Cherie brings more 25 years of federal service and over 10 years of small business ownership to her position. She has worked with six different federal agencies, spending most of her time as a federal contracting official. The last federal position she held was with the U.S. Small Business Administration where she supported the small business certification programs.

She is a native of Kentucky but has lived and worked across the country. Cherie holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, a Master of Arts in Organizational Management and a Doctorate in Biblical Studies.

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Eric Byrd
Procurement Consultant

Morehead Office

Eric brings almost 20 years of experience in business management to the KY APEX Accelerator team. Prior to joining, Eric’s most recent experience includes 5 years of management and accounting as a part of a fast-growing small manufacturing business and 6 years of service for the Commonwealth of Kentucky helping Eastern Kentucky secure funds to reclaim lands that were affected by the abandonment of coal mining facilities.   

He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Finance from Georgetown College. 

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Lynn Louis
Procurement Consultant
Covington Office

Lynn brings more than 10 years of experience in small business supplier diversity and coaching to her role.  Before joining the KY APEX Accelerrator team, Lynn worked with small business owners to obtain a national minority business certification, and once certified, provided the necessary coaching the business owners needed to help secure corporate procurement opportunities.

A native of Kentucky, Lynn is a former SCORE Mentor and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Finance.

Kendria Rice-Locket
Procurement Consultant

Louisville Office

Prior to joining the KY APEX Acceleragtor team, Kendria worked with the U.S. Small Business Administration, as the Outreach & Marketing Specialist helping businesses that suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Kendria is a native of Louisville, KY and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Administration from the University of Louisville, also a former member of the UofL Women’s Basketball Team. She also earned her Master of Science in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from the California University of Pennsylvania.

Shawn Rogers
Procurement Consultant
Elizabethtown Office

Shawn brings nearly 20 years of experience in small business and economic development to her role. 

Before joining the KY APEX Accelerator team, Shawn’s previous experience includes serving as the Director of Operations for the Council on Licensure, Enforcement & Regulation. She was also the Center Director and Management Consultant for the Bluegrass SBDC, where she worked across multiple industries assisted existing and new businesses with capital formation and business planning. From Shawn's work for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Community Ventures, she gained experience in community development financing, including Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and New Markets Tax Credit.


Shawn earned Bachelor's degrees in Management and Accounting from the University of Kentucky.

Bowling Green
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J.C. Watkins
Procurement Consultant
Bowling Green Office

Prior to joining the KY APEX Accelerator team, J.C. worked at Western Kentucky University’s Department of Training and Technical Assistance. The last seven years as Department Head and twenty years as a Financial and Management Specialist assisting organizations holding grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

J.C. holds a master’s degree in Developmental Economics from The American University, a Master’s of Business Administration from Western Kentucky University and a Bachelor’s degree in Government from Western Kentucky University.

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Frank Bennett
Procurement Consultant

Paducah Office

Frank brings decades of experience in business leadership and strategy to his position at KY APEX Accelerator. Before joining the KY APEX Accelerator team, Frank was the CEO of The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, for ten years. Frank has also served in leadership roles with several other firms, including Sage Fundraising Solutions and SmartStream IT Solutions. Frank has written on leadership and strategy topics for several years. His book, The Breathing Organization: Essentials of Effective Leadership," was published in 2007.

Frank received his BS in Communication from Middle Tennessee State University. He also holds a Certificate in Disruptive Strategy and a Certificate in Sustainable Business Strategy from Harvard Business School Online and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

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