Before launching The Whitaker Group, Rosa Whitaker served as the first ever Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa in the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and William J. Clinton. In this capacity, she developed and implemented the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and other bilateral and multilateral trade policy initiatives for Africa. She started the USTR’s Office of African Affairs and was the lead U.S. negotiator for trade agreements with African countries. Under her leadership, the United States was credited with a string of unprecedented initiatives to enhance American trade, investment, and economic cooperation with African countries.
Before joining USTR, Whitaker was Senior Trade Adviser to Congressman Charles Rangel. In that position, she was one of the hands-on architects of AGOA and helped develop the Africa Trade and Investment Caucus in Congress. She was responsible for advising Congressman Rangel on a broad range of issues related to the World Trade Organization, Africa, and China.
As a career diplomat, she served in Africa and the State Departments Office of International Energy Policy. She also served as Executive Director of the Washington Office of International Business. Over her career, Whitaker has built an extensive network of contacts in the U.S. Government and business community, as well as in the public and private sectors throughout Africa. Her leadership in designing and implementing initiatives has brought numerous trade and investment opportunities to Africa.
Whitaker is a member of the Executive Board of Mercy Ships, a global faith-based charity that has operated hospital ships in developing nations for 20 years, providing medical care to the poorest of the poor. Whitaker has lectured at National Defense University and at MIT, and previously served as Vice Chair of the US-South Africa Business Council. Among her many honors, in March 2008 Bennett College for Women named her a Woman with the Audacity to Excel, along with legendary civil rights pioneer Dr. Dorothy Height and three other African-American women leaders. In 2002, she was named Woman of the Year in International Trade by the Women in International Trade organization.
Her other honors include the 2001 Africa-America Institutes Award for Promoting U.S.-Africa Trade Relations and the Annual Achievement Award from the U.S. Association of Importers of Textile and Apparel in 2000. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Trade by Consumers for World Trade in 2003. She holds master's and bachelor's degrees from the American University in Washington, DC and has completed studies in England and Italy as well as at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute.
- Democratic Governance
- Access to Information
- Combating Corruption
- Business Association Development
- Corporate Governance
- Legal & Regulatory Reform
- Informal Sector & Property Rights
- Corporate Citizenship (CSR)
- South Asia
- Southeast Europe
- Middle East & North Africa
- Latin America & the Caribbean