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GSCFMI Instructors



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Jim Dezell, Senior Vice President, Marsh Trade Credit

jim dezellJim joined Marsh in 2003, and has over 24 years of trade credit insurance experience. Jim is the practice's Growth Leader, and is based in the New York office. Throughout his career, he has structured and orchestrated some of the largest credit insurance programs in the U.S. -- several for global companies that are leaders in their industry segments. He has placed programs for major manufacturing concerns, chemical producers, media groups, publishers and consumer product companies. He focuses on educating Marsh staff and their clients on the values of trade credit protection.

Before coming to Marsh, Jim was the Regional Vice President for Swiss Re's credit insurance arm, NCM (now known as Atradius). Jim started there in 1988. He oversaw their operations in the Northeast, and was responsible for opening NCM's offices in Canada in 1999.

Jim has extensive experience in finance, credit and business development.

Jim earned a BS in Communications from Boston University and an MBA in International Business from Boston College.


Michael Ford, Vice President of Regulatory Compliance and Quality, BDP International

michael fordMichael Ford is a career professional in international transportation, specializing in import/export documentation and regulatory compliance. He is responsible for BDP International's regulatory compliance unit.

Michael's activities include developing and administering the company's consulting arm in value-added product offerings such as regulatory compliance, supply chain security, duty drawback, insurance, customer education and logistics process analysis/management, and all topical governmental issues connected with the handling and administration of export and import cargo.

Michael's leadership in communication and system logic on governmental rules and regulations is central to BDP's ability to understand and resolve complex regulatory issues quickly, decisively and with minimal impact upon customers.

Michael has been associated with BDP for more than 34 years. Prior to his current role, he headed the company's regional ocean export service division as vice president. For the past 17 years, he has worked with and served as an advocate for some of the world's leading companies, interacting with the U.S. Customs Service and the Department of Commerce/Census Bureau, in the development, piloting and automation of import and export programs. Among his other affiliations, Michael is the co-chair for trade on the Export Committee in the development of the new Customs ACE system and has served with Customs as a member of COAC (Commercial Operations Advisory Council), a vice-chair of the Mid-Atlantic District Export Council, and chair of the partner sector with the American Chemistry Council, Responsible Care Committee. He also teaches an MBA international logistics course at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.


Kevin Hebner, Senior Foreign Exchange Strategist, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

kevin hebnerPrior to his position at JPMorgan, Kevin was a global investment strategist and partner at Third Wave Global Investors, a global macro hedge fund based in Greenwich, Connecticut. From 1999 to 2004, he was a global investment strategist and managing director at Credit Suisse Asset Management, Japan, and was UBS's Japan strategist from 1996 to 1999.

Kevin holds a PhD in financial economics from Queen's University, Canada.


Lizbeth Rodriguez-Johnson, Attorney, Holland & Hart LLP

bio coming soon


Craig Schurr, Senior Vice President and Manager, FirstMerit Bank - International Banking Division

craig schurr Craig Schurr is a Senior Vice President and Manager of FirstMerit Bank’s International Banking Division. Craig is responsible for the overall international business activities of the Bank including foreign correspondent banking, foreign exchange, trade finance and structured finance products and the sale of services to companies throughout FirstMerit Bank’s banking franchise.

Craig joined FirstMerit in 2009 and has over 44 years of experience in banking with 32 years focused solely on international banking. Previously Craig worked for National City Bank, Bank One, Mellon Bank, and Equibank where he held senior management positions in Audit, Treasury Management and International Banking.

Craig is a Board member of the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade and also co-chair of the association’s North American Council. Craig is a member of the Northern Ohio District Export Council (NODEC) and a former member of The Global Council, the Advisory Board of Thunderbird, The School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona Mr. Schurr is currently an Adjunct Professor at Thunderbird the School for Global Management teaching a class in Export Import Management, a volunteer for the Financial Services Volunteer Corp and a frequent speaker at regional and national trade association conferences.

Over his career Craig has assisted hundreds of companies throughout the United States with their global business whether it is improving payment experience for global sales through effective deployment of trade tools, enhancing performance of global sourcing operations through effective management of the financial supply chain or efficient treasury management and hedging of foreign cash operations. Craig co-developed and taught an all day seminar entitled Inside Trade Finance which was designed to provide exporters with financing tools that effectively enhance and improve the profitability of international sales while enhancing relationships with global customers.


Gene M. Smith, Smith Brandon International, President

Gene M. Smith is the President of SBI and founded the company in 1996 with Harry B. Brandon. She specializes in international business intelligence and investigative services, and has extensive experience in economic and political analysis. Since SBI's founding, she has worked on projects around the world, with an emphasis on developing countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Central Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Gene has particular expertise in providing investigative services, including:

  • Due diligence
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations
  • Industry-specific country reports
  • Risk avoidance analysis
  • Background investigations of US and foreign businesses and individuals
  • Support for market entry abroad by newly formed business entities
  • Tailored business and competitive intelligence

She also has assisted international law enforcement authorities in the investigation and prosecution of fraud.

Gene Smith has developed a broad array of global resources that include a network of in-country associates who support strategic intelligence-gathering operations and state-of-the-art databases.

Her practice provides unique access to sources of information on companies, individuals and potential partners in developing nations and emerging economies. Beyond professional associates in countries around the globe, she has developed relationships with US and foreign government sources, international diplomatic resources, as well as sources in the US from competitive intelligence and law enforcement circles.

Gene is a former Officer with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving at the US Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, and the US Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Prior to her service with the US Government, Ms. Smith was a prosecutor and trial attorney in Louisville, Kentucky and New Albany, Indiana.

Gene Smith received a B.A., with honors, from Spalding University (Louisville, KY). She has a Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville School of Law (Louisville, KY), which included a comparative law program through the University of Houston Bates College of Law in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She is fluent in Portuguese and speaks Spanish and French.

Skip Brandon, Smith Brandon International, Chief Operating Officer

Harry B. 'Skip' Brandon is Chief Operating Officer of SBI and founded the company in 1996 with Gene M. Smith. He has an extensive background in US and international investigations and counter-terrorism activities, with special expertise in providing in-country support to international corporate projects. His experience and expertise is particularly great in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Central Europe.

Skip Brandon has used a "hands-on" approach to various projects. He has:

  • Reviewed corporate operations from a security and anti-corruption perspective
  • Conducted security assessments of manufacturing plants and building complexes
  • Given lectures as part of law enforcement training sessions
  • Investigated security lapses and proposed improved security measures for companies operating in unstable environments
  • Developed and presented training modules related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

Skip Brandon is uniquely qualified to advise clients and provide accurate and timely information on such issues as risk avoidance and uncovering intelligence efforts directed against their companies. He is equally qualified and experienced in ensuring employee safety and asset security in high-risk areas, particularly in developing nations. Skip is a frequent contributor to television and radio news programs such as ABC, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, and NPR.

Prior to founding SBI, Mr. Brandon directed the FBI's worldwide counter-terrorism efforts and had wide ranging responsibilities over National Security programs in his ultimate assignment as Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI for Counter-Terrorism and Counter Intelligence. Skip participated in domestic and foreign policy deliberations as a member of various Presidential Commissions, National Security Council working groups, and interagency forums. He testified frequently before the US Senate and the US House of Representatives. During his tenure with the FBI, Skip was assigned to numerous posts across the US, including Puerto Rico, where he was the Special Agent in charge of all FBI activities in the Caribbean Basin.

Skip holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Texas (Austin, TX). He received his undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM), and is also a graduate of the National War College (Washington, DC). A decorated combat veteran, Skip served six years with the US Navy, which included service in Vietnam. Mr. Brandon speaks fluent Spanish.

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