Tina Waddington is the Executive Director of PCFR. She has been a PCFR member since 2016. Prior to joining PCFR in a leadership capacity, Tina was the Public Affairs committee co-chair and served on the Board of Directors. Tina started her career as a Political intern at the U.S. Embassy in Rome before going into the private sector, where she helped Arizona companies expand across the nation and around the globe. Most recently, Tina worked for a global nonprofit to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses through building communities and partnerships throughout the U.S.
Tina serves on multiple councils with the goal of increasing Arizona’s prominence internationally. As a member of the Phoenix Sister Cities Business Council and USGLC Arizona Advisory Committee, and Diplomatic Corps of Arizona Board of Advisors, Tina works to advocate for Arizona and increase economic development opportunities through international cooperation and diplomacy. Tina received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Italian from the University of Arizona and her master’s degree in Social Justice and Human Rights with a focus on Nonprofit Management from Arizona State University. She grew up in Kosovo, but has called Phoenix home for over 20 years.
Claire Sechler Merkel
Claire Sechler Merkel serves as President of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations and Senior Director of Arizona Programs for the McCain Institute at ASU. She leads the McCain Institute’s Arizona work in combatting human trafficking along with promoting Senator McCain’s legacy of human rights and democracy and character driven leadership in international affairs.
During her 23 years in Washington, DC, she worked in government, with NGO’s, and on four Presidential campaigns including as Chief of Staff and Director of Friends and Family to Mrs. Cindy McCain during Senator McCain’s 2008 Presidential election campaign. Previously, she served as legislative assistant for foreign affairs and special assistant to U.S. Senator John McCain and campaign coordinator for John McCain’s first U.S. Senate campaign.
Sechler Merkel served as Associate Director in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs for President George H.W. Bush, and Regional Director for Eastern and Central Europe at the International Republican Institute, where she was responsible for democratic development programming in Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania and Slovakia.
She also worked with Congressman Jim Kolbe, and on the Bush/Quayle ’92 campaign, the 1988 Republican National Convention and 1989 Presidential Inaugural Committee.
She founded Sechler Merkel International to provide strategic advice to companies and foundations focusing on projects in the United States, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Russia. She served as a consultant to the Millennium Challenge Account at its inception.
Prior to joining the McCain Institute, she lived for two years in Malmo, Sweden and traveled extensively throughout Europe with her husband and children. Claire holds a degree in Public Policy, with distinction, from Stanford University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations and the Melikian Center Advisory Board.
Luke Wenz serves as Deputy National Outreach Director, Western Region for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a broad-based coalition of over 500 businesses and NGOs that advocates for strong U.S. global leadership through development and diplomacy, alongside defense. Luke helps oversee the nation-wide field operation and formulates and manages the implementation of their strategic national impact operations. In addition to his work with USGLC, Luke serves as the President of Big Stick Consulting, LLC, an Arizona-based strategic consulting firm, focusing on public relations, strategic communications, and government affairs consulting.
Earlier in his career, Luke served as Deputy District Director and Campaign Manager for U.S. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska. He also spent time living and working in Amman, Jordan and with the Kayany Foundation in Lebanon, working to create the conditions for sustainability and prosperity for young Syrian refugees who had been displaced by the Syrian Civil War.
Luke serves as the Vice President of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations and is involved deeply involved in numerous other community groups including: the WorldPix Foundation, Pacific Council on International Policy, Phoenix Sister Cities, and more, and was a 2020 Fellow at the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project. A native Phoenician, Luke attended Nebraska Wesleyan University, studying political science and religious philosophy.
Andrew Jaynes oversees the office of admissions and financial aid. Previously, he was the executive director of ASU Law's Center for Law & Global Affairs for four years. Jaynes has worked and studied in more than 15 countries and received a Fulbright scholarship for a research project in Manila, Philippines.
Prior to joining ASU Law, Jaynes was the executive director and general counsel of the International Intellectual Property Institute, a think tank and international development organization based in Washington, D.C. Jaynes graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he was a managing editor on the Wisconsin Law Review and member of the Moot Court Board. He received his English degree with high distinction from the University of Michigan and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.
Brett Johnson represents businesses and individuals in government relations matters. His practice includes State and federal Constitutional law, government regulatory compliance, export, government contracting, political and election law, and health care matters, including professional liability defense and commercial litigation. Brett regularly represents parties and witnesses involved with governmental investigations, including election law, governmental ethics, export control, False Claims Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and government procurement compliance laws and regulations. He has experience handling internal investigations and compliance audits for clients on a wide range of matters. Brett also provides training to businesses and governmental agencies concerning compliance matters and the drafting of related corporate policies.
In addition to representing large and small businesses, individuals and pro bono clients, he is the co-chair of the firm's International Industry Group and one of the editors of the firm's International Industry Group's Global Connection newsletter. Brett also serves on the firm's Hiring Committee. Prior to joining the firm, Brett was a judge advocate with the United States Navy, regularly appearing in state and federal courts throughout the nation on behalf of the Department of the Navy. Brett also was assigned as the Civil Law Attorney to the Commander, Navy Region Southwest, handling civil law matters for the Department of the Navy in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Brett received his J.D. in 1999 from the Santa Clara University School of Law. To read Brett’s full bio, visit https://www.swlaw.com/people/brett_johnson
Steve has over 30 years of public accounting experience, and leads Wallace Plese + Dreher’s tax practice providing planning and consulting to individuals and businesses in manufacturing, distribution, technology, real estate, and construction. He specializes in domestic and international tax, helping U.S. and international businesses with structuring and global expansions. Steve works with privately-held companies to develop business and tax strategies for maximizing cash flow and minimizing tax liabilities.
Steve understands Arizona’s professional and business community. He has guided businesses and individuals through the Great Recession and counsels current clients on COVID-19 tax-related issues. From startup to maturity, Steve gives advice to entrepreneurs starting their first business, family-owners transitioning leadership, and companies purchasing and selling businesses. Recognizing each client’s goals and objectives are unique, he incorporates industry knowledge and tax reduction strategies into business planning. Focused on long-term client relationships, many of the clients he has served have spanned his entire career.
Steve’s involvement in professional, business, and industry organizations keeps him informed of economic and political developments impacting Arizona’s businesses and professional community. Steve is dedicated to educating his peers and supporting the next generation of accounting professionals. Steve is a frequent speaker at ASCPA’s Phoenix Tax Workshop and serves as a Co-Chairperson. He also serves on the Tax Advisory Committee, Arizona State Board of Accountancy. In 2018,Steve was recognized as an AzBusiness Leader. He is in his second term on the Board of Directors of Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, and recently elected as its Treasurer. Steve also serves on the Advisory Committee, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC). In 2020, he was appointed by the U.S Secretary of the Department of Commerce to the Arizona District Export Council where he serves on the Finance and Export Committee, and subsequently elected as its Treasurer.
PROGRAM COMMITTEE CHAIR
Ian Curtiss is currently the Assistant Dean for Asia at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University where he leads the school’s engagement in East Asia and strategic initiatives. Prior to joining W. P. Carey, Ian’s career focused on East Asian public affairs and market research for public and private clients.
Most recently, Ian led the policy and U.S. government affairs teams at the American Chamber of Commerce in China. In this role, he consulted American businesses on the latest policy developments, developed strategies to influence US-Chinese economic relations and coordinated all programs with U.S. agencies. Prior to that, Ian worked at a number of organizations in Arizona government affairs and research. Ian has Bachelor’s degrees in History and Political Science from Arizona State University, a Master’s of International Relations from Peking University and an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business. Ian is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE CHAIR
Caroline is the founder and owner of Copper Hill Strategies, LLC. She has fifteen years of Capitol Hill experience, including a decade with the House Judiciary Committee where she served for eight years as the Chief Counsel of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. As Chief Counsel, Caroline was at the forefront of developing some of the most high-profile privacy, cybersecurity, national security, and criminal laws of the 21st Century. She authored dozens of pieces of legislation and developed strategies to successfully shepherd those bills through Congress. She utilizes her expertise in public policy and the legislative process to provide client-focused government relations, strategic planning, and legislative development services.
Prior to joining the Judiciary Committee, Caroline was Chief Counsel of the House Republican Policy Committee, Deputy County Attorney for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, and Clerk for the Arizona Court of Appeals. She previously served in the personal office of former Congressman John Shadegg from 1996 to 2000.
Caroline is a member of the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation Board, the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, the Arizona Technology Council, the ASU Center for Law, Science & Innovation Community Board, the ASU Law Blockchain Group, and the KU Blockchain Institute Industry Advisory Board. She has guest-lectured at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the Texas A & M University School of Law, and the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School. Caroline is a 2003 graduate of the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIR
Brian is a marketing leader at ChargePoint, the leading company in electric vehicle fueling. He also advises other brands as the owner and principal consultant at Infinity Brand Strategy. After getting his MBA in 2009 he managed brands including Steinway & Sons, Pillsbury, Fiber One, Maytag, KitchenAid, Dial, SweetLeaf and Kolbe.
His pursuits include indie music festivals, sustainability, and foreign affairs. Brian's interest in global issues developed through working abroad in Brazil and the United Kingdom. He speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.
David Adame is President and Chief Executive Officer of Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc., one of the nation’s largest Hispanic community development corporations.
Since Adame was named to the top post in 2015 by unanimous vote of the CPLC Board of Directors, CPLC has experienced significant growth and expansion, impacting nearly 380,000 individuals annually in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and California.
CPLC, which was established in 1969 to address injustice in Phoenix schools, provides direct services through economic development, education, housing, and health services via its non-profit and for-profit ventures.
Born and raised just south of downtown Phoenix, Adame is aware of the challenges still faced by Latinos and underserved communities in terms of opportunity, education and equity. Although he has been with CPLC since 2008, serving as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer prior to becoming President and CEO, his roots at CPLC run deeper. Adame got his professional start at CPLC in 1985 upon graduation from college, serving two years as CPLC’s Director of Economic Development before moving on.
In returning to CPLC, Adame has crafted an impressive career in leadership in business, nonprofits and boards, including an extensive resume in real estate and development projects.
Adame was Vice President of Arizona Operations for McCormack Baron & Salazar from 2003 to 2008, responsible for overseeing the firm’s role in Henson Village, a HOPE VI project in Phoenix. Funded in part by a $35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the 611-unit mixed-income/mixed-financed residential development had a total development cost of $150 million.
As Senior Deputy Director of Fannie Mae’s Arizona Partnership Office from 1997 to 2003, Adame worked in tandem with the Director to implement "HouseArizona," a five-year, $15 billion investment plan to finance affordable housing throughout the state.
Adame was Program Officer with the Phoenix Office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), from 1994 to 1997, where he managed the HOMESTART program, a for-sale affordable housing development project totaling $1 billion.
He worked at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (then called Bank One Arizona) for eight years, including as Corporate Banking Associate and later as Assistant Vice President in the Retail Business Loan Center. He was responsible for managing and underwriting residential and commercial loans, before leaving in 2004.
Adame holds a B.S. in Business from Arizona State University (ASU) and an MBA from the ASU School of Global Management. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Arizona, and an Honorary Doctorate from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM, or the National Autonomous University of Mexico).
Over the years, Adame has served and continues to serve on numerous boards, including: the Greater Phoenix Economic Council; the AARP Foundation; the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders; the Arizona-Mexico Commission; the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation; UnidosUS; the Community Reinvestment Fund USA; the Creighton University Presidential Health Sciences Phoenix Advisory Board; the Arizona Housing Commission; the Arizona Coyotes Latino Advisory Council; and the Arizona Bank and Trust Board of Directors.
Recent honors include the Individual Hero of Education Award by Maricopa Community Colleges and the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce, and Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year.
Jonathan Gelbart is an Associate at the Cardon Family Office, managing the office’s portfolio of commercial real estate. Before that, he worked in a range of positions connected to public education: 6th and 7th grade pre-algebra teacher at Tempe Preparatory Academy; Director of Educational Initiatives and Innovation at the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute; Director of Charter School Development for the BASIS charter school network; and in 2018, candidate for the elected office of Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.
His international experience includes a three-month study abroad program in Moscow, Russia and extensive travels around Eastern Europe. He is a foreign language enthusiast and speaks conversational French, Spanish, Russian, some Arabic, a bit of Mandarin, and even some Finnish (a great conversation starter). He graduated from Stanford University in December of 2011 with a co-terminal master's degree in civil engineering and a bachelor's in international relations.
From a very young age Joan has loved the experience of being immersed in new experiences, geographies, cuisines, and languages. Journeying extensively in North America (long before the RV life became popular!) in her parents’ “See America First” ethos, the stage was set for cultural curiosity. Joan spent her industrial career in semiconductor related markets traveling the globe pursuing technical sourcing opportunities. This leveraged her keen interest in foreign cultures with her engineering and business education. Coincident with the global explosion of micro-electronics travel became uncomplicated. Frequent excursions around the globe were both adventurous and profitable.
When transitioning from this active 30 year professional existence she relocated to the Phoenix area, began an “encore career” in a small business, and was introduced to The Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations by founding member Shoshana Tancer. It is here, at the PCFR, she found an organization of shared interests in a broad range of geographies and topics. The gratification of giving-back in a cultural environment of learning and community is unparalleled. Joan will be a lifetime member of the PCFR and volunteer her time generously.
Paul G. Johnson
Paul is a commercial litigation attorney at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC who concentrates his practice on complex commercial, contract, securities litigation and appeals.
Paul has taught various legal subjects in the Political Science Department at Arizona State University and at Thunderbird School of Global Management, including courses on constitutional and Supreme Court law, and antitrust law.
Dr. Sanjeev Khagram is director general and dean of Thunderbird School of Global Management, ASU Foundation Professor of Global Leadership, and a member of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability's board of directors. He is a world-renowned expert in global leadership, the international political economy, sustainable development, and the data revolution. He has worked extensively with global start-ups, corporations, governments, civil society groups, nonprofit organizations, cross-sectoral action networks, public-private partnerships, foundations, professional associations, and universities worldwide.
Dr. Khagram holds a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies and Engineering, and a master’s degree and doctorate in Political Economy, all from Stanford University.
Dan P. Kravets is Vice President, Strategic Resource Development for Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX), based in FCX’s headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Kravets works on Freeport-McMoRan’s mergers, acquisitions, greenfield and brownfield growth projects worldwide. As a member of Freeport-McMoRan's management team and an officer of FCX, Mr. Kravets is responsible for managing a wide variety of areas, with a focus on complex business transactions, growth projects involving private and governmental partners, greenfield exploration strategy, and international government relations. Mr. Kravets is also responsible for managing the relationship between Freeport-McMoRan and certain key strategic partners.
Mr. Kravets has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources in Ann Arbor, Michigan; a Juris Doctor and Master in Studies of Environment Law from Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont; and a Master in Business Administration from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.
Prior to his appointment as a Vice President of FCX, Mr. Kravets held several leadership roles with FCX, including the Director of Business Development & Growth within the Finance and Accounting group and in-house mergers and acquisitions and environmental counsel. Prior to joining FXC in 2001, he was in private practice serving the steel, metals, and mining sectors.
Mr. Kravets is the Immediate Past-President of the Board of Directors for a non-profit private day school in Scottsdale, Arizona and is personally involved with other community and charitable organizations in Arizona. He is married and has two children.
Adam is a Resource Acquisition Senior Analyst for the Salt River Project who is focused on procuring long-term power and acquiring energy resources.
Karen Gill Meyer
Karen is a Consulting Group Analyst at The Meyer Group at Morgan Stanley. She is also a Certified Financial Planner™ with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She graduated from Sweet Briar College cum laude and went on to New York University Graduate School of Business Administration. She joined Merrill Lynch in portfolio analysis in 1963 and then moved to Smith Barney in research and security analysis. Karen has served on numerous boards in Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Tony Rivero is CEO and founder of Global Connect Group, LLC. He collaborates with large corporations and nonprofits in the U.S. and throughout the globe to maximize their potential on organizational design, business development, public affairs strategies, and international relations. Tony’s experience includes the private & public sector, and elected service. Tony has extensive background in public service and served three terms as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, two of those he was Chairman of the State & International Committee. As Chair he was the legislature’s key contact with world leaders and Arizona’s top trading partners. His legislative achievements include establishing trade offices in Israel, Chihuahua and Guanajuato, Mexico. Before his service at the state level, Tony served a four-year term as a Peoria City Councilmember. Elected at age 28, Tony was one of the youngest elected council members in Peoria’s history. His successes include establishing “Fiesta Peoria'' the largest Hispanic community festival in the West Valley. His focus was cutting red tape and he collaborated in the implementation of “same day permitting” and the reduction of the food tax in the City of Peoria. Before winning four elections Tony’s first encounter with politics was as an intern in the Office of U.S. Senator Jon Kyl. Soon after, he worked as a coalition’s director on the John McCain’s 2008 Presidential Campaign. He has also consulted on Presidential Campaigns in Latin America.
Melissa (Mel) is a unique international entrepreneur, with capabilities honed by 21 years in the Diplomatic Service and 15 years with a major international mining company. She is the founder of #ESG+, and through her company, Mel Sanderson Consulting, she advises clients on how to achieve and maintain Ethical Sustainable Growth, including through culturally correct communication, inclusive social relations and transparent partnerships. She has earned numerous professional accolades, including the prestigious International Athena Award for Private Sector Businesswoman and the Top 25 Dynamic Women in Business (Phoenix).
Mel is Chair of the Arizona District Export Council, past-President of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, and is on the Board of Western Rare Earths, Global Ties and the Japanese Friendship Garden. She has spoken at Universities throughout the US on issues related to business ethics, cultural communication and the importance of empathy for business success, and recently has been named a Professor of Practice at Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Susana is part of the Economic Development Services team within Peoria. Previously, Susana was the Regional Economic Development Specialist for Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) where she is involved with international business development. Prior to joining MAG, Susana served as a Legal Admin for Freeport-McMoRan Inc. where she was actively involved in assisting the Mergers and Acquisitions team, litigation research and updating and reviewing policies and procedures for the Global Compliance team. Susana serves on the board of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, Global Chamber Phoenix Advisory Board and is heavily involved in Soroptimist International of Phoenix. Susana holds a BA in Psychology and Business from Arizona State University and an MBA from Grand Canyon University and is a 2019 recipient of Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 awards.
Michael Vargas is the Director of State and Local Affairs for Arizona Public Service (APS), Arizona’s largest investor-owned electric utility. His primary responsibilities include managing the company’s state government affairs strategy and stakeholder relationships. He has worked extensively on public affairs issues on behalf of the company throughout Arizona for over five years.
Michael also served as U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake’s State Director, overseeing Flake’s Phoenix and Tucson offices where he led the senator’s outreach efforts to constituents and stakeholder groups across the state. Michael is a veteran of both the U.S. Marine Corps and the Army National Guard, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He graduated from Arizona State University and currently resides in Phoenix with his wife Holly and their dogs Rye and Gunny.
PCFR Role: Ex-Officio Board Member
PCFR Role: Ex-Officio Board Member
PCFR Role: Emeritus Board Member
PCFR Role: Emeritus Board Member
PCFR Role: Emeritus Board Member
PCFR Role: Emeritus Board Member
PCFR Role: Emeritus Board Member
PCFR Role: Emeritus Board Member