WITA Webinar: Infrastructure, Trade and American Competitiveness




On Thursday, May 27, WITA discussed how investments in America’s infrastructure supports U.S. trade, competitiveness and global supply chains.  

WITA Webinar Featuring:

Robbie Boone, Rebuild Rural Coalition, and Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Farm Credit Council

Brandy D. Christian, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, CEO of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad

Kevin Dempsey, President and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute

John Neuffer, President and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association

Moderator: Dr. Charles Boustany, Jr, Partner, Capitol Counsel, LLC


Robbie Boone is Senior Vice President & General Counsel at the Farm Credit Council, the national trade association representing the institutions of the Farm Credit System before Congress, the Administration and other federal agencies. The Council also coordinates the activities of the Rebuild Rural Coalition on behalf of its 260+ national, state and local organization partners.

Robbie is responsible for managing the trade association’s legal affairs, including advising the FCC Board of Directors on legal matters. Robbie leads the Farm Credit Council’s efforts to achieve a regulatory environment favorable to Farm Credit’s mission to support rural communities and agriculture. In addition, Mr. Boone manages Farm Credit’s coordinating role with the more than 250 national, state and local partner organizations comprising the Rebuild Rural Coalition –– a rural infrastructure coalition highlighting the unique needs of rural communities, producers, businesses and families.

Before joining the Council in 2009, Robbie served on Capitol Hill for five and a half years –– in a legislative capacity for a Member of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Prior to that, he was an Assistant Vice President/Analyst for U.S. Trust.

Robbie holds a J.D. and M.B.A. from the University of Miami (FL). He received his B.A. from Wake Forest University. He is admitted to practice in North Carolina, District of Columbia, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Robbie, and his wife, Sarah, and their three children reside in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Charles Boustany, Jr. is a former Congressman (R-LA) and prominent heart surgeon, and now a partner with Capitol Counsel, LLC. During his 12 years in Congress, Dr. Boustany served on the influential House Committee on Ways and Means, where he was Chairman of the Subcommittees on Tax Policy, Oversight, and Human Resources. As a Ways and Means Committee member, Dr. Boustany established himself as an expert and leader on tax, trade, health care, and entitlement policy. Dr. Boustany is a leader in trade assistance and enforcement issues and has led seminars on the conduct of legislative oversight for members of parliament from emerging democracies. He has authored numerous opinion pieces on health care, energy, trade and foreign policy in Politico, The Hill, The Wall Street Journal, and in the peer-reviewed journal Asia Policy. For 14 years, Dr. Boustany had a private practice of medicine in the field of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in Lafayette, Louisiana.

As a member of Congress, Boustany successfully led the effort to increase funding for ports and waterways. Legislative victories include co-authorship and passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and the PROTECT Act, which strengthened enforcement of U.S. international trade laws. He passed several bills benefiting veterans that included securing the construction of two new veterans clinics in south Louisiana. Boustany was also a leader in the efforts to pass trade promotion authority and in the passage of several free trade agreements that included Panama, Columbia and South Korea. Boustany also helped lift the ban on crude oil exports and expanded liquefied natural gas exports. Other legislative successes include health care relief for small businesses and reforming IRS practices, and key legislation on health savings accounts, and international tax. Before his election to Congress, Boustany launched extensive quality improvement in open heart surgery programs in two community hospitals that led to national recognition for quality.

Brandy D. Christian is the President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans and the CEO of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, a shortline connecting railroad strategically aligned with the Port. The two public agencies have combined revenues of $100 million, nearly 500 employees, and more than $200 million in capital projects. In her Port role, Christian oversees all cargo, cruise, and industrial real estate operations. As the CEO of the Public Belt, she sets strategic direction and oversees all rail holdings.

Christian serves on the Green Marine Board of Directors, Railroad-Shipper Transportation Advisory Council, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank Trade and Transportation Advisory Council, Louisiana Board of International Commerce, the World Trade Center of New Orleans Board of Directors, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors and on the Cruise Committee for the American Association of Port Authorities.

Before joining Port NOLA, Christian served 14 years with the Port of San Diego as vice president of strategy and business development.

Kevin Dempsey is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Iron and Steel Institute, representing the interests of American steel producers. He previously served as Senior Vice President of Public Policy and General Counsel to the Institute for the past 11 years during which AISI achieved key policy successes; including: implementation of Section 232 trade remedies to preserve the steel industry’s key role in national and economic security, the enactment of historic legislation to strengthen trade laws, successful infrastructure initiatives to benefit the steel industry and numerous measures that enhance steel manufacturing competitiveness.

Before joining AISI, Dempsey was a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf, a global law firm. Dempsey litigated numerous international trade cases on behalf of U.S. steel producers and other U.S. industries before the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. courts. He served as counsel to several U.S. steel producers in the successful Section 201 investigation on steel products.

Dempsey also previously served as counsel to Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO) and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. While on the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee, he participated in the development of the acid rain cap-and-trade system established by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Later, while serving on Senator Danforth’s personal staff and again on the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee, he played a key role in the drafting of the implementing legislation for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the GATT Uruguay Round Trade Agreements.

Dempsey has, and continues to, work extensively on international trade negotiations given his considerable experience with U.S. and international law related to subsidies, trade remedies, market access, intellectual property rights, and product standards, as well as U.S. legislative procedures for authorizing and implementing trade agreements.

Dempsey received his Juris Doctor Degree from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

John Neuffer is President and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), which has been the voice of the chip industry for over four decades. He has been at the nexus of technology, public policy, and trade for most of his career. Since joining SIA in 2015, John has led the association’s policy advocacy in Washington and capitals around the world to foster growth and innovation in semiconductor design, manufacturing, and research. John also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Semiconductor Research Corporation, the world’s leading non-profit industry-government-academia microelectronics research consortium.

Prior to joining SIA, John served as Senior Vice President for Global Policy at the Information Technology Industry Council, where he led a global team to expand market access opportunities for member companies around the world. He directed all global government relations in trade, cybersecurity, standards, regulatory, Internet governance, and privacy.

Previously, John served for over seven years at the Office of United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington, DC: two years as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Affairs, preceded by over five years as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan.

Prior to his tenure with USTR, John was a Senior Research Fellow and Political Analyst with the Mitsui Kaijyo Research Institute in Tokyo for nine years. As a leading commentator on Japanese politics and policy at the institute, he published a widely read newsletter and wrote regular commentary for the Asian Wall Street Journal, TheStreet.com and Newsweek Japan. All told, John lived in Japan 11 years. He is a native of Montana and Washington State.

Kenneth Levinson is the Executive Director of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). WITA is Washington’s largest non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum in the U.S. capital for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA has over 4,000 members, and more than 170 corporate sponsors and group memberships.

Previously, Ken served as Senior Director for Global Government Affairs for AstraZeneca. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Ken served as Senior Vice President and COO at the Washington, DC consulting firm of Fontheim International. Ken started his career on the staff of U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, where he served as the Senator’s chief advisor for international trade, tax, foreign policy, and national security.

Ken received a Master’s degree in European History from New York University after doing his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst. Ken also spent a year studying at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ken and his wife, the Reverend Donna Marsh, live in Bethesda, MD, with their two daughters.