International trade and investment are essential to Montana’s economy— from wheat to SaaS products and everything in between, Montanans are selling their products & services around the world, importing supply chain solutions, and receiving investment from global markets. Come join us to celebrate Montana’s successes on the global stage, learn about untapped opportunities, and gather together in celebration of world trade month.

Gleaning insights on a dynamic global trade landscape from subject matter expert, John W. Miller, Chief Economic Analyst with Trade Data Monitor, unveiling results of the MWTC Annual International Trade & Investment report, honoring the Montana Exporter of the Year as chosen by the Montana District Export Council, inviting Consuls General from our trading partner nations to share insights, meet with businesses and amass more granular detail about mutually beneficial trade and investment opportunities between Montana and their home country, offering timely training for Montana’s exporting and importing firms.

Join us on May 17th at 5:30pm for a Networking Reception and on May 18th from 7:45am to 2:00pm at the University of Montana!  Please see a draft of the current agenda below.  For further questions, please email


World Trade & Investment Event 2023 Agenda
May 17-18, 2023
*Draft Subject to Change*

Wednesday, May 17th

5:30PM                          Welcome reception happy hour & social
Join fellow attendees, speakers and Montana Ambassadors for drinks, snacks and mirth.
Location: University of Montana Canyon (Stadium) Club

Thursday, May 18th

7:45–8:00AM                Coffee & Check in for Morning Training Attendees
Location: University of Montana, UC Center, 3rd Floor Foyer

8:00–11:30AM              Montana SMEs Going Global- Tactical Trainings to Build Your Global Business

Location: University of Montana,  UC Center, Room 326 (3rd Floor)

8:00–8:45AM                Global Sourcing & Import Best Practices
Speaker: Owen Haacke, Owner, Empress Brokers

8:55–9:40AM                Working with Freight Forwarders
Speaker: Steven Paget, Mirra Valdez, & Sandro Gadilia, International Freight Transport

9:55–10:40AM              Top Five Cybersecurity Threats for SMEs Doing Business Internationally
Speaker: Dianne Burke, Cybersecurity Lead, UM Missoula College

10:45–11:30AM            Regulated Export Training
Speaker: Sarah Massie, President, S. Massie Consulting

11:30–12:00PM           Check in for Luncheon Only Attendees & Networking Break
Location: University of Montana, UC Center, 3rd Floor Foyer

12:00–1:55PM              Lunch Program: International Trade –Macro & Micro
Location: University of Montana, UC Center North Ballroom, 3rd Floor

    • Welcome, World Trade & Investment Survey 2022 Results
      Speaker: Brigitta Miranda-Freer, Executive Director Montana World Trade Center
    • Global Trade Trends- Looking Back & Looking Forward
      Speaker: John W. Miller, Chief Economic Analyst, Trade Data Monitor
    • DEC Exporter of the Year Award & Fireside Chat
    •  Presenter: Angela Marshall-Hofmann, Organization of Women in International Trade Board Member & JCPenney Head of Government Affairs
    • DEC Exporter of the Year:  Laura Fleming, President, SRS Crisafulli, Inc.
    • Consuls General Conversation 
    • Hear from Australian Consul General Nick Nichles, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner and Japanese Deputy Consul General Deputy Sumi Junichi regarding existing and untapped opportunities for trade. 
    • Montana’s Rare Earth & Critical Minerals Powering the Globe Panel
      Focused on the significance of Montana’s rare earth elements and critical minerals as they relate to semiconductor production, the overall transition to a green economy, and global trade. 
    •       Panelists: Heather McDowell, VP Legal, Environmental & Government Affairs, US Region Sibanye Stillwater & Representative, Harvey Kaye, Executive Director, U.S. Critical Materials.  Panel Moderated by Alison Corbyn, Senior Director, Western Skies Strategies


Brigitta Miranda-Freer, Executive Director, Montana World Trade Center
Nick Nichles, Consul-General and Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner of Australia
Sumi Junichi, Deputy Consul General of Japan
John W. Miller, Chief Economist Analyst, Trade Data Monitor
Sarah C. Massie, President, S Massie Consulting LLC
Owen Haacke, Owner, Empress Brokers International LLC
Jordan Hess, Mayor, City of Missoula
Sandro Gadilia, Account Executive, International Freight Transport
Steven Paget, Sr. Vice President of Sales, International Freight Transport
Dianne Burke, Director of CyberMontana, University of Montana
James Thompson, Managing Director at Alexander Hutton
Jason Yager, President of the Montana Photonics Industry Alliance
Mirra Valdez, Branch Manager, International Freight Transport, Utah Office
Heather McDowell, Vice President for Legal, Environmental, and Government Affairs, Sibanye-Stillwater
Laura Memhard Fleming, President of SRS Crisafulli, Inc.
Angela Marshall Hofmann, Head of Government Affairs, JCPenney
Allison Corbyn, Senior Director at Western Skies Strategies
Harvey Kaye, Executive Director for US Critical Materials


Dianne Burke is a cybersecurity faculty member at the University of Montana and serves as Director of CyberMontana. She has taught networking, security, data operations, and computer forensics courses in both the public and private sectors. She recently completed a career as a forensic analyst where she specialized in Electronically Stored Information (ESI) collection and analysis, assisting counsel in cases across the U. S.

Ms. Burke holds a B. A. from Rice University, and M. S. from the University of Houston, an M. Ed. From the University of Montana, and is a doctoral student at the University of Montana.

John W. Miller is Chief Economist Analyst at Trade Data Monitor, where he writes the TDM Insights column about trends and movements in global trade. Miller is a contributing writer at America Magazine and co-director of the PBS film Moundsville. Miller has written for Time, Newsweek and was a staff reporter at the Wall Street Journal from 2004 to 2016. He is currently working on his first book, for Simon&Schuster, about Earl Weaver and the role of the baseball manager.

Mayor Jordan Hess moved to Missoula in 2005 to attend the University of Montana, where he studied Geography with emphases in Community & Environmental Planning and Cartography & GIS. He most recently worked for more than eight years as Director of Transportation at the University of Montana, where he led UM to be the first college campus in the nation to operate modern, fast-charging-battery electric buses.

During his service on the City Council, Mayor Hess held several leadership roles, including chair of the Public Works Committee, chair of the Transportation Policy Coordinating Committee, chair of the Land Use and Planning Committee and Vice President of the Council. He has been a champion of the City’s zero-waste and clean energy goals, expansion of Missoula’s trail network and conservation lands and growth in the diversity of the city’s transportation options. He was instrumental in the City’s acquisition of the citywide water system, now Missoula Water. He is steeped in the City of Missoula’s mission, strategic vision and culture. He is committed to promoting livability and equity in new development. He believes the best decisions are made in an atmosphere of collaboration with equity and sustainability in mind.

Mayor Hess believes the most critical issues facing Missoula and many other cities across Montana are housing, the climate crisis, tax reform, equity and people in crisis.

“It is an honor to be able to work every day to make our community a better, more equitable place to live and work,” he said. “I am proud of the work the City has accomplished during my nearly nine-year tenure on the City Council, but there is so much more to be done.”

Mirra Valdez is the Branch Manager of the IFT Utah office. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Weber State University.

Starting in Export Operations 8 years ago, she has proven her dedication to the company and IFT’s business partners while working her way up to Export Operations Manager and ultimately accepting the position of Branch Manager.

In addition to helping the company grow through relationships with our business partners, she is responsible for the development of operations and pricing personnel, training on the export and import process for FCL/LCL/Air/Breakbulk/RoRo shipments including title validation and hazmat compliance and providing quick resolution to the trials that can occur in the industry.

Outside of work she enjoys hiking, camping, and sailing. She also enjoys traveling as it inspires her to try new things.

Owen Haacke is the owner of Empress Brokers International LLC. In this role, Owen supports companies and inviduals with product sourcing, logistics management, and import compliance. Owen manages Empress’s business from his hometown in Billings, Montana.

Owen held a variety of positions in the public and private sector with work focused on international trade and business. In past roles, Owen served as the Director and Chief Representative of the US-China Business Council (USCBC) Shanghai office. In this role, he regularly worked with US multinational company leadership on their strategy and led targeted research on operational best practices, supply chain challenges, and regulatory changes that impact operations of US companies operating overseas. Owen also worked at the United States Senate Committee on Finance, working with the trade policy team on multilateral trade agreement policies and legislation impacting import tariffs.

Owen holds a B.A. from Dalian University of Foreign Languages in Chinese, International Economics and Trade. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and spent over 10 years living and working in China. Owen is an individually Licensed U.S. Customs Broker.

Sandro Gadilia is an Account Executive with 4 years of experience in International Logistics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from University of North Florida.

Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a strong commitment to developing and maintaining business partners for IFT, which has led to tremendous growth of our business network. He is known for his discipline and has a proven track record of dedication to IFT and our partners.

In business development, he is responsible for generating leads, acquiring new business partners, maintaining / growing relationships, and has successfully brought in many long-term partners. Prior to business development, he worked at ANSL where he was responsible for marketing and achieved highest level of community engagement and sponsor involvement.

Outside of work, he enjoys soccer, skiing and is actively involved in local semi-pro leagues. He is committed to being involved and strives to make a positive impact in his community.

Meet Sarah Massie: a globally recognized export compliance expert, national speaker, trusted consultant, future author, and adventurous entrepreneur who runs her company from the beautiful country of France. Sarah is the President of S Massie Consulting LLC, where she specializes in export consulting, creating written processes and protocols for export and ITAR compliance programs, and training companies to navigate the complicated laws and regulations for U.S. exports. With almost 20 years of experience in international business, Sarah has organized promotions at international trade shows and Governor-led trade missions in over 10 countries around the world.

Before starting her own consulting company, Sarah Massie worked as a Senior International Trade Specialist for the Idaho Department of Commerce. Additionally, Sarah has volunteered as an Aerospace Liaison for the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance and served on the boards of the Idaho Aerospace Alliance and the Boise Cricket Club. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Boise State University with a B.B.A. in International Business. Sarah is also the author of an upcoming book titled “The Two Lives I’ve Lived,” which uses her personal story to empower women to overcome their fears and pursue their dreams with confidence.

Steven Paget is the Sr. Vice President of Sales at International Freight Transport.

Steven is 0perationally trained in freight forwarding geared towards business development with over 25 years of experience.

Steven’s responsibilities include establishing, maintaining, and expanding relationships with key business partners. Attending various training sessions on new technology geared toward the industry. Overseeing the salesforce with training and growth development.

Steven’s hobbies outside of work include tennis, boxing, motorcycle riding, and long walks with his dog Elsa Belsa.

Dr. Thomas Gallagher is an innovative education leader with over thirty years of experience in secondary and higher education. He currently serves as Associate Vice Provost for Two-year and Workforce Education at the University of Montana and Dean at Missoula College. Tom is a full professor in the Department of Business & Technology and a content matter expert in cybersecurity and information technology. Dr. Gallagher has developed the Missoula College’s Cybersecurity Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) and CyberMontana, an initiative to construct a state hub for the cybersecurity workforce, community awareness, and economic development. Dr. Gallagher’s innovative activities are focused on serving the new-collar workforce.

Dr. Gallagher possesses the Ed.D and M.Ed degrees in Education Leadership from the University of Montana, the MS degree in Computer Science from Western Washington University, and the BA degree in Mathematics from Carroll College. He also holds industry and professional credentials including the Secure Infrastructure Specialist. His dissertation Baccalaureate Time-to-Degree for Montana University System Two-Year College Transfer Students examined the impact of student transfer on time-to-degree.

Partners and Sponsors


Reception Sponsor

Sponsorship Opportunities

  • $500 Gold Sponsor (includes 1 free registration)
  • $1,000 Platinum Sponsor (includes 2 free registrations)
  • $2,500 Diamond Sponsor (includes 5 free registrations)
  • $5,000 Marquee Sponsor (includes 10 free registrations)

We’re also happy to customize a sponsorship package for you. Please email with questions or intent to sponsor by May 4th.


Book Your Group/Corporate Rate | Marriott International

The Missoula DoubleTree is also a lodging partner. Please call (406) 728-3100 and ask for the University of Montana rate.