About Us

About Us

 

 

WAC
WHO WE ARE

For almost a century, World Affairs Councils have spearheaded a nationwide non-partisan, non-profit grassroots movement to foster understanding and citizen engagement in international affairs and as well as involving interested citizens in an exchange of ideas, knowledge and understanding of global issues. Each year, half a million Americans directly benefit from world affairs councils’ programming and events.

WAC Austin exists to serve Central Texas residents of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in the world at large. Our mission is to provide those individuals with top-quality programming and events, and create conduits for interaction with international experts and decision-makers.   The World Affairs Council of Austin focuses on three areas of programming: Culture, Education, and Global Trade.

WACA VIDEO

 

Mortada MohamedPresident
Mortada Mohamed is the President of the World Affairs Council of Austin, and Executive Director for the Texas International Business Council. Prior to his present positions he was the Regional Trade Director for Europe, Africa, Middle East, for the State of Texas, Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism Division. Mr. Mohamed has served as a speaker for the US Department of State International Speaker’s Program throughout North Africa and the Arabian Gulf region. He lectured on doing business with the US private sector and promoted US business in those countries. Mr. Mohamed also serves as a volunteer consultant on behalf of ACDI/VOCA, funded by USAID, to assist in economic development programs for developing countries. This program, which selects experts in various business areas, has taken him deep into Africa, Siberia and Eastern Europe. Mr. Mohamed is an adjunct professor of international business at several Central Texas universities and colleges. and Chair of the World Affairs Council of Austin. He has presented in conferences both domestically and internationally, most recently the International Academy of Management and Business symposium, Istanbul, Turkey and the World Investment Conference, La Baule, France. Mr. Mohamed is on the University of Texas at Austin Center for European Studies Advisory Board, the Board of Governors of North America Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE), member of the Texas Economic Development Council, and the District Export Council. Mr. Mohamed has an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.
Ben RamirezVP & ITC Executive Director
Ben Ramirez III, Vice President and Executive Director, International Trade Center of the World Affairs Council of Austin; Founder of Cogitare Global, LLC. Ben has 20 years of experience assisting the transformation of local companies into global competitors. Ben works with organizations to identify specific business goals and implementation strategies which match their objectives. His expertise is connecting chief executives and their teams to the resources and the tools they need to achieve sustainable growth in a continually changing global marketplace. Ben previously served as the International Economic Development Manager for the City of Austin. His responsibilities in this position included governmental initiatives related to international economic development, foreign direct investment, culture, and education. Ben was also appointed to the U.S. Department of State’s Speaker and Specialist Program where he provided presentations overseas on the economic impact resulting from developing and growing technology industry clusters. Ben is a member of the Texas Camino Real District Export Council; a board member of CleanTX; Administrator of Central Texas Foreign Trade Zone #183; and serves as an entrepreneur advisor with Tech Ranch Austin. Ben has a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Michigan, and a JD from the University of Toledo.

 

 

 

 

Ana-Barbara LlorenteTreasurer
Ana-Barbara Llorente serves as the Treasurer for WAC Austin. She supervises the bookkeeping and taxes needs for the organization. She implements the accounting procedures needed to assure the transparency and financial operation of WAC Austin. Ana-Barbara is a global auditing executive with finance, management, and public accounting experience in diverse industries in US and EU markets. She is a CPA in the US and its equivalent in Spain. She is the partner of Pendas Consulting, LLC an international accounting and finance firm helping international companies with accounting, taxes and finance services. Ana-Barbara is the Treasurer of the Board of Directors at Austin International School and the president of Bilingual Toastmaster in Austin. She volunteers with Foundation Communities and she is member of different professional organizations. Ms. Llorente has a BA in Business and a Master in Accounting and Auditing from the University of Oviedo in Spain. She wrote a project about Materiality in Auditing as part of her PhD studies.
Katie StewartYouth Outreach Director
Originally from South Carolina, Katie has been interested in international affairs since her father’s career in the Air Force moved her across the world. Eventually landing in Texas, Katie attended the University of Texas at Austin and followed her educational calling: becoming a teacher. Katie joined the Leander ISD Team in at Vandegrift High School. She teaches History and strives to incorporate global subjects and international concerns in all school activities. In the summer, she serves as the Education Coordinator at the American Legion Auxiliary’s summer civics program, Texas Girls State. As Education Coordinator, she works annually with 500 high school senior girls, encouraging legislative participation and civic education. In addition, Katie serves as President of the local American Legion Auxiliary unit. Katie joined the World Affairs Council of Austin in 2015 and works on the Educational and Youth Outreach committee.

 

 

 

 

Suzanne KrauseCommunications Director
Originally from the Rio Grande Valley, Suzanne has lived and worked in Texas, New York and France. She is the public affairs representative for the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research center, library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin. She has more than 6 years’ experience in nonprofit communications, marketing and graphic design, in addition to event planning and fundraising. She also worked at Austin International School, where she had daily exposure to the city’s growing, diverse international population while managing an array of communications needs. She is also a volunteer with Austin Pets Alive! Suzanne has an MA from New York University in journalism and French studies and a BA in liberal arts from The University of Texas at Austin.
Enes Bilgin, Ph.D.Business Outreach
Dr. Enes Bilgin serves in the Business Outreach Committee of WAC Austin. Although trained as an engineer, Dr. Bilgin’s interest in global affairs and political issues started in his early ages since his family members were active in various political organizations in Turkey. Since then, he has maintained his interest in those areas through his readings and the classes he took on foreign policy and political science. Dr. Bilgin firmly believes in the importance of engaging public and the youth in global affairs, therefore he very much enjoys being part of WAC Austin.  In addition to his work at WACA, he voluntarily mentors high school students in national and international science project competitions. Dr. Bilgin received his B.S. in Industrial Engineering in 2010 from Bilkent University in Turkey and his Ph.D. in Systems Engineering in 2014 from Boston University. He is currently working as Operations Research Scientist at Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.  

 

 

 

 

Zoya ZiaYPN Program Coordinator
Zoya Zia is a freshman studying International Relations & Global Studies as a Liberal Arts Honors student at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a writer for ORANGE Magazine, secretary of the Alexander Hamilton Society, and a member of Women in Foreign Affairs. She graduated summa cum laude from Stony Point High School in 2015, with an International Baccalaureate Diploma. Zia enjoys discussing current affairs and keeps up with social issues at home and abroad. She emphasizes the importance of civic engagement and volunteerism. She hopes her time with WACA can help stimulate the same passion for global awareness that she has among the Austin community.  
Betsy McKinneyIntern
Betsy McKinney is an advocate of global policy awareness as it laces the framework of both our international understanding and personal enlightenment. Betsy hopes to bridge the power of written communication and community education as an English Writing and Rhetoric and Spanish major at St. Edward’s University. In the past, she has served as Editor-in-Chief of her school’s literary magazine, The Torch, and today continues to pursue creative writing as a Staff Writer for an online magazine, New Literati. Her time as a Writing Center tutor has inspired her to continue her dedication to community outreach as a volunteer mentor for at-risk students at a local Austin high school and middle school. Betsy was a four-year member of Varsity Debate, where she learned the significant connection between rhetoric and and the shaping of public policies. She hopes to explore this honest and bipartisan dialogue during her time at the World Affairs Council of Austin.

 

 

 

 

Colleen AndersonIntern
Colleen Anderson is a rising sophomore at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.  She is a varsity swimmer studying International Relations and Pubic Health.  Colleen is a 2015 graduate from Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, California, where she was a four-year varsity swimmer, vice president of National Honor Society, and a member of the Fraternity of Academic and Civic Excellence. Colleen is interested in international affairs, international health policy, and public policy.  She hopes to contribute to and learn from the Austin community.

 

Emma Aberle-GrasseIntern
Emma Aberle-Grasse is a senior studying Global Studies with a focus on Global Public Health at St Edward’s University. Emma has been interested in world affairs her whole life due to her time living abroad in Guatemala, Malawi and Argentina. She has pursued this passion through philanthropic work abroad, with organizations such as Un Techo Para Mi Pais in Argentina, as well grassroots efforts at home with local community gardens and initiatives. Pursuing her interest in public health, she has worked with Mary House Catholic Worker of Austin to work with injured and ill homeless men. Beyond her studies of world affairs at St Edwards, working with the World Affairs Council offers both engagement with international issues as well as connecting with the local community of Austin.