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  • Tuesday, January 09, 2024 4:22 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    Bridget Wade

    Bridget Wade, IT manager at Garmin, is helping bring the dynamic landscape of the Information Technology sector to the International Trade Council (ITC) as not just a member, but the newest board member. With a career and a passion for fostering positive change, Wade brings a unique blend of leadership, international exposure, and a genuine commitment to the growth of the industry.

    Bridget's journey into the world of the ITC began with a friend's recommendation and conversations with existing members. Drawn by the organization's mission of mutual support, education, and the vibrant community it offered, she saw the ITC as an opportunity to contribute to and learn from like-minded professionals dedicated to international trade.

    Although her international travels have been somewhat limited in recent times, Bridget has explored diverse destinations, including Puerto Rico, Cozumel, Turks & Caicos, Paris, and Frankfurt, Germany. Each locale left an indelible mark on her, from the pristine beaches of Turks & Caicos to the cultural richness of Paris.

    Bridget's career trajectory began with a focus on Industrial Engineering and Management at Oklahoma State. During graduate school, she developed a program for the Department of Defense, setting the stage for a consulting role post-graduation. From the tumultuous days of the dot-com bubble to stable corporate environments, Wade navigated through different sectors, eventually finding her way to Garmin. Currently serving as a Manager in the IT department at Garmin for the past year, she leads a team overseeing the global website and customer communications. Prior to joining Garmin, she led a substantial project management department in a local agency, adding a broad spectrum of experiences to her professional repertoire.

    For aspiring professionals looking to venture into international business and trade, she offers simple yet profound advice: ask lots of questions. In the complex realm of IT, seeking clarification, even on seemingly basic matters, can be instrumental in navigating the challenges of international commerce.

    Beyond professional accomplishments, Bridget's career goals are centered on leaving a positive impact on those she works with. Reflecting on her own experiences, she aims to be remembered as a leader who influenced others positively. Bridget draws inspiration from her father, a dynamic and driven individual who, even at 74, continues to engage in hands-on projects and assist others, keeping him active and appearing younger than he is.  Beyond her family, she also admires individuals who embody values, help others, and stay true to their principles.

    Away from the corporate world, Wade is an avid reader with a penchant for fantasy novels, using them as a form of escape and relaxation. Her current read, "The Fetters of Fate: The Bladeborn Saga" by T.C. Edge, reflects her love for imaginative storytelling.

    Unbeknownst to many, Wade is a self-proclaimed geek who firmly believes in the problem-solving prowess of a well-crafted Excel spreadsheet. A wife and mother of two boys, a guinea pig, and two dogs, Bridget, originally hailing from Oklahoma, harbors a fascination for storm chasing and is currently working on developing an app for the music industry in her spare time.

    Bridget Wade's story is one of resilience, adaptability, and a genuine passion for making a positive impact. As she embarks on this new chapter with the International Trade Council, her wealth of experiences and forward-thinking approach undoubtedly position her as a valuable asset to the organization and the broader industry.

  • Friday, December 29, 2023 8:29 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    Happy New Year!

    With your support we have had a very successful 2023 at the International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City. We re-introduced our signature in-person events like Women in International Business, the Annual Meeting, and the Holiday Party, as well as multiple networking events partnered with IRC and MADEC. These events brought people around the greater KC area together to explore more opportunities in global trade.

    We lost our beloved Executive Director, Mary Odom, in her battle against ALS. To honor Mary, ITC donated $1000 to the Duke ALS Clinic to help find a cure for this terrible disease. Meanwhile, we welcomed our new Executive Director, Heidi Stevens. Heidi came to ITC with an extensive background in marketing and project management. Her passion, skills, and warm personality have been a wonderful addition to ITC. 

    We also launched a New Global Learning Series, with the first 3 installments of Import 101 completed in 2023. In the new year, we will be conducting sessions for The Ins and Outs of Exporting starting this month and a Compliance 101 Series in the second half of the year.

    With 2023 now in the rear-view mirror, it is time to start our great work in the new year. If you haven't already, register today for your 2024 membership to ITC-GKC.

    Together, let's make 2024 a spectacular year!

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    Best regards,

    Ruiping Ramboldt, President

  • Thursday, December 07, 2023 10:01 AM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    Check out the Market(ing Committee)!

    Marketing Committee Spotlight

    What is the Marketing Committee’s current focus?

    We aim to promote a calendar of networking, educational and signature events that deliver timely content and provide opportunities to connect ITCGKC members, prospective members and industry peers.

    As part of the Marketing Committee, I have been able to build deeper connections within the ITCGKC member community. The diverse range of experience that we each bring to the table allows us to grow professionally by learning from one another and allows for broad and fruitful discussions about driving value to ITCGKC through marketing strategies and promotion.

    Recently, we have started promoting a line-up of educational events within the Ins and Outs of Exporting, a framework of presentations delivered by industry peers. Check out Part 1: Exporting 10.

    Who volunteers on the Marketing Committee?

    Currently, I lead the committee as Marketing Chair. Mariah Shields, at Hallmark Cards, Inc, assists as Vice-Chair of the committee. 

    Kristin Tripp from Graphic Edge KC has generously volunteered her time to promote signature events such as the 2023 Women in International Business

    Our most recent addition is our newest Board Member, Bridget Wade from Garmin. She will be focusing on Website updates.

    Volunteers Welcome

    Any ITCGKC member is welcome to volunteer their ideas and personal skillset to the Marketing Committee!

    We are seeking one to two committee volunteers based on interests (social media channel expertise would be very welcome)! Feel free to email if you would like additional information.

    We occasionally have joint committee meetings with other ITCGKC committees. These cross-collaborative meetings are a great way learn about other aspects of ITCGKC and share in discussions on key strategies and initiatives across the organization. Drop me a note on LinkedIn if you would like to join our committee! 

    Shared by:

    Carolyn Glasow

    Formerly Hallmark Cards, Inc - Global Solutions Director 

  • Wednesday, November 01, 2023 9:14 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    For our November Spotlight, we have the opportunity to learn the multifaceted journey of international trade attorney Bernardo Zito Porto, ITC's newest board member. Bernardo's story is one of a successful career intertwined with a passion for fantasy and sci-fi. It unfolds as a captivating narrative of dedication, rich experiences, and an unceasing desire for growth.

    Bernardo's motivation for joining the International Trade Council (ITC) is rooted in his extensive background in international trade law. This perspective, cultivated through a childhood in Brazil and a deep affection for London, his favorite city, equips him to navigate the intricacies of international supply chain and logistics. Recently promoted to the position of Senior Associate Attorney at Husch Blackwell, this achievement marks a significant milestone in Bernardo Zito Porto's legal career. From his beginnings in Brazil to pursuing an LL.M. degree in the United States, his journey is a testament to hard work and an unwavering commitment to growth. Joining Husch Blackwell, with its robust international trade practice, was a logical choice, given his international background.

    While Bernardo Zito Porto's career aspirations include reaching the position of a partner at Husch Blackwell, his interests extend beyond law. As a devoted fantasy and sci-fi enthusiast, he envisions a dinner with three iconic creators—J.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and George Lucas—whose worlds have left an indelible mark on his imagination. Intriguingly, Bernardo's reading choice, "The Dark Force Rising" by Timothy Zahn, is set in the Star Wars expanded universe, underscoring the connection between his professional and personal interests.

    When asked about his sources of inspiration, Bernardo Zito Porto's answer is concise: his family. This emphasizes the importance of personal connections and values that drive his life and career.

    For those aspiring to enter the realm of international business and trade, Bernardo Zito Porto offers valuable guidance. Joining organizations like the ITC, gaining knowledge through relevant courses, and embracing multiple languages are key. But paramount is the counsel to keep an open mind, respect cultural differences, and work diligently.

    An unexpected revelation is Bernardo's passion for soccer and volleyball, activities he continues to pursue with dedication. It's a testament to his unyielding thirst for learning and personal growth.

    In summary, Bernardo Zito Porto's life and career paint a vivid portrait of a professional journey enriched by a vibrant blend of experiences and passions. It's a reminder that success is not just about dedication but also about embracing life's richness and continually seeking opportunities for personal and professional development.

  • Wednesday, October 04, 2023 11:18 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    I’d just like to say a few words of gratitude for the amazing experience I’ve had as ITC’s Executive Director for the past 4 years.
    When I started in 2019, I was interviewed by Anh Sirridge, Joe Lohman, Jay Devers, Alyson Schroer, & Anthony Houchin. Although I didn’t know much about international trade, I could sense the passion of these leaders for their industry, and I felt a kindred spirit with them in regards to their enthusiasm for ITC as an organization and their commitment to its success.
    The first areas that I tackled were holding the big Incoterms 2020 event, streamlining ITC’s operations, establishing regular communications, and developing the brand-new website and Association Management System (AMS). Since completing my first year, ITC has successfully navigated the pandemic by pivoting to online events, developed a new strategic plan, trademarked TradeWins, launched the Young Professionals Group, took over the convening of the International Steering Committee for World Trade Day, and grew the membership from less than 60 members to over 100.
    I will miss working with the warm and caring group of leaders at the helm of ITC as well as the fourth Friday breakfasts. I will especially miss the fun holiday parties!
    To Heidi, the new Executive Director, I am honored to pass the baton to such a keen, intuitive, and professional person. I look forward to seeing how your vision takes ITC  to the next level. I am confident that you can lead this organization with the creative energy you bring.
    I want to thank the current officers: President Lohman, Vice President Ramboldt, Secretary Anna Grossman, and Treasurer Anh Sirridge for the support and encouragement over the last year during my diagnosis. They picked a lot of slack and covered for me on many occasions.
    Finally, I want to thank my Rock Star husband Jim Odom, for his tireless efforts to support my work and the ITC. Without him, I could not have been successful.
    On a personal note, I’ve endeavored to put God first, family second, and work third. ITC has always respected those priorities which I am grateful for, because when time is short, I’m glad there are no regrets about how I spent my time. Make sure you spend your time well too.
    Thank you for the honor of serving ITC!

  • Wednesday, October 04, 2023 9:51 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    Passing The Gavel 

    The 78th annual ITC Meeting was held Thursday September 28th at the KC Chamber Board Room. During opening remarks from outgoing president Joe Lohman, he spoke to the history of ITC and the impact it has had upon him as a leader, the community, and the opportunities it has extended as well. His role at both Port KC and within ITC has given him the unique view of how Hunt Midwest has changed the landscape of Kansas City, both literally and figuratively. 

    Former President Lohman also took the time to recognize all the changes within ITC as well. The most notable being the stepping down of Mary Odom as ITC's executive director. The impact she has had from an organizational presence, as well as just a steady voice, cannot be overstated. ITC has grown under her direction, and we were all thankful that she was able to attend, so we could celebrate her impact!

    The keynote speaker, Mr. Mike Bell, from Hunt Midwest engaged the audience with stories of the past and visions of the future. Linking Subtropolis, French traders, French Pharmaceuticals, car manufacturing, and Worlds of Fun can only be done when you have solid ties and a foundation rooted in Kansas City, like Hunt Midwest does. Mr. Bell also showed how Kansas City is vital when it comes to the distribution of goods. The central location being crucial to the immediate gratification that we, as a country, have become accustomed to.  

    Following the keynote speech, ITC expressed its thanks for outgoing Board members David Clark and Beau Jackson. The results of the 2023-24 elections were also announced with Ms. Lillie Moore, Ms. Jaime Sikes and Ms. Anh Sirridge all returning to the board. They are joined by Ms. Sarah Engber and Mr. Bernardo Zito Porto, all serving three-year terms.

    The executive board was also announced, with Mr. Joe Lohman staying as the treasurer and Ms. Anna Grossman returning as secretary.  Mr. Caleb Hall was instated as Vice President and Ms. Ruiping Ramboldt as President. 

    As a gesture of continuity, past president Lohman passed the gavel to Vice President Hall who accepted for President Ramboldt in her absence.


    Vice President Hall concluded the meeting with a message of unity. Speaking of how ITC gives the opportunity for competitors to work together to make Kansas City an international force. 

    Thank you to all who attended, to Miller and Co, Bestway, PortKC, and Scarbrough International. And thank you to our co-host the World Trade Center- Kansas City. We are looking forward to a great new year!

  • Sunday, September 17, 2023 6:43 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    From Kansas City, MO to London, UK: How ITC KC Changed My Calling in Life

    by Tamara Dancheva

    My journey with the International Trade Center of Greater Kansas City began almost 16 years ago. In May 2007, I was recruited to run the organization’s day-to-day operations as part of an internship scheme run by Rockhurst University. As an international student from Bulgaria majoring in International Business, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain valuable experience in international trade while strengthening several other critical skills such as communication, program management and basic accounting.

    It was my first office job, and to say I was initially overwhelmed and intimidated would be an understatement. However, I was fortunate enough to be guided by two incredible colleagues who remain close friends and mentors today: Norman Burkart and Keith Hustings, former ITC KC Vice President and Corporate Secretary, respectively. Both spent precious time and effort teaching me the ropes and, more importantly, instilling a sense of hard work, ethics, and dedication, all critical skills and lessons that defined my later career.

    What started as an internship grew into an incredible opportunity to get to know the international business community of the Greater Kansas City area. I forged valuable contacts and learned – firsthand - why international trade is critical for global and regional economic development. I was particularly fascinated by the Trade Wins initiative: an international trade simulation for students to spark their interest and allow them to experience hands-on what it is to be an executive of a company which trades internationally.

    In just a short 8-month internship, I witnessed the transformative power of international relations, sparking a passion that has guided my entire career. This journey led me to the London School of Economics, where I earned my master's degree in international relations.

    Before delving into my studies in London, I embarked on a 6-month traineeship with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) of the European Commission. In a candid moment, my supervisor revealed that my international background and education, particularly my recent internship with the ITC KC, positioned me as a standout candidate among my peers. These experiences deepened my understanding of European foreign policy.

    Following my master's degree, I pursued a 6-month New York internship with the UN. My role within the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly allowed me to witness the intricate dynamics of intergovernmental negotiations, providing invaluable insights into the formation of multilateral agreements.

    After my time at the UN, I returned to London and began a remarkable 7-year journey with Liberal International in London, UK, where I served as the Head of its Human Rights Program. As the global federation of liberal and progressive democratic parties, LI offered a unique platform for me to immerse myself in international politics and extend support to liberal movements worldwide, even in authoritarian countries.

    For the past 4 years, I have served as the Senior International Relations Manager at GSMA, the global trade association for the mobile industry. In this capacity, I actively advocate for and champion GSMA's policy recommendations for digital gender inclusion. I also oversee global initiatives to reduce the gender gap in digital skills and leadership roles.

    As part of my role, I proudly Co-Chair the Skills Coalition of EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age, a global public-private partnership co-founded by GSMA in 2016 with organizations including the International Telecommunication Union, International Trade Center, UN Women, and UN University.

    I have also been a member of the European Union Delegation to the Women 20 Engagement Group of G20 for the past 3 years. I have served as Co-Chair of various working groups to deliver digital gender equality and equity for women and girls.

    It is no secret that international trade is critical to this endeavor. I have seen first-hand the benefits of empowering women and girls with mobile money and mobile technology, particularly across the Global South. Whether on their journey to become entrepreneurs or simply seeking greater digital and financial literacy, digital platforms and tools such as Shopify or M-Pesa have proven invaluable for women seeking financial independence. One of the current programs I run, called “EQUALS Her Digital Skills”, aims to deliver gender-transformative digital skills and mentoring to underprivileged women and girls across the globe. As such, introducing tech through e-commerce forms a key part of the program's curriculum.

    Research shows that educating girls to the same level as boys could contribute at least $112 billion to low and middle-income countries. On a global level, advancing gender equality could contribute $12 trillion to global growth. ITC KC members can consider this when next faced with a choice as to whether they should invest or work with a women-led business.

    I very much hope to see more young people, particularly women, represented in international trade and innovation as - much like the tech sector - there is much to be desired regarding gender balance among women-led businesses and women-led innovations and start-ups. We cannot afford to leave half of the population behind, and more critically, if we truly want to foster women-led development, we need to put women at the heart of business and product development. As for my success story, I can confidently confirm that the decision Norman and Keith made all these years ago to hire me has been paid forward as I continue to empower women and girls most in need as part of my professional and personal mission in life.

    My career has been a dynamic blend of academic excellence, hands-on experience, and a fervent commitment to shaping a more equitable world through international relations. I have also been lucky enough to visit over 60 countries, further enriching my global outlook and solidifying my belief in the critical role cross-cultural experiences play in every aspect of one’s life. As I reflect on my journey to date, my experience with the International Trade Center of Greater Kansas City catalyzed my passion and subsequent determination to pursue a career in international relations. I couldn’t be more thankful for my time there and its lasting impact.

  • Wednesday, September 06, 2023 8:32 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    With the launch of ITC's Global Learning Series, Import 101, there is a lot to be learned. This series of 3 events not only expands the knowledge base about importing but are also eligible for continuing education credits when attended live.  Those who had a chance to hear Brian Murphy, Esq last week now have more knowledge on the First Sale Rule.

    But what if you didn't catch everything Brian had to say? What if you had a question after putting things in practice? What if you couldn't make it to the event? 

    As a member of ITC, we have you covered. Your membership and login give you access to the educational video library.

    How do you find that? Glad you asked!

    From the ITC home page International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City - Home ( you will click on the "About" section.

    Scrolling down you will find the "Members" option. Be sure you are logged in, as this section of the website is available to members only.

    From there, you will click on the "Educational Videos Library".

    This will direct you to the video archive which includes the Import 101- First Sale Rule event and so much more.

    Don't have access to the educational video library? Become a member today!

  • Tuesday, August 22, 2023 8:12 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    Family oriented, world traveler (30 countries and counting), dedicated leader, and a musician may seem diverse, but they are all words that can describe Sara Engber, SVP of Operations North America at Huhtamaki,  one of the newest board members for ITC.  

    Sara has been a along time member of ITC, drawn by her interest in global topics, desire to enhance her knowledge of international trade, and the opportunities to network with others. When starting at Huhtamaki, she was focused primarily on the commercial roles (marketing, brand management, product development , and sales). Now there has been a shift to operations, which has led to a variety of opportunities and experiences. What advice would she give others wanting to get into international business and gain experiences? "Jump in! There is a demand for people who want to engage in international careers, and there are few businesses nowadays that are not involved in international trade in some way." And if someone has the desire to be in international trade, "join groups like ITC and talk to people doing this work" get the experience through internships and volunteering until you can make it your career.

    The excitement of her job stems from getting to work with a variety of dedicated people with diverse projects.  Since Huhtamaki operates all around the world, she has the opportunity to work globally. And is "humbled by the people who work in our manufacturing facilities, often 12 hour shifts in physically demanding jobs". In fact her main goal is to get the nearly 4,000 employees home every day safely. Focusing on the individuals who make up the workforce, balancing work and life, and taking care of their health in a reasonable way, which is not always seen in a professional setting. 

    Fun Facts & Interesting Info

    Where have you traveled to and what was your favorite place you visited?

    • I have been to probably 30 countries, so it would be a lot to list them all, but I can say that I have enjoyed seeing so many different parts of the world and all have things that I could easily point to as “favorites” – some for the natural beauty, others the urban energy, food, adventure, human creativity.  It is always a dilemma for me to decide whether to visit someplace multiple times to explore more and more what a place has to offer or to go someplace new.

    Name 3 people (dead or alive) that you would invite to dinner:

    • My family together for dinner including those who have passed
    • My best friends from college and grad school who are scattered all over the world
    • I guess that’s more than 3...

    What else would you like to share that is not generally known?

    • I am very proud to be an introvert.  I prefer to listen and observe, and I have learned how to succeed and thrive in a world that often feels like that personality type is less valued and people are talking at me/over me.  I always try to advocate for other introverts when I spot them. 
    • Also I grew up playing the violin and piano and up until a few weeks before I had to choose a college, I planned to go into music as a career.

    Who inspires you?

    • My family – my parents and sister and my husband.  They are all such kind, caring, accomplished, creative and interesting people.  I love spending time with them, I owe my education and drive for excellence to them and my world view.  I truly see myself as as a citizen of the world.

    What is something coming up in your life that you are excited about?

    • I am not too many years out from retirement and look forward to finding my second career!
  • Monday, July 10, 2023 12:00 PM | Heidi Stevens (Administrator)

    At the end of June, Port KC shared with ITC what the forecast looks like for imports in the Kansas City area and the future looks good!

    A trade study prepared for Port KC by KPMG shares:

    "International trade depends on the two-way transit of containers. Kansas City has much to offer in loaded exports of regional products such as animal feeds, grains, and meats. The 2021 outbound rail volume is estimated at 190,000 loaded TEU. Consistent with America’s history to import more than it exports, and the need to balance rail car movements, Kansas City’s outbound intermodal trains handle a considerable number of empty containers in addition to export cargoes. Looking ahead, Kansas City’s demographics and the expectation for continued economic gains is attracting industrial development of buildings and logistics parks for retail distribution, e-commerce, agricultural product transloading, and general manufacturing. These commercial expansions, and the consumer spending that fuels them, portents sustained growth in container imports. The forecast includes a compound annual average volume growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% through 2030. This nearly matches the 6.0% CAGR achieved between 2016-2021 despite the depressing economic impact caused by the pandemic. The 2030-2040 outlook anticipates import gains averaging 3.9%. Longer term, conservative planning is likely to be more useful than reasoned projections acknowledging how recent unprecedented external shocks to the global economy and its trade activity lowers forecasting confidence. For 30 years forward, an estimated CAGR of 1% to 2% for Kansas City’s economic performance and its parallel trade volume expectation is considered reasonable."

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ITCGKC is a 501(c)3 Organization

The International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City is a network of international business professionals, educators, and students that actively work with each other and the community to build a stronger support system for international trade in the Kansas City region.

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Kansas City, MO 64116


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