VR Small, Founder  President,  Board of Directors

VR Small, Founder


Board of Directors

After returning home to Dallas, VR immediately applied her business skills to supporting the business community via WINGS and as a Certified SCORE Mentor. She continually focuses her energy on developing innovative programs for women, veterans and small business owners—turning visions into realities as the Founder and Executive Director for the Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center (VWEC): a national initiative that has broken ground in southern Dallas as the first of many VWECs projected for Texas and our nation. 

 Ms. Small’s former positions include President and Chief Executive Officer, Small Industries Organizational Success Strategies (SIOSS), Founder and Executive Director for the Brooklyn Executive Business Women’s Association (BEBWA), Director of the Center for Healthy Living at Long Island University and more than ten years as an adjunct professor specializing in psychology and organizational development. VR’s expertise in building strategic alliances and providing innovative technical assistance spans nearly 20 years, illustrating a vibrant history of success helping individuals, nonprofits, businesses and associations access the resources they need to succeed.

 A dynamic advocate for women veterans, VR testified in support of the original House Bill to make June 12, Women Veterans Day in Texas and organized a celebration supported by women veterans across the region. She chaired the 2018 Dallas Planning Committee coordinating events around the city in recognition of the first official Women Veterans Day in the State of Texas, celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the 1948 Women Armed Services Integration Act. And in collaboration with the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, the VWEC has launched the “Moments that Matter” research project, the first local survey focused exclusively on women veteran-owned businesses in the DFW area.

 Committed to advocacy for women and small businesses, VR serves on the Advisory Committee for TWU Center for Women Entrepreneurs. Ms. Small is a SMU, Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity—Inclusive Economy, Dallas Public Voices 2019, and Bush Institute Stand to Veteran Leadership Program Fellow. Actively involved in veteran support, she continues to serve on the 30th Congressional District Veteran Advisory Committee, Representative Neave's Sexual Violence Task Force and support the efforts of various local veteran coalitions and service organizations. Ms. Small chaired the Veteran Business Subcommittee for the City of Dallas, Office of Business Diversity and was the 2017 VP for Veteran Affairs with SCORE Dallas.  Most importantly, VR is a U.S. Navy Veteran, proud stepdaughter and sister to U.S. Army Retired Vietnam & Iraq Veterans respectively!

Penny King,  Interim Executive VP  Financial Vice President  Board of Directors

Penny King,

Interim Executive VP

Financial Vice President

Board of Directors

Penny King is currently the Community Development Officer for the Bank of the Ozarks.  Prior to joining the Bank of the Ozarks in August 2017, Ms. King worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for 25 years, serving in positions such as the Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff in the Chairman’s Office.

Ms. King completed the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dallas, Texas and earned a Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences Degree in Business Communications & Psychology Studies at Dallas Baptist University (DBU). Ms. King is a Certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP).

Latrice Roberts  Board of Directors

Latrice Roberts

Board of Directors


Vice President-CRA Officer

Develop and administer all aspects of the Community Reinvestment ACT (CRA) Train bank personnel on CRA compliance program requirements. Conduct analytics and influence strategy regarding banks Mortgage and Small Business lending in accordance with the regulations set forth by the Community Reinvestment ACT.

Dominique Collins  Board of Directors

Dominique Collins

Board of Directors

Dominique Collins is the presiding judge of Criminal District Court Number 4. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law, where she was an Associate Editor of “The Scholar” law review. Prior to pursuing a legal career, she served 12 years in the United States Air Force as an information and personnel manager. Her service includes 7 months in the Persian Gulf during DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD.  

After receiving her law license in 2004, she began serving Dallas county as an Assistant District Attorney. As an ADA, she worked within several specialty divisions including organized crime, grand jury, public integrity, and the mental health/competency division.  Dominique’s professional excellence was recognized when she was selected as “Prosecutor of the Year” by her peers. She was elected to the bench in 2012 and additionally presides over the Dallas County Veteran’s Court Program, which gives veterans an opportunity to have their cases dismissed and expunged.

Aside from serving the Dallas community and demonstrating professionalism, Dominique is a mentor to students at UNT Dallas College of Law and SMU Dedman School of Law.

Dr. Shirley Higgs  Administrative VP  Board of Directors

Dr. Shirley Higgs

Administrative VP

Board of Directors

Dr. Shirley Higgs has dedicated her life’s work to helping students meet their educational and personal goals. With over 30 years of higher education experience, Dr. Higgs is well versed in student needs, motivation, and success factors. She has served as a professional support staff, adjunct faculty, and administrator. Through all of her experiences, she has focused on meeting the needs of students, both traditional and non-traditional students.

Dr. Higgs currently serves as Executive Administrator, DCCCD Foster Care & Veteran Affairs. Previously, she successfully held the following positions: district director of student success for Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), dean of student success at Mountain View College, director of school alliance and institutional outreach at Mountain View College, and various other student services roles. With each of her varied positions, Dr. Higgs has carried with her a commitment to help students achieve.

A few personal success include creating a first year experience program, obtained funding for Estudias technology for all seven DCCCD colleges to insure consistency in academic advising, piloted a partnership with AT&T/UDACITY for DCCCD in an effort to benefit veteran students, coordinated a retention alert program(Journey To Success) specifically designed for students to receive the needed intervention to remain in class, implemented an intrusive case management strategies process, and to insure that students receive the needed support to stay in college and expanded recruitment of traditional/ and non-traditional students.

Dr. Higgs is able to relate to the challenges and concerns of community college students because she is able to share her own personal experiences. She was once a community college student. Dr. Higgs received her associate's degree from Cedar Valley College; bachelor degree in business administration from Dallas Baptist University; master degree in education from American Intercontinental University; and doctorate in higher education leadership from Capella University. Her resume consists of very impressive presentations, many grant development/management, community service, personal awards and honors. Currently she serves on the following board of directors: Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center and Greater Southwest Black Chamber Commerce of Lancaster, Texas.

She resides in Dallas, Texas and enjoys reading, trying new restaurants, and volunteering with community projects.

Lillian Gregory  Board of Directors

Lillian Gregory

Board of Directors

Lillian Gregory is a Technologist, Change Ambassador, U.S. Air Force Gulf War Veteran, Forbes Coaches Council Member, TEDx Curator, Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Board of Directors Member, and UN Global Compact Partner. She founded The Institute for Human and Leadership Excellence in 2008 to inspire leaders to reach their fullest potential through the study and practical application of I-Core Principles | Intellect. Integrity. Influence.

Having earned a reputation for seeing things differently, for providing expert analyses and strategies, and for delivering outstanding results, her persistent hard work, creativity, and thoughtful leadership is guided by passion for in-depth research, innovative tools, targeted workshops, and exclusive events through which to transforms organizations, systems, and careers into 21st century marvels.

Whether serving in the U.S. Air Force or as Head of Workforce Planning & Analytics or one of many roles in between, she has had the privilege of leading teams and launching complex programs at Motorola, Nortel, and Ericsson from wireless systems integration to large-scale digital and culture transformations.

Equipped with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a PhD (ABD) in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, she continues to upskill her 21st century competence by listening and learning from others and through focused projects in 5G, IoT, smart manufacturing, design thinking, and co-creation. She fearlessly breaks ground in new areas while delivering outstanding results domestically and globally.

Lillan also serves as co-chair of Ericsson Veterans Alliance and strives to create coalitions in partnership with the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to end Veteran Homelessness.


Advisory Council Members 

William Dwiggins  Member, Advisory Council

William Dwiggins

Member, Advisory Council

Bill Dwiggins currently serves as the Education Coordinator for Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) Education in Greater Dallas-Ft Worth/North Texas Area with over 400,000 veterans. Bill served 32 years in the United States Marine Corps (Ret.).  Prior to his current role, Mr. Dwiggins served as the State Director of Veterans Employment and Training Services, State Louisiana.  .  A Bachelor of FA with honors from Wichita State University, M.S. with honors from Grand Canyon University, and Society for Human Resource Management – Senior Certified Professional.  Member of SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society.

He has years of senior decision making experience in operations, security, organization & management development, education, logistics  planning and execution, sales, marketing, personnel and administration management, training, human resources, resource management and financial management.  His International travels and life experiences are enhanced by education.

A Mustang, honor graduate of Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Amphibious Warfare School, Planning & Reconnaissance, Basic & honors Advance Infantry Officers School (Army), Amphibious Logistics, Federal Inspection/ Investigation Training, National Veterans Institute, Denver.  Highly decorated including 2 Legion of Merit awards, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, 4 Naval Commendation Medals, 2 Navy Achievement Medals (Combat Valor), Army Achievement, National Defense, Combat Campaign Medals, Ranger Tab, Gold Parachute Wings, Combat SCUBA and more.

Tracy Y. Little  Member, Advisory Council

Tracy Y. Little

Member, Advisory Council

Tracy Little retired as a Master Sergeant with the United States Air Force on December 31, 1999, as an Assistant Inspector General at the Army & Air Force Exchange Services in Dallas, Texas. 

Tracy's significant military accomplishments include, but not limited to; receipt of the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Good Conduct Medal with five oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon, Outstanding Administrator of the Year (MAJCOM and Air Force-level).  Mrs. Little also completed the USAF Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) Academy, the USAF Senior NCO Academy and Air Force Basic Training with honors. 

Tracy serves on various boards, including the Veterans Coalition of North Central Texas, where she is a founding Board Member and the current Board Chair.