Event Calendar

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

How to Sell Your Policy Experience to the Private Sector

Start Date: 2/4/2020 12:00 PM EST
End Date: 2/4/2020 1:30 PM EST

Venue Name: TOYOTA

325 7th St. NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC  United States  20004

Organization Name: WIIT

WIIT Staff
Email: info@wiit.org
Phone: (202) 869-3775

The Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) invites you to join an interactive career panel on how to translate your policy smarts into a business case for employment in the private sector. Learn how our panelists transitioned from various roles in the U.S. Government to senior positions in the private sector. How do you find the right opportunity? Build a network? Create a compelling pitch? We’ll discuss these hot topics and much more!   


  • Hera Abbasi, Government and Regulatory Affairs Executive, IBM
  • Leila Aridi Afas, Director, International Public Policy, TOYOTA
  • Shantell Isaac, Director, International Government Relations, MetLife 
  • Jessica Lemos, Director, Federal Government Relations, Walmart
  • Kerry O’Brien, Vice President, Glover Park Group

Hera Abbasi is a Government and Regulatory Affairs Executive at IBM, where she works on market access and global trade across a range of tech issues. 
Prior to IBM, she was the bicameral, bipartisan Hill strategist and lobbyist for the Coalition of Services Industries. Previously, Ms. Abbasi was a Congressional Advisor in the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs, where she served as Congress’s point of contact on all Europe issues, including TTIP, Russia, Ukraine, Brexit, Turkey, NATO, the European Union, Ambassadorial nominations, and Congressional Delegations.

Ms. Abbasi also worked on Capitol Hill for nearly a decade, including with House leadership. She is a co-chair of Women in International Trade's Africa and Middle East section and was selected as a 2017 Fellow for the Next Generation National Security Leaders Program at the Center for a New American Security. She is also a member of the U.S.-Asia Institute's Congressional Circle. 

Ms. Abbasi received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her master’s degree from the Naval War College. Her languages include Spanish, Urdu, Arabic, and Latin. She is the recipient of the Secretary’s Meritorious Honor Award and the Secretary’s Superior Honor Award; while on Capitol Hill, she was cited as a “Hill Staffer to Watch” in Foreign Policy’s blog, The Cable. She is a native of Boston, MA and lives in Northern Virginia with her family.

Leila Aridi Afas is responsible for developing and executing strategies to further Toyota’s global business goals. She collaborates across the company’s vertical and horizontal teams to develop and advocate positions on key policy issues. She also provides insight on geopolitical trends and market developments to Toyota’s senior leadership.
Previously, Leila served as an appointee for President Obama at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, where she helped connect companies across the country to export opportunities in high-growth markets overseas. supported the advanced economic growth in emerging markets through the export of critical U.S. technologies and equipment.  In a prior role with the agency, she managed a multimillion-dollar portfolio of grant funds for infrastructure projects throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Leila has also held senior roles in management consulting, helping clients around improve efficiency, attract foreign investment and advance economic growth.
Her career began at the U.S. Trust Company in New York as a financial analyst. She has also advised the World Economic Forum during their Annual Meetings for three consecutive years. Leila earned a master’s degree in international economics from Columbia University where she was awarded a Program Assistant Fellowship. She also earned a B.A. (Hons) in Political Science and English from James Madison University.

Shantell Isaac is Director of International Government Relations for MetLife, where she leads MetLife’s global digital governance portfolio, including public policy development and advocacy on data rules, privacy, cybersecurity, and technology adaption.
Before joining MetLife, Shantell served as Vice President of the Coalition of Services Industries (CSI), where she helped lead CSI’s organizational and strategic development on services trade and investment policy. At CSI, Shantell headed a diverse portfolio focusing on financial services and digital trade. 
Prior to CSI, Shantell held roles as part of the international policy team at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA initiative. Shantell is a native of Arizona and fluent in the Arabic language.

Jessica Lemos is the Director of Democratic Outreach on Walmart’s Federal Government Affairs team. In this role, she is the lead contact for House Democratic leadership, and develops and implements strategies to strengthen Walmart’s relationships with Congressional Democrats.  

Before joining Walmart in 2018, Jessica was Associate Director for Global Government Affairs at The Kraft Heinz Company, where she managed domestic and international policy issues.
Previously, she was the Director of International Trade Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. Prior to joining the private sector, Jessica served as a Congressional staffer for several Members, including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Jessica also served as Director of International Trade Development for the city of New Orleans.
Jessica completed her Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University with a major in political science and a minor in French, and earned a Master of Public Policy from American University.  

Kerry O'Brien is a Vice President at The Glover Park Group’s (GPG) Government Affairs Division, where she focuses on international affairs, global development, trade and national security policy as well as women’s health and gender equality initiatives. 

Prior to joining GPG, Kerry served as Legislative Director while simultaneously filling the role of Staff Director for Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA), then-Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade. In this vein, she served a dual role in promoting policies of priority to Massachusetts, while managing the subcommittee and navigating complex legislative initiatives. She began her career on Capitol Hill with former Rep. Bill Delahunt (MA), then a senior member of the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary. 

Kerry received her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. She also received a BA in Government & Politics and a BA in Spanish from UMD. A native of Connecticut and proud New Englander, Kerry currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Hosted By TOYOTA:
325 7th St. NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004

Note: Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by Friday, January 31st at 12pm.   

Nearest Metros: Gallery Place and Archives-Navy Memorial

Members: Free
Non-members: $25

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