Add to Calendar 2023/06/14 1:00 PM 2023/06/14 2:00 PM America/New_York WITA Academy: Pathways To Opportunity – Howard University WITA Academy Webinar
Past event, WITA Academy event

WITA Academy: Pathways To Opportunity – Howard University

Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (EST)
WITA Academy Webinar WITA Online Event

This online event is open to Howard University students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences (undergraduates and graduates) and the Flagship COAS Ambassador Program to learn about careers in international trade and business. Registration is free for students and faculty with a Howard University email – must use university email to register.

Students will gain insight from trade professionals, pose questions to policymakers, and learn about exciting career opportunities in international affairs, business, and trade. Students will come away with an understanding of the trade policy-making community, the role of its key players, and the opportunities for internships and careers available to them.  

For questions about the event, please contact the WITA Staff 


Initial Faculty

Tiffany Atwell, Senior Vice President, Senior Vice President, Global Government Affairs, Ecolab; former Leader, Global Government and Industry Affairs, Corteva Agriscience, Corteva; former Director of International Government Affairs, DuPont; former Senior Director Strategic Programs Global Government Affairs, Abbott Laboratories; former Director, Global Government Affairs, Abbott Laboratories; former International Trade Policy Advisor, U.S. Senate Finance Committee; BA from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University; MA from North Carolina Central University

Dontai Smalls, Senior Vice President, Global Public Affairs, UPS; former In-House Counsel, UPS; former Public Affairs Supervisor, UPS; former Legislative Assistant, UPS; former Intern, Office of Economic Impact & Diversity, U.S. Department of Energy; former Intern & Research Assistant, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; former Presidential Intern, Center for Strategic and International Studies; former Office of Public Liaison, The White House; BA from Howard University; JD from Georgetown University

Jamila Thompson, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; former Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of U.S. Representative John Lewis (GA); former Legislative Assistant, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA); previously served on D.C. Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Affairs; BA from Goucher College; MA from University of London (England) School of Oriental and African Studies

Nicole Venable, Principal, Workforce & Education Practice Group Chair, Invariant; former Principal, The Bockorny Group; former Executive Director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; former Chief Of Staff–Office of Representative William J. Jefferson (D-LA), U.S. House of Representatives; former Associate Vice President, PhRMA; former Senior Policy Advisor–Office of Representative William J. Jefferson (D-LA), U.S. House of Representatives; former Congressional Affairs Specialist, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Executive Office of the President; former Legislative Assistant–Office of Sen. Chuck Robb (D-VA), United States Senate; former Legislative Assistant–Office of Representative Lee H. Hamilton (D-IN), U.S. House of Representatives; Bachelors from Spelman College; MA from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Alexandra Whittaker, Democratic Chief Trade Counsel; Staff Director Trade Subcommittee, House Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives; former Assistant General Counsel, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; former Assistant Legal Advisor to the U.S. Mission, WTO; former Environmental Attorney, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Bachelors from Spelman College; Masters from Howard University School of Law


Speaker Biographies

Tiffany Atwell is the Senior Vice President of Global Government Affairs at EcoLab. As leader of global government and industry affairs at one of the largest stand-alone agriculture organizations in the world, Tiffany has the critical job of ensuring that the U.S. agricultural sector has access to international markets. To that end, she has long been a strong supporter of free trade. 

Atwell began her career through the competitive Presidential Management Fellows Program at the State Department, where she began the globally minded work that has defined her career. Between 2004 and 2006, she brought that international perspective to the Hill. Atwell worked closely with Sen. Chuck Grassley, a farmer who is among the agriculture industry’s biggest champions in Congress. As an international-trade-policy adviser on the Senate Finance Committee, she wrote speeches and briefings for the Iowa Republican. During that period, Grassley sponsored five free-trade-implementation acts that became law, including agreements with Australia, the Dominican Republic and Central America, Morocco, Bahrain, and Oman. 

Following her tenure in the Senate, Atwell took a position with Abbott Laboratories, leading outreach to foreign governments. There, she drove the company’s engagement in major markets, including Russia, China, and India, and built partnerships with nongovernmental organizations. 

Since 2013, Atwell has directed DuPont’s market access policy efforts, continuing her work in key markets by promoting the company abroad. She joined Corteva, a spinoff of DowDupont, last year. At the international seed- and crop-protection company, she has helped establish partnerships with farmers in emerging markets. At this year’s Africa Green Revolution Forum virtual summit, for instance, she launched a Corteva partnership to increase dairy production in Kenya, where she once worked at the U.S. embassy. She also helped develop a partnership with the Indian government to assist more than 100,000 farmers. 

At DuPont, Atwell continued her work on American trade interests in China, representing the company at the 2015 U.S.-China Business Council membership meeting. In 2018, she spoke at a discussion on U.S.-Brazil relations hosted by the Brazil-U.S. Business Council and the Brazilian Embassy. And closer to home, Atwell has expressed strong support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement; Corteva lobbied vigorously for its passage.

Atwell has often encouraged other women and members of underrepresented groups to join the agricultural sector. Speaking at a 2017 conference in Canada, she said that women “have fresh ideas, new approaches, understand how to listen, and that is what agriculture needs.”


Dontai Smalls is the Senior Vice President of Global Affairs at UPS. A native of South Carolina, 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.


Jamila Thompson is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative. She previously served as chief of staff to Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District, and deputy chief of staff for U.S. Representative John Lewis (GA). In addition to managing and developing the office’s policy team and operations, she was directly responsible for appropriations, budget, trade, tax, foreign affairs, human, civil, and voting rights, oversight, and other policy areas.

Prior to joining Congressman Lewis’ office, Ms. Thompson worked as a legislative assistant for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). Before coming to Capitol Hill in 2001, she was a volunteer coordinator and translator for various non-profit organizations.

Ms. Thompson previously served on the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Affairs in Washington, D.C. and is a senior fellow with Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership. In Spring 2015, Goucher College named Jamila as one of the inaugural recipients of its Distinguished Alumnae and Alumni Award; she is also an alumna of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). An avid tennis player, she and her husband, Brandon Whitehurst, reside in Washington, D.C.


Alexandra Whittaker is the Chief Trade Counsel and Trade Subcommittee Staff Director of the U.S. House of Representatives.  She advises and represents the House Ways and Means Committee on all trade matters including trade agreement negotiations, implementation, and enforcement, bilateral relationships with U.S. trading partners, customs law, preference programs, sanctions, trade remedies, congressional oversight, as well as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Before joining the Committee staff, Alexandra was Assistant General Counsel for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with responsibility for providing legal counsel and policy guidance on a wide-variety of international trade matters, as well as litigating trade remedies and agricultural disputes before the WTO.  During her time at USTR, Alexandra also served as Assistant Legal Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland, where she was a U.S. negotiator for the WTO dispute settlement reform negotiations and represented the United States in all disputes and disputes-related matters before the WTO. 

Alexandra previously worked as an environmental attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and counsel for a trade association. 

She is a graduate of Spelman College and Howard University School of Law.


Nicole Venable is the principal of the Workforce & Education Practice Group Chair at Invariant. Recognized by The HilI as one of the “Top Lobbyists of 2018,” Nicole has policy expertise on issues ranging from tax reform and trade to health care, energy, labor, and telecommunications. With more than two decades of experience in the private sector, on Capitol Hill, and in the Executive Branch, Democratic strategist Nicole Venable provides politically astute and coalition-based legislative and public affairs solutions to Invariant’s clients. 

Nicole was previously lead Democrat at The Bockorny Group, and an executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s congressional and public affairs division, where she led Democratic outreach to Capitol Hill and third parties. She also served as chief of staff to a senior member of House Ways and Means, and in the Clinton White House. 

Organizations: National trustee for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, board member of the Washington International Trade Association Foundation, member of Trade Policy Forum and Washington Government Relations Group. Legislative and Public Policy Co-Chair of the Eastern Area of The Links, Inc. Founder of the Black Girl Magic Network, an association of female lobbyists of color; established the Lady Von Endowed Scholarship at Spelman College; and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Nicole graduated from Spelman College and earned her Master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

The mission of the WITA Academy™ is to make trade education and career opportunities in international trade accessible to communities in the United States and around the world, and to make the trade community itself more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

The WITA Academy works with trade leaders in businesses, law, academia, NGOs, embassies and the U.S. Government to help stakeholders, students, and others to better understand and navigate the U.S. and global trade policy apparatus.

Thank you to our WITA Academy Sponsors

Law Partner Sponsor