2018 Conference Speakers
*As of July 25, 2018. Please check back as more of the 2018 speakers are announced.
Michael F. Kergin
Senior Advisor, Bennett Jones LLP
Former Canadian Ambassador to the U.S.
Michael Kergin provides strategic advice to clients on international affairs, particularly Canada-US relations.
He has over forty years of experience in the Federal Government of Canada.
Michael is a former Canadian Ambassador to the United States (2000-2005) and to the Republic of Cuba (1986-1989). He was the foreign and defence policy advisor to Prime Minister Chretien, the equivalent of the National Security Advisor in the United States. His overseas assignments included three postings to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, to the Canadian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, and to Canadian Embassies in Cameroon and Chile.
After leaving government service, Michael founded the consulting firm Intermestic Consulting Inc. He was appointed as a Special Advisor to the Premier of Ontario for Border Management, with particular responsibility for developing a policy on the Windsor-Detroit bridge. Subsequently, he acted as the negotiator for Ontario in the Canada-US softwood lumber dispute. He also served as the Canadian Commissioner on the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Michael participates in public policy panels on international affairs and on the future of North America relations. He is a regular commentator in the media.
Kevin K. McAleenan
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Kevin K. McAleenan was sworn in on March 20, 2018, as Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Prior to his confirmation, Mr. McAleenan served as the Acting Commissioner since January 20, 2017. As the agency’s chief executive, Mr. McAleenan oversees 60,000 employees, manages a budget of over $13 billion, and ensures the effective operations of CBP’s mission to protect national security while promoting economic prosperity. Mr. McAleenan directs CBP’s three core missions, counterterrorism, border security, and trade enforcement, while facilitating $4 Trillion in trade and facilitating travel of over 365 million people through ports of entry. He oversees the largest law enforcement agency and the second-largest revenue collecting source in the federal government.
Mr. McAleenan previously served as Deputy Commissioner from November 2, 2014, until his appointment to Acting Commissioner. In this role, he served as the agency’s Chief Operating Officer and senior career official. Under Mr. McAleenan’s leadership, CBP has developed strategies that protect the nation’s borders from terrorism and attack transnational criminal networks. Mr. McAleenan has also implemented innovations that have facilitated the U.S. international arrival and departure process, saving the government and travel industry millions of dollars. Additionally, he has advanced the development of CBP’s trade transformation agenda, designed to help America compete in the global economy.
Mr. McAleenan has previously held several leadership positions at CBP and one of its legacy agencies, the U.S. Customs Service. From 2006 to 2008, Mr. McAleenan served as the Area Port Director of Los Angeles International Airport, directing CBP’s border security operations at LAX and 17 other airport facilities in one of CBP’s largest field commands. In December 2011, Mr. McAleenan was named acting Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Field Operations. In this position, he led agency operations to secure the U.S. border while expediting lawful trade and travel at 329 ports of entry in the United States and 70 international locations in more than 40 countries.
Mr. McAleenan received a 2015 Presidential Rank Award, the nation’s highest civil service award. He also received the Service to America Medal, Call to Service Award, in 2005 for spearheading efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive antiterrorism strategy in the border security context after September 11, 2001.
Mr. McAleenan has been a member of the U.S. Government’s Senior Executive Service since 2006. Prior to government service, Mr. McAleenan practiced law in California. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College.
Canada Border Services Agency
John Ossowski was appointed President of the Canada Border Services Agency on December 7, 2016.
Prior to this appointment, John was Deputy Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency from July 2015 to December 2016. He has also held senior positions as Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada and also as Assistant Secretary, International Affairs, Security and Justice Sector, at the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). He has also worked at Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) where he was Director General, Policy and Communications and then Deputy Chief, Corporate Services. Before joining CSEC, John was Assistant Director, Government Relationships and Communications at the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, which is Canada’s financial intelligence unit. Prior to this, John spent a number of years at TBS in the Government Operations Sector and finally as the Executive Assistant to the Secretary.
Robert E. Perez
Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner
Operations Support, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Mr. Perez comes to this position from serving as the Director of Field Operations (DFO) for CBP's New York Field Office, where last year he directed the activities of nearly 3,000 CBP employees and oversaw the arrival of more than 21 million international travelers and over $240 billion in imported goods.
Mr. Perez has also held the positions of DFO and Port Director in Detroit, Michigan, leading the activities of more than 1,100 CBP employees throughout the state at seven ports of entry, which included three international bridges, the busiest commercial truck border crossing in North America, and the busiest privately owned vehicle border crossing between the U.S. and Canada.
Prior to his arrival in Michigan in 2005, Mr. Perez served as the first Director of the Customs–Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) in Washington, DC, a position he held for three years beginning in 2002. In that role, he oversaw the development and implementation of all the anti-terrorism industry partnership programs for CBP. Mr. Perez held various positions as a Program Manager in CBP headquarters from 1997 through 2001, and began his career with the U.S. Customs Service in 1992 as a Customs Inspector in Newark, New Jersey.
Mr. Perez has represented the Department of Homeland Security and CBP as a border security expert throughout the globe at scores of international business conferences, on official assignments alongside senior figures in U.S. and foreign government, and in the national and international press. He has been a guest lecturer at the Georgetown University Law Center, Michigan State University Law School, the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Mr. Perez also served on the Advisory Board of the Criminal Justice Department at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan.
Mr. Perez has been widely recognized throughout his career for his accomplishments and contributions to international border and trade security, including being named “Person of the Year” by the Maritime Security Council, receiving the “Keys to the City” by the Mayor of Cartagena, Colombia, and receiving the “True American Hero, Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Federal Drug Agents Foundation.
Mr. Perez is a career member of the Senior Executive Service, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He also is a graduate of the Senior Executive Fellows program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Trade
Operations Support, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Since 2014, Ms. Smith has overseen a diverse portfolio of trade enforcement, security, and facilitation matters to enable legitimate trade, contribute to American economic prosperity, and protect against risks to public health and safety.
Her work ranges from enforcing over 500 U.S. trade laws, to overseeing 14 trade agreements with 20 countries, to directing CBP’s seven Priority Trade Issues. She oversees national compliance audits and the management of trade data, along with CBP’s regulatory process for administering trade and border operations. She is also responsible for implementation of many components of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) of 2015. TFTEA, the first comprehensive authorization of CBP since Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003, ensures a fair and competitive trade environment.
Notably, under Ms. Smith’s leadership, CBP has automated and modernized trade processes through the completion of the U.S. Single Window via the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). Through ACE, the private sector transmits import-export data to 47 partner government agencies, eliminating over 250 paper forms and streamlining trade processes. CBP now has 100 percent of the scheduled core trade processing capabilities in ACE. Because of her work saving the government and industry time and money through the development of U.S. Single Window, Ms. Smith was a 2017 finalist in the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America (“Sammie”) award for management excellence.
Ms. Smith was also honored with a 2017 Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award, the highest award in civil service. Only one percent of government executives receive this rank. The award recognizes her achievements in enhancing CBP’s enforcement to protect American consumers.
Since joining the U.S. Customs Service in 1994, Ms. Smith has served in a variety of roles overseeing trade and border enforcement issues. Most recently the Executive Director for the ACE Business Office, she has also served as Executive Director for Trade Policy and Programs, the Director of Policy and Programs in the Office of International Affairs and Trade Relations, and led the Commissioner’s Strategic Planning and Performance Division. Prior to joining Customs, Ms. Smith worked at the Department of the Treasury and on Capitol Hill.
Ms. Smith holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Economics from Rutgers University and is also a graduate of the Customs Leadership Institute and the Federal Executive Institute.
President and CEO
InterVISTAS Consulting Inc.
Solomon is a multidisciplinary expert on transportation policies, facilities, and innovations.
- He is dedicated to helping clients improve processes for goods and passengers. From re-engineering flows of people and goods through a journey to newer ways of navigating through a risk-managed environment, Solomon has helped to implement solutions for a range of private/public sector clients. He sits on the Board of the Airport Consultants Council and the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance. As well, he is active on several committees for Airports Council International (World) and IATA. Solomon has a Master of Science in Planning from the University of Toronto.