Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships – March 15

  • March 15, 2018
    5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

In Connection with International Women’s Day 2018 

Women in International Trade and
the Organization of Women in International Trade

in partnership with the 

Virginia/Washington, DC District Export Council (DEC) and the
Commercial Service of Virginia and Washington, DC

are pleased to invite you to a panel discussion on:

5:00pm-6:30pm        Panel Discussion (Polaris Room)

6:30pm-8:00pm        Reception (Polaris Foyer)

Opening Remarks by
The Honorable Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce

Panel Discussion:

H.E. Arikana Chihombori Quao
Permanent Representative of the African Union Representational Mission to the United States of America

Dr. Chihombori-Quao is the second Permanent Representative to occupy the position since the AU Mission was opened.

In her role, Amb. Arikana Chihombori-Quao works towards fulfilling her mandate to improve diplomatic ties and enhance the existing good relations between the United States and the African Union.

Prior to her appointment, Amb. Arikana Chihombori-Quao was a renowned family medicine doctor in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where she had been practicing medicine for the past 25 years.

Since 2012, Amb. Chihombori-Quao has been the Chair of the African Union-African Diaspora Health Initiative (AU-ADHI), where she is involved in mobilizing the African Diaspora health professionals to assist in addressing the healthcare needs of the African continent.

Her contributions to the cause of Africa have earned Amb. Chihombori-Quao many prestigious honors. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the recipient of several awards, with the most cherished one being an achievement award received in 1996 from then incumbent president, H.E. the late President Nelson Mandela of the Republic of South Africa.


Florie Liser
President & CEO, Corporate Council on Africa

Florizelle (Florie) Liser is the third President and CEO of CCA. Ms. Liser brings expertise and an extensive network on trade and Africa to her new role, along with a strong track record of working with the private sector to translate policy into action. She is the first woman to lead the Council since its founding in 1993. Ms. Liser joined CCA from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), where she was the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa since 2003. At USTR, she led trade and investment policy towards 49 sub-Saharan African nations and oversaw implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Previously, Ms. Liser served as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Industry, Market Access, and Telecommunications from 2000-2003. She also served as Senior Trade Policy Advisor in the Office of International Transportation and Trade at the Department of Transportation from 1987-2000; worked as a Director in USTR’s Office of GATT Affairs, and served as an Associate Fellow at the Overseas Development Council (ODC) from 1975-1980.

Ms. Liser holds a M.A. in International Economics from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a B.A. in International Relations and Political Science from Dickinson College.


Mary Bezzini
President, Godman Power Group, Inc.

Mary Bezzini is the President and CEO of Godman Power Group, Inc., a Virginia-based engineering services firm that builds and sells turnkey energy systems worldwide. She is an internationally recognized expert in the field of energy, software integration, security, and compliance, with particular depth in deploying microgrid technology and turbines. She has worked on contracts with the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security.

In 2015, she was tapped to serve as a U.S. Trade Mission delegate to the Africagua Conference in the Fuerteventura, Spain, where she met with West African representatives and Energy Ministers to discuss energy development on the African continent over the next five years.

Ms. Bezzini is a featured guest speaker for the US Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration, technology conferences, and doing business internationally. Ms. Bezzini holds BA and MAIS degrees from George Mason University in Virginia, with advanced training in energy and power engineering.


Mucha Mlingo
President, OWIT Nairobi

Mucha is the Founder of Premier Training Services Ltd (PTS). PTS provides high impact training solutions in Sales, Service & Leadership.

Mucha has a Masters in Finance from the University of Brunel and she is currently working to complete a Masters in Organizational Psychology with the University of London.

Mucha is a Certified Trainer of Trainers with over 10 years’ experience in training & curriculum development. She is also a licensed Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Practitioner and Assessor.

Six Seconds is a not for profit organization whose primary focus is to support people to create positive change.  Through 20 years of global experience and extensive research, Six Seconds has shown that the scientifically-based skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) are essential for change. These skills are learnable, and predict stronger effectiveness, wellbeing, relationships, and quality of life.

As a Master Facilitator & International Keynote Speaker, Mucha utilizes the Six Seconds learning methodology & EQ Model, a robust and practical tool for training & coaching in Sales, Customer Experience & Leadership.

Mucha is the 2018/19 President of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT), Nairobi Chapter, one of 46 chapters in the OWIT International family. OWIT was established in 1989 and is a global association for women in international trade and business. OWIT’s 2,000-plus members impact hundreds of millions of dollars in trade and business transactions annually. The primary mission of OWIT is to support the advancement of women in international trade and business.

As President of the Nairobi chapter, Mucha drives the vision to connect women to global markets by providing a platform that enables & facilitates access to opportunities, develops capacity, leverages technology & unlocks financial services for the SME & Corporate members.

Mucha believes that people are a company’s most valuable asset – more valuable than the physical office, data & capital and she is passionate about utilizing training, speaking & coaching opportunities to drive impact & cultivate a high-performance culture.


Thione Niang
Founder, Give1Project; Co-Founder, Akon Lighting Africa

Thione Niang is a public servant, speaker and consultant. Born into a family of 28 children in Senegal, Thione arrived in the US in 2000, speaking no English and with $20 in his pocket.  He worked as a waiter and sent money home to his family every month while saving up to obtain a college diploma.

In 2009, he launched the GIVE1 project – a global not for profit organization dedicated to helping young leaders promote economic and social progress in their communities.  This organization is active in numerous countries, including France, the US and Japan, as well as in Africa (Senegal, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Gabon, etc).

In 2014, Thione Niang, international music star, Akon, and entrepreneur Samba Bathily launched Akon Lighting Africa, which aims to develop an innovative solar-powered solution that will provide African villages with access to a clean and affordable source of electricity.

Today, Thione Niang travels the world promoting the importance of leadership and the involvement of youth in public life.  He also founded the consulting group TN, which aims to improve communications and relations between governments and global organizations.



The Honorable Erin Walsh
Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Elizabeth Erin Walsh is Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets (GM) and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (CS). Ms. Walsh oversees a global network of trade promotion and policy professionals located in more than 75 countries and over 100 U.S. cities.

Ms. Walsh earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and American Government from Georgetown University, and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She brings more than 25 years of management experience to the Department of Commerce, including over a decade at the Department of State, with international organizations and the private sector. Ms. Walsh has traveled or worked in 100 countries, and has extensive knowledge of foreign and economic affairs in Asia, Middle East, and Africa.

Most recently, Ms. Walsh was employed at the White House as Special Assistant to President Trump. Prior to that she was an executive director at Goldman Sachs in Asia Pacific.



Thank you to our sponsor the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, TCMA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s US Africa Business Center!




1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, WAshington, District of Columbia, 20004