Our Team

Ohio University APEX Accelerator has been established in 2002 to serve Ohio small businesses to successfully compete in the government marketplace by helping with federal, state and local government contracts.

OU APEX Accelerator provides its services as part of a statewide program hosted by the Ohio Development Services Agency. Along other similar organizations, OU APEX Accelerator is also part of a of a nationwide Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.

At Ohio University, OU APEX Accelerator is part of the Center for Entrepreneurship – a partnership between the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and the College of Business. In addition to its central office in Athens, OU APEX Accelerator also operates regional offices throughout Ohio in Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Lancaster.

Meet our Team:

Sharon Hopkins
Sharon HopkinsDirector of Ohio University APEX Accelerator, Athens office
T: 740.597.1868
F: 740.593.1795
Building 19 The Ridges
Athens, OH 45701-2979
Covering: Athens, Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, and Washington

As director of Ohio University APEX Accelerator, Sharon Hopkins manages six of the state’s APEX Accelerator offices. Sharon participates in, conducts and facilitates seminars on multiple topics relating to business and government contracting. Her region consists of 55 Ohio counties with offices located in Akron, Athens, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Lancaster. Sharon works closely with APEX Accelerator staff, economic development entities and government agencies to promote small business in the region. Sharon has collected an immense amount of knowledge about the procurement field during her 20 years of experience.
Sharon is a graduate of Marietta College, where she majored in Management. She is a certified counselor for the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE), and maintains a Level II Associate Contracting Assistance Specialist (ACAS) certification with the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC). In service to her community Sharon has won two elections to fill a seat on the Warren Local Board of Education and was an appointed representative to the Washington County Career Center Board of Education. Sharon was born and raised in southeastern Ohio where she still lives with her husband and extended family.

Words of Wisdom:
You are not required to pay anything to get registered on a government website. If you are considering paying for a registration, consider vetting that company to make sure they will produce what is promised.

Karen Wivell
Karen WivellAssociate Director, Central Ohio office
65 E. State Street, Suite 1350
Columbus, OH 43215
Covering: Crawford, Delaware, Madison, Marion, Morrow, Seneca, Union, Wyandot

Karen Wivell is Associate Director with the Ohio University APEX Accelerator for Central Ohio. Karen received her BS from Kent State University (KSU). She has more than 30 years in the corporate, non-profit and public sectors, including in marketing, administrative and procurement roles. Karen resides in Painesville with her husband Chris and two daughters, Elizabeth and Catherine.

Billy Grill
Billy GrillAssociate Director, Southwest Ohio office
2642 Indian Ripple Road
Dayton, OH 45440
Covering: Auglaize, Butler, Champaign, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Hardin, Logan, Mercer, Shelby, Warren

Billy Grill is Associate Director with the Ohio University APEX Accelerator for Southwest Ohio. He has 15 years of experience in helping clients market to all levels of Federal, State, and Local governments. His varied roles in business development, marketing, operations, and program management give him a wide skill set to assist his clients with. Billy also has experience as a Small Business Development Center Counselor helping businesses start, grow, and expand their footprint.

With an A.A. in Business Administration from Sinclair Community College and a B.S. in Business Administration from Salisbury University, Billy has strong knowledge of business fundamentals. This knowledge, coupled with a network of strategic business resources in the Miami Valley, give him a toolset to help most any business reach their potential.

Words of Wisdom:
Sometimes the worst outcome is actually winning your bid. Contact your APEX Accelerator Counselor to make sure you are prepared for any outcome.

Jane Stewart
Jane StewartAssociate Director, Northeast Ohio, Lakeland Community College office office
7700 Clock Tower Drive,
Building T Room 150,
Kirtland, OH 44094-5198
Covering: Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage, Cuyahoga, Erie, Huron, Lorain

Jane Stewart has been with the Ohio APEX Accelerator Network since 2000. Over the past 20 years she has held several positions and is currently an Associate Director covering the Northeast Ohio area. The office is located at Lakeland Community College. Jane lives in Madison, Ohio with husband Curt and their 3 dogs. They have three sons, two are currently serving  in the US Navy and  one is a Merchant Mariner, and two grandsons.

Rob Bondurant
Rob BondurantProcurement Specialist, Southwest Ohio, Dayton office
T: 740-597-1296
2642 Indian Ripple Road
Dayton, OH 45440
Covering: Clark, Drake, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble

Rob Bondurant is a Procurement Counselor with the Ohio University APEX Accelerator in the Dayton Region. He has as B.S. in Geography from Ohio University.

As a small business owner for the last 25 years, he provided consulting services in Southwest Ohio with focus in outreach and coordination with statewide and regional industry, government and educational stakeholders. The experience includes leading and participating in multiple conferences, workshops, round-tables and R&D projects.

Rob has also been involved with youth workforce, athletic and leadership development as a STEM Director and high school football coach.

Words of Wisdom:
Your OU APEX Accelerator counselor is a free service provided to help benefit you and your business as you work to expand and grow. We are here as a value-added asset to your team. So don’t hesitate to contact our team and simply begin the APEX Accelerator Application process.

Howard A. (Tony) Griffin, Sr.
Howard A. (Tony) Griffin, Sr.Procurement Specialist, Manufacturing
65 E. State Street, Suite 1350 (SBA, Columbus District Office)
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Covering: Manufacturing Supply Chain Expert
  • Joined the Ohio University APEX Accelerator in June 2014, as a procurement specialist for the city of Cincinnati and surrounding counties.
  • Prior to joining the OU APEX Accelerator, he served as a Certified Mentor for Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), Columbus, Ohio Chapter 27 for two years.
  • Retired from the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC), currently known as DLA Land and Maritime in January 2011, after 29 years of federal service in various leadership positions:
    • Supervisory Contract Specialist for DoD EMALL Contracting, Strategic Materiel Sourcing Group (DSCC-FLG) from 2003 until 2011. The DoD EMALL, a defense-wide, electronic point of entry that allows registered customers to browse Internet accessible catalogs and compare products, price, delivery terms, and payment option, and to place requisitions on line.
    • Associate Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization – Principal advisor on small business issues from 1989 until 2003. Supervisory Procurement Analyst (General Manager-1102/13); providing “Small Business” classroom training to Contracting, Supply Management, Technical Product Teams, Quality Assurance and support personnel.
    • Small Business Specialist (1986 until1989) for The Javits–Wagner–O’Day (JWOD) Program (handicapped and visually impaired sheltered workshops) and the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Program.
    • Industrial Specialist; Quality Assurance Specialist; Equipment Specialist; Supply Technician

Mr. Griffin held various positions in the private sector before joining the DLA: Factory Order Planner at Toledo Scale; Lab Technician at Procter & Gamble; Construction Coordinator Columbus & Southern Ohio Electric Power; Engineering Technician at General Electric Evendale, Ohio Facility.

Mr. Griffin is a United States Air Force veteran. He attained his degree in Architectural Technology from the Ohio College of Applied Science and studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati. Mr. Griffin attended the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), where he received his DAWIA III/IV certifications (Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act) for Performance Management and Supply Chain Management.

Vikki Hawthorne
Vikki HawthorneProcurement Specialist, Central Ohio, Columbus office
65 E. State Street, Suite 1350
Columbus, OH 43215
Covering: Franklin

Procurement Specialist
Ohio APEX Accelerator Columbus

Vikki Hawthorne is a procurement specialist assigned to Franklin County.  After 30 years of federal contracting service with the Department of Defense in a variety of procurement analyst and small business advisory positions, Vikki held an appointed position as National Director of Supplier Development with the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Vikki also has worked closely with The American Small Business Chamber of Commerce advocating for small business access to government contracts.

Vikki holds a Master of Science in Human Resources Administration and Bachelor of Science in Journalism degrees. She is a passionate “boots on the ground” small business advocate, and a member of New Birth Christian Ministries.  For nearly 4 decades, she has been a small business owner in variety of industries.

Helene Papczun
Helene PapczunProcurement Specialist, Akron office
T: 740-597-1267
526 South Main Street, Suite 601A
Akron, OH 44311
Covering: Ashland, Carroll, Holmes, Jefferson, Medina, Richland, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, Wayne

Helene Papczun is a Procurement Specialist with the Ohio University APEX Accelerator. Her office is in the Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron and serves small businesses in Ashland, Carroll, Holmes, Jefferson, Medina, Richland, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, and Wayne counties.

She has years of experience in community engagement, workforce, and economic development. Helene provides value added business retention and expansion resources to support small business. Helene has her bachelor’s degree from Heidelberg University.

Matt Slavik
Matt Slavik Procurement Specialist, Central Ohio, Pickerington office
65 E. State Street, Suite 1350
Columbus, OH 43215
Covering: Coshocton, Fairfield, Fayette, Hocking, Knox, Licking, Muskingum, Perry, Pickaway

Matt Slavik is a Procurement Specialist with Ohio University’s APEX Accelerator, focused in the Pickerington area. He grew up in Strongsville Ohio, where he wrestled, played rugby and was also active in his local Boy Scout Troop, earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Matt received his Bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in Business Analytics, Management Information Systems, and Finance. Prior to being a Counselor, Matt interned through APEX Accelerator where he learned the ins and outs of the government contract space. During this time, he focused on data entry and various client related projects, while also learning the appreciation for client related work.