Ascend National Cohort Program


The Ascend National Cohort Program prepares leaders who have experienced working in diverse environments and/or who have overcome substantial economic obstacles in their business for tomorrow’s challenges. This innovative program provides training and development by The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business, highlighting aspects of operational excellence and leadership behaviors, which are essential for successfully executing change and furthering innovation into the future.

The Ascend National Cohort’s individualized focus helps each company solve a unique problem and produce measurable improvements. Each enterprise will connect with one of the five associated business schools, The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, University of Washington Foster School of Business, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, Morehouse College and University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. The home business school will serve as a "hub" and deliver customized programming, coaching and MBA student projects. The CEO and two other senior leaders from each business will attend the opening residential sessions in September 2023 and the closing residential session in April 2024 at their home business school. In the period between the residential sessions, businesses will work with coaches, mentors and MBA students to participate in remote programming involving faculty from all business schools. The senior leader is responsible for driving results to solve the self-identified problem. Any colleagues designated by the senior leader will attend the remote sessions and work with a business coach and MBA student. Engaging multiple people in these sessions will drive organizational improvement and leadership team growth. 

The residential sessions at Fisher College of Business will emphasize the principles, tools and techniques of operational excellence, focusing on problem-solving. Sessions will focus on operational excellence as a growth strategy, defining problems, data analytics and change management. Topics will include scientific problem-solving, process and value stream mapping, techniques for root cause analysis, and financial budgeting and forecasting.

  • Open/Close About Ascend

    Ascend links business schools, business service-providing organizations, and Community Development Financial Institutions to create local support ecosystems for neighborhood-based, inner-city, and minority-owned businesses in 13 cities. Ascend was created through a grant from JPMorgan Chase’s Small Business Forward initiative. The initiative supports small businesses with the potential to grow, to offer quality employment, and to create economic opportunities for vulnerable populations and their communities.

Program Details

Eligibility For participation


  • a defined leadership team (at least 2 “C-suite” executives) that is responsible for business growth
  • first or second tier contractor/supplier to a corporation or government agency
  • a defined problem or key opportunity that they seek to address through engagement with this national cohort program


  • a minimum of three consecutive years of profitable growth
  • prior engagement in executive education or business development programs
Program sessions

The program includes an opening 3-day residential session on Fisher College of Business campus in Columbus, Ohio; 12 virtual sessions, all three hours in length; and a closing 3-day residential session on Fisher College of Business campus.

Opening Residential Sessions:  September 19-21, 2023

8 am - 5 pm ET Tuesday and Wednesday; 8 am - 1 pm ET on Thursday

Virtual Sessions (noon - 3 pm ET):

  • October 6, 2023
  • October 20, 2023
  • November 3, 2023
  • November 17, 2023
  • December 8, 2023
  • January 12, 2024
  • January 26, 2024
  • February 9, 2024
  • February 23, 2024
  • March 1, 2024
  • March 15, 2024
  • March 28, 2024

Closing Residential Sessions:  April 2-4, 2024

8 am - 5 pm ET Tuesday and Wednesday; 8 am - 1 pm ET on Thursday


Thanks to the generosity of JP Morgan Chase, over two-thirds of the program cost will be charitably underwritten. To learn more about the cost of this program to participating MBEs and scholarship opportunities, please reach out to Renard Green.

Application Information

Application deadline: August 1, 2023

Apply today

Program Leadership and Advisors

  • Open/Close James Hill, PhD - Managing Director

    James A. Hill is an associate professor of operations management and Chair of the Operations and Business Analytics Department. He is the managing director of Ascend Ohio, an initiative designed to increase the number of minority middle market businesses in the state of Ohio. Hill is primarily interested in supply chain management with an emphasis on supply chain coordination. His research on coordination covers areas such as behavioral supply chain contracts as well as supplier diversity. His current research examines how intermediaries, more specifically nonprofit organizations design processes to enable minority business growth.

  • Open/Close David Veech - Academic Director

    David is a senior lecturer in the Fisher College of Business and the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. Highly energetic and engaging, David has made a significant positive impact on the lives of thousands of people through his teaching and his work. He served proudly as an officer in the US Army for 20 years and now focuses on teaching, coaching and consulting to make people more fearless, more engaged and more effective at work. David has written two best-selling books, taught at four universities, and transformed leaders and organizations in dozens of industries and government agencies.

  • Open/Close Renard Green, MBA - Program Director

    Renard Green is the Ascend Program Director at the Fisher College of Business. A native Floridian, Mr. Green holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry from Florida A&M University, where he graduated with honors as a Sloan Fellow. Renard also has a Master’s of Business Administration from Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University, where he was honored with a Pacesetter Award given to the top two percent of the Fisher graduating class as well as an Individual Diversity Award.

The Ohio State University does not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, HIV/AIDS status, military status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or protected veteran status, or any other bases under the law, in its education program or activity, which includes employment.

Contact for Ascend Columbus

Renard Green, Program Director