Member Bios

The North Central West Florida District Export Council (NCW FL DEC) is a diverse group of volunteer international trade and business professionals who meet for plenary sessions addressing international issues and awareness. DEC members pool their knowledge to provide a source of professional real-world advice to U.S. exporters and to the Florida international trade community. DEC members are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. The Secretary of Commerce serves as the voice of U.S. business within the President’s Cabinet. The Department works with businesses, universities, communities, and the Nation’s workers to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development

Our members’ commitment makes us Florida’s premier volunteer public-private international business development organization. DEC activities contribute to the development of global trade and specifically, our country’s national export growth and success.


NCW Florida DEC Officers and Members:

Tongila Manly, D.B.A.

Dr. Tongila Manly’s experience includes 34 years in Consulting, Marketing, Sales, Trade Promotion, Advertising and Quality Management in the United States with 15 of those years in South Africa. Focused on international marketing, trade development, organizational change, communications, and strategic planning, she consults in various industries and with governments and public agencies. Formerly, as the Managing Director of Enterprise Florida’s Southern Africa Office Tongila provided export market access for Florida companies. Seeing a business need for American small and medium enterprises, Tongila developed a business facility in Johannesburg, South Africa that provided shared space and tenant offices as a landing space for US businesses. Currently, as a co-owner of TMG Solutions USA, and formerly CEO of TMG Solutions PTY Ltd, a South African company, this expertise in international business development and export marketing has been applied to assist several American companies and businesses looking to establish trade in American markets. Tongila has a doctorate in international business. Her doctoral study focused on US business international expansion through trade missions.

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Ralph Kluesner

Vice Chair

Ralph Kluesner, International Sales Manager for Electric Supply Inc. Ralph is responsible for export sales and marketing for the Tampa, Fl. based company Ralph has expanded his territory throughout the Caribbean, Central and South Americas and reaching as far as Guam, Denmark and Indonesia. Ralph has established long term contracts with many of the utility companies he services. Electric Supply Inc has been honored in the past with the Governor’s Export Excellence Award.

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Ken Mouradian

Executive Secretary

Kenneth R. Mouradian, Director of the Orlando U.S. Export Assistance Center, U.S. Commercial Services, Department of Commerce. The Commercial Service’s mandate is the promotion of U.S. origin commodities, services and technologies in foreign markets; the defense of U.S. commercial interests abroad; and, the attraction of in-bound Foreign Direct Investment. Kenneth is an ex officio member and Executive Secretary of the Northern and Central – West Florida District Export Council.

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Oz Erdem

Chair

Dr.  Ozkan  Erdem  is the Vice Chair at the National Association of District Export Councils, representing Southern Network DECs. He has extensive  experience  in  export control, customs and international trade issues with a strong background in electronics, computer, software, information security, industry automation, material processing, mobility/transportation, defense technologies and manufacturing industries for almost 20 years. His primary focus areas are U.S. EAR, ITAR, OFAC and NRC controls, end-use and end-user screening, export classifications, compliance program development, encryption items, compliance audits, training, global technology transfers and export documentation.

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Felicia Nowels

Vice Chair & Treasurer

Felicia Leborgne Nowels, J.D., B.A. Attorney and Partner of  Akerman LLP. Board Certified in International law, Felicia focuses her practice on international trade and customs law. Felicia assists domestic and foreign companies with cross border movement of goods and services. Whether drafting international distribution or trade agreements, consulting or litigating on customs procedures or trade benefits, Felicia’s goal is to bring efficient business solutions to her clients’ global issues.

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NCW Florida Members:

Carlton Smith

Carlton Smith, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Heavy Equipment Resources of Florida. In 2014, HERO FL was recognized as the U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Exporter of the Year. Carlton is the Co-Founder and CEO of Heavy Equipment Resources of Florida (HERO FL), a Jacksonville based company and leading source in the construction and mining industry. HERO FL has made international impact while specializing in the export of heavy machinery and components to mining companies throughout the world.

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Carmenza U. Gonzalez

Carmenza U. Gonzalez, President of CZA Inc. a Global Business Development consulting firm founded in 2011. Carmenza has over twenty five years of international business development experience and is passionate in promoting the state of Florida and Central Florida as an optimal business destination. Prior launching CZA Inc. Carmenza worked for the Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) for ten years as Vice President of International Business Development where she was responsible for the International Trade initiatives for the region and for attracting foreign direct investment.

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Charles A. Alvarado

Charles A. Alvarado is the Director of International Sales for AMALIE Oil Company, the largest independent oil manufacturer in North America.  He has a BA in Business Administration with a mayor in Management from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and is a fully bi-lingual (English & Spanish), Certified Marketing Executive (CME® – Syracuse University), from the Sales & Marketing Executives International Association.  He handles multiple continents and oversees more than 150 countries in the sales and distribution of various high-quality motor oils brands and industrial lubricants.  

After a successful twenty-year career as Marketing & Public Relations Director in an OEM auto manufacturer and distributor, Mr. Alvarado decided to switch careers and move into the “recycling” world, were he became for more than 7 years, General Manager of a hydro-processing used motor oil re-refinery, on the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico.  During that time, Mr. Alvarado graduated and is a licensed Certified ISO Lead Auditor in the following categories; ISO 9001 Quality Management, ISO 14001 Environmental Management and OSHAS 18001 Occupational Safety & Health Administration Systems Management.  That opportunity opened a new world for him and his new found “golden” interest in the oil industry.  With AMALIE Oil Company, he has been exposed to many “oil producing” countries, and has been able to successfully maintain continuous export business ties with many commercial partners, especially in the Middle East.  He has traveled extensively within, Europe, Middle East, Western Asia, Africa and India, among many other countries worldwide.  

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Darrell Lopez

Darrell Lopez, CEO Over the last 25 years Mr. Lopez has distinguished himself as a top performing sales executive, trainer of sales teams, leader of sales operations, general manager of national companies all while becoming a noted authority in the field of WI-FI and VOIP. The combination of leadership, technical background with corporate management and true sales experience allow him the combination of vision and experience to lead the company.

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Elizabeth A. Krekel

With community support, Elizabeth has managed
the Central Florida International Trade Office (CFITO)
since opening in 2014. The office hosts inbound trade
delegations and dignitaries, conducts educational seminars
with community partners, and connects inquiries to
the appropriate regional trade organization in Central Florida.

Prior to joining the CFITO, Elizabeth worked for Walt
Disney Parks & Resorts in Orlando, Florida and
for a global consulting firm in Beijing, China helping
foreign companies navigate entry into the Chinese market.
She also studied the city government of Seoul,
South Korea with the Seoul Metropolitan Government
and studied the Irish Troubles in Cork, Ireland.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History
and in International Studies from the University of Iowa.
She holds a Master of Science in International Relations
from University College Dublin and an
MBA from the University of Central Florida.

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Francia Ryan

Francia Ryan, Contracts, Regulations, Estimating and Forecasting, Shaw Development. Francia holds a BS in Business Management and is a proud third generation family business owner. Francia started her career at the family’s aeronautical company, Shaw Aero Devices.  She began in Customer Service with a focus on After Market Sales. From there she moved to Manufacturing Planning and then to Contracts, which included working directly with the FAA.

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Ivette Compton

As Director of International Sales, Compton oversees the Sales and Marketing functions for the International Department at Mercury Medical. While directing this effort, Compton is personally responsible for overall coordination, functional management and leadership of global sales initiatives which currently covers 78 countries.  Ivette received her Undergraduate degree in International Business from The University of South Alabama and her M.B.A. from Florida Institute of Technology.

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Jerry Ross

Jerry Ross, President of the National Entrepreneur Center. Jerry speaks for conventions and corporate events nationwide. He is a nationally-recognized commentator and author on small business, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

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Justine Assal

Justine Assal, MBE is a Florida based entrepreneur & President of Orb International & About Global Marketing. Specializing in International PR and marketing consultancy, exhibitions & events, multilingual media sites and publications in the UK, Netherlands, Dubai, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico.

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Katie Arroyo

Katie Arroyo, CGBP International Trade Specialist with the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at University of North Florida consults qualified Florida small business exporters to strategically pursue international markets as a growth tactic.  Arroyo researches global trade flows, industry trends, and international tariff, compliance factors to connect clients with foreign markets where they are most likely to succeed.  She frequently collaborates with U.S. Commercial Service and Enterprise Florida colleagues to deliver international training.

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Laura Plotner

Laura A. Plotner (Olivieri), CPA. Tax Managing Director, CBIZ MHM, LLC. Laura received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Public Accounting Degree from Pace University in New York City and a Masters of Science in Taxation Degree from the University of Central Florida. Laura has over 20 years of experience in both public and private accounting. Her experience in public accounting started at PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP in New York.  Laura has been providing tax compliance and consulting services on a full  range of tax issues. In addition to traditional tax engagements, her experience includes specific experience in multi-state issues, international tax services and working with public/SEC clients.

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Laurel Evans

Laura Wellington Evans, Global Account Manager for XPO Logistics.
Laurel is responsible for business development with the Global Forwarding
Division at XPO. She assist companies of all sizes with their supply chain, exporting
and importing logistics needs Worldwide including customs clearance,
warehousing/distribution services and documentation compliance.
She is a member of the Tampa Bay Organization of Women in
International Trade (TBOWIT) and The Council of Supply Chain
Management Professionals (CSCMP).

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Marcos P. Cigagna

Expert Consultant on Business and Foreign Trade, Custom’s
Officer and Electronic/Telecommunication Engineer.
A versatile, action- oriented multilingual ( six languages )
executive with over 40 years of increasingly responsible
positions in all phases of Management, Business Development,
Consulting and Project Engineering. Technically oriented
to the state-of-the-art computers/information systems.
Qualified in marketing and budgeting, with an MBA in
Administration. As a former Brazilian Customs
Expertise Officer (for 20 years), with all governmental
security clearances, we specialize on International Trade
on the following business areas : Agro-Business, Medical
Equipments, Telecommunication, Mecatronics, Electro-Electronics,
and Customs Laws, Classification and Products Valuations
on the International Trade. Former Legal Expert Witness for the Court
on the S. Paulo Court of Law (08 Years).Extensive knowledge
of the Brazilian marketplace, with a large network among the
governmental officers and agencies, commercial and technical companies and manufacturers, customs related professionals, legal offices, and other.

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Margy Lang

Margy Lang is the founder and president of Sportive Marketing, Inc., a Florida-based marketing, sponsorship, and event planning firm. Margy has managed and promoted a variety of international sports competitions, exhibitions, and camps. She is a serial entrepreneur, inventor and author.

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María Clara Yepes

María Clara Yepes is a Global Procurement – Market Intelligence Analyst at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where she is responsible for providing strategic market intelligence support to the commercial procurement team across the world.

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Marisol Casablanca

Marisol Casablanca McDonald, IT Consultant for PCNet-Corserva. Marisol has more than 30 years of progressively responsible experience leading high technology start-ups. Top-tier strategic Sales and Business Development Executive. Marisol is very involved with her community and is a member of Northern & Central-West Florida District Export Council, Advisory Board Council Member UCF,  member of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum,  Vice President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay, she also serves at the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund Regional Council Board.

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Michael A. Schiffhauer

Michael A. Schiffhauer, a native Floridian from Miami, is Vice President, International Trade & Field Operations with Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI).  Michael manages six regional field offices, the targeted industry sectors (i.e. Aviation/Aerospace & Defense, ICT-Computer, LS-Medical, Clean Technologies and the Marine industries) trade promotion and is the contact liaison for trade development with Europe.

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Nancy Simmons

Nancy Simmons, President and owner of Aero Industries Inc. in Orlando, FL. Aero Industries is a specialty Metals and Parts company, who sells to our government and overseas. This company has been in existence since 1979.  She has lived many places in the world, including Hong Kong ; Johannesburg, S.A; Cologne, Germany, Montreal, Canada and Toronto, Canada. She speaks English, French and German. She went to University in Canada and has a teaching degree. In 2011, she opened a Trading Division, where they sell Oil, Fuel and other commodities around the world.

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Olga Haberland

Olga Haberland, born in Pereira, Colombia, attended and graduated from
Universidad Libre , and earned a degree in Economics. For 5 years she
worked at her family¹s company Interamericana ,one of the few in the
country to import technology equipment for the Energy Industry, sourcing
and managing International Suppliers and Public and private National
tenders. In one of her business trips to a Medical device Show, she met
her husband and Business partner  Gary. Following her move to United
States and becoming a US Citizen in 2009, now resides in Winter Park,
Florida, and is a proud mother of two wonderful children.  Professionally,
she is an owner of GENICON, a medical device company, a multi-national
firm with it¹s main offices also within Winter Park, Florida, where she
led and developed the Company¹s initiatives to develop its exports into
more than 60+ markets around the world.  Additionally, she is the Director
of the Company¹s Marketing Department, leading the efforts on Corporate
Image, Branding as well as insights into Product Development.

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Olga Pina

Olga M. Pina is a partner in the Corporate Practice Group
of Shutts & Bowen LLP. Ms. Pina practices in the areas of corporate,
securities, international business transactions and export compliance,
including compliance with U.S. Treasury regulations relating
to embargoed countries, particularly Cuba.
She has extensive experience in corporate transactions,
including cross-border issues in Central
and South America. She is AV peer review rated
by Martindale-Hubbell. Ms. Pina received her
B.A. from Holy Cross College and her J.D. from
The Georgetown University Law Center.
Ms. Pina is fluent in Spanish.

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Patrick Sweeney

Patrick Sweeney, Southeast Regional Manager
Meridian Finance Group, a leading provider of
export credit insurance, political risk insurance and
trade finance. Patrick has held sales and analytical
roles in the insurance and finance services sectors
for over 25 years, with his two previous positions held
with Willis Towers Watson and Coface North America.
“Its not a sale until you get paid”

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Robert Peek

Robert Peek Jacksonville, Port Authority (JAXPORT) is the Director of Marketing & General Manager of Business Development for the Jacksonville Port Authority, one of the nation’s busiest seaports. He provides strategic guidance and leadership for the port’s marketing and sales department, oversees market research and data analysis, and assists shippers of all sizes with their supply chain and exporting needs.

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Robert Salonen

Robert E. Salonen is Director, Global Business Development for the Florida Institute of Technology connecting the talent and technology development capabilities of the university to community and corporate interests worldwide. Rob consults with companies, organizations and government to foster partnerships with the principal offices of Florida Tech, develop programs to support advanced industry and facilitate co-location in the central Florida region. Rob is serving on the Florida Tech leadership teams for University Corporate Alliance for Success (UCAS), the Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Innovative Design (CAMID) and the Florida Tech Research Park.

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Scott Hyde

Scott Hyde, Senior Global Logistics Manager for Rayonier Advanced Materials, has been in the Logistics industry for the past 30 years.  He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Albany State College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Auburn University, and has been a featured panelist at the Georgia Logistics Summit.  Scott has been leading his organization’s logistics department for the past four years.  Rayonier Advanced Material was the 35th highest exporter of containers from the US.  Scott is responsible for all aspects of the supply chain from the time the containers are loaded until the containers are delivered to the final port or the customer’s door.

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Shannon Feeley

Shannon Feeley has been with the Canaveral Port Authority since 2003. In her role in Cargo Business Development, she actively works with cargo industries to attract new investments to the port, ensure retention of existing business, and to counsel and educate the Central Florida community on all aspects of trade. She also manages Port Canaveral’s Foreign Trade Zone 136, which encompasses all of Brevard County.

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