Keynote Speakers

Anthony Foxx, Secretary, U. S. Department of Transportation

As U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx leads an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a $70  billion budget that oversees air, maritime, and surface transportation. His primary goal is to ensure that America maintains the safest, most efficient transportation system in the world. Foxx joined the U.S. Department of Transportation after serving as the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, from 2009 to 2013. During that time, he made efficient and innovative transportation investments the centerpiece of Charlotte's job creation and economic recovery efforts. Prior to being elected mayor, Foxx served two terms on the Charlotte City Council as an At-Large Representative. As a Council Member, Foxx chaired the Transportation Committee, where he helped shepherd the largest transportation bond package in the city’s history, enabling Charlotte to take advantage of record low interest rates and favorable construction pricing to stretch city dollars beyond initial projections. Foxx is an attorney and has spent much of his career in private practice. He also worked as a law clerk for the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and staff counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. Foxx received a law degree from New York University’s School of Law as a Root-Tilden Scholar, the University’s prestigious public service scholarship. He earned a bachelor’s degree in History from Davidson College.

Lisa Mensah, Under Secretary Rural Development, U. S. Department of Agriculture

Lisa Afua Serwah Mensah was nominated by President Obama for the position of Under Secretary of USDA Rural Development and she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November of 2014. Ms. Mensah provides leadership for three USDA agencies charged with improving the economic wellbeing of rural America: the Rural Housing Service, the Rural Utilities Service and the Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Together, these agencies provide critical infrastructure investments in the form of loans and grants for rural housing, high-speed broadband access, telephone, electric and water utilities, renewable energy generation and conservation, local and regional food systems, community facilities, and small business development in rural America. Prior to joining USDA, she was the founding Executive Director of the Initiative on Financial Security at the Aspen Institute. In that role she led a national bi-partisan effort with leaders of financial institutions, non-profit executives and experts to promote solutions to the complex problems of helping more Americans save money, buy homes, and finance retirement. Ms. Mensah began her career in commercial banking at Citibank before joining the Ford Foundation. Ms. Mensah holds an M.A. from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from Harvard University.

MATT S. ERSKINE, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer for the Economic Development Administration

Matt S. Erskine was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer of the Economic Development Administration in September 2011. Mr. Erskine brings more than 20 years of leadership and management experience in business, public sector, and public-private partnerships.  Prior to joining the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce, he led the private-public partnership driving economic development and foreign direct investment for the 5th largest metropolitan region in the U.S. and worked in senior roles at global business consulting firms. Mr. Erskine also served as the Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade in Virginia Governor Mark Warner’s Administration, where he led multiple innovative economic development initiatives, had oversight of 16 departments and agencies, and was a member of the management team responsible for Virginia’s designation as the nation’s best-managed state. Mr. Erskine received special recognition from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2014 for leadership in and service to the economic development profession. Mr. Erskine earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar and a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the Harvard Business School. He competes in ultra-distance races, marathons, and triathlons. Erskine and his wife have three children.