Anne Simmons-Benton is a leader in international development and a champion for the economic empowerment of women – building entrepreneurship, trade and the regulatory, finance and innovation ecosystem around the world to support their growth. Anne is the Deputy Chair of the Society for International Development – Washington D.C. Chapter and has served on the Board since 2015. She is the Co-Chair of the US delegation to the W20 and a Board Member for Mining Advisory Group-America.
Anne’s career includes international experience in commercial law, trade, banking, business development, competitiveness, investment, entrepreneurship, regional development and a consistent gender lens. Anne is a thought leader and early innovator – pioneering business in the early post-Soviet days in Russia, integrating and measuring women’s impact in economic programs to create the business case for inclusion, conducting simulations in international fora for the CAFTA negotiations and the World Trade Organization, and linking economics to peace for the Balkans through the Stability Pact.
She is a Principal at Deep Water Point, LLC where she advises the private sector on how to bridge the corporate international development gap. She has advised companies on strategy, technical matters, procurement and how to create impact overseas working closely with new partners, donors and other multilateral entities.. Previously, as the Executive Director of Arizona State University’s International Development Office, she led the strategy and business development for ASU’s international engagement. She leveraged and connected the knowledge from ASU in education, climate change, gender, supply chains, water, and sustainability to help solve complex global problems.
Prior to joining ASU, she was the Project Director of the $46 million USAID/Jordan Competitiveness Program that focused on trade and innovation in clean energy, ICT and medical services. Anne championed gender there and started the first Girls in Tech Chapter, included gender for the first time in the MENA ICT Forum and advocated for an angel network to finance women’s enterprises. Before moving to Jordan, she served as a Global Practice Leader at DAI, where she started two new practice areas in the Solutions Group – one focused on trade and regulatory reform and one on gender.
Anne managed and led the trade portfolio for Booz Allen Hamilton’s Foreign Affairs Business. There, she conducted assessments of countries’ business environments and created the first diagnostic tool to assess the business enabling environment for women with USAID funding, known as GENDERCLIR. She conducted gender analyses in Rwanda, Vietnam, Jordan, West Bank and Uganda.
Anne worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as Senior Trade Advisor in Washington, D.C. where she worked on trade and development in the CAFTA negotiations, as a delegate to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva and as the first business advisor for USAID/Moscow. She also served at the U.S. Department of Commerce as Senior Counsel where she specialized in trade and economic development in the Balkans.
Anne has been a licensed attorney for over 30 years and worked in law firms for the first part of her career. She holds a J.D. from the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., a Change Management Advance Practitioner Certificate from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is married to Jonathan S. Benton, a Foreign Service Officer, and they have three adult children and three grandchildren.