Committee Members

Jigar V. Shah is a Visiting Scholar and Advisory Board Member at the George Washington University’s Environmental and Energy Management Institute. Jigar was a Principal Industry Specialist at IFC World Bank Group, and his role was to facilitate investments related to climate business for clients in the manufacturing sector. Prior to IFC he served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Industrial Productivity (IIP), an international non-profit organization with a mission to decarbonize industry. Jigar has worked globally in manufacturing and energy sectors. He has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from University of Florida and has taught graduate courses on clean energy as an Adjunct Professor at McMaster University, Canada, and George Washington University, USA.

Director, International Division
West Virginia Department of Economic Development
State Capitol
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305

Steve Spence joined West Virginia’s economic development agency in 1979 and has served as an Industrial Development Representative, the Executive Director, and in his current position of Director of the International Division since 1986. Spence has organized and led West Virginia trade missions throughout Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. In 1990 Spence was assigned to Nagoya, Japan where he established the state’s first overseas office and assisted in opening similar offices in Europe and Taiwan.

Spence earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from West Virginia University and serves as a member of the West Virginia Export Council, the Chemical Alliance Zone and is active in other international trade and business groups.

1250 H Street NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20005

As Senior Director of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals and University Partnerships at Cultural Vistas, Dr. Daniel Villanueva coordinates the team selecting and preparing participants for their year abroad as well as the services provided to German participants in the USA. He also develops and sustains contacts with U.S. institutions of higher education in support of mutuallybeneficial partnerships for students and faculty.

He joined Cultural Vistas after more than two decades in higher education as German professor, Honors administrator, and grants coordinator at UNLV, UNR and the Nevada Board of Regents administration. He is also currently adjunct faculty at the UNR Honors College, instructing research methods classes and study-abroad re-entry seminars. Daniel has mentored countless “citizen-diplomats” over the years as CBYX college coordinator and scholarships advisor, receiving a German-American Friendship Award for this and related transatlantic activities over the years.

Daniel earned a B.A. in German and International Relations from American University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in German Studies from Duke University. He is author and translator of scholarly works in his research fields of language pedagogy, Honors administration, and German Studies, most recently the article “Making the Global Familiar” in the edited volume Internationalizing Honors (2021).

Professional affiliations include the National Collegiate Honors Council, National Association of Fellowships Advisors, Goethe Institute, and American Association of Teachers of German. Among other community engagements, he volunteers with the World Affairs Councils of America and currently serves as First VP of the German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA.

Ambassador (Ret.) John O’Keefe joined the Wilson Center as a Global Fellow in 2020. Before his appointment, he served as Counselor to the Board of Trustees of the Open World Leadership Center (renamed, Congressional Office for International Leadership), a Legislative Branch Agency from 2018. Before that, he led Open World as Executive Director from 2007 to 2017, expanding its programs from Russia and Ukraine to include all the countries of the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Turkey, and Mongolia. As United States Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2000 to 2003, O’Keefe negotiated the treaty allowing Coalition forces to establish a base there in support of operations in Afghanistan. He also set up an investment advisory council headed by the President of Kyrgyzstan to attract foreign capital, worked with Kyrgyzstan’s President and Minister of Education to make university acceptance merit-based in 2006, and created an embassy outreach program to the Muslim community. O’Keefe served as acting Director General of the Department of State in 2006, and then as Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute through August 2007. From 2003 through 2005, he was Deputy Assistance Secretary for the Bureau of Human Resources and head of the Office of Career Development and Assignments, where he negotiated rigorous career development requirements for Foreign Service personnel. Ambassador O’Keefe has received the Distinguished Honor Award, the Replogle Award for Management improvement, the Presidential Meritorious Service Award, and the Secretary of State Award for Lifetime Achievement as well as several Superior Honor Awards and Meritorious Honor Awards. The American University Central Asia awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. O’Keefe has a B.A. from Loyola University in Business Administration and Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. He speaks Russian.

Retired USAID Foreign Service Officer
Mr. Maxey is an economic development advisor with extensive experience in designing and leading field operations for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in agricultural development, food aid, and economic growth projects. Mr. Maxey began his international career as a Peace Corps volunteer to Brazil from 1974 to 1976. This was followed by work with the Texas A&M Experiment Station in China, Texas, short-term field work in Cairo, Egypt, and a long-term assignment to Guinea-Bissau. Mr. Maxey’s USAID career began in 1983 as an International Development Intern and included assignments to the Eastern Caribbean, Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, Nicaragua, Iraq, West BankGaza and Yemen. During the Gulf War, Mr. Maxey served as USAID representative on an Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team in North Babel, Iraq and successfully guided a post conflict agriculture development program. His most recent experience included managing a youth development program in Honduras to prevent the out-migration of young people to the United States, in West Bank-Gaza he implemented a $100 million humanitarian assistance program to provide shelter, education, and skills training to more than 90,000 residents, and in Yemen he designed and implemented a major rural development program aimed at providing sustainable livelihoods to over 20,000 small scale farmers. After retirement, Mr. Maxey undertook long term assignments to Honduras and a five-year term as an instructor at the Foreign Service Institute’s Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) course. In 2018, Mr. Maxey established a 501c3 – the Marie Maxey Foundation – to provide scholarships to Hispanic youth. Mr. Maxey is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and has an MBA with Honors - International Marketing, University of Costa Rica as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in Agronomy from Mississippi State University.

John Law, Dean of the School of Languages at the US Department of State’s Foreign Services Institute, previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister Counselor.

His previous assignments include tours as Deputy Chief of Mission in Warsaw, Poland and Panama. He was director of the State Department’s network of civilian Provincial Reconstruction Teams in over 70 sites across Afghanistan. His prior diplomatic postings include Prague, Madrid, Caracas, Santiago, Seoul and Taegu. He speaks Spanish, Polish, Korean, and Czech. He has a master’s degree in English literature with undergraduate studies in literature, philosophy and aeronautical engineering. John is a native of Bluefield, West Virginia.

Candice Helton
Public Affairs Specialist | U.S. Department of State |
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Candice Helton serves as the Public Affairs Specialist in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs in the Office of Public Liaison at the U.S. Department of State. She fosters relationships with the American people and with Department officials through domestic outreach in order to gain a larger understanding of foreign policy priorities. She leads the coordination of events and programming with various academic institutions, think tanks, diaspora groups, and NGOs. Candice honorably leads the coordination for the State Department’s annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Hispanic Serving Institution Foreign Policy Conference’s. Prior to this role from 2015-2020, she served as the Public Affairs Specialist in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. In that role she organized senior-level speaking engagements, developed digital media campaigns, provided coaching on public speaking, and facilitated press interviews.

Candice also teaches communication courses as an adjunct professor at Trinity Washington University in the School of Professional Studies under the Journalism and Media Studies Department. She is an active member of Thursday Network, the young professional auxiliary to the Greater Washington Urban League, where she served as the Public Relations Digital Media chairperson. She is the newly elected Vice President of Civil Service for the Thursday Luncheon Group, an employee affinity group at the Department of State. She’s the Vice President of the Winston-Salem State University Alumni Chapter for the DC/Metro area. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Candice earned her Master’s degree in Strategic Communication and Public Relations from Trinity Washington University and her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Winston-Salem State University.

International Studies Advisory Committee’s Meeting Minutes