Conference Speakers


Angelos Angelou

Image of Angelos AngelouAngelos Angelou (@aga57) is the founder and principal executive officer of AngelouEconomics, an economic development and site-selection consultancy based in Austin, Texas, that is working with the Borderplex Alliance on a regional strategic plan for southern New Mexico, El Paso and Cuidad Juarez.

A highly visible leader in the field of economic development for more than 30 years, Angelou is widely regarded as an expert on technology-based economic development, public policy, investment attraction and marketing.

Prior to forming AngelouEconomics, Angelou was vice president of economic development at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, where he served for nearly 12 years. During his tenure, the chamber attracted over 800 new companies employing 70,000 people and representing a capital investment of over $20 billion.

Angelou is also founder, president and chairman of the board of the International Accelerator, a private accelerator focused exclusively on bringing foreign-born entrepreneurs to the U.S.


Samara Barend

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Samara Barend has nearly a decade of experience focused solely on public-private partnerships (P3s). Barend currently serves as senior vice president and P3 development director in AECOM Capital. In this role, she provides leadership in AECOM’s partnership work across all business lines, including energy, water, transportation, and buildings and facilities. She provides considerable assistance to states in the development of P3 policy frameworks, potential projects and legislation.

Barend is also the founder and leader of the Performance Based Building Coalition, a national group comprised of more than 70 infrastructure funds, contractors, engineering/architecture firms, law firm, banks, unions, governors and mayors, to urge Congress to take action to catalyze the use of public-private partnerships for public infrastructure.

In 2004, she ran as the Democratic candidate in New York’s 29th U.S. Congressional district race, becoming one of the youngest women to run for federal office.

She has also worked as the statewide neighborhood program director for Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign and as upstate director for the New York Democratic State Committee.

Dana C. Christensen

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Dana C. Christensen is the deputy laboratory director for science and technology of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Christensen is also vice president of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC, the operating contractor for the laboratory.

After more than three decades of professional management within DOE national laboratories, he has become one of the world’s leading experts on energy technology, energy materials and chemistry, and energy systems. He is a board member of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and serves on the DOE’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee.

As NREL’s deputy director for science and technology, he is responsible for the science strategy, focused on positioning the laboratory for delivering on high-impact solutions to the nation’s energy challenges and goals, with particular focus on clean energy development and the integration of energy efficiency for buildings, industrial and transportation sectors into the energy grids.

Robert S. Ford

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Robert S. Ford is currently a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, where he writes about developments in the Levant and North Africa.

Ford retired from the U.S. foreign service in 2014, after serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014. In this role, Ford was the State Department lead on Syria, proposing and implementing policy and developing common strategies with European and Middle Eastern allies to contain and try to resolve the Syria crisis.

Prior to this, Ford was the deputy U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2008 to 2010, and also served from 2006 until 2008 as the U.S. ambassador to Algeria, where he boosted bilateral education and rule of law cooperation.

In 2014, he received the Secretary’s Service Award, the U.S. State Department’s highest honor. He also received in April 2012 from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston the annual Profile in Courage Award for his stout defense of human rights in Syria.

Andrew Herrmann

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Andrew Herrmann was the 2012 president of the American Society of Civil Engineers and is a partner emeritus of Hardesty & Hanover Consulting Engineers.

Throughout his more than 40 years with the firm, Herrmann was responsible for bridge studies, major bridge rehabilitations, analysis and ratings for fixed and movable bridges, biennial and in-depth bridge inspections, preliminary-to-final design on new fixed and movable bridges, construction support, and construction inspection for highway, railroad, and major transportation projects.

An advocate for improving our nation’s infrastructure, he has testified before the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works and the U.S. House of Representative’s Transportation and Infrastructure committees on the condition of our nation’s bridges and the need for infrastructure investment.

James B. Hunt, Jr.

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As North Carolina’s only four-term governor, Jim Hunt is nationally recognized for leading his state through two decades of dramatic economic change and educational reform.

Among his many successes in education, his early childhood education program, Smart Start, has been a model for the nation and has received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

In the last decade of his governorship, the schools of North Carolina increased NAEP scores more than any other state in America.

In the 1980s, Hunt and the Carnegie Corporation of New York created the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which he chaired for 10 years.

Hunt is chairman of the board of directors of the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy in Chapel Hill and chairman emeritus of the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University in Raleigh – both institutes which he founded in the University of North Carolina.

Susana Martinez

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Susana Martinez (@Gov_Martinez) is New Mexico’s first female governor and the first Hispanic female elected governor in the history of the United States.

She was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2013. As governor, Martinez has worked with the Legislature to implement reforms to the New Mexico tax code, public education system and business regulation.

Prior to being elected governor, Martinez was the District Attorney for the Third Judicial District in Doña Ana County, a position she held for 14 years. As district attorney, Martinez successfully prosecuted and convicted the killer of NMSU student Katie Sepich, later fighting to pass “Katie’s Law,” which requires a DNA sample to be taken from anyone arrested for a violent felony in New Mexico. As governor, she prioritized expanding “Katie’s Law” to require a DNA sample for all felony arrests, signing the expansion into law in 2011.

Francisco J. Monaldi

Francisco J. Monaldi (@fmonaldi) is a leading scholar on the politics and economics of the oil industry and oil wealth management in Latin America and developing countries. A fellow in Latin American energy policy at the Baker Institute, he’s also an adjunct professor of political economy of oil at Rice University.

He is an associate in the geopolitics of energy at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a faculty associate in energy policy at the School of Government at the Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico.

Monaldi has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Harvard, Tufts and Stanford universities and a visiting lecturer at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota and at the Universidad ESAN in Lima. He is also the founding director and a professor at the Center for Energy and the Environment at IESA in Venezuela.

Mary E. Peters

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Mary E. Peters served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 2006 to 2009. She oversaw all U.S. aviation, surface and maritime policy and programs and negotiated transportation agreements with foreign governments.

Prior to serving as Secretary of Transportation, Peters was a senior vice president and national director for transportation policy and consulting for HDR Inc., a major engineering company.

In 2001, Peters was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the Federal Highway Administrator for the U.S. Department of Transportation, a role she served in from 2001 to 2005. As administrator, she oversaw the federal-aid and federal lands highway programs, including the interstate highway system and the national highway system. She also spearheaded efforts to find new ways to invest in infrastructure and advocated the use of new technology to reduce construction time while saving taxpayer dollars and ensuring safer and stronger roads.