Archive for the ‘Spotlight on Commerce’ Category


Spotlight on Commerce: Tricia Van Orden, Deputy Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat, International Trade Administration

March 29, 2021

Tricia Van Orden is the Deputy Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Tricia Van Orden

Tricia Van Orden

As the Deputy Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat, an office within the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA), I spend my days developing programs and strategies to promote U.S. exports. I work with a multitude of partners – U.S. trade agencies, state governments, trade associations, universities, and others – to design and deliver practical tools and resources to help U.S. companies succeed in global markets. Since arriving at ITA in 2008 as a Presidential Management Fellow, I have constantly been amazed and inspired by the women around me and their commitment to collaboration, creativity, innovation, and equity.  Whether working on women’s economic empowerment activities or otherwise contributing their expertise to the major trade issues of the day, these colleagues have consistently demonstrated the utmost competence and professionalism.

From a young age, my passion for supporting women’s economic empowerment has stemmed largely from the fearless women leaders who have paved the way for my own advancement. Women college professors and internship supervisors encouraged me to pursue a career in international economics, lighting a path before I knew where my career would take me. After earning degrees in economics and political science from Colorado State and the University of Washington, respectively, I moved to Washington, DC, to pursue a job on Capitol Hill. I interned for the woman senior Senator from my home state, which led to a full-time job with the woman junior Senator, an invaluable experience that taught me how effectively women can lead.

As we address the COVID-19 pandemic’s social and economic repercussions – which disproportionately affect women and women-owned businesses – we should keep in mind the positive impact that global business opportunities can have on recovery and resiliency.  International markets represent untapped potential for women-owned businesses. On average, businesses that export earn higher revenues, pay higher wages and are less likely to go out of business. Going global can help women build more successful, resilient businesses while supporting themselves, their families, their workers, and their communities.

The number of women-led businesses going global is growing, but women lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to international business expansion for a variety of reasons: Women typically have less access to capital than their male counterparts; women may not have the extensive international networks that lead to partnerships and business deals; and, in some countries, there are legal barriers that restrict women’s economic activity. ITA wants to change that. I serve as the agency’s coordinator for women’s economic empowerment activities, with a mandate to dramatically rethink how we deliver our services and share our expertise so that more women-owned businesses are equipped to successfully expand into international markets.

Women’s History Month is a time to honor the hard-won battles of our female forerunners, but it also is an occasion to take stock of our current moment and create a more equitable future for women as individuals and as economic actors. It is my great privilege to contribute to ITA’s mission and women’s economic empowerment efforts.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees during Women’s History Month.


Spotlight on Commerce: Chris Higginbotham, Deputy Director of Outreach, SelectUSA

November 9, 2017

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees in honor of Veteran’s Day.

When Congress first declared November 11th as a holiday that ultimately became Veterans Day,  it said the day should be marked with “exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”

U.S. Army Segeant Chris Higginbotham standing with comrades in Iraq in 2004.

U.S. Army Sergeant Chris Higginbotham in Iraq in 2004.

I am fortunate that in my two careers — one in the U.S. Army and one in the U.S. Department of Commerce — it was my mission to do just that.

I began my career in the U.S. Army and had the best job in the service; that’s no exaggeration. For six years, I followed Army units around Europe, Southwest Asia and the great Commonwealth of Kentucky as a photographer and videographer. I did my best to tell soldiers’ stories, and to help people in the United States and abroad understand the important missions my colleagues took on every day.

I regularly think back to some of the work we did, like when I joined the airborne troops of 5th Quartermaster Company to photograph one of their jumps, only to learn after takeoff that the C-130 pilot also needed to practice “evasive maneuvers,” which did not make for the smoothest ride. That is the only day I have ever been envious of people who were jumping out of an aircraft.

My unit participated in the ceremony recognizing the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and I had the honor of interviewing veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944. There was a man who I swear could still beat me in a race who recounted his feelings about the war stating, “Oh, it didn’t bother me at all.” That was tough to believe, but you don’t often question someone who’s been through something like that and lived to tell about it.

And I remember being inside a trailer on Camp Victory in Ballad, Iraq, recording video messages for home from the deployed members of 95th Military Police Battalion. There was one soldier whose message would be the first time his newborn son would ever hear his father’s voice or see his face. The soldier kept reaching out to the camera as if by touching it, he would be touching his baby. Giving that tape to those Soldiers’ families back home might have been the most meaningful work I ever did.

Working now in the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is something I see as a continuation of my service in the military. Just like in the Army, my job is to tell the stories of the work my colleagues do through assisting U.S. exporters and attracting foreign direct investment. Their work supports millions of American jobs, and it’s something in which we all take a great amount of pride.

And this work in international trade and business is right at the core of promoting mutual understanding and good will between nations — it’s an everyday perpetuation of what Congress asked Americans to do every November 11th. One recent example of this was at the Trade Winds Business Forum and Trade Mission in Bucharest. I heard U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm and Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose repeatedly reference trade as a key pillar in U.S. relations with Southeast Europe. I witnessed first-hand the ability of our government to connect U.S. companies and organizations to promising business opportunities. I am proud to be part of a team of professionals who work tirelessly every day to help U.S. business compete at home and abroad.

On Veterans Day and every day, I salute all of the great men and women who are serving or who have served in our armed forces, and I give thanks to all who have fought to perpetuate peace and good will around the world.