Washington International Trade Foundation

WITF Overview

Washington International Trade Foundation is the 501(c)3 charitable non-profit educational organization which supports the educational activities of WITA. Incorporated in 1996, the Foundation has its own Board of Directors and operates under its own set of bylaws. WITA’s staff manage the affairs of the Foundation, under the direction of the Foundation President and Foundation Board of Directors.

Support for the activities of WITF are tax deductible. WITF’s Federal Tax ID # is 52-1907420. The Foundation is most active during the preparations and hosting of the Annual Dinner, which it co-sponsors with WITA. The Annual Dinner is the capstone event of both organizations. Held each July in the Atrium and Ballroom of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the Annual Dinner is Washington’s most important trade event, where the trade community honors those individuals who have provided leadership and vision in the field of international trade.

Foundation Board of Directors


Ted Austell, WITF Chair, The Boeing Company

Bill Lane, WITF Vice Chair, Trade for America



Christine LoCascio, DISCUS

John Murphy, US Chamber of Commerce

Kaitlin Sighinolfi, International Paper

Dontai Smalls, UPS

Sarah Stewart, Silverado Policy Accelerator 

Sarah Thorn, WITA Board Liaison, WalMart Stores Inc. 

Nicole Venable, Invariant

Christopher Wenk, Kia Motors Corporation


Bill Lane is Executive Director of Trade for America, and one of the business community’s leading advocates for free trade and global engagement. A 40-year Caterpillar veteran, Bill led a global team of 38 government affairs professionals in 12 countries. In that capacity, Bill was responsible for Caterpillar’s international advocacy in support of competitiveness, trade liberalization and economic growth.

Bill has held numerous leadership positions in Washington most recently chairman of the Russia PNTR coalition and the U.S. Latin America Trade Coalition, a group that supported Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia and Panama. He is also co-president of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, a coalition supporting a robust international affairs budget.

Appointed by Speaker Hastert, Bill served on the HELP Commission, a presidential committee examining the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid. He was a member of the German Marshall Fund Task Force on Development and Peace Corps Review Team.

Previously, Bill founded and led the USA Engage Effort, the Coalition of American Steel Using Manufacturers (CASUM) and helped lead the business advocacy efforts in support of the Australia, Chile and Peru FTAs. He was the Company Spokesman in Peoria during the Caterpillar-UAW labor dispute (1991-1993). For ten straight years (2004- 2013), Bill has been named one of Washington’s top corporate lobbyists by the Hill newspaper.

Bill is a 2011 Penn State Alumni Fellow and a member of the Penn State Hammond Society. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Bill received his BS and MA degrees from Penn State and attended the University of Cologne in Germany. He was also a Certified Management Accountant. Bill is on the boards of Global Communities, US-Russia Business Council, National Foreign Trade Council and Washington International Trade Foundation.

Bill received his BS and MA degrees from Penn State and attended the University of Cologne in Germany.

Christine LoCascio joined the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) in 2001 and is now responsible for coordinating and implementing the Council’s federal, state, and international trade public policy objectives. In this role, Christine advocates in support of DISCUS priorities, such as an end to the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. spirits exports, expanding spirits direct-to-consumer shipping and cocktails-to-go laws, and securing improved market access for distilled spirits, including spirits based ready-to-drink (RTDs), at the state and federal levels. In addition, Christine oversees the Distilled Spirits Council’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Market Access Program (MAP) to promote U.S. distilled spirits exports.

Christine has led successful lobbying efforts on behalf of DISCUS and in the U.S. business coalitions supporting passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia, Panama, Australia, Chile and Singapore, and other trade legislation, including the WTO accessions of Vietnam, Russia and China, and Trade Promotion Authority.

Christine is frequent lecturer on the role of trade associations and advocacy at the Washington Campus, a non-profit, non-partisan, higher education association whose mission is to promote and support public affairs and public policy education for current and future organizational leaders. Christine is a member of Women in Government Relations, Women in International Trade (WIIT), the Washington International Trade Association (WITA), and currently serves as a Board Member of the WITA Foundation. Christine has served as Chair of the U.S. Department of Commerce and USTR’s Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Consumer Goods (ITAC 4) and as an advisor on the Agricultural Technical Committee for Trade (ATAC) in Processed Foods, which provides technical advice on U.S. agricultural trade issues to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). She previously served as a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council and as a Member of the WIIT Board of Directors.

Christine received her B.A. in History and Italian Language and Literature from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She is also a member of the Johns Hopkins SAIS Women’s Alumni Network (SWAN).

John Murphy directs the U.S. Chamber’s advocacy relating to international trade and investment policy. Since joining the Chamber in 1999, Murphy has led its successful campaigns to win congressional passage of trade agreements with a dozen nations, including Colombia, Panama, and South Korea in 2011, as well as Trade Promotion Authority in 2015. Murphy also plays a key role in the Chamber’s advocacy for international business priorities before Congress, the administration, foreign governments, and the World Trade Organization.

From 2001 to 2008, Murphy served as the Chamber’s Vice President for Western Hemisphere Affairs and as Executive Vice President of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA). In 2008, he received AACCLA’s Eagle of the Americas award, which is given annually to the individual who has “done the most to advance our mission of increased trade and investment between the United States and Latin America.”

In the 1990s, Murphy worked at the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of democracy overseas, and at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), which champions market-oriented economic reform around the world. From 1992 to 1993, he was the first Western lecturer in economics at the National University of Economics in Czechoslovakia.

Murphy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he received his Master of Science degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He serves on the boards of the Global Business Dialogue, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and the Washington International Trade Foundation. He is fluent in Spanish.

Kaitlin Sighinolfi is the Senior Director of Government Relations, and International Affairs at International Paper, where she focuses on issues regarding tax and trade. She comes to International Paper most recently from Siemens Corporation where she worked as Director, Tax and Trade. Previously, she worked on Capitol Hill as Legislative Director for Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana and as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. A native Mainer, from Brewer, ME, Kait grew up joining her elementary school class learning about pulp and paper by touring the local Eastern Fine Paper mill. Kait’s expertise and knowledge of the industry will be invaluable.

Dontai Smalls joined the UPS Global Public Affairs function in the Washington, DC office in October 1999. He coordinates all international issues on Capitol Hill for UPS, particularly global trade and customs modernization policy. He also coordinates UPS’ global aviation portfolio in DC. He is responsible in Washington for managing the relationships between UPS and Europe, including the embassies. Dontai also manages the relationship between UPS and the Congressional Study Groups, which provides substantive, issue-based opportunities for Members of Congress to engage with their counterparts abroad.

From 2005-2007, he served as counsel to UPS’s Air Group Legal Department in Louisville, KY. In that capacity, he focused on all brokerage/customs, flight operations, international operations and real estate/airport property issues relating to UPS Airlines, one of the largest airlines in world.

Prior to coming to UPS, Dontai completed various internships in Washington, including The White House, Department of Energy, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He is Chairman of the Board of Directors at the United Planning Organization, the City’s largest anti-poverty nonprofit organization and also serves on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, the Express Association of America (Vice President), the South Carolina Business Council in Washington, and the International Aviation Club (Treasurer).

Dontai received his Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center and his Bachelor of Arts cum laude in political science from Howard University.

He and his wife, Jennifer, reside in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with their two children.

Sarah V. Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Silverado Policy Accelerator. Ms. Stewart has nearly two decades of experience as an international trade lawyer, trade policy expert, and trade negotiator. Immediately prior to joining Silverado, Ms. Stewart led the public policy efforts at Amazon on U.S. trade policy and export controls matters. From 2013 to 2018, Ms. Stewart worked for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, with her most recent position being the Deputy Assistant USTR for Environment and Natural Resources. During her time at USTR, Ms. Stewart was the lead environment chapter negotiator for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations with the European Union. Prior to joining USTR, Ms. Stewart served in different legal and policy roles at the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, including spearheading a first-ever international legal group. Ms. Stewart began her career at the Law Offices of Stewart and Stewart, where she worked on behalf of U.S. manufacturing companies and workers. Ms. Stewart serves as a policy advisor for the Center for Climate and Trade, is a fellow at the National Security Institute, and is on the advisory board of American University’s Washington College of Law Program on Environmental and Energy Law.

Sarah Thorn is the Senior Director of Global Government Affairs at Walmart Stores, Inc. She is primarily responsible for managing international policy issues at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In this capacity, she advocates for Walmart priorities in legislation and trade negotiations that impact the company’s worldwide sourcing, e-commerce and retail distribution rights. She also leads a team that manages global supply chain policies, including responsible sourcing and labor issues.

In 2011, Sarah led the strategy team that developed Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, which is focused on empowering women throughout Walmart’s global supply chain. She is actively involved in the implementation of the initiative, focusing primarily stakeholder engagement and global partnerships.

Before joining Walmart, Sarah worked for seven years at the Grocery Manufacturers Association where she led the food, beverage and consumer products industry advocacy on international trade issues. Sarah has also worked as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers on business mobility issues and served as an international relations representative with AMP Incorporated. Sarah began her career in Washington as a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Information Agency.

She holds a Master of Arts degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative area studies and comparative literature cum laude from Duke University.

Nicole Venable has more than two decades of experience in the private sector, on Capitol Hill, and in the executive branch. Nicole serves as a liaison to the Biden-Harris Administration, House and Senate Democratic leadership, the CBC, and several key committees. She works closely with the House Ways and Means Committee; Senate Finance Committee; House Education and Labor Committee; and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. She provides politically astute, forward-leaning, and coalition-based legislative and public affairs solutions to Invariant’s clients. Nicole’s proven track record in Washington makes her a leader and a trusted counsel to top-level executives, associations, nonprofits, and coalitions.

Christopher Wenk is the Vice President of Government Affairs at Kia Motors’ Washington, D.C. Office. Since joining Kia in April 2018, Wenk oversees Kia’s U.S. federal and state government affairs program.

Wenk brings with him nearly 20 years of government relations experience both on and off Capitol Hill. He came to Kia from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he led bipartisan efforts to promote the Chamber’s international trade and investment agenda. Prior to the Chamber, Wenk directed international trade policy at the National Association of Manufacturers and worked on Capitol Hill for the House Small Business Committee, U.S. Representatives Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Dave Camp (R-Michigan).  

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Wenk holds a Master of Arts in Political Management and Corporate Public Affairs & Government Relations from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Spanish from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Silver Spring, Maryland, with their three daughters and one son.