2023 SPESA Executive Conference
San Juan, Puerto Rico | March 30 & 31, 2023
Jonathan Fantini-Porter | Keynote
Executive Director & CEO
Partnership for Central America
Jonathan Fantini Porter is the Executive Director and CEO of the Partnership for Central America. PCA is the coordinating body of the White House public-private partnership launched by Vice President Harris in May 2021. In its first six months, the Partnership mobilized $1.2 billion in foreign direct investment and launched programs supporting 20 million people, including delivering internet access to 4 million homes with Microsoft, financial inclusion to 5 million with Mastercard, and nearshoring more than $150 million in manufacturing supply chains to the Americas.
Jonathan previously served as an associate partner at McKinsey & Company; national security aide in the White House; senior congressional aide in both chambers of the U.S. Congress; and as a chief of staff in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security where he oversaw management of a $6 billion budget and 22,000 personnel in 48 countries. Jonathan serves on advisory bodies to the U.N. Refugee Agency’s U.S. entity, the World Economic Forum, and Amnesty International. He is a consulting fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown University. Jonathan speaks Spanish and German and is the son of a first-generation Latino refugee.
Nicole Bivens Collinson
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A
Nicole Bivens Collinson leads the International Trade and Government relations practice of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A., and serves as managing principal of the Washington, D.C., office. She is also a member of the firm's Operating Committee and a commentator on trade matters on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC. She is the lead professional on ST&R’s engagement as legislative counsel to the National Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA).'
Ms. Collinson has over 30 years of experience in government, public affairs, and lobbying. She has drafted and guided the successful implementation of several pieces of key international trade legislation positively affecting the bottom line of many U.S. companies. Clients have saved millions of dollars through the successful drafting, guidance, and passage of legislation that reduces or eliminates duties -- crafting creative measures to benefit clients such as blocking changes to the first sale doctrine, miscellaneous tariff bills, specific trade preference legislation, the Generalized System of Preferences, etc. Such a track record demonstrates her ability to effectively move your agenda forward.
Ms. Collinson has been very effective in assisting clients in finding options - through exclusion or other tariff mitigation strategies – to reduce duty liability for goods subject to section 301 or section 232 duties. In addition, she is a leader on the firm’s initiatives to address forced labor concerns via supply chain reviews, due diligence strategies, and proactive remediation to prevent the importation of any goods that may violate section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 for goods made with forced labor.
Ms. Collinson prepares countries, companies, and associations for negotiations with the United States on free trade agreements, trade and investment agreements, labor disputes, and preferential trade programs. She is well-known for her ability to foster dialogue among a diverse set of stakeholders to resolve complex issues in trade policy making and implementation. She also works directly with U.S. multinational corporations and associations, as well as foreign companies, associations, and government agencies, to clearly represent their positions in Washington. In doing so she analyzes and monitors cross-cutting trade issues, including labor, the environment, food safety, customs regulations, international development, and others, and helps build strong coalitions to advocate for change.
Further, her work representing clients before Congress has earned her a well-respected position among politicians involved in international and business affairs. She is a well-known international trade authority in Washington, regularly called upon by members of Congress and the administration to help explain complex trade programs. Her decades of work with the House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security committees and the Senate Finance; Commerce, Science and Transportation; Foreign Relations; and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees has established deep and lasting relations with members of Congress and their staffs.
Prior to joining ST&R Ms. Collinson served as assistant chief negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, responsible for the negotiation of bilateral agreements with Latin America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, the Sub-Continent, and Africa. She also served as a country specialist in the International Trade Administration at the Department of Commerce, where she was responsible for the preparation of negotiations on specific topics between the U.S. and Latin America, Eastern Europe, China, and Hong Kong as well as the administration of complex textile agreements.
Ms. Collinson holds a master’s degree in international relations from The George Washington University and a triple bachelor’s degree in political science, European studies, and French from Georgetown College. She also studied at the Université de Caen in France. She is past chair of the Women in International Trade Charitable Trust, past president of Women in International Trade, an advisory board member of America's TradePolicy.com, treasurer and board member of the Washington International Trade Association, and a member of the Washington International Trade Association Foundation and Women in Government Relations. She serves on the board of trustees for Georgetown College and is the past executive director for the U.S. Hosiery Manufacturers Coalition, the U.S. Apparel Industry Coalition, and the U.S. Sock Distributors Coalition. She is conversant in both French and Spanish.
Nicole Bivens Collinson is not admitted to the practice of law.
Mario Alberto Canahuati
Executive Director of Energy & Real Estate
Mario Alberto Canahuati was born in Honduras, and attended the Wharton School of Business at Penn University where he studied finance, marketing and economics.
After graduating from Wharton in 2011 he joined “Elcatex Group.” The group is comprised of 30 companies that generate approximately 17,000 jobs. Elcatex's investments are mainly focused on Textiles, Energy, Technology & Innovation and Industrial Free Zones.
In the textile sector, the group has one of the most renowned textile companies in the world, with a production that exceeds 156 million pounds of finished fabric and eight sewing plants that produce more than 300 million garments annually.
The Industrial Free Zones have more than 9 million square feet of construction, where recognized international companies provide employment to more than 35,000 people. The group is currently developing the largest free zone in the region that incorporates innovative technology with an area of 5,000,000 square feet of construction. Some of the main services provided includes reliable and cost-efficient renewable energies including: solar, biogas, biomass and HFO. Additionally, the industrial park operates treatment plants using the treated water as a source of fertigation for adjacent biomass crops.
Elcatex Group stands out for its focus on environmental protection, being a pioneer in the generation of both: 30 tons per hour of steam and 69.8 MW of electricity produced through biomass, biogas and solar energy, which contribute to the reduction of more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. It also has industrial and domestic water treatment plants that have the capacity to process 3.8 million gallons of water per day.
He is currently Executive Director of Energy & Real Estate, leading seven industrial parks and four energy generation companies:
*Honduran Green Power Corporation (43.8 MW produced with biomass)
*Progressive Energy Corporation (56.7 MW of electric power, 26.2 tons per hour of steam, 134 thousand gallons per hour of hot water)
*Solar Power Energy Solutions (23.4 MW of installed capacity making it the largest photovoltaic generator in Latin America over roof)
*Sula Valley Biogas Corporation (2.6 MW biogas-based)
He also serves as a director for both the Chamber of Commerce of Cortes and the Honduran Association of Renewable Energy (AHER). Some of his main achievements include making Elcatex Group completely independent in terms of electric and thermal energy.
Vice President of Operations
M&M Manufacturing, LLC
Lajas, Puerto Rico
Gabriella Graves Is currently the Vice-President of Operations for M M Manufacturing in Lajas, Puerto Rico. In her position, she is responsible for the planning, purchasing, logistics and other operations involved in the manufacturing process.
She has 25+ years of experience in both Government and Commercial manufacturing operations.
A native of the Dominican Republic, she currently resides in Saint Charles, Missouri, and considers Puerto Rico her second home.
Vice President of Engineering & Procurement
Jimmy is the Vice President of Engineering & Procurement for the Delta Group at Delta Apparel Inc. Jimmy is responsible for all engineering, procurement, capital and productivity activities that occur within Delta’s textile, sewing, printing and distribution locations. Jimmy started his career in the apparel industry in 1993 with Carters and served as the Director of Engineering at Warnaco and Director of Process Engineering at Carhartt. In 2003, he joined Delta Apparel as Engineering Manager for their facility in Mexico and has since taken various leadership roles in Manufacturing and Operations within the Company. Jimmy strongly believes in the value of connecting with his industry peers and had over the course of his career, developed great relationships with many in great companies in DR, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico.
Jimmy is an Atlanta native and is a proud Georgia Tech graduate who is fluent in Spanish. He and his wife Kristhia live in Atlanta, GA with their two children in High School: Kimberly (17) a senior who is about to go off to college and Bryan (14) who is a Freshman and playing soccer every weekend.
Bluewater Defense, Inc.
Corozal, Puerto Rico
Auralís Herrero-Lugo is an entrepreneur, designer, and educator with over 15 years of sustainable product development and small batch production experience in the United States, specializing in integrating circularity practices within the manufacturing industry and its supply chain. Auralís lectures on Ethical Fashion, Circular Product Lifecycle, and Product Development at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons New School, and more recently, at her alma mater Moore College of Art and Design, with guest lecturing at design universities in Puerto Rico such as Escuela de Artes Plásticas and Universidad del Turabo. She also helps shape the educational future of Puerto Rico by designing sustainability courses for different institutions and businesses, most recently Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.
Auralís has founded 2 sustainable fashion companies: Retazo a Puerto Rico-based circular fashion platform that meshed together circular manufacturing, modular training, capacity building, and sales for long-term economic development in the island of Puerto Rico; and her first business endeavor Auralis Studio, a sustainable resort wear line that was designed and manufactured between New York City and Puerto Rico. Her experience includes strategy, circular supply chain management, responsible sourcing, client relations, training, and capacity building in American manufacturing. Auralís spent her whole career in New York’s fashion and manufacturing industry before returning to Puerto Rico full-time in January 2018 to serve as the product manager at Blue Water Defense a 500+ people garment factory in Corozal. Her work has been featured in CNN, Glamour, Now This, and The New York Times.
Owner & Designer
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Karla López Rivera is an industrial designer with 10+ years of experience in the footwear field, she moved back to Puerto Rico in 2018 to launch Isleñas after 15 years of studying and working in the US and Europe. This decision was possible after being accepted into local business accelerator Parallel 18. Karla has a BFA in Furniture Design from Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters in Footwear Design from Polimoda in Florence, IT.
Improving quality of life through design is one of Karla’s passions. She believes modernizing the sewing industry in Puerto Rico with slow fashion practices can be a tool that creates a positive impact in Puerto Rico.
General Manager | Vice President of Operations
Capaz International SAS
San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Born in Santo Domingo, D.R., Mr. Simón Medina found his passion for clothing manufacturing at the young age of 13 when he began working at his cousin's small factory during after school time. Years later he attended a technical school of arts where we completed “Clothing Pattern Drafting” and became a pattern designer.
In 1986 — as several U.S. apparel companies relocated to the Dominican Republic to take advantage of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) — he was recruited to work for Tropical Sport Wear Inc. where he was trained on industrial engineering and later would become the head of Tropical's industrial engineer department.
In 1988, Mr. Medina was offered a position as Quality Assurance Manager by Farah Manufacturing Co. where he oversaw contractors in the Free Trade Zones located in the Dominican Republic. This was the beginning of a long journey in apparel manufacturing for the following 35 years.
Emilio Penhos Mougrabi
Executive Director | CANAIVE
Managing Director | SHYLA / ALYSH
Mexico City, Mexico
Emilio Penhos Mougrabi is the Managing Director of SHYLA/ALYSH, a fashion company based in Mexico and produced only in Mexico, that specializes in outerwear for both men and women. He is also the Director of Cámara Nacional de la indutria del Vestido (CANAIVE), an organization with 75+ years representing the garment manufacturing industry in Mexico.
Mougrabi received his degree in Public Accounting from the Universidad Iberoamericana, plus a diploma in management skills and senior management from the Pan-American Institute of Senior Business Management (IPADE). In 2017, Mougrabi completed the Standford University Executive Program for Growing Companies.
Vice President of Global Business Development & Manufacturing Solutions
CGS, Inc. (Presenting Sponsor)
New York, NY
Michael Penchansky is vice president, global business development, manufacturing solutions for CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services. He has more than 20 years of experience in fashion retail, wholesale and technology and has assisted many retailers, brands, and manufacturers in successfully navigating their transformation to fully digital processes and business strategies.
Founder & CEO
Complete Image Manufacturing
Milton Putman is one of the most sought-after fashion enthusiasts of our time; having been featured in popular fashion magazines such as Dbusiness, and Detroit Fashion News. Milton currently holds positions as CEO and Founder of Complete Dominance Athletics and CEO and Founder of Complete Image Manufacturing. Milton is also an active member with the National Entrepreneur Association and serves on their board of leadership for the Young Entrepreneur program. By developing, guiding, and teaching entrepreneurs the professional skills that's needed in business. Milton is also active in his community where he sits on the advisory board at his childhood recreation center Lasky Recreation Center. Starting a health and fitness program that aims to lower the rate of diabetes and obesity. He also teaches a class on professional etiquette for men. Building the next generation how to speak, what to wear, and how to carry themselves in and out of their work lives.
Milton Putman is also the recipient of Round 20 Motor City Match for which he received recognition from Mayor Mike Duggan and Secretary of the United States Treasury Janet Yellen.
Milton’s passions have been helping other entrepreneurs realize their vision in seeing their brands and companies develop their apparel line. Milton wants to use his network and time to bring in promising programs. Not only for adults but for the local schools and recreation centers as well. His idea is to bring skills trades to his programs. The world is rapidly moving into technology for everything and there's just a matter of time when the fashion industry is next. Milton programs will offer certified teaching in the machinery that is needed for fashion, sewing, and cutting like the (Sew Bot). Fashion students will also learn about textiles, tech packs, sourcing for fabric and the other needed skills. Building these programs will not only provide education but also create jobs.
Andrea Maribel Mansilla Salazar
Investment & Trade Advisor
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Andrea Mansilla is an internationalist specializing in foreign trade as part of the XVI promotion of the Young Ibero-American Leaders Program. It also has been part of the courses on the new generation of trade promotion treaties by the Inter-American Development Bank. During her career, she has worked as a commercial attaché in the trade promotion office of the Mexican Embassy in Guatemala, Promexico; the trade promotion office of the Chilean Embassy in Guatemala, ProChile and the National Competitiveness Program attached to the Ministry of Economy of Guatemala, Pronacom, where she worked as an investment attraction advisor in various sectors of light manufacturing, tourism, and Apparel and textiles.
Currently, she works as a trade promotion and investment attraction advisor for Guatemala´s Apparel and Textile Association -VESTEX- from where she serves both national and international companies that wish to invest or expand in the country, companies that want to relocate their production orders and from where she provides analysis of the national and international situation of the industry.
President & CEO
Bluewater Defense, Inc.
Corozal, Puerto Rico
Mr. Spackey comes to BWD with over 30 years of experience leading finance, development and operations of successful start-ups in healthcare, wireless telecom, internet and manufacturing. Prior to joining BWD, he was CEO of ShippingPal.com, an Internet start-up in Toronto, Mr. Spackey’s partner has gone on to be named “one of the 50 fastest growing companies in Canada”.
Prior to ShippingPal, Mr. Spackey held senior leadership roles in a number of successful wireless telecommunication startups, eventually becoming seconded to AT&T Wireless International to lead business development and regulatory affairs in the Caribbean. In this role, he worked closely with the senior leadership of local and national government, finance, network infrastructure and handset providers, including: Carlyle Group, CL Financial, MC Venture Partners, Siemens, Nortel, Lucent, MCI, Panasonic and others. Mr. Spackey is a member of the Republican Governors Association Executive Roundtable, where he works closely with senior government, military and industry leaders. He’s a veteran of the US Air Force. Mr. Spackey holds a BS in Finance and Marketing from the University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
SNC Technical Services
Dorado, Puerto Rico
Humberto Zacapa is a senior executive in the field of apparel and textile manufacturing. He is a constant creator of new strategies that enable flexibility and sustainable growth.
Mr. Zacapa’s is an Industrial Engineer. He graduated in Honduras, with a major in Apparel Production Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology/FIT (Magna Cum Laude, Dean’s List) of NYU. Also, he completed his MBA from the Universidad Católica de El Salvador.
Mr. Zacapa dedicated his professional career to the textile business and served several companies in Central America and the U.S. In 2014, he joined SNC Technical Services LLC as its new CEO with the specific goals of optimizing the operations and growing the company sales.
Besides his professional career, in 1994 Mr. Zacapa founded his own consulting firm in El Salvador (Zacapa y Asociados SA) that focused on helping the textile industry in Central America and the U.S. He has also published several essays and technical manuals.
Mr. Zacapa serves on the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association (PRMA). He is also an active member of the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) ), National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), and the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC). He also serves as Honorary Consul of El Salvador in Puerto Rico and is the Treasurer of the Consular Corps of Puerto Rico.
Mr. Zacapa lives in Dorado, Puerto Rico with his wife and two children (studying at high school level). His oldest son is studying in PA. He is a family man with strong ties to the community.