Anne Simmons-Benton is a trade attorney and competitiveness expert with more than 30 years of experience driving private sector development, promoting sustainable economic growth, and increasing employment in 32 countries. She is a strategic thinker and has managed and led complex and critical USG priorities including the World Trade Organization’s Integrated Framework for Least Developed Countries focusing on Africa, the Regional Investment Initiative under Gore-Chernomyrdin in Russia, the Stability Pact in the Balkans, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. She also supported the Presidential Initiative on Trade Capacity Building while serving at USAID and the World Trade Organization.
A frequent and in-demand presenter on intellectual property rights, investment frameworks, and other pillars of the enabling environment for knowledge-economy businesses, Ms. Simmons-Benton’s efforts have spurred the growth of national industries ranging from financial services to software to energy. Her regional trade expertise includes extensive work with the Africa Group at the WTO, creating a regional grouping of trade in the Balkans as well as intensive work in Jordan, Lebanon and West Bank/Gaza, as well as the Asian Tigers.
Ms. Simmons-Benton is known for her ability to build consensus, lead diverse teams, and manage multiple, simultaneous activities. She has collaborated with and advised national governments, international trade organizations, and other development agencies during the negotiation of trade agreements to diagnose and pose tangible solutions to build trade and investment capacity and improve the legal and regulatory climate with a focus on competitiveness. Ms. Simmons-Benton is an experienced and hands-on manager, having successfully led 22 projects on behalf of USAID, the Department of Commerce, Booz Allen and DAI. She is recognized for her ability to build effective teams that, without exception, produce high quality deliverables. Ms. Simmons-Benton also possesses an exceptional ability to build and maintain trusted relationships with all partners - from governments to the private sector to the USG.
Equally important, Ms. Simmons-Benton has worked directly in senior representational roles for the USG, including serving as the U.S. Delegate to the WTO’s Integrated Framework initiative in Geneva during a 2-year period in which the U.S. helped forge a multi-donor and LDC consensus, in part through the use of an innovative simulation exercise developed and led by Ms. Simmons-Benton. She offers a trusted and capable pair of hands for sensitive, high-stakes assignments where consensus has previously been elusive. Her experience uniquely enables her to deliver results on complex, high-visibility programs that contribute to the achievement of U.S. foreign policy goals.
Ms. Simmons-Benton is a known innovator in economic development – bringing Silicon Valley innovation to Jordan, including women as a disruptive positive force, pioneering business in the early days of Russia, integrating and measuring women’s impact in economic programs to create the business case for inclusion, conducting simulations in international fora for the CAFTA negotiations and the World Trade Organization, and linking economics to peace for the Balkans through the Stability Pact.
She has managed large programs for USAID/Russia, the Department of Commerce, USAID/Washington, and private sector development firms. Ms. Simmons-Benton was brought in to revamp the $46 million Jordan Competitiveness Project and served as Project Director/Chief of Party (COP) to lead the project and coach the future Jordanian COP learn how to manage a USAID project. This resulted in CPAR scores that included four scores of Exceptional and one Very Good within a period of a year. Ms. Simmons-Benton served as Key Personnel/Technical Manager for the USAID-funded $15 million Business Climate Legal and Institutional Reform (BizCLIR) project for which she provided technical and managerial leadership. She conducted BizCLIR assessments around the world and created GenderCLIR, a tool that identifies obstacles in the enabling environment for women in business, which she has since implemented in West Bank/Gaza, Rwanda, Vietnam, and Uganda.
For the Department of Commerce, Ms. Simmons-Benton served as Senior Counsel for Southeast Europe – COP equivalent – where she managed the $3.14 million/year program and was responsible for strategy development, design, implementation, and supervision of the United States’ contribution to trade liberalization and integration in Southeast Europe under Working Table II of the Stability Pact. For USAID, Ms. Simmons-Benton worked on the Trade and Investment team in the Economic Growth Office, where she was instrumental in building USAID’s trade capacity to support the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) by collaborating with Latin American governments, multiple U.S. government (USG) agencies, USAID regional offices and missions, and multi-lateral organizations. Representing USAID at the World Trade Organization (WTO) both as a donor representative and delegate to the Integrated Framework (IF) Task Force, she led the USG and other donors in re-invigorating the IF by using a simulation to create a practical new model for the new EIF that was adopted by the WTO and considered a success.