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Members in the News

  • 30 Oct 2018 11:35 AM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Rachel is an experienced business attorney with a strong background in corporate and intellectual property matters. Rachel began her career in New York City working for two international law firms. Most recently, Rachel was a Partner at the Tampa law firm of Hill Ward Henderson, where she served as a trusted advisor to a multitude of private equity, venture capital and other strategic investors, as well as to companies of all sizes, stages and industries. The most rewarding aspect of Rachel’s career as an attorney was the opportunity to advise her clients with respect to their strategic direction and broader business goals.

    An alum of the Young Judaea movement, Rachel developed an affinity for Israel from a young age. Rachel had an opportunity to live in Israel during a semester spent studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has also been active in the local Jewish community for most of her childhood and as an adult, since moving back to Tampa nearly 10 years ago.

    Rachel is also a proven leader, having served in high-level positions for local nonprofits, on government committees and for local and national bar associations. Most recently, Rachel served as President of Tampa’s Gasparilla International Film Festival. A Tampa native who has also worked in other major cities, Rachel brings a unique perspective, deep local ties and a passion for supporting and improving her hometown.

    Rachel attended the University of Florida where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City. 


    A quote from her colleagues that was read at the Annual Awards Dinner

    "What impresses me the most about Rachel is her unwavering drive and passion for making FIBA successful.  She is constantly moving in many directions, but all of them are singularly focused on helping FIBA to take the next step forward.  She is masterful at making connections and opening doors for our companies from Israel to do business here in the Tampa Bay area.  Her to-do list is always long, but Rachel always takes things in stride and keeps things in perspective.  Her true pride is her family – who we get to see from time to time as her two little boys love to sneak into our office to grab a snack on their way to play basketball or swim lessons at the JCC. "


  • 25 Sep 2018 3:37 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)


    · What drew you to TBOWIT? 
     Upon recently returning to the Tampa Bay area after spending time abroad, I wanted to connect with leaders in the international trade field. Fortunately, while working with Devon Barnett, she made me aware of this amazing group of hardworking professionals and the role international trade plays in the region.

    ·   What do you do for work?
      I am the new International Business Coordinator for the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. A majority of my role is coordinating the trade missions for Global Tampa Bay – the regional collaboration between Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas county. For both the Tampa EDC and Global Tampa Bay, I work to help local Tampa Bay companies in exporting to foreign markets through consultations, connections, and export sales missions. On another front, I work to promote the region to foreign companies interested in investing in the Tampa Bay area through FDI missions and consultations.

    ·  Where did you grow up?
     I grew up in Maryland, north of Baltimore City.

    ·  Give us one fun fact that we might not know about you
     I love to hike and once hiked Colca Canyon (one of the deepest in the world) in an earthquake.

    ·  What’s one piece of advice for women entering international business or work in general?
    As a recent graduate, my advice is to never get discouraged when entering the business world as there is still so much to learn! Ask as many questions as you can because you never know where one conversation may lead to. The international business sector provides such incredible opportunities, so make the most of whatever events or engagements you may find.

  • 07 Aug 2018 8:42 AM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Meet your fellow TBOWIT Member!


    Carol G. Rodriguez Calderon 
    Záväzok Marketing, Packaging & Brand Consultants, LLC
    Záväzok Group, LLC


    She lives inspired with an unlimited passion to produce impact changes as a blessing channel engaged in the utmost growth of each individual, entrepreneur, company, country, economy and society; through trust, respect, faith, integrity, ability, competence, character, intent, and results.

    For Carol G. Rodriguez, the founder and CEO of Záväzok Group, LLC; Záväzok Marketing, Packaging & Brand Consultants, LLC; and Záväzok Ecclesia, there is only one word that best describes her MOTTO: ZÁVÄZOK, that means Commitment.

    Carol G. Rodriguez is a proactive, forward thinking business professional with a solid background with over 20 years in operations, manufacturing, distribution, e-commerce, marketing, traditional and digital advertising campaigns, promotional activities, fund-raising, client relations, social services, human and fiscal resources. Carol is a planner and negotiator, brand consultant, business developer and operational streamlining with a solid record of achievement developing product, packaging design, brand and service awareness, marketing strategies, image and strengthening market position.

    Carol was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is pursuing doctorate in Business Administration and has master’s in Global Management, master’s in Marketing and bachelor’s in Advertising. Carol is also a Certified Chaplain. She served as advisor, speaker and board of director member for Professional Organizations, Associations and Brotherhood of Chaplains, among others. Carol has been recognized by important business magazines, newspapers and chambers; and has earned the respect and admiration mainly in the food industry for its dedication, professionalism and results.


    As part of Carol's growth, she worked in a Bakery, a clothing store, the movie theater and at credit card companies to pay her way through college. While studying for one of her master’s degrees, she worked as a receptionist in an advertising agency. An encounter that some people may have seen as a setback spurred Carol’s career drive even further. “Once, while I was working as a receptionist, I told a businessman about my desire to become an entrepreneur of an important company and he made fun of me. In the beginning, of course, I felt bad, but then I said to myself that this comment would not stop me. On the contrary, it made me stronger!” she said.  

    As a women business owner looking to expand, diversify and grow their companies in US and Internationally, Carol became a member of TBOWIT more than a year ago to stay at the forefront of trade and technological developments, having the opportunity to be part of a collective forum to receive support education, to identify new mentors and build alliances with other organizations. For Carol chances of success in life and in business can be amplified by having the right mentors, reason why she has several, among them her parents and husband.

    As an advice for women entering international business or work in general, Carol share a quote that changed her interior at the time of accepting the challenge as an entrepreneur with international vision:   

    “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” 



  • 27 Jun 2018 8:58 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    It's fun to get to know other OWIT Members!


    Meet Susan Baka, OWIT Toronto, and President, Bay Communications & Marketing



     How long have you been a member of OWIT?  1999 And, when did the Toronto chapter start? 1999


    What drew you to OWIT? I became fascinated with trade and the untapped opportunities for women after hearing about the first Canadian Businesswomen’s Trade Mission to Washington, DC, back in 1997 and was one of the founders of the first Canadian chapter of OWIT (in Toronto) to create an ongoing forum for women interested in expanding business beyond our borders. The like-minded women in the OWIT network continue to energize me and fuel my passion for global work. 


    What do you do for work? I have had my own communications and consulting business, Bay Communications & Marketing Inc., since 1991. What does it involve? In addition to content creation for corporations and governments targeting women business owners and small businesses, I serve as a Regional Representative for  the Trade Facilitation Office Canada (TFO Canada), which helps exporters in developing countries find buyers in Canada.  I am also a Senior Market Access Consultant for a company that acts on behalf of the Great Lakes St Lawrence Governors & Premiers; we provide trade facilitation services like market research, partner searches and in-country appointment setting for companies in five US states looking to export to Canada.


    Where did you grow up?  In a very small town (population about 1,000) in Canada in an area known for tobacco farming, would you believe?!


    Give us one fun fact that we might not know about you I was a tap dancer in my youth.


    Did you have any mentors in your life? Yes, my boss in my first full-time job (in publishing) pushed me to take on challenges that I wouldn’t have seized otherwise .


    Who inspires you? All the amazing women in OWIT from around the world whom I have had the privilege to meet over the years. Smart….savvy…accomplished…and plenty of fun!


    What’s one piece of advice for women entering international business or work in general? Build your contacts, contacts, contacts around the world through joining groups like OWIT and network to develop relationships that can lead to new business….and even to new friendships. There has never been a better time to be a woman in the global marketplace!


  • 22 Jun 2018 6:41 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Congratulations to #TBOWIT member and Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey for being appointed to the National Trade Committee: Committee advises the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative!

  • 14 May 2018 7:19 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    TBOWIT Director Susie Hoeller of Hoeller Law Firm participates in the recent “Trade with Africa Business Summit 2018” with Princess Dr. Moradeun Ogunlana, CEO of African Women’s Health Project International; Denise Thomas of World Trade Center Arkansas; & Robin Smith, CEO of Next Phase Foundation in Bentonville, Arkansas on May 10 & 11, 2018

  • 08 May 2018 11:12 AM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Meet Sheri Freeman-Novoa, Bayway Law, P.A.  


    How long have you been a member of TBOWIT?


    I've been a member of TBOWIT for a little less than a year.


    What drew you to TBOWIT?


      I was at an attorney event where I saw an attorney who is a TBOWIT member speaking about her experience in handling international business transactions in Central America. I asked her afterwards if she knew anything about importing or exporting to and from Nicaragua (it seems like a lot of what you need to know is not shared publicly or online). She recommended that I connect with TBOWIT. 


       I have family who live in Nicaragua, therefore, we travel frequently back and forth, and my husband and I are always taking notice of which products sell for more in Nicaragua than they do here, and which products sell for more here than they do in Nicaragua.  Given that we already go back and forth regularly, it just makes sense for us to look into a business importing or exporting. Having no prior experience in retail or international business, I wanted to absorb as much knowledge and information about international trade as possible so that we can make a well-thought-out plan for starting a business here or there.


        Immediately when I arrived at my first TBOWIT networking event, I realized how invaluable the group is for the advice, much of which is based on personal experience, and is freely shared. There are many things you could only know by talking to somebody with personal experience doing business there.


    What do you do for work? What does it involve?  


    I am a commercial litigation attorney. I mostly represent businesses who have a dispute with another business, however my practice is varied and I handle a wide array of litigation cases.

    I have practiced law for over seventeen years now. I am a solo practitioner. My lawfirm, Bayway Law, P.A., is located in downtown St. Petersburg. I have clients in the entire Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, and also have cases in Sarasota County.


    Where did you grow up?  


     I grew up in Iowa and then moves to Boca Raton, Florida, when I was young. They are two very different places. I love them both.


    Give us one fun fact that we might not know about you 


    I love adventurous travel that involves exploring different cultures. In fact, I met my husband, who is from Nicaragua, while travelling alone in Nicaragua six years ago.



    Did you have any mentors in your life?  


    I was mentored by several people, and I highly admire all of them.


    The first would be my grandfather, who was a judge in Chicago. He taught me a lot about being a lawyer. I was mentored by several other more senior attorneys in lawschool and after. I was fortunate that all of my mentors emphasized the importance of honesty and integrity in the legal profession.


    Who inspires you?


     I am inspired almost daily by people I either meet or hear about who survive seemingly impossible circumstances and do not lose hope.


    The first name that comes to mind when you ask who inspires me, however, is Rosie, one of my friends since teenage years. She is a single mom of two children whose family is unable to assist her financially, but she powers forward like Superwoman, unafraid of things that would make many people cower in the corner.  She has so much momentum that, despite her circumstances, she listens to my gripes, coaches me when I am reluctant to start a diet, and will drive four hours to help a friend paint their kitchen cabinets on the weekend. Her well of energy, love, and generosity is untouchable.


    What’s one piece of advice for women entering international business or work in general?

    Although men and women are equal and possess the same qualities, we are sometimes different in some ways, and I believe women are particularly courageous and resilient, contrary to many misconceptions you might encounter from people of both genders. So don't ever allow those misconceptions to cause you to doubt yourself.  Just plan ahead and be prepared for your project as well as all of the foreseeable contingencies that could occur, and as long as you do this, you should have no regrets.


    I look forward to continuing to participate in TBOWIT in the future!


  • 07 Apr 2018 10:34 AM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    GroYourBIz is seeing a Tampa Chair 

       As info, OWIT International is a partner of GroYourBiz


    GroYourBiz is looking for women leaders who would be great GroYourBiz Chairs to facilitate peer-to-peer business advisory boards in Canada and the USA – ideally an entrepreneur with a passion for helping other women grow their businesses.

    The best thing about being a part of GroYourBiz is the community it creates for like-minded women entrepreneurs, whose skills, expertise, inspiration and energy are brought together under a professional Chair through MyBusinessMyBoard™ Advisory Board. GroYourBiz members are committed to seeing their business flourish and believe that “no one of us is as strong as all of us”.

    Here’s some guidelines we follow when considering GroYourBiz Chairs/Managing Directors: http://groyourbiz.com/membership-info/become-a-gyb-chair/

    Contact Barbara.Mowat@GroYourBiz.com for more information or to apply.


  • 14 Mar 2018 3:40 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Meet fabulous fellow TBOWIT Member,  
    Renée Pobjecky, POBJECKY & POBJECKY, LLP!


    • How long have you been a member of TBOWIT?
        I have been a member for 3 years
    •  What drew you to TBOWIT?
       I met Christyna during a “cruise” through Tampa Bay with the Port Authority and the Winter Haven Chamber Leadership Class.  I was excited to learn that a group of international women exists in Tampa.  I enjoy meeting new professionals and learning from others.  TBOWIT has been a great resource and networking channel for me and my firm.
    • What do you do for work? What does it involve?
       I am an immigration attorney and I love my job.  Everyday I help individuals achieve the “American Dream,” by immigrating to the United States.  My clients include artists, athletes, and investors.  One of my favorite cases, involved dancers with the Alabama Ballet Company.  I was in awe of the sacrifices they make on a daily basis to maintain a top physique to dance professionally.  My practice has been busy with a recent surge in ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) Raids.  The firm assists employers during crisis situations, such as an ICE Raid or Audit.  Additionally, we focus on providing preventative services to employers in an effort to reduce such risks.  Such services include the creation of clear protocols for E-verify compliance and Social Security No-Match letters
    • Where did you grow up?  
      I was born in Temple, Texas but moved to Polk County, Florida as a young girl since my mom was homesick.  I attended the University of Central Florida for my undergraduate degree, but returned to my Texas roots and attended Baylor Law School for my juris doctorate.
    • Give us one fun fact that we would not guess about you?
       I “surfed” down a volcano in Nicaragua.  
    • Did you have any mentors in your life?
       I would not survive as an immigration attorney without mentors.  I still have them. I am blessed that the American Immigration Lawyers Association has a Mentor Directory.  When I first started practicing immigration law, I relied on my mentor for a myriad of cases.  Not only did she help me, but she also helped my clients.  I am always learning, and a mentor is a valuable resource.
    • Who inspires you?
       Mother Teresa.  She was not afraid to venture into the slums to help the poor and sick.  Surprisingly, as a nun, she had business savvy and took on the task of creating, managing and growing her own religious order of nuns.  She had a hard time accepting “no” and she was not afraid to approach dignitaries for help and donations. Despite her fame, she remained humble.   
    • What’s one piece of advice for women entering international business or work in general?
       Always be receptive and open to opportunities and do not be afraid to choose a road less traveled.  Do not hesitate to connect with women in your industry, it only takes a phone call or an email.  If given the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting with a mentor, remember to listen.  Always send a hand-written thank you note after someone has donated their time and advice.  


  • 17 Feb 2018 6:57 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Hear from a fellow global member of OWIT, Violette Ruppanner, of

    OWIT Lake Geneva, Switzerland




    How long have you been a member of OWIT?  And, when did your chapter start?

    I became a member of OWIT (Lake Geneva chapter) in 2008. The chapter itself – then called Geneva Women in International Trade (GWIT) was founded in 2000.


    What drew you to OWIT?

    The previous year, I had returned from a 2-year stay in the USA (Michigan). Somebody had recommended OWIT to me, saying that that it was a good place to network and meet interesting people. It provided the perfect chance to me, both personally and professionally, to stay connected to the international community and keep up my English.


    What do you do for work? What does it involve?

    I am a partner with Strategos SA, a boutique consulting firm based in the French speaking part of Switzerland, since 2011. I have both short term and long term projects. My expertise includes strategy development and deployment, project management, change facilitation and participatory leadership. Every client and project is unique. This implies that each time, I need to listen carefully to the client’s story and think about the challenges afresh. And at the end of the process, also propose real actions


    Where did you grow up?

    I grew up in a small town in Eastern (German speaking) Switzerland. We lived in an old house at the border of the town, close to fields and forests, which we loved to explore.


     Give us one fun fact that we would not guess about you

    I traveled abroad, flew in a plane and saw the sea – all in one single trip – for the first time when I was sixteen (to Crete, with my father). I must have caught the traveling virus then, because ever since, I spend my spare money traveling to places, both in Switzerland and abroad.


    Did you have any mentors in your life?

    Yes, different people accompanied me during different periods of my life, to whom I could reach out when I needed it.


    Who inspires you?

    Nelson Mandela, for his incredible leadership, resilience, humility and dignity


     What’s one piece of advice for women entering international business or work in general?

    Be clear & explicit about what you want and what not.  Don’t accept any bullshit, from anyone. Be perseverant.


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