Black Woman Appointed As CEO of Higher Ed's Leading Data Integration and EdTech Company

Laqwacia Simpkins

AMSimpkins & Associates has announced the appointment of Laqwacia Simpkins as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to this, she was Vice President of Infrastructure and Operations with AMSA.

Laqwacia, who previously worked at DH Security Solutions in Atlanta, GA, joined the AM Simpkins team in 2015. While the organization's founder, Maurice Simpkins, saw early success as an independent consultant in the higher education industry, Laqwacia was responsible for much of the transition to AMSimpkins & Associates.

Applying her prior start-up knowledge, Laqwacia expanded the existing business model, leading to the eventual launch of the AMSA Connect platform. Her focus on competitive intelligence, business development, and operations revitalized the AMSA brand.

Identifying new opportunities and forming strategic partnerships in the Higher Education market, Laqwacia led AMSA’s new chapter of growth and success with more than twenty new clients in the first year.

Through her strategic vision and alignment with former NFL linebacker and AMSA founder, Maurice Simpkins, the organization has prioritized its education integrations formalizing partnerships with EdTech firms such as Coursedog, Unimarket, and Transact Payments(Cashnet). This allowed him to focus more on platform growth, as Laqwacia continued to build the company’s client and partnership portfolio.

With AMSA’s steady growth and increased success, Laqwacia will look to expand the team to help support her vision. Nebi Hailermariam, Director, Software Development with AMSA since 2016, will assume the role of Chief Technology Officer. Under the direction of Maurice Simpkins, Nebi will lead the AMSA Connect platform for all client features and operations.

Additionally, Jason Cox, who formerly led sales for EdTech startup CampusLogics, will step into the role of National Sales Manager. Ro Levy, with AMSA since early 2018, is now the Project Manager Lead for Partnership Engagements, and AMSA’s newest team member, Shahab Shahabi, will lead Project Management for Internal and Client Deployment.

Maurice’s NFL football experience has always influenced the culture of A.M. Simpkins & Associates. Speaking of the new appointment, Laqwacia said, “The AMSA Team is excited to have a new Head Coach to lead them during this Super Bowl-winning season. This is an exciting time for AMSA and Laqwacia has been primed for this role. There is no greater time to have her lead the company and I’m personally proud that our daughters will get to see her embody the role that we hope they all aspire to someday.”

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Where do you see the company being in the next five years? 

My overall goal is to increase our national presence and to make a positive and lasting impact in Higher Ed with innovation and automation. Through leveraging our experience and forming strategic partnerships, my hope is to position AMSA to become a trusted advisor and advocate for institutions that are seeking to automate manual processes and improve data integrity and business processes on campus. We are a minority-owned and led data integrations provider for Higher Ed Institutions, with over 250 years of Higher Ed experience in both functional and technical fields, AMSA is poised for success. This last year has been full of growth. Since we released our first IRM platform, AMSA Connect, it has taken Higher Ed by storm.

- Attaining talented, diverse, and motivated people:
The right people in the right roles are pivotal to creating long-term value. It takes significant investment to build a winning talent engine from attraction and recruitment through development and retention.

- Establishing clear values alive in the organization:
Values provide meaningful power and focus. When you're truly living your core values, they come up in daily conversations across the company. We believe in cultivating a culture where employees strive to embody our core values and feel appreciated.

- Building strong strategic partnerships:
Strategic Partnerships can be powerful levers to drive tremendous growth. Not only can partnerships improve customer experience, it has also opened access to the partners’ respective audiences, leveraging a unique value proposition to drive new customer acquisition. Success through strategic partnerships is achieved when organizations tackle the appropriate business objective with partners that have aligned values and complementary capabilities and assets.

What is your leadership style? I would describe my leadership style as a balance between coaching and servitude. As a former State Track and field medalist athlete in high school, these two leadership styles came naturally. The same methodologies I learned from my father coaching me to scholarship to University of Utah for hurdles, have created the discipline and work ethic I have today.

Another contributing factor that plays a key role in leadership style is serving others. As a child I had many chances to learn about servitude through participating in various service activities whether it was spending time with the elderly at group homes, volunteering at the Big Brother Big Sister program, or helping neighbors with yard work. No matter the task, we were always willing to lend a hand.

These principles create the environment we have fostered here at A.M.Simpkins and Associates. We take pride in serving one another to make sure our employees are happy and have a purpose. I only hope to continue to build on that while holding true to our core values: integrity, honesty, innovation, and professionalism.

Give me one word that describes you the best?
I am a creative. Whether it's business strategy, creating new streams of revenue, or scaling for new business, this is where my creativity shines. As an entrepreneur, we face a multitude of challenges that we must learn to overcome or adapt. Creative thinking has allowed me to develop new or innovative ideas and challenge norms or old ways of thinking. Creativity has also helped me market our businesses' products, services, and other offerings that differentiate us from their competitors.

One of the things I have taken great pride in is designing our new website to fit the AMSA brand after the release of the AMSA Connect platform. As AMSA has increased our industry footprint by attending more Higher Education conferences, I have enjoyed designing our booths and associated marketing campaigns.

What is the biggest challenge you anticipate?
Time. When you love what you do and are living the life you want to live, there seems to never be enough time in the day.

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