Leslie M. Schweitzer, Senior Trade Advisor, Traderoots Initiative, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

As Senior Trade Advisor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Leslie M. Schweitzer created the TradeRoots Initiative, the only sustained national grassroots international trade education program in the country. The program is designed to raise public awareness of international trade, particularly to small- and medium-sized companies. TradeRoots has been instrumental in gaining grassroots support for China PNTR, the Trade Promotion Authority, and free trade agreements with Chile, Singapore, Australia, and Morocco. The program also led the charge for grassroots support of the free trade agreement with Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua and the most recently passed agreement with Peru.

Schweitzer was responsible for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Partnership Program with TOBB, funded by USAID in Turkey in 2006. This program, the first of its kind, brought business outreach programs to the Turkish business community through a series of high-level forums throughout the country.

Schweitzer has owned her own businesses involved in international trade for more than 30 years. She was one of the first American women to do business in China and pioneered U.S.-China trade beginning in 1977 as a co-founder of Noble Trading Company, which assisted U.S.-based companies with product sales to China, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, India, South America and the Caribbean. Clients included Pepsi World Trade and the Motors Trading Company of General Motors. In 1987, Schweitzer founded a full-service offshore manufacturing and marketing company, Schweitzer&Associates, specializing in developing consumer product industries in Third World and developing countries. She owned and operated factories in the Caribbean that produced labor-intensive apparel for U.S. and foreign retail stores, manufacturers, and catalog companies. At one point the company employed over 700 people. Schweitzer has also been involved in international business ventures in the former Soviet Union and Finland.

Through her consulting company, Schweitzer continues to work closely with chambers and governments around the world to raise their profiles and develop comprehensive campaigns to develop business in the United States. She also continues to advise small- and medium-sized companies on how to prosper in the global business arena. Schweitzer has developed a comprehensive program with the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce to facilitate an aggressive program to educate businesses in both countries about the opportunities in specific industry sectors. Schweitzer is also involved with projects throughout the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe.

Schweitzer is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship in international trade, has appeared on Lou Dobbs, and often on local and national radio and television shows. Schweitzer has been a member of various boards, including the American Management Association, CARESBAC, Operation Enterprise and the Department of Commerce’s Trade Advisory Board. Currently Schweitzer serves on the Advisory Board for International Programs at the University of Kansas, the Advisory Board of OWIT, Organization of Women in International Trade, serves on the D.C.-Virginia District Export Council and is a member of the board of trustees of the American University of Afghanistan.

Schweitzer attended the University of Kansas and the University of Copenhagen and received her B. S. in International Relations from the George Washington University. She is married and the mother of two sons.

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