2017 Presenters

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Keynote Speaker: Ambassador Ron Kirk

As U.S. Trade Representative for the Obama administration from 2009-2013, Ron Kirk played an essential role in the nation’s economic recovery. He led negotiations to complete trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama and was on the frontlines of enforcing trade rules with China. Also a former two-term mayor of Dallas, Kirk is a widely recognized media source and speaker on trade and politics. He is currently in private legal practice and co-chairs his firm’s International Trade Group. (Full bio here.)

Jenna Aira-Ventrella headshot  Jenna Aira-Ventrella, BDO USA, LLP

Jenna Aira-Ventrella is a Managing Director in BDO’s Advisory Services practice. A Certified EDiscovery Specialist with over 17 years of experience, Ms. Aira-Ventrella internally leads BDO’s Global E-Discovery build-out strategy and execution team, while externally she advises organizations and clients on e-discovery solutions that address case management and big data challenges. She is a member of the firm’s Manufacturing & Distribution Industry Group and a founding member of the firm’s Auto Industry subcommittee.

Ms. Aira-Ventrella is experienced in litigation and investigative matters involving product liability & consumer class actions, IP litigation, unjust enrichment claims, corporate investigations, fraud investigations, bankruptcy, DOJ, SEC, NHTSA and other Regulatory agencies. Leading large scale domestic and international projects, she works with clients to design and execute a range of ediscovery methodologies, conduct internal investigations, manage multi-district litigations, as well as draft and develop strategy for discovery protocols and meet and confer conferences.

With advanced knowledge of e-discovery platforms and well-versed on e-discovery best practices, Ms. Aira-Ventrella provides guidance to clients on process improvement and project management techniques as well as training programs on discovery management. Her experience includes working with clients to implement preservation protocols, design appropriate acquisition methodologies and how to best leverage analytic solutions to maximize technology assisted review engagements. In addition, she works with clients to identify and evaluate new technology solutions to meet their ediscovery and discovery management needs.

She is a Certified Specialist in E-Discovery and has published and presented on a variety of ediscovery topics. Prior to her current position, Ms. Aira-Ventrella lead E-Discovery and Project Management Office (PMO) services for BDO Consulting’s Forensic Technology Services.

Kai Bitter  Kai Bitter, fbtAUTO

As the head of our automotive supplier group, Kai focuses his automotive practice on the supplier side. Licensed in both Germany and in Ohio, he advises domestic and foreign-owned companies that supply the automotive industry on corporate and commercial matters in the U.S. and overseas.

Kevin Coons, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.  Kevin Coons, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Kevin Coons is the Director-Commodities Purchasing Project House North American Region for Volkswagen Group of America. He is responsible for product unit cost reduction initiatives for all vehicle manufactured in the North American Region.

Prior to this role, Kevin was the Senior Purchasing Manager of the Interior Commodity. In this position Kevin was responsible for supporting the global and regional Interior purchasing strategy of Volkswagen in the United States.

Before joining Volkswagen Kevin worked for approximately 5 years at Toyota Engineering and Motor Manufacturing. During this time, he held various buying positions within the interior commodity.

Kevin has a Master’s Degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgia State University. 

Kyle Cormney, FTI Consulting  Kyle Cormney, FTI Consulting

Kyle Cormney is a Senior Director in the Strategic Communications segment at FTI Consulting, and is based in Washington, DC.  He is also part of the segment’s Public Affairs and Government Affairs specialty practice.

As a senior member of the Government Affairs practice, Mr. Cormney advises numerous clients and executive teams on challenges and opportunities within the ever changing public policy and political environments.  His experience in and out of government gives him unique insight into the intersection between private industry and government.

David DeGraaf, Faurecia Clean Mobility  David W. DeGraaf, Faurecia Clean Mobility

David W. DeGraaf assumed his role of President of Faurecia Clean Mobility (FCM) in November of 2014. As President of FCM North America, he is responsible for all operational aspects of the business, including customer strategy and policy, program management, manufacturing, purchasing, finance and human resources. David oversees 17 FCM manufacturing plants, one technical center and one customer center. He currently serves as a board member for the Indiana Automotive Council. Prior to joining FCM, he was Vice President and General Manager of JCI Power Solutions, Original Equipment (OE) Group – Americas Region. He has also served as a member on several different boards, including the Zeeland/Holland (West Coast) Chamber of Commerce and Board of Directors, and Congressman P. Hoekstra’s Academy Section Committee and Interview Board as well as a former Athlete Representative to the Board of Directors for the United States Handball Federation. David holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Factors Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy. A retired Air Force Major, David was a participant in the 1994 Goodwill Games, 1995 and 1996 Pan Am Games and the 1996 Olympics.

Javier Dias de Leon, Consul General of Mexico in Atlanta  Javier Díaz de León, Consul General of Mexico in Atlanta

Javier Díaz de León holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. He also earned a Master of Arts in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent at Canterbury in England. Since 1991, he is a member of the Mexican Foreign Service, and holds the rank of Ambassador since April 28th, 2017. During his professional career he has served as: Deputy Consul General in San Diego; Deputy Consul General in New York, Head of the Office for Migration and Hispanic Affairs at the Mexican Embassy in the United States, and Executive Director of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From June 2013 to May 2016 he served as Consul General of Mexico in Raleigh, NC.  On May 2016, he was appointed by President Enrique Peña Nieto as Consul General of Mexico in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is serving in this position since June 18, 2016.  

Gregory (Gregg) Garrett  Gregory Garrett, BDO USA, LLP

Gregory Garrett is the Head of International Cybersecurity. With more than 30 years of experience, Gregg is a recognized IT and cybersecurity expert, having managed more than $40 billion of complex, high-tech programs, contracts, and related consulting and professional services for government agencies and Fortune 500 companies across the globe. He is a respected international IT business consultant, acclaimed expert witness, best-selling author and thought leader, and a highly decorated former U.S. Air Force Military Officer. Gregg is the recipient of numerous national and international business awards for his writing, teaching, consulting, and leadership.

An expert in strategic business planning, Gregg has significant experience developing and implementing cyber risk management programs designed to increase profitability and manage cost, risk, and compliance. He has significant experience with agile software development, cloud migration, data analytics, supply chain management, and systems engineering. Gregg is also highly skilled with respect to government contract compliance and management.

Prior to joining BDO, Gregg served as Corporate Vice President of Information Technology and President and General Manager of Cybersecurity for the UIC Corporation. Previously, he served as a Partner and Head of Cybersecurity for Blue Canopy Group LLC. In addition, Gregg has also held senior executive and partner-level positions with Artel LLC, Navigant Consulting, Lucent Technologies, and ESI International.

Matt Grimes, AlixPartners  Matt Grimes, AlixPartners

Matt guides large and midsize automotive companies through the many complexities associated with financial and operational turnarounds and restructurings. He has more than 15 years of experience in advising companies throughout the automotive supplier segments on improving financial planning and forecasting, budget and business plan development and implementation, business process improvements, cash management practices, accounting restatements, commercial negotiations, cost savings identification, and working-capital reductions. Matt’s experience also includes both sell and buy side advisory services, negotiating plans of reorganization and negotiating debt/equity restructurings.  Matt is a licensed certified public accountant in the state of Michigan and a member of the Michigan Association of CPAs, the Turnaround Management Association, and the Association of Insolvency & Restructuring Advisors. He has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Economics and a Master of Accounting from the University of Michigan.

Pam Heminger, Honda of America Manufacturing  Pam Heminger, Honda of America Manufacturing

Pam Heminger, vice president of Honda of America Mfg. (HAM), is responsible for the management and direction of the company’s Administration, Purchasing and Business Divisions. Prior to this role, she oversaw the HAM Business Division, which includes the Facilities, Accounting, Information Systems, New Model Center and Production Control and Planning departments. Pam joined HAM as a Purchasing Buyer in 1996 and since then has held a variety of different positions, including Team Leader, Purchasing Manager of the Functional Engine Team and Electrical Team, Manager of the Purchasing Strategic Development Group, Department Manager of Cost Planning and Division Manager of the HAM Purchasing Operations Division. Before joining HAM, Pam worked for Lennox Industries as a commodities manager. She has served as a Governing Board Member for the Children’s Hunger Alliance from 2013-17 and is currently a Board Member of the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association and the HAM Foundation. In 2015, Pam was selected by Automotive News as one of “100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry.” She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Procurement and Materials Management from Bowling Green State University, as well as her MBA from Capital University. 

Photo  Sigmund E. Huber, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Sig Huber was named Director - Global Supplier Relations and Risk Management, FCA - Global in January 2015. In this position, Huber is responsible for improving supplier and industry relationships, supplier communications and events, supplier risk management and performance measurement, buyer and supplier training, supplier diversity, as well as other strategic areas associated with the global procurement organization. He retains his responsibilities for supplier relations in the North American region, a position he's held since joining the company in 2008.

Prior to joining FCA US LLC, formerly Chrysler Group LLC, Huber was Assistant General Manager for Corporate Affairs for Toyota Engineering & Manufacturing North America. While at Toyota Huber worked as Senior Legal Counsel, and then transitioned to an operational role where he progressed through a series of positions in both Purchasing and Corporate Affairs.

Huber sits on the Board of Directors of the AIAG, National Minority Supplier Development Council and the Business Consortium Fund. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of California San Diego and a Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law.

  Robert L. Hust, fbtAUTO

As former General Counsel for Honda of America Mfg., Inc., Bob Hust served not only as chief legal officer for Honda’s North American manufacturing operations but also as compliance officer and risk-management leader. Hust also helped found and lead, for three years, the Midwest office of Honda’s intellectual property legal group. In more than 21 years as an industry insider, Hust developed a deep understanding of the myriad issues confronting automotive manufacturing, including labor and employment, risk management, corporate compliance, facility/site selection, records retention, electronic discovery and IP planning and protection. He has partnered with executive management for OEMs and suppliers to provide strategic, yet practical, legal and business advice on all aspects of the business. Hust continues his strong working relationships with executives, managers and lawyers for OEMs and suppliers throughout the industry in his role as a co-chair of the firm’s Automotive Industry Team.

John Mack, FORCAM  John Mack, FORCAM, Inc.

John Mack is the Director of Business Development and Government Affairs for FORCAM, Inc., a German software company, dedicated to the Digital Transformation of Manufacturing, headquartered in Cincinnati, OH. Prior to FORCAM, he spent over 35 years in the financial services industry as a partner of Bear Stearns and Company in New York and was responsible for their international sales and capital markets efforts in Europe. He was also the president of Bersec International and was a senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, Lincoln and Orange Financial. He speaks several foreign languages.

Mack is dedicated to helping global manufacturing to develop Smart Factories using the Industrial Internet of Things.

Cathy McNamara  Cathy McNamara, BDO USA, LLP

Cathy has over 20 years of public accounting and industry experience, including ten years at a Big 4 firm and five years at an automotive supplier. She is responsible for financial statement audits for a wide-range of clients.

Cathy’s experience includes acquisition and divestiture due diligence, public offerings, equity structuring, and business restructuring issues. Her clients have a variety of complex revenue and equity issues. Cathy also teaches and develops training matters for associates and senior programs and participates in internal quality control reviews.

Cathy participates in a variety of continuing education programs throughout the year including a focus on contract accountancy/revenue recognition, IFRS and other technical areas.

Cathy leads the Detroit office Manufacturing and Distribution Industry Group for assurance services.

Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford bio  Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford, British Consul General

Jeremy Pillmore-Bedford took up his appointment in Atlanta as Her Majesty’s Consul General in August 2013. In his role, Jeremy leads a team which does work throughout the Southeast to promote UK-US trade investment, support British nationals, conduct public diplomacy on key issues and build scientific cooperation. Additionally, he sits on the Marshall Scholarship selection committee. Prior to serving as Her Majesty’s Consul General, Jeremy was posted in London where he was the Head of the UK Foreign Office’s Caribbean, Central America and Mexico Department. He also worked in the Foreign Office’s policy planning staff as well as worked on supporting democratic reform in Ukraine after the 2004 Orange Revolution. Jeremy graduated from Brunel University in London with a degree in politics, history and economics. He also participated in a one-year exchange program with the State University of New York and worked as an intern for a US Congressman. Jeremy joined the UK’s diplomatic service in 1990 as a graduate entrant. He has since served overseas in Qatar, Singapore, Russia, and Malaysia.

John Riggi  John Riggi, BDO USA, LLP

John Riggi leads BDO’s Cybersecurity and Financial Crimes Practice, having spent nearly 30 years as a highly decorated veteran of the FBI, and served as a representative to the White House Cyber Response Group and Financial Services Steering Committee. At the FBI Cyber Division, he led the national program to develop mission-critical partnerships with the healthcare and other critical infrastructure sectors, technology companies and across government for the investigation and exchange of information related to national security and criminal-related cyber threats.

John held a national strategic role in the investigation of the largest cyber-attacks targeting healthcare, energy, entertainment, technology, financial services, government and other sectors. Presently, John is leading BDO’s exclusive engagement with the American Hospital Association to provide cybersecurity training for their 5000+ member hospital CEOs. John is also a governing chair on the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) initiative to develop the healthcare sector’s first cyber threat catalog, which identifies threats and maps them to specific mitigating controls.

In addition, he serves as an official private sector validator for the White House’s Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)-41 on U.S. Cyber Incident Coordination. The PPD is designed to foster an improved working relationship between the public and private sector.

Previously in his career, John served in leadership positions in the FBI’s Washington Office Intelligence Division, New York Office Joint Terrorist Task Force, High-Intensity Financial Crimes Area Task Force and was the National Operations Manager for the FBI’s Terrorist Financing Operations Section. He also served as a senior FBI representative to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. John is the recipient of the FBI Director’s Award for leading a highly successful classified terrorism financing interdiction program and the recipient of the CIA George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the CIA’s highest award in this category. John presents extensively on cybersecurity topics and is frequently interviewed by the media on cybersecurity issues.

Anna Schneider headshot  Anna Schneider, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Anna-Maria Schneider is the Senior Vice President, Industry-Government Relations at Volkswagen Group of America. She is responsible for the development of the company’s legislative and public affairs priorities, and leads all advocacy efforts at the federal and state level. Active in leadership positions in several trade associations and chambers of commerce, she promotes and builds awareness among key audiences in Washington and in the states of the Volkswagen Group’s environmental stewardship, safety innovations and corporate philanthropy.

Schneider previously served as vice president of Industry and Government Affairs and the deputy to the Group Vice President at Toyota Motor North America, Inc., the holding company for Toyota’s North American sales, engineering and manufacturing operating units. There she was responsible for oversight of department operations, including personnel, office administration, budget, affiliate relations and development of public policy priorities. 

Before joining Toyota, Schneider was Executive Director for Government Relations of the U.S. Operations for Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. where she headed Mitsubishi’s government relations office for 13 years. 

Prior to joining Mitsubishi, Schneider served as Director for Intergovernmental Affairs for Global USA, Inc., an international trade consulting firm, where she worked closely with foreign governments and corporations, assisting them in understanding and responding to U.S. government policies. Earlier in her career, Schneider served as an account executive in the International Trade Practice Division of Hill and Knowlton Public Affairs Worldwide. 

Schneider graduated with honors from Bucknell University with a B.A. in international relations, and has a Master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University. She also studied at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria. 

Deb Schroeder headshot  Deb Schroeder, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.

Deb Schroeder is General Manager in Purchasing Procurement Department 2 for TEMA.  She is responsible for procurement of all Interior, Exterior and Seating components utilized in North American vehicles.

Prior to her return to Purchasing, she was General Manager in Strategic planning, supporting regional strategy for Toyota North America related to Sales, Manufacturing and R&D

She also spent time at Toyota’s truck manufacturing plant in San Antonio, TX. There she was General Manager at TMMTX for Plastics, On-site Suppliers, & Internal and External Logistics.  Her groups were responsible for various areas in plant manufacturing, ranging from the plastics shop, and supporting the suppliers that are onsite, to coordination of outsourced parts transported from across North America all the way to line side.

Ms. Schroeder also has experience in Production Control /Logistics responsible for managing the Integrated Logistics Planning & Packaging section at TEMA for all the plants across North America.

Ms. Schroeder started her career at TMMK, the Kentucky manufacturing facility, in 1992.  Since that time, she has held various management positions within Purchasing.

Ms. Schroeder is a graduate of Indiana University.

John Shin headshot  John Shin, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

John Shin joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a senior G10 FX strategist, based in New York. He is responsible for the flagship monthly publication, World At A Glance. Previously, Shin was both a G10 FX strategist and a U.S. economist at Lehman Brothers. He was also a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and worked in the Macroeconomic and Quantitative Studies section of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C.

Shin holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard University, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. He holds a B.A. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated with high honors.

Jesse Shute, Bank of America Merrill Lynch  Jesse C. Shute, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Jesse Shute is a Director in Global Rates and Currencies at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Based in Charlotte, Mr. Shute is responsible for advising Southeast commercial bank clients on managing their global foreign exchange risk. 

Prior to joining the Charlotte Rates and Currencies desk in 2017, Mr. Shute was based in San Francisco for 15 years with Bank of America with responsibility for advising Fortune 500 corporate clients on managing their global foreign exchange risk.  He specialized in the Technology and Energy and Power sectors.

Mr. Shute has a BA in Economics with a minor in Business Administration from Vanderbilt University. He has been a volunteer tutor at the Boys & Girls Club for 7 years where he tutored high school students in various subjects and prepared them for college examinations.

Nadia Theodore, Consul General of Canada  Nadia Theodore, Consul General of Canada in Atlanta

Nadia Theodore has made her career in the Trade Agreement and Negotiations Branch of Global Affairs, holding leadership positions on several recent and major trade initiatives of Global Affairs Canada. Most recently, Nadia served in Ottawa as Chief of Staff and Executive Director to Canada’s Deputy Minister for International Trade. She was named Consul General for the US Southeast in August 2017.

With over 10 years of trade policy experience, Ms. Theodore’s appointment comes as Canada, Mexico and the United States have launched negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  As part of Canada’s international trade negotiating team, Nadia has built a reputation for forging strong partnerships with government and business leaders and managing complex, priority trade initiatives. Beyond trade negotiations, she helped Canada’s Trade and Investment Strategy, which is focused on ways to continue to help Canadian companies connect, compete and grow internationally.

She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of London and an M.A. in Political Science from Carleton University. She is married and has one child.   

Christopher Wilson headshot  Christopher Wilson, Woodrow Wilson Center

Christopher Wilson is Deputy Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he leads the institute’s research and programming on regional economic integration and U.S.-Mexico border affairs. He is the author and editor of numerous reports, including Growing Together: Economic Ties between the United States and Mexico (Wilson Center, 2017) and the State of the Border Report. Wilson is regularly consulted by national and international media outlets regarding U.S.-Mexico relations, and has written opinion columns for the Wall Street Journal, Politico, CNN, and Reuters, among others. He previously worked as a contractor doing Mexico analysis for the U.S. military and as a researcher at American University’s Center for North American Studies. In Mexico, he worked at an international trade consultancy and with American students studying regional political and social issues. Wilson is a member of the Transportation Research Board Committee on International Trade and Transportation, one of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine technical committees designed to provide independent, objective analysis to inform public policy decisions. He completed his M.A. in International Affairs at American University, focusing on U.S. foreign policy and hemispheric relations. 

Stuart Young  Stuart Young, Gowling WLG

Stuart Young is a partner in Gowling WLG’s Corporate Group. He specializes in advising entrepreneurs and large corporate clients on their acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures, equity financings and other key strategic transactions.

Stuart helps clients to get deals done with the minimum of fuss by using over 25 years’ experience in the transactional world.   Representative clients include CDK, dnata/Emirates, Dover Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Magna, GKN, Prodrive, TRW, Triumph, JLR and Williams F1.

He regularly acts for foreign-owned, particularly North American, manufacturing clients on their European transactions. Recent examples include transactions concluded for Dover Corporation, A O Smith, Magna, AFCO, Masco, Graham Partners and SanMar Corporation.

Stuart is head of the firm's Automotive Group and counsels numerous automotive companies on their business affairs.  Stuart is deeply involved in the automotive sector in the UK and plays a lead role in UK Autodrive – a Government funded consortium testing driverless vehicles on public roads.  He has published a series of "White Papers" on issues affecting connected and autonomous vehicles covering subjects such as cyber-security, privacy and ethical programming.

Andrew Zimberg  Andrew Zimberg, Nissan North America, Inc.

Andrew Zimberg joined Nissan as a Senior Analyst in February 2012. As a member of the global supplier financial risk team, his responsibility includes managing the financial analysis and risk mitigation function for North American strategic suppliers, as well as tracking and assessing key supplier risk in China and Japan.  

Prior to joining Nissan, Zimberg worked for 20 years in the corporate banking industry. He specialized in the automotive and healthcare industries and was responsible for risk management, capital market transactions and managing portfolios of distressed debt. Additionally, Zimberg has M&A corporate finance and transactional experience including restructuring corporate balance sheets.  

Zimberg holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Buffalo and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Finance from the State University of New York at Brockport. 

Zimberg, originally from New York City, now resides in Nashville with his wife and three daughters.