CONECT Board of Directors
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Luiz da Costa, President

Luiz da Costa is the Director, Global Import-Export & Trade Compliance at Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, a major patient-focused, innovation-driven global pharmaceutical company that builds on a distinguished over 235-year history, aspiring to bring better health and a brighter future for people worldwide.


He is responsible for providing leadership and overall direction for global import/export and trade compliance activities within the Research and Development.  Other responsibilities include providing strategic direction and development of processes relating to the global movement of materials in support of Takeda’s R&D development and clinical trial studies and ensure that related import and export activities are compliant with all applicable laws and regulations in the relevant countries.

Luiz is an advisory board member of the Massachusetts Export Center Compliance Alliance, a special initiative designed to help the state’s businesses enhance their export compliance and global trade competitiveness, which provides a forum for exporting firms to network, share best practices and stay current on export regulatory compliance issues.

Luiz started his career in the international trade industry in Brazil, his native country, and his background includes more than 25 years of experience in international banking, logistics and transportation and trade compliance. He received training in Transportation and Physical Distribution Management from Northeastern University and holds an MBA from Suffolk University. Luiz is a license customs broker and a certified export compliance officer.



Paula M. Connelly, Vice President and Clerk


Paula Connelly is a member of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A., a leading Customs and international trade law firm.  She has more than 25 years’ experience in customs and international trade matters and works with importers and exporters to address and resolve import and export compliance issues.

Prior to joining ST&R Ms. Connelly ran her own law firm specializing in customs and international trade matters. Ms. Connelly is also a licensed Customs broker and worked for several brokerage companies in the Boston area.

Ms. Connelly serves as legal counsel for the Boston Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association, vice president of the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade, a member of the AD/CV working group for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee, and member of the International Business Advisory Board at Massachusetts Maritime.

In addition, she lectures on numerous import- and export-related topics for various trade organizations, including CONECT, the BCBFAA, the Massachusetts Export Center, and the Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University. She also teaches a customs broker exam preparation course in the Boston area.



Steven Powell, Treasurer

Steven Powell is Vice President of CH Powell Company and has been with the company since 1989.  He currently has oversight for the growth and management of the Freight Forwarding services group as well as the company’s International NVO division, Tandem Global Logistics.

In addition, he has responsibility for the IT department which includes development and support of the company’s US based operations and the company’s deployment and support of systems in his locations in Hong Kong, China and India.

Over the last 30 years, he has used his training in IT to further automation efforts, customer service improvements,  productivity gains and technical enhancements, affecting aspects of both Import and Export services, to provide a more reliable, streamlined, data rich environment for the company’s  customers and employees.

He currently holds the following positions:

IT/Administration committee chairman of NCBFAA’s NEI

Executive Board member of the global network: Tandem Global Logistics

Chairman of the Board of Tandem Global Logistics Netherlands

Previously served as the chairman of the Freight Forwarding Automation Committee of the NCBFAA

Prior to joining CH Powell company, he worked for 3 years at Mass General Hospital as IT Systems Integration and software development Manager.



Vermont State Chair

Jack Bender, Board Liaison and Vermont State Chair


Jack Bender is the Director of Sales and Marketing for A.N. Deringer and has nearly 30 years of logistics, freight forwarding, and global business leadership experience. His career has included sales and operations management positions for several companies, most recently, Jack served as the Vice President of a large international logistics company in their Life Sciences division. He is passionate about developing and leading high performing sales and marketing teams that grow revenue, increase efficiency, and deliver exceptional customer service. A licensed customs broker, Jack holds a B.S. degree in Marketing Management from the University of Rhode Island.


CONECT State Chairs

Andy Abraham, Connecticut State Chair

Andy Abraham, received her J.D., cum laude, at night at Quinnipiac University, while working full time at Swiss Army Brands, Inc. At Swiss Army, Andy was Director of Traffic and Importing and handled the import and compliance issues for products such as pocket knives, cutlery, watches, sunglasses and apparel. She dealt with classification, valuation, reconciliation, drawback and NAFTA issues. For several years, Swiss Army had an on-site bonded warehouse. She oversaw all procedures and handled all entries and compliance matters for the bonded area. Andy has also dealt with various Canadian customs issues for Swiss Army’s subsidiary in Toronto.

Andy started her career at C. Itoh & Co., a Japanese trading company. She worked in the chemical department handling import and exports.

Andy is the author of Chemical Customs Classification Manual, A Resource for Navigating Chapters 28 and 29 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and Polymers and Rubber Customs Classification Manual, A Resource for Understanding Polymers and Rubber in Primary Forms in Chapters 39 and 40 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
Andy received her Custom’s broker license in 1997. She received her B.S. in biology and chemistry from the University of Connecticut. She is admitted to practice in Connecticut and New York.

Vermont State Chair






Rhode Island State Chair

Jack Bender, Board Liaison and Vermont State Chair

(Please see Jack's bio above.)



Karen Kenney, Rhode Island State Chair  is Vice President, Global Partnerships (Asia, Oceania, Americas) of the Janel Group and is a founding member of the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT).  She sits on CONECT'S Board as Rhode Island State Chair. She has 30 years’ experience in international logistics and commercial operations including customs brokerage, freight forwarding, cargo security, C-TPAT and the creation and implementation of IT systems. In her present position, Ms. Kenney serves on Janel’s executive team which plans the long term strategy of the company’s growth around the globe. Ms. Kenney is instrumental in the development of Janel’s overseas agency development in Asia and is active in key account sales. She has traveled extensively in the Far East, with particular emphasis on mainland China.

Karen was a past member of CBP’s 12th and 13th national 20 member Commercial Operations Advisory Committee, the COAC. During her 2nd term, she served as the Trade chair of the Trade Enforcement and Revenue Collection Subcommittee of COAC.

Ms. Kenney also serves on the advisory board of the International Maritime Business program at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.




  Maine State Chair

Alison Leavitt, Maine State Chair has been involved in the international logistics industry for over 25 years. She served as the Director of Business Development at Albatrans Inc., a global freight forwarder headquartered in Florence Italy for 14 years, working on national accounts and strategic initiatives. Alison is currently the Managing Director of the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association, representing over 500 members involved in the imports and export of alcoholic beverages and related products. Alison is a licensed customs broker and is on the board of the Maine Port Authority and is the Maine State Chair for CONECT, as well as serving on the Editorial Board of American Shipper. Ms. Leavitt has worked in all aspects of ship agency work, customs brokerage, freight forwarding, and contract negotiations. She resides in Portland, Maine with her two children.






Massachusetts State Chair

Jim Mitchell, Massachusetts State Chair serves on the CONECT Board as the State Chair for Massachusetts and brings over 35 years of work experience as an international transportation and supply chain management professional. Jim is a long time employee of OOCL (USA), Inc. and is their Account Manager for New England. November 2017, marks his 24th year of service with the company. During his tenure with OOCL, Jim has assisted his many customers with ocean freight services, supply chain management solutions, vendor management systems and domestic distribution alternatives. As CONECT’s State Chair for Massachusetts, he welcomes the challenges and opportunities to contribute to the international trade community and make a difference. Jim graduated from Southern New Hampshire University, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing.

 CONECT Board of Directors:


Matthew Bock is a partner at the Boston and New York based law firm of Middleton Shrull & Bock, LLC, where his practice is dedicated exclusively to customs and international trade law and import, export controls, and economic sanctions regulatory compliance. Matthew was previously associated with a customs and international trade law firm in Dallas, TX and Ernst and Young’s Global Trade practice in Dallas and Houston, TX. Matthew is also a licensed customs broker and a fluent French speaker, having spent sixteen years in sub-Saharan Africa. Matthew and his firm have been involved with CONECT for many years, and he is honored to play a role in guiding the association as a member of its board of directors.


Kevin Bruning 
is the Import Compliance Manager for Clarks “Americas region” and manages trade compliance for North America. He is specifically responsible for regulatory compliance for the USA and Canada. He also manages the Clarks C-TPAT program which currently holds a tier III status.   Kevin has been in the Customs Compliance field for over 16 years. Kevin is also a member of International Compliance Professionals Association (ICPA) and Footwear Distributors Retailers Association (FDRA). Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and has been a Licensed Customs Broker since 2001.  






Amy Elmore is Director of International Logistics for Bob’s Discount Furniture, a privately held furniture company based in Manchester, CT.   In her current role, Amy is responsible for the management of the company’s freight negotiations and contracts and global origin management services. 

Amy has over 20 years’ experience in the Retail Supply Chain industry with a focus in Transportation and Compliance.  Amy has successfully leveraged continuous improvement methodologies to drive service and cost improvements during her career such as implementing origin 3PL operations delivering an improved network model and diversifying a destination network to support a wholesale and retail service model.


In addition to serving as a Board Member for Conect, Amy is also a member of the Supply Chain Advisory Board for Boston University, Metropolitan College.




Rich Higgins is the Head of Logistics for 1A Auto, Inc., one of the nation’s largest B2C ecommerce retailers specializing in the aftermarket auto parts industry. With offices in the United States, Taiwan and Mexico, he has responsibility for all aspects of  Domestic and International Logistics for 1A Auto. Rich has prior supply chain experience with New England based retailers of footwear, apparel, toys and consumer products, including Morse Shoe, J. Baker Shoes, KB Toys and Bradlees Stores. Prior to his current role as Head of Logistics with 1A Auto, he spent ten years in Florida as VP of Transportation for Beall’s Inc., a southeast based apparel retailer with 535 stores in seventeen sunbelt states.


Rich’s background encompasses all of global logistics including transportation, distribution, warehousing, ecommerce fulfillment, third party logistics, small package and international operations. A Boston area native and graduate of University of Maine, Rich is a former board member with the FTA (Florida Trucking Association) and a member of the National Retail Federation. Rich resides in Hudson, MA with his wife Becky.  



Christa Hurley is the Director Customs & Logistics NAFTA for H.C. Starck Tungsten NAT, LLC in the Boston area. She has more than 20 years of global operational experience within supply chain and operations. Christa is responsible for her divisions Global Services (import/export/logistics/warehouse operations), including all compliance and security programs. She is responsible for conducting import, export trade diligence, developing strategy and negotiating terms and agreements. She is well versed in U.S. State, Commerce, Customs and Treasury regulations and is involved in numerous partnership programs with customs authorities including: CEE, CTPAT, PIP and AEO. Christa served on COAC Trade Modernization Subcommittee – Center Uniformity Working Group with CBP in 2017.


Christa has served in various capacities in local and national trade associations. She has been on CONECT’s Board since 2012, serving as the Vice President from 2013-2016. She serves on the Editorial Board of American Shippers Magazine since 2017.  Christa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University, graduating with honors.

Kendall Kellaway III is Vice President, Commercial of RoadOne IntermodaLogistics. Kendall has literally grown up in the transportation industry: His family is one of the founders of RoadOne, the largest intermodal trucking company in the U.S. and a provider of port and rail container drayage, terminal operations, dedicated truckload services, and transloading, warehousing, and distribution solutions across the United States and Canada.


As Vice President, Commercial Kendall is responsible for the company’s national sales team and efforts, its brokerage division, new agent outreach and sales, and marketing and public relations.

His experience gives him knowledge of not only New England-based supply chains, but also of nearly every port and railhead in the country, while his extensive travels in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas give him a global perspective. As one of the younger members on CONECT’s Board of Directors, Kendall will be active in the CONECT Young Professionals (CYP) group, helping to bring more young industry professionals into the organization.


The Norwell, Mass., native sits on the boards of E*Fill America, a provider of warehousing and distribution services, and E*Dray, a collaborative drayage platform. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Babson College, where he was captain of the rugby team. He also was captain of both the football and wrestling teams in high school. 



Kevin Laffey, Director of Cargo Business Development, Port of Boston. Kevin has spent his entire career of 30+ years in international transportation based in Boston, MA working in various jobs for container shipping lines, a 3PL and port authority.

Kevin’s career began in 2004 as a sales rep with United States Lines. Following U.S. Lines, he was the District Sales Manager for Maersk Line, before joining Expeditors International as Import Transportation Manager and then Ocean Manager. He is currently employed by the Massachusetts Port Authority as Director of Cargo Business Development for the Port of Boston.

Kevin sits on the Board of Directors for both CONECT and the FCC of Boston.


Bette Little is the Director of Global Logistics and Customs Compliance for Talbots Inc. located in Hingham and Lakeville Massachusetts. Bette oversees Customs Compliance, export, audit, inbound Logistics along with Global Logistics teams. She is also responsible for the C-TPAT program of which Talbots is a Tier 3 Importer and currently a member of the CEE located in San Francisco.

Bette was previously Director of Customs for the Adidas Group. She has had management roles with Chadwick-Miller and New England Pottery where she managed the Customs Team, negotiated ocean contracts and had full oversight for all Supply Chain Operations.

Past President of CONECT and Board member since 1995. She is a Licensed Customs Broker and Certified Customs Specialist, as well as a member of the Foreign Commerce Club of Boston, International Compliance Professionals Association and AAFA. A graduate of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, Bette holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.


Robert Silverman is a founding partner of the New York based law firm of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP.  GDSLK is one of the largest law firms specializing in Customs law and related trade matters.  Before entering into private practice to form the firm, Mr. Silverman served as a trial attorney in the Customs Section of the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice where he represented U.S. Customs in proceedings before the Court of International Trade, Federal District Courts, and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.


The firm’s clients include importers, exporters, retailers, foreign manufacturers, buying agents, trading companies, trade associations, customshouse brokers, and foreign governments.  Mr. Silverman and his firm act as Customs and trade counsel to some of the largest and most prestigious multinational companies involved in the manufacture and distribution of luxury goods, apparel, footwear, electronics, automobiles, and food products.  The firm also represents exporters in connection with compliance issues and has an entire group dedicated to antidumping and trade matters.


Mr. Silverman routinely assists these clients in structuring their import transactions in order to minimize Customs duties, ensure regulatory compliance and eliminate Customs penalty exposure.  He represents companies during Customs audits involving classification, valuation and eligibility under Free Trade Agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA, AGOA, GSP, etc.; Customs investigations, seizures, exclusions, penalty and liquidated damages assessments.  He also is responsible for firm litigation matters before the federal courts.

He has written and lectured widely on Customs and trade issues.  He graduated cum laude from law school and he was on the law review.  He has an undergraduate degree in accounting.  He has authored “Analysis of the Customs Regulations Regarding Customs Brokers,” and he serves as customs counsel to the NY/NJ Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association.  He has authored numerous articles for Metropolitan Corporate Counsel and other trade publications.  He has been recognized in “The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers.”




Nicole Uchrin has been involved in international transportation, logistics and global supply chain for 25 years. Nicole spent twelve years in Trans-Pacific Eastbound Sales and as Area Sales Manager for Hapag-Lloyd, America before becoming the Managing Director of Gemini Shippers Group twelve years ago.   She is responsible for negotiating global contracts and managing ocean carrier relations on behalf of Gemini’s 300 member companies. Nicole consults on global supply chain logistics strategies to executives of small to large companies and Gemini’s long-term commercial strategy.


Jeremy W Young is part of the BNSF Railway’s Intermodal Solutions team and based in the New England market.  In his role, Jeremy works with freight shippers throughout all of the New England states, New York, and Eastern Canada to successfully implement and grow intermodal in their transportation plans, both domestic and international.  He has more than 20 years of railroad experience holding various positions with the Alabama & Gulf Railway, Progressive Rail, and the BNSF Railway.  His experience ranges from dealing with paper, clay, and forest products, to over-dimensional machinery and project cargo, and intermodal.  Jeremy received his BBA from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, AL and his MBA from Texas Wesleyan University in Ft. Worth, TX.  He resides in Portland, ME, is a dog lover and has done volunteer work with Little Paws Dachshund Rescue.  

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