Brett Bruen, Fmr Director of Global Engagement, NSC, White House & Founder and President, Global Situation Room

Brett Bruen, Fmr Director of Global Engagement, NSC, White House & Founder and President, Global Situation Room

During twelve years as a U.S. diplomat, Brett became a specialist in using strategic communications to influence the course of crisis and conflict. As Director of Global Engagement at the White House, he created some of the government’s most innovative international programs for reaching new audiences around the world. While at the White House, he was responsible for public diplomacy programs, international media, crisis communications, and global entrepreneurship programs. Brett coordinated the United States’ response to Russian propaganda, developing the first interagency communications taskforce to push back against misinformation. Brett also unified public and private entrepreneurship programs for the first time under one banner, as part of the President’s Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative.

While in the diplomatic service, Brett worked in the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea, Iraq, Venezuela, Argentina, Zambia, and Eritrea. In his current role as President of the Global Situation Room®, he runs a consulting firm specializing in strategic communications, international public policy, and crisis management. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the Federal Executive Institute, where he trains senior U.S. Government leaders on strategy and world affairs. Brett graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in International Relations and Political Science. He holds a Masters in Global History from the London School of Economics. Brett speaks fluent Spanish and French.

Jessica Gordon, Director, U.S. Commercial Service, DFW, U.S. Department of Commerce

Jessica Gordon, Director, U.S. Commercial Service, DFW, U.S. Department of Commerce

Jessica Gordon is the Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service Dallas-Fort Worth Office where she leads a team of industry-focused, international trade specialists to assist small to medium-sized North Texas companies to grow their businesses through launching an export business or increasing their sales transactions in target markets around the globe. 

The Commercial Service Dallas-Ft. Worth office is one of 100 plus U.S. Commercial Service offices around the nation dedicated to assisting U.S. companies to expand their businesses by exporting, through providing export counseling, business matchmaking, market intelligence, commercial diplomacy, and trade advocacy.   On average, U.S. Commercial Service clients increased their revenues by an average of $622,575, enabling increased employment by 7.2%, and safeguarding 3 jobs over the last 12 months as a result of the organization’s assistance.   81 percent of clients indicated they were highly likely to recommend services provided by the U.S. Commercial Service.  In addition to heading the Commercial Service Dallas Ft. Worth office, Jessica serves as the Executive Secretary of the North Texas District Export Council (NTXDEC), the Commercial Service Dallas-Ft. Worth’s lead partner of trade professionals appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to provide international trade guidance to the local business community, where she is the chief Commercial Service liaison for Commerce and NTXDEC engagement on international trade development issues and expanding the North Texas exporter ecosystem. 

Jessica is a member of Toastmaster’s International, the World Affairs Council, and many professional and community organizations.  A native of Biloxi, Mississippi, Jessica graduated Magna Cum Laude and earned double degrees, a BA in Spanish and a BSBA in International Business, from the University of Southern Mississippi.  She is a graduate of the Else School of Management MBA Program at Millsaps College.  

Michael Treyger, Manager, Department of Business Assistance, Office of the Governor, State of Texas

Michael Treyger, Manager, Department of Business Assistance, Office of the Governor, State of Texas

Michael Treyger serves as the Manager of Department of Business Assistance within the Office of the Governor of Texas. The Department executes the Governor’s initiatives to encourage and facilitate business growth and retention in the State of Texas.

The Department assists Texas, US - based, and international companies in international trade, foreign direct investments, industry-specific intelligence, small business advocacy and entrepreneurial support, permitting, licensing and regulatory compliance. The Department also includes the Office of Aerospace and Aviation, as well as the State of Texas Mexico Office.

Treyger serves as the Texas Governor’s appointee to the Advisory Board of the Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas A&M University, and various o ther Committees and Councils. His professional background includes banking industry, with J.P. Morgan Chase and transportation operations management, with JetBlue Airways.

Treyger holds degrees in Marketing and Internati onal Business & Trade from Florida Atlantic University and an MBA from the Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business.

Antwaun Griffin, Fmr Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, International Trade Administration (ITA)

Antwaun Griffin, Fmr Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, International Trade Administration (ITA)

Antwaun Griffin is a strategic thinker and executive with extensive experience in international trade, government affairs and political operations.

Prior to founding Penn & Broad Partners, Antwaun served as a Presidentially-appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce at the International Trade Administration (ITA). In this role, he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the U.S. Commercial Service’s network of 108 U.S. Export Assistance Centers whose trade specialists work closely with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide to help American businesses develop or fine-tune their global growth strategies.  Through this work, Antwaun and his team facilitated billions of dollars in export sales annually through trade counseling, international business matchmaking, market intelligence and commercial diplomacy.

He also played a key role in shaping the Obama Administration’s trade promotion and economic policy; helping U.S. businesses increase exports, expand into new markets and compete globally.  He collaborated in the design of and led all U.S. government-wide efforts to implement the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), leading to over $700 billion in increased exports between 2010 and 2015.   Antwaun also led Department of Commerce and Administration strategic outreach to public and private sector organizations, enhancing awareness of exporting and inward investment as economic development tools.

Prior to joining the ITA, he served as Senior Advisor at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) from 2009 through 2011. In this position, he helped implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helping small and medium-sized enterprises weather the “great recession.” While at the SBA, he and his team helped thousands of small businesses secure financing and win government contracts.   

Korina Smith, Executive Director, Global Chamber® Dallas

Korina Smith, Executive Director, Global Chamber® Dallas

Korina serves as the Executive Director of Global Chamber® Dallas. Korina is a dedicated, mission-driven leader who thrives leading and developing teams. Korina has been a professional public speaker for over a decade and consistently exceeds sales standards. She loves mentoring and coaching others one-on-one to maximize performance.

Korina’s business specialties include: business development, business matchmaking, and helping businesses with their global expansion. Korina has a huge heart for others while being a strong leader. She has over 18 years of experience leading teams on humanitarian missions to deliver humanitarian aid and facilitate sustainable projects in villages, relief camps and orphanages around the world. She also dedicated 8 years of her career as an advocate for education and a public speaker for high school students to live purpose driven lives and getting the smartest education to do so.

Korina holds a BA in Political Science: Global Politics from California State University Los Angeles with a minor in French. She also studied at the Institut d'Études Politiques d'Aix-en-Provence, France and the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Korina loves to travel internationally and speaks Spanish, Portuguese and (used to speak) French.

Korina is inspired by those who come up with creative solutions to tackle some of humanity’s most difficult challenges, like poverty, disease and climate change.

Matthew Rooney, Director Economic Growth, George W Bush Institute

Matthew Rooney, Director Economic Growth, George W Bush Institute

Matt Rooney joined the Bush Center in June 2015 from a career as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.  At postings in Washington and abroad, Matt focused on advocating market-driven solutions to economic policy challenges in both industrialized and developing countries, and on protecting the interests of U.S. companies abroad. 

In Washington, Matt was on loan to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to create a high-level private sector advisory body for the Summits of the Americas, working closely with the U.S. private sector and with companies and business associations from throughout the Americas to negotiate an agenda to promote economic integration in the region for presentation to the leaders of the Americas.  Previously, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary responsible for relations with Canada and Mexico and for regional economic policy.   Prior to this, as Director of the Office of Economic Policy, he led interagency and international negotiations in 2008 that produced the Secretary’s Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative, designed to engage with our Free Trade Agreement partners on strategies for ensuring that the benefits of globalization are broadly shared in our societies.

Abroad, Matt was Consul General in Munich, a Consulate General providing a full range of Consular and export promotion services, supporting a permanent presence of 30,000 U.S. forces in two major base complexes, and performing political and economic analysis in support of U.S. diplomatic objectives in Germany. As Counselor for Economic and Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador, he laid the groundwork for free trade negotiations between the United States and the five countries of Central America, and promoted market-based reforms for electrical power.  Prior to this, Matt served in various posts in Germany, Gabon and Côte d’Ivoire. 

Matt studied Economics, German and French at the University of Texas at Austin and received his Master’s Degree in International Management at the University of Texas at Dallas.  With his wife Dianna, Matt has two young adult sons.

Armando F. Beteta, Executive Director, Ernst & Young, Global Trade

Armando F. Beteta, Executive Director, Ernst & Young, Global Trade

Armando F. Beteta is an Executive Director of Ernst & Young LLP’s Global Trade practice.  He also leads the customs and international trade practice in the Latin American Business Center. Based in Dallas, he advises multinational corporations with business interests in Mexico and Latin America.

Prior to joining Ernst & Young LLP, Armando was Mexico’s former representative at the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Center, a tri-national office in charge of providing exporters, importers and producers from North America with technical information regarding customs procedures under NAFTA.  He was appointed to the NAFTA Center by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit of Mexico (Tax Administration Service) in March 1995. During his 10-year career in the public sector, he served as the Chief of Staff for the Federal Fiscal Attorney of Mexico, Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs on Indirect Taxes. He has also served as Legal Advisor to the Technical Secretariat of the Economic Cabinet in the Presidency of Mexico. After leaving the public sector, he served as a Foreign Legal Advisor for a major US law firm.

Armando has extensive experience with customs guidelines for the establishment of IMMEX (Maquila or Pitex) operations in Mexico; customs and NAFTA due diligence and compliance reviews; customs and international trade advisory services; as well as duty strategic planning through Free Trade Agreements.

Armando received his law degree from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City and his master’s degree in international trade law from the University of British Columbia. He has written several articles in the customs and international trade area and is also a frequent lecturer at various international trade conferences.

Billy Bob Messer, Audit & Advisory Manager, Saville

Billy Bob Messer, Audit & Advisory Manager, Saville

Billy Bob Messer has over eight years of public practice experience serving an array of clients from $800-thousand to $129-billion in revenue. These clients existed in diverse industries including technology, construction, manufacturing and distribution, and real estate. His experience on Fortune 500 public companies provides him with a unique insight into internal control best practices which he uses to help both large and small companies mitigate risk and maximize operating effectiveness. This has also helped him develop a thorough understanding of a variety of complex accounting areas including complex revenue recognition, mergers and acquisitions, share based compensation plans, and variable interest entities. Billy Bob has a passion for client service, and he leverages his knowledge base, along with his inherent desire to help people, to deliver a positive experience to his clients.

Outside of the office, Billy Bob is a member of the Carrollton‐Farmers Branch Rotary Club. Billy Bob lives in a north Dallas suburb with his wife and two sons. 

Elyse Eriksson, Creator/Author/Speaker, The Riddle of the Exporter™

Elyse Eriksson, Creator/Author/Speaker, The Riddle of the Exporter™

A lifelong entrepreneur, Elyse Eriksson has explored a wide range of business ventures.  As the Managing Director of Export Connector, Ms. Eriksson brings together business experts to work with entrepreneurs to enter international markets. 

Ms. Eriksson is the creator and author of The Riddle of the Exporter™ training, workbook and e-learning game. The Riddle of the Exporter™ has been presented throughout the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.  The seminar is considered one of the best workshops on exporting because of its interactive format and entrepreneurial approach.

Alale Allal, Regional Export Trade Finance Manager, U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of International Trade,

Alale Allal, Regional Export Trade Finance Manager, U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of International Trade,

Alale is the Regional Export Trade Finance Manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of International Trade, covering most of Texas and all of Oklahoma.  Alale oversees the daily demands of both, lenders and small businesses for these markets.  The SBA provides a number of loan programs specifically designed to help develop or expand trade and export activities.  He is responsible for responding to export finance issues and for also being proactive in providing lender and small business training.  Alale has been in the financial services industry for over 15 years. 

Prior to joining the SBA, Alale started his career in the private sector working for Wells Fargo Bank where he was a Commercial lender for most of his time there.  He later joined Citigroup in Dallas as a Director with responsibilities for the Dallas Business Banking Commercial Team.  Alale received his Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and minored in Computer Science from Sam Houston State University.  Alale also earned his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management from Sam Houston State University.  Alale lives in Dallas and is involved in many local community organizations.  

Chris Hale, Founder & CEO of Kountable, Inc.

Chris Hale, Founder & CEO of Kountable, Inc.

Chris Hale is the founder and CEO of kountable, Inc., a San Francisco-based start-up that combines data science, social capital, and proven financial instruments to provide highly-scalable financing solutions to underserved “missing middle” entrepreneurs in developing countries. Kountable™ creates a low-friction, cloud-based bridge between investors in developed countries and the massive opportunity to finance the most promising, driven, established and well-networked entrepreneurs in emerging economies.

Mr. Hale concurrently serves as the COO of Perigon Wealth Management, an RIA serving approximately 100 families and managing almost $1 billion in assets.  Over the last two years, under Mr. Hale's leadership, Perigon Wealth Management has doubled its headcount, grown its assets under management almost six-fold, and in 2014, was named one of the 50 fastest growing RIAs in the country.

Mr. Hale earned his Bachelor's degree in Biology and English from Williams College.

Angela Shah, Editor, Xconomy Texas

Angela Shah, Editor, Xconomy Texas

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas.  She has written about startups along a wide entrepreneurial spectrum, from Silicon Valley transplants to Austin transforming a once-sleepy university town during the '90s tech boom to 20-something women defying cultural norms as they seek to build vital IT infrastructure in a war-torn Afghanistan. As a foreign correspondent based in Dubai, her work appeared in The New York Times, TIME, Newsweek/Daily Beast and Forbes Asia.

 

Before moving overseas, Shah was a staff writer and columnist with The Dallas Morning News and the Austin American-Statesman. She has an MBA from Tulane University, a Bachelor's of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and she is a 2007 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. 

Steve Guengerich, Executive Director, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Texas at Dallas

Steve Guengerich, Executive Director, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Texas at Dallas

Steve Guengerich is the Executive Director for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Dallas, where he leads an organization focused on launching innovative new ventures, both as startups and within existing businesses.

Steve also serves as a principal with the new ventures studio Powershift Group , Managing D irector of BroadBrush Ventures , and a clinical associate professor at UT Dallas. He is an original, founding shareholder of BSG Corporation , a private IT solutions & software company, acquired for more than $400 million, by what is now McKesson Corporation (NYSE: MCK).

Steve enjoys informal and formal mentoring programs, engaging with every kind of entrepreneur. He is a mentor for Capital Factory (Austin), the REVTECH Accelerator (Dallas), the Seamless Accelerator (Grand Rapids, MI), and Chinaccelerator (Beijing, China). In addition to mentoring, he has also served as a judge for many venture competitions and programs. 

Tracy Merzi, Publisher, Dallas Business Journal

Tracy Merzi, Publisher, Dallas Business Journal

Tracy Merzi has been with American City Business Journals for over 25 years in various sales and marketing positions at the Pittsburgh Business Times and the Washington Business Journal.  Tracy currently serves as the Market President and Publisher for the Dallas Business Journal.  She serves on various boards in the community including being Past Chairman of Junior Achievement, The Dallas Women’s Foundation Board, and several business industry association boards.  She and her husband Alan have two girls Sophia and Haley.

David Pfaff, President/CEO, Plastronics Socket Company

David Pfaff, President/CEO, Plastronics Socket Company

David Pfaff has led Plastronics Socket Company, a fully integrated design, injection mold and manufacturer of semiconductor test connectors, for over 15 years.  Plastronics has operations in the United States and throughout Asia.  Mr. Pfaff graduated from Pomona College and has a MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.  He lives in Irving, Texas, with his wife and two beautiful children.

Jessica Vollman, Founder, The Vollman Group

Jessica Vollman, Founder, The Vollman Group

Jessica Vollman is the founder of The Vollman Group and works with startups to scale company operations globally through strategy, marketing and consistent customer experience. 

Prior to founding The Vollman Group Jessica was one of the first employees at education company General Assembly, most recently serving as Director of New Market Expansion. She helped develop the company's go-to-market strategy, led market research, managed launch operations, and built strategic partnerships, enabling the company to scale to 700 employees in 14 cities around the world. 

At General Assembly she worked with a team of 14 marketing producers to develop marketing strategies and also developed and executed partnerships with various organizations, including Facebook, Conde Nast, SXSW, American Express, The New York Times and Pearson, among others. 

Jessica also advises early-stage teams and serves as a Council Member for Gerson Lehrman Group. Prior to joining General Assembly she held various marketing roles at Mediabistro, International Meeting Managers, Tribeza Magazine and Sony Music Entertainment. 

Toni Portmann, CEO, DHISCO

Toni Portmann, CEO, DHISCO

Toni has 30 years of  executive and management experience in the information technology, education and training, crm/bpo, hospitality, and financial services industries.  She has been the CEO of 4 companies; and grew a small 1500 employee, US based company into a global BPO industry leader by opening up centers in 16 countries with 15,000 employees worldwide.  Toni is currently the CEO of DHISCO, a hospitality technology company connects 11 million hotel rooms to travelers across 191 countries. 

Sarah Reilly Engel, VP of Customer Experience, Alice

Sarah Reilly Engel, VP of Customer Experience, Alice

As Vice President of Customer Experience at Alice, Sarah leads the Circular Accelerator, customer engagement, content strategy and events.

With more than 17 years of experience, Sarah has extensive experience in sales, business development, marketing, customer stewardship and strategy. She has held senior level positions at Salesforce, Thismoment, Belly Card and RewardStyle. Sarah has worked in product marketing and research at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette in their New York headquarters and Red Herring Magazine.

Prior to joining Alice, Sarah founded Campsix, a boutique consulting firm for early stage companies. At Campsix, Sarah advised clients on growth strategy, operations and business development.

In addition to these professional roles, Sarah has led workshops at Chicago startup hubs 1871 and Impact Engine, developed curriculum for the Startup Institute and published thought leadership articles on major digital publications. She frequently speaks on the topics of digital marketing, ad tech, startup strategy, customer success, technology, entrepreneurship and women in leaders 

Jennifer Kushell, Young & Successful Media and YSN.COM

Jennifer Kushell, Young & Successful Media and YSN.COM

Jennifer Kushell, CEO and founder of Young & Successful Media and YSN.com, has been on a mission to impact the lives and futures of young people globally for two decades.  Kushell sculpts groundbreaking campaigns around youth empowerment, employment and entrepreneurship, bringing educational, government and corporate stakeholders together to impact millions.  Such programs have included the 100 country Subway Global Challenge and the International Franchise Association’s NextGen in Franchising campaign.

 

Author of the New York Times Bestseller Secrets of the Young & Successful, Kushell is an advisor to leading global youth organizations, a delegate of several State Department led entrepreneurship missions, and Youth Advisor at the UN. Today, YSN is deploying game-changing education through online learning/EdTech solutions to dramatically change the way young people engage with the new world of work and global opportunity.   

Johanna Maska, Fmr Director of Press Advance, White House & CEO, Global Situation Room

Johanna Maska, Fmr Director of Press Advance, White House & CEO, Global Situation Room

Johanna Maska is CEO of GSR.  For eight years Maska worked as Director of Press Advance for President Barack Obama, managing President Obama’s public image on trips for eight years across the United States and to 40 countries including extended tours of Asia, South America, Europe and Africa. She played an important role on both successful Presidential elections, starting in Iowa in 2007 and concluding in early 2015.  Prior to that Maska worked in politics in Iowa and Kansas.  Maska has since worked in media and technology and works now to promote positive global growth for brands.

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