ROSA WHITAKER: PRESIDENT and CEO
Rosa Whitaker is broadly recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on Africa trade, investment and business issues. Named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010, she is credited for successfully advancing trade and business in the region. During her 30-year career, Ms. Whitaker served as the first ever Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa in the Administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and William J. Clinton. While serving as Senior Trade Advisor for US Congressman Charles Rangel, Ms. Whitaker was a hands-on-architect of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the first comprehensive US trade policy toward Africa. AGOA provided, inter-alia, duty- and quota-free access to the US market for essentially all products produced in Africa. AGOA continues to be the center-piece of US Africa economic policy. As the lead US negotiator for bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, she was the prime mover behind a series of unprecedented initiatives to enhance US trade, investment and economic cooperation with African countries. Ms. Whitaker also served as a career US diplomat specializing in African economic matters.
After leaving the US government in 2003, she founded The Whitaker Group (TWG), which has emerged as the premier consulting firm serving global companies investing or expanding business engagement in Africa. The Whitaker Group has driven more than USD$1 billion in trade, investment and capital flows to the continent.
Ms. Whitaker is a Vice Chair of the Executive Board of Mercy Ships, a global faith-based charity operating the largest private hospital ship in the world. She also serves on the Board of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the Center for Global Prosperity and she was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Trade by Consumers for World Trade. She previously served as Vice Chair of the US-South Africa Business Council. In 2011 she was honored with now President Joyce Banda of Malawi by the Constituency for Africa (CFA) for outstanding leadership in the region.
Ms. Whitaker is regularly featured in the press on Africa trade issues and has lectured at the National Defense University, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University. Ms. Whitaker holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the American University in Washington, D.C.