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Spotlight on Commerce: Bryan Erwin, Director of the Advocacy Center of the International Trade Administration

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Bryan Erwin is the Director of the Advocacy Center of the International Trade Administration.

As the Director of the Advocacy Center of the International Trade Administration, it is my duty to ensure that sales of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance competing abroad. I am constantly reaching out to exporters and letting them know that this Administration stands ready to assist them win new business. Through our efforts at the Advocacy Center, we work very hard to ensure that America’s exports are as competitive as possible. That often means talking with foreign governments and business leaders to ensure U.S. companies competing for public international contracts aren’t at a disadvantage. I firmly believe that American companies can’t be beat if they have a level playing field. This level playing field not only helps exporters win public international contracts, it also helps put Americans back to work. In fact, we have supported over 100,000 U.S. jobs this year alone.

An example of how the Advocacy Center works occurred earlier this year when we were contacted by an aerospace company from Iowa.  They were competing against Israeli and French firms for a half a billion dollar contract to supply avionics to a South American company.  Our Regional Managers worked closely with ITA colleagues, including Trade Specialists in Iowa, Commercial Service personnel in South America, colleagues at headquarters and interagency colleagues to approve the company for advocacy and begin to work on their behalf.  In addition to great efforts by the Embassy Team, we helped to facilitate both Secretary Locke and Under Secretary Sanchez’s advocacy to their counterparts, stressing the value of U.S. goods and service and urging a transparent procurement process.  The company won the procurement and estimates that 150 jobs will be retained or created as a result.

To understand why a result like this is so gratifying for me you should understand a little about my background. I grew up in Riverhead, New York, on the East End of Long Island. I am a third generation Riverhead High School graduate (and had my great-grandfather not left school to help out on the family farm in the 8th grade, I would have been fourth generation). I received my Bachelor’s of the Arts from George Washington University, with a major in Political Science and minors in Economics and Sociology. I went on to get my Master’s of Public Administration from Cornell University with a focus on International Trade and Finance.   I proudly worked for former Senator Daschle, starting while still an undergrad and continuing after  graduation for a total of seven years. After grad school, I took a job on Wall Street, but my desire to serve my country brought me back to public service.

My commitment to public service comes from a long family tradition. My family fought to preserve the Union and free the slaves during the Civil War. My father, grandfathers and great grandfathers volunteered for military service during the Vietnam War, WWII and WWI, respectively.  Moreover, my wife has been a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. Back home, I serve as Chairman of the Long Island State Parks Commission.  Now that we have a two-year-old daughter, we want to instill in her our family's duty and desire to serve our country. With that background, the least I could do was come to Washington, serve this president, and help put America back to work.

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