Just more than four years ago, the Dunwoody, Ga.-based World Chamber of Commerce (WCC) didn’t exist. Tonight, it’s hosting an impressive and sold-out “International Hero Awards and Networking Event” at the Woodruff Arts Center, with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young slated to appear. Hartman Simons partner Andy Litvak will be among the attendees.
We chatted with Solange Warner, founder of WCC, about the growing organization’s mission and tonight’s event. Here are a few highlights from that conversation:
HS: Tell us a little bit about the history of the World Chamber of Commerce (WCC). When did you found it, and for what purposes did you create it?
Warner: I founded the organization in 2008 to promote international trade in general as well as Atlanta’s and Georgia’s presence in international business. The organization also seeks to promote cultural and humanitarian issues on a global scale. For instance, in addition to helping members reach out to lucrative global business markets, we have promoted awareness of the human trafficking problem and undertaken efforts to provide assistance and relief to victims of the massive earthquakes that struck Haiti and Chile a couple of years ago.
WCC seeks to unify countries through common financial, cultural and humanitarian goals.
HS: What are the benefits of membership in WCC?
Warner: First of all, we help members establish new connections in international business. Members have many opportunities to meet with visiting dignitaries, members of the Consular Corps and international trade commissioners.
Our members also have access to mentor programs, networking and educational seminars. Over the years, our members have had opportunities to learn about topics ranging from what to expect from Georgia’s ports in the coming years to finding international opportunities in a tight economy to the problem of human trafficking.
HS: Tonight, you are holding your annual membership meeting and awards event at the Woodruff Arts Center. What’s on tonight’s schedule?
We will hold elections for our new board of directors, its chairman and the new WCC president. Our candidates include three state senators, the mayor of Auburn, Ga., the consul general of the United Kingdom, the consul of Lithuania, and Charles Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. It’s an impressive group.
We will also be honoring various dignitaries for their efforts in international trade and relations, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, whom we will be presenting with the Special International Hero Award. Civil rights icon and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who also served as an ambassador to the United Nations and is currently the honorary chairman of WCC’s Board of Directors, will present Reed with his award, and he will also present awards to Alvaro Uribe, former President of Colombia, and others.
The evening also will include silent auctions for first-class Delta tickets for international travel, as well as Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chastain Park Amphitheater tickets. The festivities will conclude with a concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall.
HS: You obviously devote a good portion of your time to WCC matters. Tell us about the other facets of your career.
Warner: I’m the CEO, president and founder of Ashton International, which provides in-depth international trade consulting services. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently recognized Ashton for its work in exports.
I have more than 20 years of experience in international markets and previously worked as a senior manager of multinational accounts for American Express for seven years. I have managed Fortune 500 multinational corporations.
I also host and produce the “Global Matters” television show on Comcast Channel 25. The show promotes WCC initiatives.
I was born in Chile and have traveled extensively in more than 50 countries, so I truly am passionate about international issues.