Colleen M. Hiam was recently appointed as the Center Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, Customer Service Center, located in Buffalo, NY. The CSC is a state-of-the-art national contact center supporting the needs of SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance by providing a single resource for its internal and external customers. The center’s main responsibility is to respond to disaster victim’s inquiries by phone, email, letter or fax. SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance provides low-interest, long-term disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and nonprofit organizations. It serves the entire US, including all of its islands, territories and commonwealths.
Colleen graduated in 1987 from the State University College at Buffalo, summa cum laude, with a Bachelors of Science degree in Business and a minor in Economics. After joining the Buffalo State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a Procurement Center Technical Representative, helping firms get certified and market to government agencies, she became a general business counselor assisting small business owners and those interested in starting a small business.
Colleen joined the SBA in 1990 as a Business Development Officer in the Rochester Post-of-Duty, marketing to local organizations, banks and lenders, and acting as the liaison to the local SBDCs and Service Corps of Retired Executives. After six months, Colleen transferred to the newly appointed Buffalo District Office as a Business Development Specialist in the Minority Enterprise Development program. She spent 8 years growing her portfolio and working closely with a number of firms; amassing contracts in her last year in the program, worth over $30 million dollars. She became fluent in contracting rules and regulations and at ease dealing with high level government officials.
In 1998, Colleen was selected as the Public Information Officer for the Disaster Assistance, Area 1 Office. During seven years as the PIO, she has worked on a number of disasters including hurricanes Georges and Floyd, the Seattle earthquake, the Midwest tornadoes, the explosions and fires at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the four hurricanes that battered Florida in 2004, just to name a few.
In 2005, when ODA transformed into functional centers, Colleen applied for and was selected as the Deputy Center Director for the Customer Service Center. Essentially, she became the chief operating officer for the center and shared full responsibility with the Center Director for planning, directing, managing and evaluating the functions of the center regarding response operations and program delivery.
Colleen has found it to be very satisfying helping individuals and business owners put their lives back together and seeing their dreams come to fruition. She stated, “No where have I seen such dedicated employees or such kindness from the communities we have worked in. When obstacles turn into stepping stones and disaster turns into triumph, it is an inspiration.”
During Ms. Hiam’s nearly 24-year career with the SBA, she has been honored with a number of awards for her dedication and service. She has received SBA’s Special Achievement Awards, Special Act Awards, Cash Awards, Star Awards and Certificates of Appreciation. She has also been honored with the Minority Business Advocate Award in 1992 and 1993, Federal Woman of the Year Award in 1993, Business First’s 40 Under 40 Award in 1993, American Society of Training and Development Award, and in college she was listed in Who’s Who of American Students in Colleges and Universities. Additionally, she was recognized by the Federal Executive Board and presented with the 2010 Excellence in Government, Distinguished Executive Award.
Colleen has continued her education and training through numerous SBA, as well as, Office of Personnel Management training programs. She attended the Seminar for New Managers, the Management Development Program, the Executive Development Seminar at the Eastern/Western Development Management Center and the Federal Executive Institute. She has also participated in and completed numerous training initiatives prior to joining SBA and was the former Vice Chair of the Federal Women’s Network Program.
Colleen was an active board member of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women. She is also involved with the NYS Professional Women’s Inc., Grand Island Rod and Gun Club, the Grand Island Women of the Moose and the Ladies Auxiliary Unit of the Grand Island Veteran’s of Foreign Wars. She owns a corvette, shoots trap and is a certified scuba diver. She and her husband reside in Grand Island.