Rodolfo R. Sabonge is the Vice President of Market Research and Analysis of the Panama Canal Authority. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a Master in Maritime Development from the School of Law from the University of Panama, and graduate studies in Business Administration from the University of Miami, Florida. He completed executive programs on Strategy – Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage, from the Harvard Business School, on Strategic Planning and Implementation from Stanford University in a joint program with the University of Singapore, and on Port Planning and Management at the National Institute of Ports and Waterways of George Washington University.
He has been with the Panama Canal since 1986. Until 1993, he held several positions in Canal operations and later he was transferred to the Office of Executive Planning where he led the Office of Transition Planning, and was responsible for coordinating all actions necessary to ensure the orderly and successful transfer of the Panama Canal to the Republic of Panama. In 1999 he was appointed Director of Marketing and Corporate Planning. Currently, as Vice President of Market Research and Analysis, he is responsible for competitive intelligence, Canal pricing, and customer relations. Since 1993 he has participated in the development and implementation of Panama´s Maritime Strategy.
Before joining the Panama Canal, Mr. Sabonge worked in the electronics industry in the United States for four years. He also held the position of General Manager of the Panama Railroad. He later worked as assistant to the president for Panama’s largest cement and concrete products manufacturer. Mr. Sabonge has also been a professor of post-graduate studies at two private universities in Panama.
Mr. Sabonge is a member of several committees of the U.S. Transportation Research Board, and represents the Canal in several international organizations, such as the American Association of Ports Authorities, the International Association of Ports and Harbors, and is a regular speaker at the University of Denver’s Intermodal Transportation Institute in Colorado and many other maritime and transportation organizations worldwide.
Damon Shelby Porter
Damon Porter is the Director of MoBroadbandNow, a public-private initiative of multiple cooperative partners committed to expanding broadband accessibility in the State of Missouri. Governor Jay Nixon established MoBroadbandNow to facilitate the integration of broadband and information technology into state and local economies. Broadband connectivity is a crucial element to Missouri (and the entire Tri-State Summit region) remaining globally competitive in the 21st century.
As director, Porter leads the state’s expansion of high and ultra high speed accessibility to many underserved and unserved communities. MoBroadbandNow performs mapping and data collection, providing technical assistance, leveraging local and regional partnerships with broadband stakeholders and promoting broadband adoption and literacy. Porter, along with regional planning commissions and councils of governments, is developing 19 regional strategic broadband plans.
Porter has held several leadership positions in both the public and private sectors. He previously worked as director of public affairs for a Fortune 500 telecommunications company, managing broadband policy issues. He also earned six nationally recognized awards for excellence in corporate communications. At the state level Porter served as chief of staff and legislative director for two speakers of the Missouri House of Representatives, was an assistant attorney general and was transition chairman for the Missouri State Treasurer.
Porter is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Marshall Memorial Fellow of the German Marshall Fund. He holds a law degree from The Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marymount University.
Governor Terry Branstad
Branstad was Iowa’s longest-serving governor from 1983 to 1999. As the state’s chief executive, he weathered some of Iowa’s worst economic turmoil, the farm crisis of the ‘80s, while helping lead the state’s resurgence to a booming economy in the ‘90s.
At the end of his tenure, Iowa enjoyed record employment, an unprecedented $900 million budget surplus, and the enactment of historic government overhauls that led to greater efficiencies in state government. As a result of Governor Branstad’s hands-on, round-the-clock approach to economic development, Iowa’s unemployment rate went from 8.5 percent when he took office to a record low 2.5 percent by the time he left in 1999.
Following his four terms as governor, Branstad went on to serve as President of Des Moines University. During his 6-year tenure, he was able to grow the university into a world-class educational facility. Its graduates offer health care in all 50 states and in nearly every Iowa county. While there, he grew enrollment, increased the endowment and integrated new buildings, programs and initiatives.
In October of 2009, sensing a need for change in the way state government operates and wanting to “lead Iowa’s comeback”, Branstad retired from DMU to explore running for governor in 2010. He launched his campaign in January, and in June he won the Republican primary and named energetic State Senator Kim Reynolds as his running mate.
This team traveled to each of Iowa’s 99 counties, sharing their commitment to the creation of 200,000 new jobs for Iowans, a 15 percent reduction in the cost of government, a 25 percent increase in family incomes, and a renewal of national excellence of Iowa’s schools. As a result, they were elected as Iowa’s governor and lieutenant governor on November 2, 2010 and were sworn into office on January 14, 2011.
He and his wife Chris have three grown children: Eric (Adrianne), Allison (Jerry Costa) and Marcus (Nicole), and four grandchildren, Mackenzie, Bridget, Sofia and Alexis.
Mike Steenhoek is Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC), an initiative established in 2007 and comprised of the United Soybean Board, the American Soybean Association, and eleven state soybean boards. The Soy Transportation Coalition exists to promote a cost effective, reliable, and competitive transportation system that serves the agriculture industry.
As executive director of the STC, Mike’s responsibilities include communicating the initiative and the importance of transportation issues to soybean growers and processors; establishing and executing the organization’s strategic direction; and building collaborations with other effected industries.
Prior to his work on the STC, Mike worked for United States Senator Charles Grassley (Iowa) for eight years – both in Washington, DC, and most recently in Des Moines, Iowa. In Washington, DC, Mike served as the Senator’s scheduler and frequent speechwriter. In Des Moines, Mike served as Senator Grassley’s director of economic development.
Mike received both his undergraduate degree and his Masters in Business Administration from the University of Iowa.
Alvin B. Lee
Colonel (retired) Alvin Lee is the newly appointed Regional Business Director for the Mississippi Valley Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi River Commission. Mr. Lee is one of the newest members of the Federal Government’s Senior Executive Service. The Senior Executive Service is comprised of the men and women charged with leading the continuing transformation of government.
In his position, COL Lee serves as the principal advisor to the Commander, MVD, and President, MRC, on directing and managing the engineering, construction, operations and real estate activities for flood control, navigation, water supply and environmental restoration projects in the Mississippi Valley Division.
Prior to this appointment, Lee served in leadership positions in the Civil Works program. He was Executive Director of the Civil Works Directorate at Corps headquarters, Commander of the New Orleans District and Deputy Commander of the Afghanistan Engineering District.
COL Lee is a distinguished military graduate of Georgia Southern University and holds a masters degree in Engineering Management from St. Martins University. His military schooling includes the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.
Other assignments include Operations Officer for 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment; 36th Engineer Group Assistant Operations Officer and Ranger Support Element Operations Officer; Instructor/Writer at the U.S. Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Ga.; Deputy Resident Engineer, Alaska District, Corps of Engineers, and Deputy Commander Forward, Rocky Mountain Area Office in Colorado Springs, of the Omaha District, Corps of Engineers.
Other key command and staff positions include Company Commander, 317th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized); Commander, Alaska Projects Office, Cold Regions Research Laboratory; Battalion Executive Officer of the 10th Engineer Battalion, and the Engineer Brigade Operations Officer, Third Infantry Division (Mechanized).
His military awards include the Legion of Merit with oak-leaf cluster; the Bronze Star Medal; the Meritorious Service Medal, with three oak-leaf clusters; the Army Commendation Medal, with five oak-leaf clusters; and the Army Achievement Medal. He is a recipient of the 2009 S.A.M.E. Wheeler Award, the Bronze de Fleury medal and he earned the Parachutist’s Badge.
Jim Sutter is the CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), a dynamic partnership of key stakeholders representing soybean producers, commodity shippers, identity preserved value-added merchandisers, allied agribusinesses and agricultural organizations. Through its global network of international offices, activities are carried out that will create and sustain demand for U.S. soybeans and soybean products.
Before taking on his new role at the USSEC, Sutter was Vice-President of Cargill’s Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain Business Unit with day-to-day responsibility for Cargill’s Iowa Soybean Processing business. Sutter joined Cargill’s Flax and Sunflower Processing Division as a merchant trainee in Fargo, N.D. in 1980. He was named a Vice-President of Cargill’s North American Oilseed business in 1998.
Sutter has represented Cargill on several industry associations, including the National Oilseed Processors Association and QUALISOY. Sutter’s Cargill experience has taken him around the world and gives him many perspectives of the global oilseed industry. He grew up on a crop and cattle farm in northeastern Colorado and joined Cargill after graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in Agricultural Business/Economics.
Since he joined Cargill in 1980, he has held various management positions around the world in Cargill’s vegetable oil and oilseed processing businesses. Prior to moving to Iowa, Sutter held management positions within Cargill in Chicago, Malaysia, England, Singapore and Holland.
Sutter served two terms as QUALISOY Chairman, and sits on the Trait Value/Market Standards Working Group. He has been involved in QUALISOY since the initiative was formed in 2004, and sat on the Technology Utilization Center Board in 2003.