Kristi C. Whitfield is the Director of the DC Department of Small and Local Development (DSLBD), a government agency with a mission to support the development, economic growth, and retention of District-based businesses, and promote economic development throughout the District's commercial corridors. This work allows the agency to connect District businesses in real-time with local, federal, and global business opportunities; help businesses navigate the government’s contracting and procurement landscape quickly, confidently, and effectively; and, propel every entrepreneur with a great idea and a comprehensive plan towards the capital to make it happen.
Born to activist parents, Mrs. Whitfield has never been afraid to have a voice and to use her unique voice to advocate on behalf of people often overlooked. As a product of a planned community, Mrs. Whitfield has experienced first-hand how, through structure and organization, equity and opportunity can be afforded to all. As Mrs. Whitfield regularly states, “Socio-economic status should never determine one’s access to opportunity.”
As a part of a hard-working family and entrepreneurial father, education has always been a pillar of Mrs. Whitfield’s family culture. Upon this strong home foundation, Mrs. Whitfield motivated herself to the heights of academia. Mrs. Whitfield attended Swarthmore College where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a concentration in Black Studies, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) where she received a Master of City Planning degree with a focus in Housing and Community Development. As a result of Mrs. Whitfield’s relentless drive, she has placed no limitations to what she can do or will explore. Before being appointed by Mayor Bowser to lead DSLBD, Mrs. Whitfield garnered experience in various sectors, from holding a senior role with the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development to a DC proud business owner of the nationally recognized “Curbside Cupcakes.” Or as Mrs. Whitfield would say it, “I went from consultant, to a baker, to a government director.”
Because of Mrs. Whitfield’s relentless pursuit to help move people up the economic ladder one way or another, she has unapologetically directed her team at DSLBD to develop and implement programs that do not just reach the mark but set all-new, long lasting standards for the way the District Government supports and promotes the small and local business community. Under Mrs. Whitfield’s leadership, DSLBD has:
- Achieved a record $890 million in DC Government spend with Small Business Enterprises (SBEs);
- Performed its first-ever unannounced spot checks of more than 1,600 active Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs);
- Started to explore ways to tighten the letter of the CBE law and close loopholes so that the CBE program aligns more closely with the spirit of helping genuine, local businesses;
- Helped subcontractors collect more than $1.8 million in late payments from primes;
- Levied and collected the largest amount of fines in the agency’s history from primes who failed to subcontract the required amount of work to qualified small businesses;
- Leveraged $200,000 in fines into more than 280 loans totaling $1.5 million which supported the creation and/or retention of over 375 jobs here in the District;
- Increased the amount of money going into the pockets of CBEs to the tune of a quarter billion dollars through waiver denials;
- Launched a first-of-its-kind Made in DC kiosk at Reagan National Airport in partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority;
- Connected local businesses to more opportunities through DSLBD’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center division, which has helped local businesses secure $32.5 million in federal and local contract awards; and,
- Launched the DC Capital Connector, a free, online matchmaking tool that connects small businesses to Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) lenders and bonding agents with the push of a button.
When Mayor Bowser appointed Mrs. Whitfield, she knew that she was appointing a relentless advocate for the District small and local business community who would take on the challenge of identifying and implementing new ways to propel all District residents and businesses towards their fair shot to opportunities.
When Mrs. Whitfield is not in the office, she enjoys spending all her time with her husband, Sam, and their two boys.
Follow Director Kristi Whitfield on Twitter @WhitfieldKristi!