Presenters

2019 Presenters


Frank Coppersmith
CEO/Founder
Smarter Reality

Frank Coppersmith is the CEO and founder of Smarter Reality, a software consultancy focused on product discovery and development most recently building artificial intelligence products for the medical device industry.  Frank also serves as the Chair, Austin Game Developers Association which represents over 135 studios and nearly 5,000 game developers in Austin with a mission to help great game developers make great game companies.

Before starting his own company, he was President of Capson Technology, a digital health startup backed by BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners.

Prior to Capson, Frank served as Chief Operating Officer and Studio General Manager for GameSalad, the maker of “GameSalad Creator” – a leading tool for mobile application and video game development. Used by over 500,000 independent game developers, GameSalad powered tens of thousands of games worldwide and represented over 20% of all new game launches on the iOS (Apple) App Store in 2011.

Frank got his start in the video game industry as Vice President, Finance and Administration for Challenge Online Games, a venture-backed (Sequoia Capital) startup in the web and social (Facebook) gaming space which was sold to Zynga. Prior to Challenge and Zynga, Frank served in a variety of roles with Toppan (formerly DuPont) Photomasks a worldwide manufacturer of semiconductor materials, ending his career there as the company’s general counsel.

Frank holds a MBA in Finance and Operations Management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, a law degree from Samford University and a degree in electrical engineering from The Citadel.

Frank was named Austin’s “CFO of the Year” (small company category) by the Austin Business Journal in 2010.

Frank is also active in the USAF Reserves, holding the rank of colonel, where he serves as a senior judge advocate with US Cyber Command. Frank has previously deployed to Iraq, Turkey, Germany and Qatar.

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Adriana Cruz

President, Greater San Marcos Partnership
Master of Ceremonies

Adriana Cruz is the President of the Greater San Marcos Partnership, the regional economic development organization for San Marcos, Hays and Caldwell Counties with the mission to diversify and strengthen the regional economy.

Most recent accomplishments include the announcement of more than 3,200 new jobs and over $280 million in investment in the region including the San Marcos Amazon fulfillment center. Prior to assuming this role, Cruz was the Vice President of Global Corporate Recruitment for the Austin Chamber and was Director of Marketing in Governor Perry’s Economic Development and Tourism office. In January 2016 she was appointed by Governor Abbott to the Texas Economic Incentives Oversight Board and was named a Profile in Power: Central Texas Women of Influence by the Austin Business Journal and one of Bizwomen’s 100 Women to Watch by ACBJ.

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Mr. Adrian Farrell

Consul General of Ireland
Austin, TX

The Irish Consulate General to Texas was opened in March 2015 and covers seven states from its offices in Austin.  Consul General Farrell is Ireland’s first Consul General to Texas and has a twenty year diplomatic career with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland. He previously served on the team that opened Ireland’s Embassy in Ankara, Turkey in 1999.  He also served as Press and Information Officer at the Irish Embassy in Berlin, Germany from 2005-2010.  Between postings abroad he worked on the EU policy team in Dublin at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of the Taoiseach, including during Ireland’s Presidencies of the EU in 2004 and 2013.  He was also seconded to the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation (Ibec) in 2014. Farrell holds a degree in European Studies and a Higher Diploma in Education from the University of Dublin (Trinity College).

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Deirdre B. Mendez, Ph.D.

Associate Director for Cultural Programs
the McCombs School of Business

Deirdre B. Mendez, PhD is an intercultural consultant, speaker and author who helps U.S. companies and their international partners identify and resolve culture-based problems. Following two decades as a consultant, Deirdre is now Associate Director for Cultural Programs at the McCombs School of Business. Her book The Culture Solution facilitates self-guided problem-solving for international executives. Find her at www.deirdremendez.com.

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Mortada Mohamed

President, World Affairs Council of Austin

Mortada is the President of the World Affairs Council of Austin, and former Regional Trade Director for Europe, Africa, Middle East, for the State of Texas, Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism Division, where he promoted Texas exports and foreign direct investment in these regions. This included the IT, energy, agriculture and food sectors. He is an adjunct professor of international business at several Central Texas universities and colleges. He has served as a speaker for the US Department of State International Speaker’s Program throughout North Africa and the Arabian Gulf region.  Mr. Mohamed presented in conferences both domestically and internationally, most recently at the Bahrain, Higher Education Council Symposium; “International Academy of Management and Business Symposium”, Istanbul, Turkey and the “World Investment Conference”, La Baule, France.

He is a volunteer consultant on behalf of ACDI/VOCA, funded by USAID, assisting in economic development programs in Eastern Europe, Africa and Siberia.

Mr. Mohamed serves on the University of Texas at Austin Center for European Studies Advisory Board; the Board of Governors of North America Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE); is a member of the Texas Economic Development Council and the District Export Council.

Mr. Mohamed has an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.

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Ben Ramirez III

Founder and CEO
Cogitare Global, LLC

Ben Ramirez III, CEO of Cogitare Global, LLC.  Cogitare Global assists the transformation of local companies into global competitors.  Ben works with organizations to identify specific business goals and implementation strategies which match their objectives.  He provides executives and their teams with the tools they need to achieve sustainable growth in a continually changing international marketplace.

Drawing upon a career in the public and private sectors, Ben has earned a reputation as a trusted advisor with expertise in strategic planning and global partner development. He has assisted numerous business expansion efforts within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region and around the world.

Ben manages the Foreign Trade Zone of Central Texas with member companies’ annual exports totaling $250-$500 million.  He was appointed to the Texas Camino Real District Export Council by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.  He is a board member of CleanTX, the economic development and business association for clean technology.  He also is on the board of Austin Sister Cities International.  Ben is an Entrepreneur Advisor with Tech Ranch and serves as Vice President of the World Affairs Council of Austin and Executive Director of Austin’s Global Trade Center.  Ben obtained a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Michigan, and a JD from the University of Toledo.

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Larry
Larry Tabash
Sr. Int‘l Trade Specialist
U.S. Dept. of Commerce
U.S. Commercial Service, Austin TX

Larry Tabash is a Senior International Trade Specialist and Middle East expert for the U.S. Department of Commerce/U.S. Commercial Service in Austin, TX. He has held positions overseas with both the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of State as a Senior Business Advisor in Iraq working on infrastructure development and capacity building. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Europe and worked extensively in those markets assisting companies in finding suitable American partners. He has led trade missions to Asia and the Middle East. A native of Washington, DC.

Mr. Tabash’s personal and career pursuits have taken him to over 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1998, he worked as a Senior Project Manager for Visa Interactive which later became Integrion Financial Network, a start-up electronic bill payment company in Reston, Virginia and for Riggs National Bank as a Senior Sales & Service Representative and Loan Officer. Larry also worked as a Program Officer for AMIDEAST Inc., where he administered USAID and privately-funded training programs and worked on business development for the organization. He has more than 20 years of experience in international trade, business, and banking.

Larry earned both his bachelor’s degree in International Studies and his master’s degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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Geert C. Visser
Honorary Consul, Belarus
President of the Netherlands
American Business Counsel

Geert C. Visser is currently the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Belarus and President of the Netherlands – American Business Counsel and the former Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He has exercised the position of Executive Secretary of the Consular Corps of Houston, Texas, from 2006 until 2014. On January 01, 2010, Geert Visser was appointed Regional Director in the U.S. for the Port of Rotterdam. Since 1982, Geert Visser has occupied the position of President of Global Marine Transport Inc.

With more than 30 years of experience in the Marine Transportation industry, Geert has carried out and contributed to Marine Transportation projects throughout the world. Prior to his relocation to Houston, in 1978, Geert was Vice President of the Dutch Marine Installation company of Heerema Marine Contractors and as such was stationed in The Hague, The Netherlands, in London, England, in Aberdeen, Scotland, and in Port Gentile in the Congo.

Geert’s work environments have exposed him to different cultures and his extensive work experience has consistently involved operation management, diplomacy, and technical and security issues. Geert Visser is a Dutch national and has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of The Hague, The Netherlands. Besides his native Dutch, his languages include English and German.

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Liz Wiley
Honorary Consul of France for Austin

Liz Wiley is an attorney with Grable Martin Fulton PLLC, where she and a team of lawyers act as general counsel to advise startups and medium-sized companies on such issues as intellectual property protection strategies, cyber security, employment law, fundraising, and other corporate transactions. Ms. Wiley was a partner in the litigation section of Andrews Kurth Kenyon where she worked on complex bankruptcy, premises liability, and business litigation matters.  In 2009 she opened her own law firm to manage a client’s active docket in nation-wide patent litigation. An avid student of France’s tech sectors and technology transfer philosophy, Ms. Wiley’s expertise now lies in assisting French and other non-U.S. companies with entity formation and intellectual property protection, with a focus on managing companies’ operational differences with the U.S. legal and business culture. Since 2012 she has been connecting sister city Angers, France with Austin for film and tech collaborations and has facilitated French delegations’ discovery of Austin’s ecosystem.

Ms. Wiley is the founding director of the French American Business Council of Austin (FABCA), a member-supported trade association focused on supporting business exchanges between companies in Austin and France, and currently serves as the Chair of its Board of Directors. Ms. Wiley’s volunteer work also includes acting as the legal mentor for French Tech Austin, a FABCA initiative that is creating a virtual accelerator for French-founded startups in Austin.   In May 2015, the Consul général of France asked Ms. Wiley to serve as the Honorary Consul of France, a post she has held since November 2015.

Ms. Wiley obtained her J.D. cum laude from St. Mary’s College of Law in San Antonio; obtained an M.A. at the University of Texas, Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, and received a B.A., magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia. As a double major in French and Hispanic Studies, Ms. Wiley was part of the Sweet Briar Junior Year in France program, which comprised a year in Paris studying at Sciences Po, l’Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV), and the Alliance Française de Paris.

Additional presenters to be added shortly