In Memoriam: Eric Biel




Dear WITA Community,

It is with a heavy heart that we share with the trade community news of the passing of Eric Biel, a one-time member of WITA’s Board of Directors. Eric was a pillar of the trade and labor communities for more than 30 years, and a dear friend and mentor to many. WITA President Steve Lamar had this to say about his friend: “Eric was a kind soul whose gentle demeanor and fierce intellect will be sorely missed. His immense contributions in the areas of trade, public policy, worker rights, and corporate social responsibility will benefit and be felt by millions around the world for many years to come.” 

Eric’s career in government service started in 1990. He served as Deputy Undersecretary for Trade Policy and head of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning at the U.S. Department of Commerce; Executive Director of the bipartisan Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy; Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan; and International Trade Counsel at the Senate Finance Committee. In the 2010s, he returned to government service as Associate Deputy Undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB). Eric coordinated the Bureau’s work on private sector engagement, supply chain issues, and labor rights in a range of countries and under trade preference programs, and on key issues in the International Labor Organization, G-7, and OECD.

Most recently, Eric served as a Senior Advisor to the Fair Labor Association. In a statement issued today, Sharon Waxman, FLA’s President and CEO said this about Eric, “Eric was a dear friend and mentor to all of us at the Fair Labor Association. He was a giant in the human rights field. His heart was as big as his incredible intellect. I am blessed to have worked with him, and I know all of my colleagues feel the same. We will miss Eric dearly.”

In the 2000s, Eric served as Managing Director for Corporate Responsibility at Burson-Marsteller; Deputy Washington Director and Senior Counsel at Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights); and Senior Vice President and General Counsel at the Fontheim International law and consulting firm. Since 2009, Eric also taught a business and human rights course at the Georgetown University Law Center addressing key issues of corporate accountability in the global economy, the intersection of trade and labor standards, and supply chain management and responsibility.

At WITA, Eric will also be profoundly missed. He was a frequent speaker at WITA policy events, and an early supporter of the WITA Academy and its mission to make trade education and career opportunities in international trade accessible to communities in the United States and around the world. He spoke at three WITA Academy programs in the past year, most recently in October 2023 with students at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

Eric Biel passed away at home on November 27 after a prolonged illness. He was the beloved husband of Dana Rosenfeld, father of David and Josh, brother of Steven, and son of the late Claire (Diamond) and Morton. Services will be held on Friday, December 1 at 11:00 AM ET at Beth El Congregation in Bethesda.

If you wish to send a card to Eric’s wife, Dana Rosenfeld, and their children, David and Josh, you can send to: 

Dana Rosenfeld

4850 Montgomery Lane

Bethesda, MD 20814