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Members in the News

  • 18 May 2017 3:20 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)









      Marli Budricks

      Buyer/Logistics Manager


    How long have you been a member of TBOWIT?

    I just joined TBOWIT in March 2017!



    What drew you to the club?

    A TBOWIT member first told me about the organization, and it sounded like a great place to learn more about international business and trade. I’m pretty new to this industry and you don’t know what you don’t know – and there’s a lot I don’t know. The opportunity to learn from strong women with different experiences is something I look forward to.


    What does your job involve? What do you do?

    I am currently the buyer and logistics manager for Valor Fitness. We manufacture, import and distribute fitness equipment to customers across the USA and Canada. My job is to make sure we have inventory – from analyzing information for purchasing decisions - to making sure the containers are received successfully at our warehouses.

    Where did you grow up?


    I grew up in Mossel Bay. It’s a small town on the south coast of South Africa. I had an incredible childhood and was very blessed to grow up in such a beautiful country and town. I am also fortunate to have immigrated with my family after high school and love being a US citizen now. This is the country of opportunity after all!

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

    I was an EMT and Firefighter for several years and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Flagler College.


    Did you have any mentors in your life?

    Yes! Certainly too many to name. From a Chief with the Fire Department to my current employer – each one has had a major impact on my life and taught me so much! I can’t say I’ve ever had a job or boss I didn’t love.

    Who inspires you?


    My mom. She is the strongest, most compassionate, hardest working, best person I know. I could go on forever about how incredible she is.

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

    Allow yourself to get uncomfortable. Sometimes the best growth and opportunities comes from being outside your comfort zone.


    Marli Budricks  Buyer/Logistics Manager

    “Find Your    Personal    


       Valor Fitness

       10351 72nd Street

        Seminole, FL 33777

         Website: ValorFitness.com





  • 18 May 2017 2:43 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Congratulations to TBOWIT member Selma Canas who won the SBDC Regional Employee of the Year Award announced at the Networks Annual Conference. Here is the blurb from the Florida SBDC at USF website.


    Selma Canas Employee of the Year 

    Selma Canas, CGBP, is the Florida SBDC at USF International Trade Specialist. In 2016,

    Selma worked very diligently every week, every month, every quarter to ensure that she would meet all of her goals, Eileen Rodriguez, Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at USF, said. She has been a dedicated member of the Florida SBDC Network team for seven years; three at University of North Florida and four at University of South Florida. She continuously worked with her stakeholders, Enterprise Florida and the Department of Commerce, to create a significant pipeline of clients in 2016. She had a backlog of Export Marketing Plan (EMP) clients in 2016. In order to better service her clients, she has enlisted her peers throughout the Florida SBDC Network to assist her in preparing and delivering EMPs in the USF region. Her EMP reports garnered $30,000 in program income in 2016.

    In 2016, Canas participated on the Tampa Bay Export Alliance trade mission to the Dominican Republic. She worked closely with the Tampa Bay Export Alliance promoting the event and ensuring that her clients took full advantage of the trade mission. Thanks to her efforts, 11 of the 19 companies traveling on this mission were Florida SBDC at USF clients. 


  • 08 May 2017 2:55 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Congratulations Selma on being selected for the Debbie Lewis Show!


    The Debbie Lewis Show: Selma Canas

    International trade specialist, Selma Canas, helps new-to-export small business owners who are interested in expanding their market overseas. Listen in for some tips on establishing new markets with exports. Canas, based at the Florida SBDC at USF Tampa office, discusses how she assists clients who are interested in expanding overseas, but not sure how to get started, via Export Marketing Plans. 

  • 24 Feb 2017 1:09 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)
    The Tampa Bay OWIT nominated a new Board President - Christyna Doege.  Christyna has been a long time member of the chapter and was also our 2016 International Woman of the Year! We are delighted to have Christyna on board.

    Below is a letter from Christyna..

    Dear TBOWIT Members & Friends,

    I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself as your 2017 TBOWIT President.  My name is Christyna Doege and when I’m not at TBOWIT, I am representing the Marketing & Business Development department at Port Tampa Bay. TBOWIT has some exciting events coming up this year.  However, before I tell you about those events, I first want to ask you:   Do you know what I like about the Tampa Bay Organization of Women in International Trade, TBOWIT?

    • ·         It’s business with an international flavor. One doesn’t have to be steeped in international business, trade, or policy to benefit. From my years involved with TBOWIT, I’ve come away from every luncheon and gala with new nuggets of information on best practices and with the feeling that I learned something that is useful in my everyday life.
    • ·         We are proud of the fact that we award two scholarships every year to university students embarking on an international experience.
    • ·         And, of course, we have to mention the networking. TBOWIT members encompass a wide range of business, services, and products. I have built some great relationships through TBOWIT. 
    • How about you? What pulls you towards TBOWIT?

    Whether you are a regular attendee or you haven’t checked out TBOWIT in a while, we have some exciting events coming in 2017. This February is our kick-off luncheon featuring Challenges and Opportunities in International Construction and Design Project with Alba Rodriguez of Skanska USA Building. We are working on a March luncheon, so keep an eye out for it as it will address some timely topics on tariff and trade issues. Back by popular demand, we will once again host a “wines of the world” tasting event to be held in April. In May, TBOWIT is partnering with EXIM Bank to host the EXIM Symposium: Export Essentials.  This coming September, TBOWIT will participate in a joint event with OWIT South Florida, and OWIT Nairobi - TBOWIT is just one chapter of a global organization!  Plus, our TBOWIT Gala to be held towards the end of October 2017. It’s going to be a fun, full year!  Keep informed by visiting our website at www.tbowit.org.

    Pulling off a great year of informative and supportive events is the work of a team. The TBOWIT Board is a great team and I want to thank the TBOWIT Board for their support and wisdom. I also want to thank our wonderful members. Without you, faithful member, we could not invest in the next generation with our TBOWIT scholarships or find such wonderful speakers. Thank you TBOWIT Members!

    I look forward to an exciting year,

    Kind Regards,

    Christyna Doege
    TBOWIT President 2017 

  • 01 Dec 2016 11:19 AM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    It’s not every day that you get to take a tour of a highly successful global company to see and hear firsthand how they do what they do! A group of TBOWIT members got that chance this past November when Amalie Oil opened their doors and ushered us into a whole different world. To say that it was cool is an understatement!

    You might recognize Amalie Oil’s name from their naming rights to Amalie Arena. Amalie Oil and its predecessor have been around for a long time and we got an in-depth tutorial from Denny Madden, Senior VP, Global Sales & Marketing. We learned how the company grew from gasoline stations to toll blending. We learned the ebbs and flows of the oil industry. We learned about the efficiencies that Amalie has gained by being located in a port. We learned about the necessity of chemistry and testing and formulation. We learned about the logistics of getting product to market efficiently. We learned about best practices and always striving to improve from in-house technology to reducing the amount of plastic in quart sized bottles. We learned that you have to pass a lot of tests before the major oil companies trust you enough to try you out.

    Trust Amalie – they do! Today, Amalie deals with selling their branded oil products, toll blending which is blending for other companies, and blending for private labels. Amalie has done work for all major oil companies out there including Shell, Gulf, Total (French owned), Advanced Auto, O’Reily, and A LOT more!

    After an informative, friendly, and oftentimes humorous presentation by Mr. Denny Madden, we were given a tour of Amalie’s facility and warehouse. The warehouse alone covers two city blocks. We were given an extensive tour into all of the nooks and crannies of the terminal with lots of questions being answered. We walked from the loading docks through the warehouse through the pallet packing site through the heart of the blending operation through the testing area and ended with an in-depth look into how the filling bottle assemble line works. We could just be global business, manufacturing nerds, but it was exciting to see this business in person!

    TBOWIT can’t thank Amalie Oil and Mr. Madden enough for taking the time out of his busy schedule to not only give us a presentation and tour, but to give us a real inside look into the heart of Amalie Oil. We were duly impressed as will anyone who gets to see this state-of-the art international company.










  • 27 Oct 2016 4:02 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Christyna Doege, has been awarded the honor of 2016 International Business Person of the Year, by the Tampa Bay Organization for Women in International Trade (TBOWIT). This annual award is presented to a local business person who exemplifies high ideals in business professionalism within the realm of international trade. The mission of TBOWIT is to promote international trade and affairs in the Tampa Bay area and to provide a forum for networking, education, and related activities with a global focus and an emphasis on women.

    Ms. Doege is the Program Coordinator for Customer Service at Port Tampa Bay, a position she has held since January 2013.  Prior to this, she worked in the port’s finance department.  Before joining the port, she was a senior billing analyst at Ports America Group, the largest stevedoring and terminal operating company in the U.S.   She began her career as an English teacher in Zhuhai, China, before becoming the office administrator for American Finance Adjusters, and then she joined CP Ships as a customer service representative.  She is a graduate of Stetson University, with a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business, and also holds a DELF premiere degree in French form Université d ’Avignon.   An active member of Toastmasters International, she has been the VP of Public Relations for the new Urban Center Toastmasters and recently received the Distinguished Toastmasters Award, an accomplishment that only 4% of members ever achieve.  Earlier this year, she won first place in the Division Toastmasters contest.

    Doege’s work at the port has her play an active role in all aspects of business development, including organizing and coordinating customer events, promotional materials, port statistics, cargo projections, budget coordination and managing the day to day activities of the marketing department.  Recognized as the “Queen of Port Tours”, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of not just Port Tampa Bay, but all aspects of international trade and transportation.   In addition to being a great ambassador for Port Tampa Bay, she is an important part of Tampa Bay’s international business outreach efforts.

    “It is great to see Port Tampa Bay staff recognized for their leadership in the community, and Christyna Doege is a shining example of this,” Paul Anderson, port president and CEO, said. “The definition of a team player, Christyna plays a key role in our international business development efforts, and no task is too big or too small for her in support of our objectives,” he said.




    (Copied from Port Tampa Bay Press Release)


  • 24 Oct 2016 5:30 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Sabina Zunguze, TBOWIT board member is launching GroYourBiz Florida in the Tampa Bay area on October 24,2016. 

    GroYourBiz is an international organization that is  devoted to fostering and supporting women entrepreneurs and business owners through peer-to-peer advisory groups. Sabina will soon be launching more boards around Florida. GroYourBiz is a partner with OWIT International. 

    If you are interested in coming to this FREE event, please RSVP to szunguze@fl.groyourbiz.com

    Our Keynote will be the Canadian Consul General Susan Harper and Carolyn Booth, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Banking at BMO Harris Bank

    Click Here for Full Invite

  • 17 Jun 2016 9:10 AM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

     On June 15 2016, the Tampa Bay metro region announced that it has been selected to join a small group of city-regions that will create new strategies to attract and leverage foreign direct investment through the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. The effort builds on the Tampa Bay Export Alliance, the regional export plan created here in 2014 in order to take full advantage of international trade and investment as a major opportunity for economic development.


    Chosen by Brookings through a competitive application process, Tampa Bay will join Baltimore, Fresno, Houston, Salt Lake County and St. Louis in developing a foreign direct investment plan. Tampa Bay was evaluated for its readiness, capacity, and commitment to maximize foreign direct investment sources such as greenfield expansions, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, joint ventures, and sovereign wealth funds. 


    “We are very excited to be a part of this Global Cities Initiative FDI cohort,” said J.P. DuBuque, Interim CEO and President of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. “If we expect to compete in today’s economy, we have to put ourselves at the center of international commerce. The strategies identified in this study will help us get there.”


    Launched in 2012, the Global Cities Initiative helps metropolitan areas grow their economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness, with a focus on traded industry sectors.  GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decisions, fostering practice and policy innovation, and facilitating a peer-learning network for replication and dissemination.


    “We chose to work with metro areas that proved they are committed to pursuing international economic opportunities and able to think creatively about foreign direct investment as part of a comprehensive economic development strategy,” said Marek Gootman, Brookings fellow and director of strategic partnerships and global initiatives. “We are confident that Tampa Bay is positioned to take greater advantage of foreign direct investment, and can be a national leader in finding more effective approaches to global economic engagement.” 


    Foreign direct investment makes an outsized contribution to regional economic development, not only as a new source of capital. Foreign-owned enterprises tend to pay higher wages, invest more in research and development and worker training, increase exports through access to global networks, drive productivity growth, and transfer innovations. As the world’s largest economy with a stable investment environment, the U.S. has been a top destination for foreign direct investment, yet its share of that investment has fallen. Metropolitan leaders, in partnership with their states, are best equipped to attract and retain foreign direct investment by promoting their areas’ unique specializations and establishing strategic, mutually beneficial relationships.


    “JPMorgan Chase is proud to be a part of the development of Tampa Bay’s FDI plan and to support innovative planning that will contribute to our region’s future economic success,” said Michael L. Dosal, Managing Director North Florida, JPMorgan Chase. “International trade and investment represent a promising pathway for local businesses to grow and, in turn, create jobs and expand our local economy.”


    Tampa Bay will be represented by a team of local leaders including Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Pinellas County Economic Development, Pasco Economic Development Council, Port Tampa Bay, Tampa International Airport and the University of South Florida with additional support from the Tampa Bay Partnership and various other public and private sector entities.


    As a result of this project, Tampa Bay will produce a foreign direct investment market assessment; strategic plan with goals, tactics, and implementation commitments; and a policy memorandum. The work will complement the region’s existing regional export plan to form a complete international trade and investment strategy.


    For more information on the Global Cities Initiative please visit www.brookings.edu/projects/global-cities.aspx orwww.jpmorganchase.com/globalcities 


    The Global Cities Initiative is a joint-project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase designed to help metropolitan leaders advance and grow their regional economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness, focused on their traded sectors. GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decisions, fostering practice and policy innovations, and facilitating a peer-learning network through replication and dissemination. For more information, seehttp://www.brookings.edu/projects/global-cities.aspx or www.jpmorganchase.com/globalcities.

  • 11 May 2016 2:47 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    It was a pleasure to see TBOWIT member, Mrs. Maria Alejandra Villasmil, at the 2016 International Town Hall. A year ago, Maria had the idea to start her own logistics firm and in 2016 it was a delight to see Maria standing in front of her company table, M&J Trading and Logisticsl. Maria  serves as Chief Executive Officer and President and is responsible for the strategic leadership of the organization to ensure its future relevance, credibility, and viability. With a background in logistics, her company is poised for the future. Congratulations Maria!


      To find out more, please see http://www.tradingandlogistics.com/our-company/ 



  • 11 May 2016 2:23 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Export Alliance for putting on the 2016 International Town Hall this past Friday, May 6, 2016. TBOWIT had an exhibition table and there were quite a few of us in the crowd.

       I did miss getting a picture of member Devon Barnett, Pasco EDC, who was in attendance, but I did grab snapshots of Nancy Crews - Custom Manufacturing, Susie Hoeller - TBOWIT Board Member, Eileen Rodriguez - FL SBDC at USF, Maria Alejandra Villasmil - M&J Trading & Logistics, Deborah Wilkinson - Tampa Bay Protocol, Lorrie Belovich - THEDC.

         Yes - I know that some of the pictures are sideways. It's because the file size is too large for this program to handle. I will re-size them. In the meantime, I'll just say the file sizes are too big because we have A LOT of women power represented!






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