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Fred Hochberg

Immediate Past Chairman, Export-Import Bank of the United States

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Hochberg has spent decades at the intersection of global policymakers and the business community, growing a family business into a major public company, leading one of the U.S. government’s most important credit institutions and international economic agencies, and serving as dean of a public policy school all the while continuing to be a passionate champion for progressive causes.

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Fred P. Hochberg is a seasoned business executive and government leader who has navigated organizations through diverse and complex challenges, leading all to new heights and stronger positions to thrive in a 21st century economy.

Most recently, he was a fall 2017 Pritzker fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, conducting a seminar on global trade policy. This follows Hochberg having recently concluded his service as the longest serving Chairman in the history of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), guiding the institution through unprecedented economic conditions and political opposition. Serving through all eight years of the Obama Administration, EXIM supported more than 1.4 million American jobs, financed exports with a value exceeding $240 billion, and generated $3.8 billion in surplus revenue for U.S. taxpayers during Hochberg’s tenure. Hochberg brought a customer-centric focus to the Bank, pushing the institution to meet the needs of American businesses, particularly small business exporters, through product innovation and improved customer service.

Prior to his role as Chairman and President of EXIM, Hochberg served as Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School in New York City, where he raised the school’s profile, oversaw the development of a core curriculum, and improved the school’s finances. During the Clinton Administration, Hochberg was Deputy Administrator, and then Acting Administrator of the Small Business Administration, where he focused on boosting lending to women- and minority-owned small businesses and implementing a new loan processing technology for the agency.

Prior to his government service and time in academia, Hochberg was at the helm of his family’s direct marketing business, Lillian Vernon, guiding the company from $5 million to $180 million in annual sales during his 18 years in company leadership. Hochberg grew the company’s product offering, helped make the brand a household name, and took the company public in 1987. Hochberg is a past Board Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Citizens Budget Commission, and a member of the Board of FINCA International Micro Finance. He is also a former representative to the New York State Financial Control Board.

Finally, Hochberg served as a board member and later as co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign, the United States’ largest LGBT rights advocacy organization. He is also the founder of the David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows Scholarship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Speech Topics

For the first time in decades, trade policy emerged in 2016 as one of the most politically-charged, polarizing issue in a presidential election year. Looking ahead, trade issues will be at the heart of our relationships with China, Mexico, a Brexit-ing UK and other countries. How will that change the global framework on trade? How will America’s global cities and trade-dependent states chart their own course? How will trade factor into the 2018-midterm elections? What can we predict about trade’s role in the 2020 presidential election? What will happen if Trump fails to “make America great again” and bring back jobs? Can Democrats win back the white working class through an anti-trade platform?

America’s posture toward global trade has experienced a dramatic shift as of late. Gone are the days that the US plays an active role lowering trade barriers and enabling American business to aggressively enter new markets backed by pro-globalization policy tailwinds. Now America is hands off while the rest of the world is defined by ever-increasing levels of government support for businesses’ pursuit of trade opportunities. As the longest-serving Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Fred Hochberg can relay lessons from working in and traveling to more than 45 countries on behalf of American exporters and workers, laying out some surprising truths about global trade, and knocking down commonly held but misguided assumptions. Fred can help audiences understand how to navigate today’s shifting trade landscape, advising on how to succeed overseas, utilize existing U.S. government resources, and win big deals – particularly in the face of rising business threats from the likes of India and China.

And on the homefront, he will challenge audiences to consider innovative solutions to forge a new bipartisan consensus on trade that might actually level the playing field for American companies and workers.

“Made in the USA” is one of our strongest brands and sells products worldwide.  And America still does make a lot of things the world wants to buy. It’s an assertion that you won’t hear from many politicians these days, but it is rooted in simple facts: we remain the world’s second largest exporter—while also attracting high levels of investment from overseas. Fred Hochberg will discuss the industries that will allow America to retain and improve these advantageous positions in the global economy, and educate audiences about the impact they have for tens of thousands of supply chain businesses, many of which are small businesses. He will also share anecdotes and lessons learned during his eight years working with top executives, financing some of the biggest deals in the aviation, oil and gas, space, infrastructure, agribusiness, and other sectors—including his work with innovative small businesses that have grown into leading global companies. He can also convey the ways your industry can frame its own competitive advantage with policymakers here at home and with customers overseas.

Fred Hochberg will detail the two times in his long career in business, academia and government where the enterprises he led were driven to the brink. At Lillian Vernon, the family business he helped lead for 20 years, the near-collapse occurred as demand outpaced the company’s capacity to fulfill orders in the early 1980s. The company recovered, continued its growth and went public in 1987. At EXIM, the injury was inflicted by Congress, which shut down the agency’s ability to do any new deals for five months in 2015, only to reauthorize the Bank’s charter later that year. He will relay the lessons learned from both experiences, including the need for clear external and internal communication, and the ways these inevitable tests can strengthen businesses and institutions.


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