2023 Presenters

Polina Anastassieva
Business Development Coordinator
World Affairs Council of Austin

Polina Anastassieva graduated with a BBA in International Business from St. Edward’s University in 2014. Born in Moscow, Russia, and being fluent in two languages, Polina possesses first hand experience in thriving in an international environment. During some of her undergraduate years Polina has also had the privilege to live in the heart of our nation, Washington D.C. This experience significantly contributed to her knowledge of political and global issues. While pursuing her career in Risk Management, Polina has been able to utilize her skills in the private sector at companies such as Apple and eBay.

Her experience also includes working in the nation’s fourth largest environmental agency – the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Currently, Polina is in the Fintech industry at Wise, as an AML SAR Specialist. Additionally, she is back at St. Edward’s University pursuing her MBA. Polina is actively involved in her university’s community which regularly hosts events in partnership with the Kozmetsky Center and WAC Austin.

Valérie Baraban
Consul General of France
Houston, TX.

Valérie Baraban is an aluma of the Ecole normale supérieure de Paris (Ulm), a credentialed philosophy instructor and recipient of the Prix Romieu [1].

She earned a baccalaureate diploma with an emphasis in science and was ranked the top female secondary school student. She received the scholarship for women in science and technology [2] at the Elysée Palace and took preparatory classes for the French Grandes Ecoles at Lycée Henri IV in Paris.

She began her academic career at the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught French language and philosophy, then pursued her doctoral research in France. In 2000, she joined the office of Jack Lang, French Minister of National Education, which implemented an innovative public policy on Arts Education and Culture bringing artists to schools. Her passion for public and world affairs led her to join the French Foreign Office at the Quai d’Orsay. Her diplomatic career began in 2005 in the policy branch of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, in the Strategic Affairs sector, where she was in charge of arms export control and arms control.

In 2009, she was assigned to the office of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights, and dealt, among other things, with emerging topics such as climate refugees. She was then appointed to the French Embassy in Beijing, as Deputy Head of Cooperation and Cultural Service, one of France’s most important cooperation services in the world.

In 2013, she was assigned to Brussels as negotiator at the French Delegation to NATO, and monitored the Alliance’s military operations as well as the reform of intelligence governance. At that time, NATO was making changes to its operation in Afghanistan and cooperating with the European Union in view of the migration crisis in the Mediterranean, while the Allies were involved in the global coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

In the summer of 2017, she joined the Elysée Palace as diplomatic advisor of the National Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. She was responsible in particular for France’s international initiatives related to combatting the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes, mobilization against the financing of terrorism and strengthening security strategies in Europe.

On September 1, 2021, she began her duties as Consul General of France in Houston.

Valérie Baraban is married and has three children.

Levan Bokeria
Head of the Czech Trade Promotion
Austin, TX

Levan Bokeria is a head of the Czech Trade Promotion Office in Austin, TX. CzechTrade is a Government trade promotion agency of the Czech Republic. Its main objective is to develop international trade and cooperation between Czech and foreign entities.

Levan grew up in Prague and studied International Relations and Security Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University in Prague. Previously, he worked for the Czech state agency for business and investment development CzechInvest, where he specialized in foreign direct investment and trade. He also gained experience as Director of the Czech Trade Promotion Office in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

He is currently responsible for the opening of the new Czech Trade Promotion Office in Austin, Texas. His goal is to support trade relations between the Czech Republic and the United States and to createnew opportunities for cooperation in the field of trade and investment.

Ian T. Brown
Senior Advisor for Cyber Policy
U.S. Department of State

Ian T. Brown is a career member of the United States Foreign Service currently serving as Senior Advisor for Cyber Policy in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy in Washington, DC. He held prior posts in Brasilia, Brazil; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; San Salvador, El Salvador; and Port Louis, Mauritius. In his current role, Ian leads cyber policy engagement with Europe and Eurasia. As a diplomat in Latin America and Africa, Ian has served as lead observer for a historic presidential election as well as managed efforts to strengthen trade and energy ties, to combat immigration fraud, and to broker security dialogues with Brazil and China.

Prior to joining the U.S. State Department, Ian worked for Gallup Inc, where he helped lead Gallup’s entry into the civic sector consulting market. While at Gallup, Ian published over 70 works on public opinion issues related to the economy, community development, and foreign affairs. He has also been a featured speaker on issues of urban sustainability and development, including at the New York Academy of Sciences.

Ian holds a B.A. in both History and Italian from the University of Texas at Austin and received a Fulbright Fellowship following his undergraduate studies to conduct research in Naples, Italy. Ian’s commitment to public service began while in Naples, where he became hooked on traveling the world, cultural exchange, and espresso. He later went on to earn his M.P. Aff. from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, where he specialized in international affairs. Ian speaks Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili.

Mark Cervantes
Managing Partner
Copperstone Venture Firm and CEO, Q-Branch.

Marcos Cervantes is a proven leader and strategic innovator. Mr. Cervantes has built an impressive career in venture capital and military operations over the last 24+ years. As a Managing Partner at Copperstone Venture Firm and concurrently serving as CEO at Q-Branch, his primary focus has been spearheading global initiatives and making strategic investments to further technological advancement and growth. Marc enables these initiatives by directly supporting entrepreneurs, corporations, and governments in their business endeavors.

Throughout his career, Marc has consistently demonstrated strong leadership, strategic thinking, and an unwavering commitment to mission success. His unique blend of military and business acumen allows him to effectively navigate complex challenges, drive technological advancement, and contribute to organizational growth.

Philippe Delcourt
Head of the Belgian Trade Office

Philippe Delcourt is a Trade and Investment Executive with 25 years of experience, in Europe, Asia, Africa and now in USA.

In August of 2023 Mr. Delcourt was appointed as theHead of the Belgian Trade Office in Houston (AWEX – HUB Brussels), in charge of trade and investment between Wallonia-Brussels and Texas, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Kansas. Our Office is also representing various sectors for the whole US territory such as aerospace, aeronautics, energy (oil, gas, green energies, electricity), petrochemistry, agriculture, construction, lifestyle, sports and textile.

In his former position asConsul andTrade Counsellor, AWEX, Consulate General of Belgium in Shanghai, China,which he held from 2019 to 2023;he was in charge of trade to China and investment attraction from China to Wallonia. Specialties of our office are Cross-Border E-commerce, logistics, food and beverages, biotechnology and pharmaceutical products

Prior to that he held the position ofTrade and investment Counsellor, AWEX, Permanent Mission of Belgium in Geneva, Switzerlandin charge of Switzerland and all International Organizations in Geneva and Switzerland (U.N, UEFA, FIFA…).

Mr. Delcourt’s extensive experience expands many decades and includes many prominent positions such asTheTrade and investment Counsellor, AWEX, Permanent Mission of Belgium in Geneva, Switzerlandin charge of Switzerland and all International Organizations in Geneva and Switzerland (U.N, UEFA, FIFA…),Industrial Liaison Officer for Belgium to CERNin Geneva,Industrial Liaison Officer for Belgium to CERNin Geneva, Trade Counsellor, AWEX, Embassy of Belgium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Investment representative for AWEX in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei.

He’s served as Trade Counsellor in many regions, such as AWEX, Embassy of Belgium in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Embassy of Belgium in Johannesburg and Embassy of Belgium in Budapest.

Lastly he was an Expert at Wallonia Export-Investment Agency in Brussels in charge of the management of the Trade Counsellors network.

He holds a masters in economics (Commercial Engineer), HEC, from University of Liège.

Andrzej Fąfara
Consul, Head of Consular and Economic Unit

Andrzej Fąfara is a Polish economist and diplomat. He holds the position of consul and head of the Consular and Economic Unit at the Polish Consulate General in Houston, where he is responsible for various issues from consular affairs to government relations and economic cooperation.

He is a Polish career diplomat since 2006. He worked in economics, policy, public diplomacy, communications, and strategy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously posted at the Polish Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, as Deputy Head of Mission for five years. In Houston, Texas, since June 2023.

Andrzej holds a Master’s in International Management from the Cracow University of Economics in Poland. He also studied international relations at Harvard University and economics at the Warsaw School of Economics.

Maika Föhrenbach
Policy Officer for Cybersecurity
European Commission 

Maika Föhrenbach is currently Policy Officer for cybersecurity in the European Commission at the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT). In this position, Maika is working on the Cyber Resilience Act, a legal framework under negotiations and that seeks to enhance the cybersecurity of hardware and software products. Maika is also responsible for DG CONNECT’s participation as co-host in the EU-US cybersecurity dialogue. Before joining the European Commission, Maika worked in different European trade associations in Brussels, including for the digital sector. She is a Franco-German and has an academic background in political sciences.

Sándor Földi
Trade Attaché
Vice-Consulate of Hungary

Sándor Földi graduated from the University of Pécs with a master’s degree in political science, and also studied international relations at the University of Leicester in the UK and at Indiana University in the US. Previously, he worked for the Prime Minister’s Office in Budapest, also for Ernst & Young (EY) and, until his recent position, for the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA), specialized in state aid issues.

As an attaché, Sándor’s most important tasks include the promotion of Hungary’s foreign economic interests, the promotion of investments to be made by Hungarian companies in Texas and assisting in the search for investment opportunities for Texan companies in Hungary, as well as in the implementation of investments.

His intention is to help Hungarian companies, to provide all the information needed to them to expand in Texas, which can increase the share of Hungarian exports outside the European Union. Helping the integration of Hungarian companies into the global value chains of international companies is also one of the declared goals of his.

Dr. Sam Greer
Director of Employer Outreach
Austin Community College

Dr. Sam Greer is ACC’s Director of Employer Outreach and Experiential Learning.  In this capacity, he acts as a liaison between the college’s academic programs and employers and oversees all internship and service-learning programs.  He has been in this or related capacities for the last ten years. ACC’s internship programs are regulated by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, meaning that all internship students are registered in their departmental internship classes with designated instructional methods INT (internship), PRA (practicum, or COO (coop). In the 2023 spring semester, 385 students were registered in 35 departmental programs.  The departmental internship classes generally require department chair approval and serve as capstones to their respective degree/ certificate plans. The Office of Experiential Learning maintains routine relationships with over 1000 vetted Austin area employers.  The entire system is automated utilizing a proprietary Salesforce system. 

ACC also has a robust and growing service-learning program with over 70 certified faculty and 720 participating students this spring semester.  In these classes, the entire class (or portions thereof) are assigned to nonprofit or government agencies to work on an assigned project for a grade.  The projects are written into the syllabus and demonstrate the NACE career readiness competencies.* In addition to community engagement, service learning enhances career readiness by providing exposure to external management, deliverables, measurable, and timelines.

Sam received a BA in Economics from UT-Austin, an MA in History from Texas State, and a PhD in Education Administration from UT-Austin.  Prior ACC, he worked as a high school social studies teacher, a principal, and superintendent. He has been married to his wife, Marcy, for 35 years, has two grown daughters and a daughter in high school.

*National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) career readiness competencies- Professionalism; Critical Thinking; Communication; Teamwork; Digital Technology; Leadership; Career & Self Development; Global & Intercultural Fluency

Glenn Hamer
President and CEO
Texas Association of Business  

A torchbearer for the business community, Glenn Hamer has a proven track record for success in the public policy arena. He testified before the 87th  Legislature, second day on the job, and made meaningful contributions to the passage of top legislative priorities for the business community (including broadband expansion, “Keep Texas Trucking,” pandemic liability protections, and preventing astronomical increases in Unemployment Insurance).

Since the pandemic, Glenn has made it his mission to visit more local chambers of commerce than anyone else on the planet. He connects businesses, small and large, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to protect Texas’ pro-business climate. Glenn is proud to be a part of the Texas Camino Real District Export Council, American Society of Mexico, and National Immigration Forum. He also serves on the board for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chairs its committee of 100 (CCC100).

Glenn came to TAB after 14 years as CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry —where he played a central role in major tax, education, legal and healthcare victories. He was at the forefront of the business community’s advocacy for the United States-Mexico- Canada Agreement (USMCA). Glenn is a highly regarded international issues expert and has joined governors, mayors, and the U.S. Chamber on trade missions. 

Glenn has also served as chief of staff to Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon, legislative assistant to Sen. Jon Kyl, and executive director of the Solar Energy Industries Association.  Recognizing the global race for talent to keep our economy strong, Glenn is also a recognized champion on immigration reform. 

A graduate of Cornell University and Arizona State University’s College of Law, Glenn is married with three daughters, all of whom exhibit a strong entrepreneurial spirit. His wife Tali is quadrilingual, and their daughters are bilingual (English and Hebrew).

Sean Herrity
Business Representative 
German Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate in the USA

Sean Herrity serves as the US Business Representative for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Transportation, Agriculture and Viniculture of the German Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate. He directs the Ministry’s foreign trade office in Austin, TX, advises businesses from Rhineland-Palatinate on US trade, economic development and market entry and also promotes trade and investment from the US into Rhineland-Palatinate. His work supports the educational, business and cultural exchange programs of the Koblenz-Austin Sister City Partnership.

Mr. Herrity has over 20 years of experience in executive management, business development, international sales, and market entry across Europe and the United States. He holds an MBA in International Business from Pepperdine University and the European Business School in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany as well as a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a member of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texas Association of Business and the German-Texan Heritage Society. He is fluent in English, German and Croatian.

Robert Hull
Consul General of Ireland
Austin, TX

Robert Hull was appointed as the Consul General of Ireland to the southern central United States in January 2022. Based in Austin, Texas, he leads Ireland’s team covering Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Misouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Robert joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2008 and has served in the Embassy of Ireland in Tanzania, the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and in Ireland’s Representative Office in Timor-Leste. He was also seconded for three years from 2013-2016 to the European External Action Service, serving in the Delegation of the European Union to the Multilateral Organisations in Vienna.

Prior to taking up his post in Austin, Robert served in the Department’s Political and Reconciliation Section, in the Ireland, UK and Americas Division. His role focused on engagement work in Northern Ireland. He has also previously held positions in the Department’s Political Division and Press Office.

Robert is from Belfast, and holds a Master of Arts (Hons.) in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and Africa Studies, University of London and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in History from the University of Durham.

Tyler Johnson
Laowai Enterprises

Tyler Johnson is an accomplished Global Fortune 50 Executive. He has engaged and partnered with executive business leaders across the globe to accelerate growth and expansion in large businesses and early-stage technology software automation start-ups. Tyler has over 28 years’ experience working with some of the largest companies in the world, in addition to co-founding a US-based software technology company. Tyler currently advises and invests in internationally based early-stage automation software technology start-ups by providing go-to-market strategies, strategic partnerships, and new revenue streams. 

Tyler worked for Dell Technologies for 21 years in a variety of sales, marketing, and general management roles, including Shanghai, China for 10 of those years (2005-2015). He led sales and operational organizations for Dell within China and across Asia. Tyler’s organization was responsible for Dell’s Global Asia Business Unit which represented the largest companies in the world (Global Fortune 500). In addition, he was Managing Director of the Shanghai headquarters incorporating R&D, Procurement, Sales, and Government relations. Tyler received the Dell Worldwide Executive Leadership Award for Inspirational Leadership from the Chairman and Executive Committee. 

Tyler has worked with many large companies with HQs in North America, EMEA and Asia including Huawei, ZTE, Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, VW, Panasonic, Sony, Siemens, Foxconn, BHP, Walmart, Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and Netease. The work focused on foreign joint venture expansion, localization development, IT manufacturing automation/modernization, business operations and establishment of technology infrastructure for future innovation. 

Since 2015, Tyler has been involved with several software automation companies focused on cyber security, HRTech, EdTech and cloud migration technology. He co-founded an HR technology company called Your6, Inc. benefitting United States Veterans, and served as the Chief Sales Officer for iQuate, Inc. (now Cloudsphere), a cloud migration automation technology. Tyler also served as the Chief Executive Officer for VTS Cyber, a cybersecurity company focused of governance, risk, and compliance in highly regulated environments. Tyler is currently working with companies focused on cyber security and the education technology AI/NLP space. 

Tyler serves as a Venture Partner for Stony Lonesome Group which fund companies focused on national security, dual-use technologies and defense. 

Tyler serves in advisory and board roles to Grayline Group, The University of Texas at Austin Global Programs, and The George H. W. Bush Foundation for US-China Relations. 

Tyler published his first book in March 2019 titled “The Way Of The Laowai”: The importance of international self-awareness for business. 

Tyler is the founder of Laowai Enterprises which facilitates people, organizations, and governments to expand economically. His thought leadership.

Kevin Koym
CEO and Founder
Tech Ranch 

As a seven-time startup veteran and CEO and founder of Tech Ranch Austin, a venture accelerator for early-stage technology companies, Kevin Koym is a recognized pioneer in the startup community whose influence has been felt by over 6,500 entrepreneurs from over 42+ countries.

His motivation to work with startups stems from his belief that supported entrepreneurs create more innovation, which leads to more solutions to address society’s most pressing issues.  As a result, Kevin is known worldwide for his work in establishing entrepreneur networks in the U.S., Mexico, Chile, Singapore, Korea and Australia.

Pavla Kralova
iBridge – international IT HUB

Pavla has 20 years of experience working in finance, strategy, business and project management. Most recently, Pavla was the Global Finance manager in a world-leading international language company, where she was responsible for a broad range of functions across more than 10 countries. She was responsible for global finance organization, for the worldwide accounting, financial reporting, tax, treasury, financial planning and analysis, risk management, and financial control activities of the company.

Pavla is a versatile, energetic and highly experienced business executive with the capacity to quickly assess any situation, diagnose immediate and long term needs while providing practical leadership and immediate, measurable results. She is an intuitive coach and outstanding group facilitator with expert ability to engage with any audience or diverse collaborators. A strategic thinker and skilled tactician who is results-driven and logical.  Pavla is an expert with an international mindset and technical background, able to negotiate across multiple disciplines, cultures and age groups. 

“My work fills a large part of my life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what I believe is great work. And the only way to do the great work is to love what I do”.

She is a passionate runner,  and follows the following motto, especially in her professional career.

It’s a hard, simple calculus: Run until you can’t run anymore. Then run some more. Find a new source of energy and will. Then run even faster. „

Scott Jurek – his bookGo North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail

Her educational background includes an MA in Financial Management and Industrial engineering from Thomas Bata University, and professional certificates in project management, accounting, statistics and more from organizations such as General Assembly. She achieved certification from CFE Tax Advisers Europe, Brussels-based association of European tax advisers.

She’s loves time with family , and loves animals. Nothing means more to her than her two nieces and her two cats. She grew up in a small town in the Czech Republic on a farm with lots of animals and extensive grounds and gardens. She doesn’t mind physical work and on the contrary, sees it as a way to relax and a release from stress. She started her first job at the age of 14 in order to financially relieve her parents’ financial budget. Since then, she has been working non-stop. Thanks to her strong will, desire to follow her own path and willingness to learn, she got into leadership positions. 

She doesn’t take what she has for granted. She accepts everything with humility and gratitude. “I know from my own bitter experience that a person can lose everything in a moment”.

She is a member of many organizations and communities (e.g. Women in TECH, Austin Women in Technology, Women in Blockchain, Google for Startups, Black Women in Venture Capital…) she is passionate about seeing women succeed. “I am always happy to participate in any project to help women build great companies, develop their careers and achieve equality in the workplace.Because when women rise, we all rise”. 

“In our company I help women from Africa and Eastern Europe to relocate to the Czech Republic or other European countries so that they can start their careers and be successful under the name of the company iBridge”.

Luis Lepe
USA Country Manager
Telefonica Tech Inc.

Luis Lepe is the Country Managing Director for the U.S. of Telefonica Tech, a global Cybersecurity company part of Telefónica Group. Telefonica is a leading global Telco headquartered in Europe and presence also in Americas. Mr Lepe has more than 25 years assisting corporate clients in their digital transformation, and has a wide experience about how technology has been evolving during the last two decades. Previous to this role, Luis was managing Multinational Clients in Telefonica. He holds a degree in Telecommunications Engineering and an executive MBA by ESADE Business School. He is currently based in Florida since November 2021leading the project in the U.S.

Christian (Chris) Mahoney
President and Board of Directors
Born Global Community

Chris has three decades of excellence in the energy industry, and as an entrepreneur managing and developing properties.   He is currently the co-owner and managing director of Canam Tex Property Management and Development, which was established in 2003. 

Prior to his current role, Mr. Mahoney began his career working a number of corporate positions including business unit general manager, planning executive and supply chain project executive in Toronto, Canada. After moving to the United States, he became the global industrial and wholesale fuels operations manager for ExxonMobil in 2005. He was promoted to the United States retail distributor manager in 2009, to the United States lubricant sales manager in 2012, America’s Lubricant Director where he also served as ExxonMobil lubricants trading company president in 2015. He subsequently served as the North America lubricants business unit director in 2017 until taking a role as the Southeast Asia Pacific lubricants director in Singapore. Over the course of his tenure with ExxonMobil, he led teams in numerous capacities from retail and wholesale fuels as well as the lubricants business.

Before starting his professional journey, Mr. Mahoney earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in economics, both from the University of Calgary in Canada. Following these achievements, he attained a Master of Business Administration from the University of Toronto.

Zsolt Menesi
Chief Executive Officer – eCon USA, LLC
Senior Trade and Consular Officer –  Vice-Consulate of Hungary in Houston
Executive Director Hungarian-American Chamber of Commerce, Texas (HACCTX)

Zsolt is an experienced international business development professional who holds the positions of CEO of eCon USA, LLC and Executive Director of the Hungarian-American Chamber of Commerce in Texas.

With a career spanning over 30 years, Zsolt has worked in sales, marketing, and business development for multimillion-dollar brands, giving him a deep understanding of what drives sales and market awareness.

He is skilled in maximizing available resources to achieve the desired strategic market impact. Zsolt’s wealth of experience in goods, services, and brands across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the United States gives him a unique and innovative perspective that can benefit any market.

During his tenure at Nokia, Zsolt spearheaded sales and marketing activities in Central European countries, led the growth period of Nokia in the region, and actively helped establish the Nokia factory in Hungary. Later, he launched Nokia’s Multimedia Business Unit in MEA while in Dubai, a move that increased volume and net sales and raised market awareness.

Zsolt has lived in Hungary, the United Arab Emirates, China, Thailand, and the United States and holds a degree in agricultural mechanical engineering.

Eric Michael

Energy industry recognized domain expert in the field of geochemistry with over 30 years of experience. Holder of multiple patents related to geochemical techniques and their application to the energy industry.

Dr. Michael W. Mosser
Assistant Director, Center for European Studies
Executive Director, Global (Dis)Information Lab at UT Austin

Dr. Michael W. Mosser is Associate Professor of Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin with a joint appointment in the Department of Government, the Center for European Studies (CES), and the International Relations and Global Studies (IRG) program. He is the Executive Director of the Global Disinformation Lab (GDIL), the Assistant Director of the Center for European Studies (CES), as well as a Distinguished Scholar in the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. He teaches courses in European and international security, European environmental policy, comparative and European politics, international organizations, and foreign policy analysis. He is the faculty advisor for the University of Texas at Austin’s “Peace Corps Prep” program, as well as the faculty liaison to the US Department of State’s “Diplomacy Lab” program. He serves on various academic advisory bodies on campus, including as an Ambassador in the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) and member of the non-traditional student (NTS) advisory board. He has won multiple awards for his teaching at UT-Austin, most notably being selected as a member of the 2021 “Texas Ten” by the Texas Exes, and the 2016 Raymond Dickson Centennial Endowed Teaching Fellowship.

A southwestern Pennsylvania native, Dr. Mosser is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh (BA, Political Science and History) and the University of Wisconsin – Madison (MA and PhD, Political Science). He has published articles and book chapters on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as well as in the fields of military art and science and military sociology more generally. He is active in student events and activities on campus related to his research and teaching fields, has published op-eds in major Texas newspapers and has been a regular guest on KUT Radio’s “Texas Standard” news program.

Paul Mydlo
Senior Business Development Manager

Paul Mydlo is a technology enthusiast with a passion for bridging the gap between Poland and the US market. With a solid background in selling Polish technological services, Paul brings a decade of experience in the industry. His expertise in the American and British markets has allowed him to establish strong connections and navigate the intricacies of international business.

Paul is currently collaborating with Scalo, a cutting-edge software development company based in Wrocław, Poland. Scalo specializes in providing tailored software solutions for businesses and offers a range of services, including custom software development, dedicated development teams, staff augmentation, software solution consulting, and more.

At the 12th Texas-EU Business Summit, Paul Mydlo will share his insights on the intersection of technology and the financial sector, drawing from his extensive experience working with Scalo and selling programming services in the US market. His unique perspective will provide valuable insights for the attendees of the summit, fostering new opportunities for cooperation between Texas and the European Union in the realm of technology and financial services.

Corey Rose
Vice President of Global Technology & Innovation
Opportunity Austin

Corey Rose serves as the Vice President of Global Technology & Innovation at Opportunity Austin, a premier economic development organization representing the greater Austin region. In this capacity, Corey spearheads the development and execution of international and domestic initiatives aimed at championing economic growth. Working closely with key stakeholders, he focuses on the Texas innovation ecosystem, monitoring global innovation trends and fostering strategic collaborations.

Previously, as the Assistant Secretary of State for International Affairs for the Office of the Texas Secretary of State, Corey represented the state of Texas in international relations and diplomatic affairs. Serving under five different Secretaries of State, he also managed vital government relations and international projects, leveraging his expertise to establish connections between global, regional, and state entities.

Corey’s professional journey spans roles in media, politics, and government with organizations like Foreign Policy magazine, NPR, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He holds a Bachelor’s in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and is an MBA candidate at the University of Texas at Dallas. Combining his vast experience and education, Corey continues to push boundaries in technology and innovation, driving economic growth in the Austin region.

Linhard Stepf
Summit Emcee
Partner and Sr. Client Relationship Director

Linhard Stepf is a Partner and Sr. Client Relationship Director at Vistra based in Chicago.

Vistra is a leading global corporate professional services and accounting firm with 8,000 employees in 55+ countries, providing a range of accounting and compliance services, including entity set-up, payroll, local accounting, tax & compliance filings, advisory and HR services.

Linhard works with CEOs, CFOs, CHRO, and General Counsels to assist in developing and executing acompany’s global expansion strategy. His clients include PE-backed and publicly traded companies from start-up to Fortune 100 companies.

During his 20+ years career, Linhard has worked on 200+ international business development and expansion projects in over 25 countries. Linhard holds dual US/German citizenship and received a MBA from theUniversity of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is also admitted to the German Bar as an attorney.

Brian Vanicek
Honorary Consul, Czech Republic 

Brian Vanicek is a second-generation Texan of Czech-Moravian ancestry. A 1983 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Brian has worked for more than 39 years in the financial services sector and currently serves as President and CEO of SPJST Fraternal Life. Organized in 1897 by Texas pioneers of Czech descent, SPJST provides its 40,000 members with the financial security of fraternal life insurance complemented by a family program that imparts the cherished traditions of the Czech culture. 

Brian received the Czernin Palace Bronze Memorial Medal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic in 2010 for significant contributions in preserving and promoting relations between the Czech Republic and the United States of America and was designated Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic for the State of Texas in 2014.

As Honorary Consul, Brian has assisted in facilitating numerous trade missions to Texas by Czech Ministry officials and business representatives. Additionally, he has assisted the Embassy of the Czech Republic with disaster relief efforts in West, Texas following the fertilizer plant explosion in 2013 and worked with Embassy officials on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts benefitting the city of La Grange, Texas in 2017. In 2021 and on behalf of the SPJST Foundation, Brian organized the Czech Moravian Benevolence Fund which aided the community of Hrusky in the Czech Republic following the tornadic devastation that village experienced in 2021. Brian serves as an Advisor to the American Friends of the Czech Republic and as a director of the Czech Center Museum in Houston, Czech Educational Foundation of Texas, Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center in La Grange, and serves as President of the SPJST Foundation in Temple. 

Brian and his wife, Joan, have been married for 35 years, enjoy entertaining friends and have two grown children, Stephanie and Samuel.

Skye Wallin
Content Producer/Videographer

Based in Austin, TX, filmmaker Skye Wallin has over a decade of experience in all forms of video and film production. From commercial videos and weddings, to feature documentary film, animation, and narrative fiction, Skye has proven excellence in creativity and project execution.

Graduating with a B.A. from Denison University in 2011, Skye went on to work for multiple startups and film productions. At the esteemed film school FAMU, in Prague, he learned how to manage large crews and focus on storytelling through the cinematic medium. Skye spent over a year in Prague, crediting the city and its filmmaking institutions for building the foundation of his filmmaking abilities. In the years since his studies in Prague, Skye has maintained close connections and business relations with artists and entrepreneurs there. 

While leading film production with Mark Ruffalo and his organization Water Defense at the site of over 20 oil spills and contamination events around the United States, Skye was able to complete his MFA in Screenwriting from Spalding University in 2015. His work with Water Defense helped to expose multiple water pollution scandals.

In 2017, Skye taught a documentary course for high school students in Spoleto, Italy.

Skye’s most recent film,American Gadfly, follows the fever dream of three teenagers who set out to get former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel on the Democratic presidential debate stage. The film was met with critical acclaim and was distributed by Gravitas Ventures in January 2022.  

In 2023, Skye produced Marianne Williamson’s presidential  campaign launch video. He is currently working on a graphic novel and narrative feature film.

While working on his creative projects, Skye actively produces commercial video (TV and Web) campaigns for multiple corporate clients.

Dr. Sunny Zhang

Dr. Sunny Zhang is an award-winning educator, entrepreneur, and investor with over 20 years of expertise in technology innovation, behavioral science, and international business.

She is the founder of TrueLeap, an intelligent digital education platform for greenfield schools and resource-limited communities to make quality education accessible for all. A tenured professor at the University of St. Thomas, Dr. Zhang previously taught at Indiana University, Colorado State University, and the University of Alabama. She co-founded Born Global Ventures and Born Global Community (501c3) to support global startups and diverse entrepreneurs.

Dr. Zhang serves on the board of advisors and/or directors for esteemed organizations such as the George H. W. Bush Foundation of U.S.-China Relations, Women in AI USA, StudioHub, etc. Her professional achievements have earned her notable recognitions such as the Top 50 Influential Women in Houston in 2023, Outstanding Professor for 2021-2022 in the Cameron School of Business, and the 2021 Small Business Champion of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration Houston District.

Summit Key Contributors

Mortada Mohamed
President, World Affairs Council of Austin
Co-Chair – Texas-EU Business Summit

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.

Ben Ramirez III
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.

Ben manages the Foreign Trade Zone of Central Texas with member companies’ annual exports totaling $250-$500 million.  He was first appointed to the Texas Camino Real District Export Council by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.   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.

More presenters to be added shortly