Scranton Mayor Appointed to Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiation

Today, President Biden announced his intent to appoint the following individuals as members of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations:

  • Mitchell W. Berger
  • J. Michael Bowman
  • Amy Bircher Bruyn
  • Paige Gebhardt Cognetti
  • Chris James
  • Omar Khan
  • Rob Larew
  • Nimish Patel
  • Mark A. Turner

Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations

The Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations is an advisory committee established to provide overall policy advice to the United States Trade Representative on matters arising in connection with the development, implementation, and administration of the trade policy of the United States including: negotiating objectives and bargaining positions before entering into trade agreements, the impact of the implementation of trade agreements, matters concerning the operation of any trade agreement once entered into, and other matters arising in connection with the development, implementation, and administration of the trade policy of the United States. The Committee includes up to 45 members recommended by the U.S. Trade Representative who are appointed by the President and have expertise in general trade, investment, and development issues, including representatives of non-federal governments, labor, industry, agriculture, small business, service industries, retailers, nongovernmental environmental and conservation organizations, and consumer interests.

Mitchell W. Berger

Mitchell W. Berger founded Berger Singerman LLP, a business law firm in Florida, in 1985, and has over 40 years of successful representation in commercial disputes for small businesses, medium-sized businesses, and Fortune 500 companies. Berger has received numerous industry accolades, including being named Co-Lawyer of the Year by the National Law Journal and being recognized by Chambers & Partners USA for 14 consecutive years.

Committed to furthering innovation in the legal industry, Berger established the Sharon and Mitchell W. Berger Entrepreneur Law Clinic at Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Shepard Broad College of Law. The clinic enables NSU to provide direct legal service to nonprofit organizations, students, and researchers associated with the NSU Center for Collaborative Research and innovators in the technology and life sciences communities. Berger currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of NSU.

Berger previously represented then-Vice President Al Gore and then-Senator Joe Lieberman in lawsuits following the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. He also served as Chair of the Student Loan Marketing Association Sallie Mae, Commissioner on the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission, a member of the United States Small Business Administration Advisory Board, and a member of the Environmental Financial Advisory Board to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Berger currently serves on the Independent Audit Committee for the Alliance for Climate Protection. He received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Lafayette College and his J.D. from Temple University.

J. Michael Bowman

J. Michael Bowman is the Associate Director of the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships at the University of Delaware. He holds two additional leadership roles, serving as Founder and CEO/President of the Delaware Technology Park and as the State Director of the Small Business Development Center. Over the past 25 years, Bowman has led the growth of a robust technology-based ecosystem and assisted a variety of small businesses to thrive throughout Delaware.

Amy Bircher Bruyn

As CEO and Founder of MMI Textiles, Inc. Amy Bircher Bruyn leads her team in sales and product development. She is the Immediate Past Chairman of the Advanced Textiles Association. In 2016, Bircher Bruyn invented and filed a design and utility patent for the creation of CTEdge, a concealed edge technology used in webbing and tape within the military and law enforcement markets. She recently opened her own narrow weaving facility in Lenoir, North Carolina to produce her patented webbing product and other military spec webbing to support the needs of our military and tactical markets. Bircher Bruyn has over 40 years of experience in the U.S. textile industry and supplies her products all over the world. She has successfully acquired three other textile businesses since founding MMI Textiles.

Bircher Bruyn received a B.S. in Textiles and Clothing from West Virginia University (WVU). While advancing her career and the industry she loves, Bircher Bruyn has stayed connected to her roots, sharing what she knows with others as a part of the Visiting Committee at WVU. Most recently, she pledged $200,000 to her alma mater for the development of a new textile lab, which opened on April 17, 2021, and is named the Amy A. Bircher Textile Laboratory.

Paige Gebhardt Cognetti

Paige Gebhardt Cognetti was sworn in as Mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania in January 2020, and was re-elected to a full term in November 2021. Cognetti’s background is rooted in government oversight, investment management, international relations, and political campaigns. She serves on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and chairs the Conference’s Metro Economies Standing Committee. She serves on the boards of numerous other local leadership organizations, supporting fellow elected officials nationwide in promoting economic mobility, environmental sustainability, and efficient, transparent government.

Prior to becoming Mayor, she advised the Pennsylvania Auditor General, served as a Director on the Scranton School Board, and worked in wealth management at Goldman Sachs. Cognetti served in the U.S. Treasury Department during the Obama-Biden Administration as a Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for International Affairs and as Managing Director for China Operations.

Cognetti graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oregon Clark Honors College with a B.A. in English Literature and holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She lives in Scranton with her husband and their two daughters.

Chris James

Chris James is the President and CEO of The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, the premier organization focused on American Indian and Alaska Native economic development. James is an expert in the Indigenous economy, Native American policy, supply chains, and rural economic development. His expertise is enriched by his personal experience, having grown up with his family’s businesses on the Qualla Boundary, the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Under his leadership, The National Center has flourished, tripling its revenue and expanding its reach significantly. James spearheads both the Reservation Economic Summit, the world’s largest conference focused on Native American economic development, and the Native Edge Institute series, which equips entrepreneurs with essential skills for success. His tenure has seen a heightened emphasis on international Indigenous trade and connecting Native businesses with corporate America.

James’ professional background is marked by senior roles in the U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration. In these capacities, he led initiatives like Supplier Pay and Startup in a Day, both designed to enhance business efficiency and entrepreneurship. Supplier Pay focused on accelerating payments to small business suppliers, while Startup in a Day aimed to streamline the process for entrepreneurs to start a business in just one day. James is known as an expert and versatile leader in rural America. His engagements span delivering keynote addresses to hosting discussions with notable experts. Additionally, he is a skilled panel leader at both large and small global conferences.

Omar Khan

Omar Khan is a senior government and public affairs executive with more than 20 years of experience across the public and private sector and political campaigns. With a proven track record managing budgets exceeding $48 million and teams of over 200, Khan excels in building coalitions and implementing effective engagement strategies across a diverse range of policy issues and campaigns.

Khan serves as the Senior Vice President for State and Local Government Affairs at WSP, one of the world’s leading engineering and infrastructure firms, where he heads strategy, government relations, and political and civic engagement for the East Region of the U.S. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Public Engagement Unit of New York City, where he led the unit, overseeing a $25 million budget and managing a team of more than 200 people. In this role, Khan served as senior advisor to City Hall, led the unit’s COVID-19 response, and developed a nationally replicable model for data-driven outreach, increasing accessibility to government services.

Khan held several senior roles in the Obama-Biden Administration working on complex issues at the intersection of policy and politics, including serving as the Assistant United States Trade Representative for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement at the White House, Director of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations for the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, and Director of Public Engagement at the Environmental Protection Agency. Khan is also a nationally recognized campaign operative who has held senior and advisory roles in major presidential, gubernatorial, and mayoral campaigns including President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

Rob Larew

Rob Larew is President of National Farmers Union (NFU), the nation’s foremost grassroots agriculture organization dedicated to supporting and empowering family farmers, ranchers, and their communities. Elected to lead the organization in 2020, Larew previously served as NFU Vice President of Public Policy and Communications.

Larew’s career includes more than two decades working in Congress and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he played a pivotal role in shaping and implementing agriculture policy. As Staff Director of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, he coordinated and oversaw key initiatives during the formulation of the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills.

Larew’s lifelong connection to agriculture began, and continues, in Greenville, West Virginia, where he actively participates in the management of a diversified family farm that has been in continuous operation since 1798. He received his B.S. in dairy science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and pursued graduate studies in agronomy at Pennsylvania State University. Larew also serves as an active board member of the Cultivating Change Foundation and Consumer Federation of America.

Nimish Patel

Nimish Patel is the Chair of the Corporate and Securities Department at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, LLP, a law firm based in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. Patel’s experience includes mergers and acquisitions for private and public companies, angel and venture capital financing, IPOs, and other financing and corporate restructurings. Patel currently advises private businesses and publicly traded exchange listed companies on governance and regulatory filing requirements. Patel’s clients are from across a broad range of industries and sectors including artificial intelligence, life sciences, technology, ecommerce, new media, and entertainment.

Previously, Patel was a CPA and a senior auditor in the Orange County, California office of Deloitte working on private and public company audits and other attestations services. Patel’s clients ranged from private closely held businesses to Fortune 500 publicly traded corporations and was involved in many complex transactions including restructurings and cross border transactions.

Patel was elected and previously served on the School Board of Education for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. During his tenure, Patel was involved in making education policy decisions affecting the 11,000 school district students, overseeing a $100 million operating budget and a $300 million capital expenditure budget. He is the Past President and Trustee of the American India Foundation in Los Angeles and the Past President and member of the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California. Patel received his J.D./M.B.A. degrees from University of San Diego and undergraduate degree from University of Southern California.

Mark A. Turner

Mark Turner is a member of the Boards of Trustees of Christiana Care Health System (Delaware) and LaSalle University (Pennsylvania). He is also a member of the Wharton Leadership Advisory Board and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Leadership and Change Management at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Turner is a frequent guest speaker at universities and executive forums on banking, leadership, governance, and innovation.

Turner helped lead WSFS Financial Corporation’s growth in size, profitability, and market value of near 20 times each, and was CFO, COO, CEO, and Executive Chair during his tenure. During his career, Turner has also been a leader on numerous community, industry, and business boards, including serving as Chair of the Delaware Bankers’ Association, Chair of the Delaware Business Roundtable, and on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Advisory Council.

Turner was born and raised in North Philadelphia and received his B.S. from LaSalle University, M.B.A. from University of Pennsylvania, and M.A. from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has homes in Pennsylvania and Delaware with his wife, Regina, and their two daughters.