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The Six Sigma Racial Equity InitiativeTM (SSREI) is a Six Sigma Leadership and Training program hosted by Optimist Business Solutions specifically designed to upskill Black women in the Indianapolis community with strategies and tools for critical thinking and complex problem-solving.  Each program cohort includes training and certification provided by a local university.

The SSREI program includes a combination of instructional and project time. The instructional part of the initiative includes five full days of training, followed by five months for the completion of a community-based project focused on equity gaps.  The value of Six Sigma Training is normally $5000, but thanks to our partner sponsorships, the tuition will be significantly reduced.

SSREI starts a new cohort each year, and we use an application process to select the final candidates for up to eighteen highly sought-after seats. 

What are the benefits of the SSREI?

According to the World Economic Forum Report for the top skills in 2025, critical thinking and problem-solving are the top five skills valued by employers.  As a result, professionals with six sigma credentials make more money compared to their peers.  SSREI cohort participants have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with professional black women across many different sectors, gain access to Black female leaders, develop mentor/mentee relationships, and have the opportunity to “Pay it Forward” by applying their new skills to a community project.

Who is eligible to participate?

Each program cohort is designed specifically for black female professionals who live or work in Indianapolis (Marion County), Indiana.  Recent studies suggest that Black women are paid less, heard less, and mentored less compared to their peers.  This program is designed to help Black women build the tools, support, and confidence to not just survive but to thrive despite these challenges and be prepared to make a difference in the Indianapolis community and beyond.

What are the program requirements for SSREI?

Participants must complete the application, provide a resume and successfully complete the interview process.  Final cohort participants are determined through a blind/scored selection process using predetermined criteria.  Selection is highly competitive and will be limited to twelve participants per session.  Each participant must commit to participation of all scheduled class sessions.  

What is the time commitment?

48 hours of instruction

150 days to complete a project

80 - 100 hours of project work

6 hours of coaching

30-minute presentation

How is the SSREI governed?

This initiative is governed by the Advisory Council, and the Council ensures that the Six Sigma Racial Initiative delivers on its mission, goals, and objectives. The current Advisory Council members are:


Joy Mason - President/Founder Optimist Business Solutions

Frezewd (Frae) Kazmierczak - President, Lean Quality Consultants, LLC

Linda Calvin - Vice President School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College

Samia Kamran - Solutions Design Manager, Neovia Logistics

Steve Ghera - Principal Director Operational Excellence Process Alliance LLC

Geneva Taylor - Owner Tellis Executive Search

Maria Wiley - Senior Director of Audit, Risk Management and Procurement, Indianapolis Airport Authority

Marshawn Wolley - President and CEO Black Onyx Management

Who supports the SSREI?

Current sponsors include:

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What is Optimist Business Solutions and why this initiative?

Optimist Business Solutions, LLC is a local Minority/Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) training and consulting company that specializes in moving organizations from strategy to action and from problems to solutions. "Optimist" was launched by Joy E. Mason in 2018.

In 2020, Joy pledged to be a force towards racial equity.  One way to demonstrate this commitment was to marshall financial resources to upskill the Black community, specifically Black women. 


In partnership with a local university, this innovative training and certification program will equip Black women with the tools and the ability to use the six sigma framework to make a difference in the community and address equity gaps in a way they never have before.

2021 Black

Belt Coaches

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Who do I contact if I have additional questions about SSREI?

Please direct all questions about the Six Sigma Racial Equity Initiative, the application process and the selection process to


  • LinkedIn

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