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Forced Labor Technical Expo - Speaker Bios

The Forced Labor Technical Expo welcomes industry event attendance as well as stakeholders (max two per company) impacted by the need to comply with UFLPA and §19 U.S.C. 1307. The audience includes the U.S. importing community, partner government agencies with a nexus to forced labor enforcement, and non-governmental organizations.

Below you will find bios for all speakers at the event. 

Event Agenda

Event Home Page

Robert Silvers was confirmed by the Senate as the Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans on August 5, 2021. He is responsible for driving policy and implementation plans across all of DHS’s missions, including counterterrorism; cybersecurity, infrastructure security, and resilience; border security and immigration; international affairs; and trade and economic security.

Mr. Silvers previously served in the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama-Biden Administration as Assistant Secretary for Cyber Policy. In that role he oversaw private sector engagement, federal government incident response, and diplomatic outreach pertaining to cybersecurity and emerging technology. Mr. Silvers also previously served as DHS’s Deputy Chief of Staff, managing execution of policy and operational priorities across the entire Department.

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Silvers was a partner at the law firm Paul Hastings LLP, where his practice focused on cybersecurity and data privacy, government security review of foreign investments, and investigations and litigation at the intersection of law and national security. After graduating law school, he clerked for Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Mr. Silvers holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught as an adjunct professor in the M.S. in Cybersecurity Risk and Strategy Program co-offered by the NYU Law School and NYU Tandon School of Engineering. A New York City native, Mr. Silvers lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and their two children.

Nury A. Turkel is an attorney, author, foreign policy expert, and advocate with nearly two decades of experience working in the intersection of law, business, government, and the human rights community. 

He specializes in corporate governance and regulatory compliance, national security, foreign policy, digital authoritarianism, and forced labor and supply chain risk issues. 

He is currently serving as Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom after being appointed as a Commissioner by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in May 2020. He has testified before the US Congress, speaking about Uyghur internment camps and advocating a legislative response to China’s atrocities. His policy recommendations have been incorporated into US law and pending bills relating to Uyghurs and China. 

As a rights advocate, he has led efforts to raise the profile of the Uyghur cause, previously as the president of the Uyghur American Association and now Chair of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, which he co-founded in 2003. He also advised past and present leadership of the World Uyghur Congress. 

He is a senior fellow at Washington think tank, the Hudson Institute, where he works on US foreign policy and national security issues. He is also a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Turkel is a globally recognized opinion leader and policy expert on matters involving Uyghurs and China. His policy-oriented essays appeared in major publications such as Foreign Affairs, Wall Street Journal, New York Times Foreign Policy, TIME, Newsweek, and USA Today. He frequently provides commentaries on TV and radio programs, including CNN, BBC, Radio Free Asia, Fox News, PBS, NPR, Al Jazeera, and France 24. 

In 2020, he was in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list, and in 2021, he was listed as one of Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders. In June 2021, he received the inaugural Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty. In September, he was awarded the “Global Soul Award” by Jewish World Watch. 

He holds a Juris Doctor and a Master of Arts in International Relations degrees from American University. He resides in the Washington, DC, area. 

In 2022, his memoir, “No Escape: The True Story of China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs” was published in the US, UK, and Finland. 

Troy A. Miller is the Acting Commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In this role, he leads more than 60,000 employees and ensures the advancement of the agency’s mission, strategic objectives, and related Administration priorities. He directs CBP’s three core missions of counterterrorism, border security, and trade enforcement, while facilitating $4 trillion in trade and facilitating travel of over 410 million people through ports of entry. 

Acting Commissioner Miller also served in this role from January to December 2021. During his prior Acting role, Mr. Miller led the agency through a myriad of challenges, to include the COVID-19 pandemic, surges of migration along the Southwest border, hurricane relief efforts, and Operation Allies Welcome – the substantive effort to process refugees fleeing Afghanistan. Mr. Miller also made workforce resiliency a top priority during his initial tenure as Acting Commissioner of the nation’s largest law enforcement agency. 

Between December 2021 and November 2022, Acting Commissioner Miller served as CBP’s Deputy Commissioner. In this role, he was the agency’s senior career official, overseeing the daily operations of CBP’s expansive mission, including matters relating to trade, travel, and national security. 

Acting Commissioner Miller also previously served as the Director, Field Operations for CBP’s New York Field Office. As the DFO, he directed the activities of almost 3,000 CBP employees and an area with: two of the country's busiest international airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR); the east coast's largest container seaport (New York/Newark); and the Pharmaceutical, Health and Chemicals Center of Excellence and Expertise (PHC Center). Mr. Miller oversaw CBP's national security and anti-terrorism operations, immigration and agriculture inspections, and the agency's trade enforcement efforts throughout the New York metropolitan area. 

Prior to his role as DFO, Mr. Miller also served as the Executive Director, National Targeting Center (NTC), where he directed over 800 employees and was responsible for providing advance targeting, research, analysis, and coordination among numerous law enforcement and intelligence agencies in support of CBP anti-terrorism mission on a 24/7 basis. The NTC is the principal organization responsible for developing and implementing CBP's counterterrorism strategy. Mr. Miller implemented several intelligence and targeting units that support CBP's primary mission to secure America's borders and he oversaw staff that use a multi-layered risk-based approach, which included collecting and analyzing advance traveler and cargo information. 

From 2013 to 2015, Acting Commissioner Miller served as the Acting Assistant Commissioner, Office of Intelligence and Investigative Liaison, where he initiated an organizational restructuring in direct support of field components and border enforcement entities that partner with them and promoted initiatives to transcend physical borders. In addition, he has held numerous leadership positions including Assistant Port Director, Seattle; Director of Targeting and Analysis, Office of Intelligence and Operations Coordination; and Director of the National Targeting Center-Passenger. 

Mr. Miller began his federal career with the U.S. Customs Service in 1993 as a Customs Inspector. Most recently, he was awarded the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award in 2021, and he is a prior recipient of the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award in 2016. Mr. Miller holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degrees from Bemidji State University. He is also a graduate of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Senior Executive Fellows program. 

Ms. AnnMarie R. Highsmith is the Executive Assistant Commissioner (EAC) of Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Ms. Highsmith oversees a diverse portfolio of trade enforcement, security, and facilitation 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 and overseeing 14 trade agreements, to directing CBP’s seven Priority Trade Issues in collaboration with 49 partner government agencies. 

From 2013 to 2021, Ms. Highsmith served as the Deputy Chief Counsel for CBP, where she was the chief operating officer of one of the premier legal offices in Government, managing and directing a staff of 400 legal professionals in 31 offices nationwide. In 2020, Ms. Highsmith served as Acting Chief Counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In that capacity, she provided effective leadership for the agency's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring public safety and the security of the national food supply chain, while protecting American jobs. Ms. Highsmith joined the SES as the Associate Chief Counsel (Trade and Finance), CBP, in Washington, 

D.C. In that role, she served as the principal legal advisor for CBP on all matters involving customs laws, as they impact on trade, and a broad range of fiscal matters. In 2013, she served as the Acting Associate General Counsel for General Law, in the Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, providing leadership and timely, practical legal advice and guidance to successfully implement the over $3 billion sequestration. A native Californian, Ms. Highsmith began her legal career in 1992 as a Staff Attorney with the U.S. Customs Service, at the Office of the Regional Counsel, in Long Beach, California. 

Ms. Highsmith received her law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1992, and her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, magna cum laude, from Pepperdine University in 1988. She is a 2011 graduate of the Harvard University Senior Managers in Government program. In 2017, Ms. Highsmith was awarded a Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award. 

Pete Flores is the Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). As part of his responsibilities, EAC Flores leads over 31,000 uniformed and non-uniformed personnel within the offices of Admissibility and Passenger Programs, Agriculture and Trade Liaison, Cargo and Conveyance Security, Mission Support, National Targeting Centers, Operations Directorate, Preclearance Operations, and Planning Program Analysis and Evaluation. He manages an annual budget of $6.5B for operations at CBP’s ports of entry and numerous programs to support national security and the facilitation of lawful trade and travel. 

Prior to his new role, EAC Flores served as the Director of Field Operations for the San Diego Field Office where he oversaw 2,488 employees assigned to five land border ports of entry at Andrade, Calexico, Tecate, Otay Mesa, and San Ysidro. The San Diego Field Office also encompasses San Diego’s Lindbergh Field including the San Diego seaport, the Cross Border Xpress and Brown Field. 

From August 31, 2020 to May 2021, EAC Flores served as the Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner, Operations Support where he provided leadership and direction across the broad spectrum of capabilities in support of CBP operations and mission execution across eight sub-components: Office of Intelligence, Information and Incident Coordination Center, Laboratories and Scientific Services, Law Enforcement Safety and Compliance, Office of International Affairs, Planning, Analysis, and Requirements Evaluation, Mission Support Division and Office of the Chief Medical Officer. 

Additionally, EAC Flores served as the Assistant Director of Trade, overseeing all trade, cargo operations, fines, penalties and forfeitures efforts for CBP Field Operations in Southern California.  His area of responsibility included the ports of Otay Mesa, San Ysidro, Port of San Diego, Tecate, Calexico, and Andrade. 

EAC Flores joined the U.S. Customs Service in 1988 where he worked in Calexico as an Inspector until 1996. 

A native of California, Mr. Flores was a member of the senior executive fellow at the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the San Diego State University, with a major in Criminal Justice Administration. 

Thea Lee was named Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs on May 10, 2021. She has been advocating for workers’ rights, both domestically and internationally, for over thirty years. She was president of the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive pro-worker Washington think tank, from January 2018 to May 2021 and an international trade economist at EPI in the 1990s. From 1997 to 2017, Lee worked at the AFL-CIO, a voluntary federation of 56 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women. At the AFL-CIO, she served as deputy chief of staff, policy director, and chief international economist.  

Lee has served on the State Department Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, the Export-Import Bank Advisory Committee, and on the Boards of Directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, the Center for International Policy, and the Coalition on Human Needs, among others. She served on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission from 2018 to 2020. In 2022, she was appointed to the Congressional-Executive Committee on China.  

Lee holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a bachelor’s degree in economics cum laude from Smith College. 

Kelly M. Fay Rodríguez is the Special Representative for International Labor Affairs. She is a dedicated advocate for workers’ rights and social justice in the United States and abroad. Most recently, she served as Trade and Labor Oversight Counsel for the Democratic majority of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means, with oversight over all U.S. trade agreements, policies, and programs. She also co-led staff for the Committee’s Racial Equity Initiative on health and economic issues. From 2012 to 2020, she worked for the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) and the Solidarity Center on domestic and global trade union programs. She led the Center’s flagship program in Bangladesh, which included legal support, trade union capacity-building, and strategic international supply chain advocacy. Previously, she worked on migrant workers’ rights and also helped manage labor programs in Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. 

She earned her law degree from City University of New York School of Law, where she was a Haywood Burns Human and Civil Rights Fellow and completed the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. 

Bridget McGovern is a C-suite executive advisor and lawyer with 20 years of experience in high-stakes regulatory, policy, strategic communications, and business matters—including stints in the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Justice, and the White House as well as in senior roles at two publicly traded, global companies, Uber Technologies and MoneyGram International. 
 
Currently, Bridget serves as the Assistant Secretary for Trade and Economic Security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security where she oversees a team of over thirty individuals focused on a wide range of critical issues including trade and customs, supply chains, clean energy, combatting forced labor, foreign investment, technology, and data security. She serves as DHS’s representative to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and Team Telecom (which oversees foreign investment in telecommunications). Bridget also plays a key role on White House and interagency trade and economic security priorities as well as serves as a trusted counselor to senior officials at the Department. Bridget spearheads international engagements on trade and economic security issues as well as oversees congressional outreach on those issues. 
 
Previously, as Uber’s Head of Public Policy, Payments, Bridget developed and managed policy and regulatory efforts as well as stakeholder outreach for Uber’s global payments business. At MoneyGram (the world’s second largest money transfer company operating in 200 countries), Bridget was the Associate General Counsel responsible for global regulatory and external affairs. In this capacity, she managed a global team of lawyers and government relations professionals handling legal, policy, and compliance matters. 

Dr. Elnigar Iltebir is a Professional Staff Member at the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. From July 2019 to July 2021, she served as the National Security Council (NSC) Director for China at the White House. At the NSC, Dr. Iltebir developed and coordinated U.S. strategy and policy actions on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and led the United States Government’s response to PRC’s erosion of democratic values with a focus on the relationship between human rights and economic policy. Prior to that, she worked as a political and economic analyst in the Executive Branch for over seven years. Dr. Iltebir holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University, a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, and a Ph.D. in International Security and Economic Policy from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy.

Felicia Pullam is the Executive Director, in the Office of Trade Relations (OTR). 

Prior to joining CBP, Ms. Pullam served as the Director of Strategy for the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in Baltimore.  She has worked on trade issues from both the state and federal perspective: she served at the Delaware Department of State, the Maryland Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. During the Obama Administration, Ms. Pullam helped steer SelectUSA, a presidential initiative housed within Commerce, during a high-pressure start-up phase to promote the United States as the leading global destination for foreign direct investment. Ms. Pullam was then appointed to be Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, where she managed three offices to analyze and implement trade policy covering a large swath of the global economy.

Prior to her government service, Ms. Pullam spent nearly a decade in China. She led the Asia regional corporate responsibility and sustainability practice for APCO Worldwide, assisting American companies on stakeholder engagement and a range of supply chain challenges. She began her career in Guangzhou through the Princeton in Asia program, followed by a yearlong adventure as tutor and translator for actress Zhang Ziyi.

Kit Conklin is a vice president at the research and data analytics firm, Kharon.  

He leads engagement with Kharon's government clients and works with global corporates and financial institutions on forced labor, sanctions, and supply chain risk. Kit is also a Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council's GeoTechnology Center.  

Prior to Kharon, Kit served in multiple national security positions with the U.S. Government. He has lived in Beijing and worked on China issues for over 15 years.  

Laura T. Murphy is Professor of Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery at the Helena Kennedy Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.  

She is author of numerous books and academic articles on the subject of forced labor and human trafficking globally.  

Her current work focuses on forced labor in the Uyghur Region of China, including in the automotive, solar, apparel, and building materials industries. She has provided expert testimony and evidence on the crisis in the Uyghur Region to the U.S., U.K., E.U., and Australian governments, as well as provided private briefings to government agencies, advocacy groups, law firms, and others interested in the issue globally.  

She has consulted for the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Office of Victims of Crime, and the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center.  

Her work has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Freedom Fund, Arise Foundation, USAID, the U.S. Administration of Children and Families, the National Humanities Center, and the British Academy. 

Vincent Annunziato has over twenty-five years’ experience with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). He began his career in 1996 as an Officer at the port of Los Angeles and in 2004 began working as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) program. Mr. Annunziato has led many high-profile projects with such notable releases as the Partner Government Agency (PGA) Single Window, Cargo Release, and Free and Secure Trade (FAST).  

Director Annunziato oversees the Business Transformation and Innovation Division (BTID) which researches and tests innovative products for the Office of Trade which includes: CBP’s Robotics Processing Automation, Distributed Ledger Technology, global supply chains (ACE 2.0) and advancing systems that combat Forced Labor.   

Stephen Cassata has over 21 years of experience with CBP and is currently a Senior Science Officer within CBP Laboratories and Scientific Services. Beginning his career as a Chemist in Springfield, Virginia in 2001, his primary responsibilities at that time included being the Lead Logistical Support Chemist for the Customs Service Canine Enforcement Training Center and as a CBRNE Secondary Reachback and Triage chemist.  

Stephen Cassata has served as a Senior Science Officer within LSS Headquarters with a primary focus on trade enforcement policy, targeting, and operations and providing scientific opinions relating to CBP legal rulings since October 2006. He works in various capacities within LSS HQ, including: LSS Liaison to the CBP Office of Trade Priority Trade Initiative and Targeting groups, Liaison to Partner Government Agencies’ regulatory laboratories, Liaison to CBP Regulations and Rulings and National Commodity Specialists Division and LSS Liaison to the CBP Office of Field Operations Centers of Excellence and Expertise. In addition, Mr. Cassata has served as the U.S. delegate to the World Customs Organization Scientific Subcommittee since 2010 and has held the position of the Subcommittee’s Vice Chairperson since January 2020. 

Anil John is the Technical Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), which works with innovation communities across the nation and around the world to adapt, develop and harness cutting-edge technologies and capabilities that are commercially sustainable while simultaneously meeting government needs.  

In this role, he identifies and conducts due diligence on technologies, companies, products and capabilities that could be adapted to meet Homeland Security operational needs and informs and educates the global innovation ecosystem including startups, accelerators, incubators, venture capital community and many others regarding the diverse Homeland Security challenges and opportunities available to them through the Program.  

Dan Solis was selected as the Assistant Commissioner for Import Operations on November 22, 2020 and prior to that he was the Division Director for the Division of West Coast Imports since February 9, 2018. Mr. Solis is a recognized expert in FDA import operations who has served as the acting assistant commissioner for Office of Enforcement and Import Operations (OEIO) since March 29, 2020. During this time, he has provided leadership and direction to all OEIO field import divisions as well as the Division of Food Defense Targeting and Division of Import Operations at FDA HQ. He brought about the leadership and stability needed during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  

Mr. Solis serves as the principal advisor to Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs and reports to the Deputy Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs (DACRA) on all import matters. This includes providing direction and oversight to FDA field import operations, reviewing prior notice and intelligence data on human and animal food, and leading the development and implementation of new import programs and procedures. 

Tom Mills is Executive Director for the Cargo Systems Program Directorate in CBP’s Office of Information and Technology.  In his role as Executive Director, Mr. Mills oversees a wide range of functions, including development and maintenance of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and other software applications related to CBP’s trade mission. 

A consummate technophile, Tom has over 20 years of experience leading and managing challenging and innovative technical programs and projects. He brings a unique perspective to CBP OIT, having personally directed Information Technology (IT) projects for the Federal government in both the government and private sector capacity.  He’s a graduate of the United States Naval Academy where he majored in Naval Architecture. 

Eric Choy serves as the Executive Director for Trade Remedy and Law Enforcement in the Office of Trade at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, where he is responsible for threat assessment units, special investigations and enforcement programs focused on detecting, deterring, and disrupting illicit trade, with special emphasis on forced labor violations, evasion of special tariff cases, and civil penalties. 

Previously, Eric served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade at the Department of Homeland Security responsible for policies and initiatives that enable the flow of legitimate trade, services, capital, and technology across our Nation’s borders to protect the economy and assure a fair, competitive, and safe trade environment.  

Eric joined the Department of Homeland Security in 2016, where he led the Chemical Sector Specific Agency in the National Protection and Programs Directorate. In this role, he oversaw the engagement with regulatory stakeholders and industry partners as part of the national effort to strengthen the security and resilience of the nation’s Chemical industry. 

Prior to his arrival at the Department, he served 23 years in the United States Army in numerous field and joint duty assignments in and outside of the Pentagon and around the world in Southwest Asia, Asia-Pacific, and North America.  

He received his Master of Arts from the United States Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and Master of Business Administration from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.       

Last Modified: Mar 09, 2023