Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs at U.S Embassy Ottawa
As Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy Ottawa, Richard Steffens is responsible for implementing the President’s National Export Initiative in Canada, America’s largest trading partner.
From 2006 to 2010, the years following Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Mr. Steffens served as Commercial Counselor at U.S. Embassy Kyiv. From 2001 to 2005, during the Czech Republic’s accession to the European Union, he served as Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Prague. In January 2004, as part of the Iraq Reconstruction Initiative, Mr. Steffens organized and accompanied the first trade mission to Baghdad since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
From 1997 to 2000, during the first stages of the $40 billion Sakhalin oil development Mr. Steffens was U.S. Consul for Commercial Affairs for the Russia Far East and eastern Siberia. From 1993 to 1997, Mr. Steffens served as Commercial Attaché in at U.S. Embassy Moscow, where he helped establish the American Chamber of Commerce of Russia, and opened up more than 20 formerly closed cities to U.S. trade. From 1991 to 1993, Mr. Steffens worked in the Office of Program Planning and Evaluation in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Mr. Steffens is a graduate of the Wharton School and holds a Masters in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Executive Director of SelectUSA and Senior Adviser to the Secretary of Commerce
SelectUSA is the U.S. government-wide initiative to attract and retain business investment in the United States, established by Executive Order of the President and housed in the Commerce Department. As Executive Director, Olson manages the strategy and implementation of SelectUSA as it works to create jobs, spur economic growth, and promote American competitiveness. He also co-chairs, with the Director of the White House National Economic Council, the SelectUSA Interagency Investment Working Group to coordinate existing resources across the federal government to promote business investment and address federal regulatory barriers.
Olson was a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, LLP in Los Angeles from 2004 to 2011, where he represented companies in domestic and international complex commercial litigation, civil and criminal government enforcement actions, and corporate compliance and governance matters. Steve served as the firm’s Hiring Partner, member of the Partnership Admissions Committee, and firm Talent Development Partner, responsible for the hiring, training, performance reviews and compensation of the firm’s approximately 750 associates and counsel worldwide.
Olson served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Major Frauds Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California from 1999 to 2004. He was an associate at Latham & Watkins, LLP and clerked for the Honorable Wm. Matthew Byrne, Jr., Chief Judge, Central District of California.
Olson has been active with educational and civic organizations throughout his career. He has a B.A. with honors from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan, where he was Contributing Editor for the Michigan Journal of International Law.
Director North America and Europe EXPORT QUEBEC
Department of International Relations, La Francophonie and Foreign Trade (MRIFCE)
Yves Lafortune has been Director of North America and Europe, Export Québec, a branch of MRIFCE (Ministry of International Relations for the Francophonie and Québec Commerce) since February 2009. Export Québec helps companies develop, strengthen and diversify their markets outside of Québec by offering services tailored to their needs and complementary to their partners. He began his career in the Québec public service in 1985 where he worked with the direction of fiscal policies and in the department of intergovernmental finance. In 1991, he joined the Department of Cultural Communities and Immigration, where he served as Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations and as Coordinator of the Regional Services Branch.
From 2000 to 2005, he worked in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Regions and the Metropolitan Community of Montreal, where he served as Deputy Associate Deputy Minister and as Director of City Planning and Institutional Relations. In 2006, he joined the MDEIE where he occupied the position of Regional Director of the Montérégie before joining the General Directorate of International Economic Affairs as Director North America and Europe in 2009. Mr. Lafortune has a great knowledge of the United States and Europe as well as the operation of Québec representations abroad, including experience working for the French government in the framework of the France-Québec exchange officials and the Quebec Government Office in Toronto.
Mr. Lafortune holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Montréal and a graduate degree in public administration from École nationale d'administration publique (ENAP).
Director and Senior Trade Commissioner, Quebec Regional Office of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT)
Prior to taking up her responsibilities at the Quebec Regional Office in September 2012, Julie Insley held director positions at DFAIT headquarters in Ottawa, including the International Trade Portfolio division (2008-2011), the Consultations and Liaison division (2007-2008) and most recently the Trans-Pacific Partnership division (2011-2012). Ms. Insley joined DFAIT in 1994 and was posted to Jakarta, Indonesia from 1996-1999 as Trade Commissioner and First Secretary (commercial). She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University.
The Department Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s mandate is to manage Canada's diplomatic and consular relations and to encourage the country's international trade. This includes: ensuring that Canada's foreign policy reflects true Canadian values and advances Canada's national interests; strengthening rules-based trading arrangements and expanding free and fair market access at bilateral, regional and global levels; and working with a range of partners inside and outside government to achieve increased economic opportunity and enhanced security for Canada