2019 WITA/WITF Annual Awards Dinner - American Leadership Award - Senator Chuck Grassley
2019 WITA/WITF Annual Awards Dinner - Master of Ceremonies - John Veroneau
2019 WITA/WITF Annual Awards Dinner - Congressional Leadership Award - Congresswoman Suzan DelBene
2019 WITA/WITF Annual Awards Dinner - Congressional Leadership Award - Congresswoman Jackie Walorski
2019 WITA/WITF Annual Awards Dinner - Lighthouse Award - Women In International Trade (WIIT)
On Wednesday, July 17, 2019, the Washington International Trade Foundation (WITF) and the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) hosted their Annual Awards Dinner (#TradeProm) at the Atrium and Atrium Hall of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
WITF Honored the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and the Women in International Trade (WIIT). Other speakers included Former Senate Finance Chairman and Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, who presented the American Leadership Award to Senator Grassley; Congressman Rick Larsen, who presented the Congressional Leadership Award to Congresswoman DelBene; and the Former Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Congressman Kevin Brady, who presented the Congressional Leadership Award to Congresswoman Walorski. Sarah Thorn, of Walmart, and Selina Jackson, of P&G, presented the Lighthouse Award to the organization Women in International Trade (WIIT). The Dinner featured remarks by WITA Executive Director Kenneth Levinson, WITA Board Vice President Stephanie Lester, and the evening’s Master of Ceremonies John Veroneau of Covington & Burling LLP.
The evening opened with a cocktail reception featuring wines, beers, and spirits, donated by the Distilled Spirits Council and Embassies from around the world. A 16th-century map, a mock of a vintage caravel, and oak barrels decorated the Atrium as a nod to the 500th Anniversary of Magellan circumnavigating the globe.
After the cocktail reception, the seated dinner began with opening remarks by WITA Executive Director, Kenneth Levinson, and WITA Board Vice President, Stephanie Lester of Gap, Inc. who played on the dinner’s Magellan theme as they shared their remarks about WITA’s role in the international trade community. “Just as Magellan’s voyage navigated new horizons five centuries ago, WITA helps the trade community navigate the ever-changing policies and markets that influence trade”, Stephanie Lester commented. In the past 12 months, WITA and Young Trade Professionals have hosted nearly 50 events with almost 150 speakers “and have grown to an incredible 4,000 members and is proud to be the premier hub of the trade community and embody the vision that individuals from across the political and policy spectrum can come together to debate, discuss, and drive the future of international trade policy,” remarked Lester.
American Leadership Award – Senator Chuck Grassley
Former Senate Finance Chairman and former Ambassador to China, Max Baucus (D-MT), began the awards portion of the evening by presenting the American Leadership Award to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Senator Grassley’s remarks focused on the importance of free and open trade. “While trade might be prominent in the news recently, it has always been important to me. I see [trade as something] that benefits not only the economic pocketbooks of the people involved and jobs created, but what it means for peace around the world,” Senator Grassley remarked. “Export markets are and will continue to be vitally important to our farmers as much as it is to manufacturing and services…but failing to take [on] the global challenges that we face seriously means risking our global dominance and global leadership.”
Following a short break for dinner, John Veroneau, of Covington and Burling LLP and Master of Ceremonies, came to the stage and gave remarks about the importance of putting trade into context: “Too often trade is singled out as the major source of problems that in fact go well beyond trade…trade must be kept in perspective.” Veroneau continued that “the policy choices we make inside the border on issues like education, infrastructure, R&D, and public debt will be far more consequential to U.S. competitiveness.”
Congressional Leadership Award – Congresswoman Suzan DelBene
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) further expanded the evening’s discussion of the importance of international trade for American leadership. While accepting the Congressional Leadership Award from Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), Congresswoman DelBene underlined the current issues in trade and American competitiveness. Beginning with a quote from President Ronald Reagan, Congresswoman DelBene emphasized that “our peaceful trading partners are not our enemies, they are our allies. The expansion of the international economy is not a foreign invasion, it is an American triumph; one that we worked hard to achieve.” Addressing the rise in skeptics of trade, Congresswoman DelBene explained, “in my home state where 40% of all jobs are tied to trade, trade is still a controversial issue…workers and families need to feel that they are benefitting from businesses success… and demonstrate [to them] that opening new markets abroad does not mean ignoring our citizens at home.” Congresswoman Delbene concluded her remarks by stating, “Taking the necessary steps at home will be in a much better position to build the support necessary to pass new trade agreements that we need to compete in the worlds largest and fastest-growing markets.”
Congressional Leadership Award – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski
In recognition of her work in congress and being a champion in trade, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN) received the Congressional Leadership Award presented by Former Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX). Congresswoman Walorski concluded the awards portion of the program with her remarks on international trade policy and the progress to be made to resolve current issues with tariffs and trade. Also, acknowledging many of the members of the international trade community working behind the scenes for exclusions on tariffs, Congresswoman Walorski commented that “together we have helped channel concern into action.”
Lighthouse Award and Closing Remarks
The evening concluded with the presentation of the Lighthouse Award by WITA/WITF Board Member, Sarah Thorn and Selina Jackson of Procter & Gamble. The Lighthouse Award recognizes impactful members of the trade policy community who maybe have not received the recognition they deserve for their leadership in advancing international trade or the understanding of international trade. Kept secret until the night of the dinner, this year’s recipient was the organization Women in International Trade (WIIT) in recognition of WIIT’s 30+ years promoting trade and the careers of women in international trade. The Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT), based in Washington, DC, works to promote the professional development of women in international trade and business and to raise public awareness of the importance of international trade to economic development. Past presidents of WIIT in attendance at the WITA/WITF Annual Awards dinner were invited to the stage to accept the award on behalf of WIIT in recognition of its contributions to the understanding of global trade, expanding the benefits of global trade, and to the trade community as a whole. Lisa Schroeter of Dow, the immediate past-President of WIIT, and Yuri Uno of Toyota, the current President of WIIT, spoke on behalf of the organization.