Anne Simmons-Benton

Deputy Chair
U.S. Delegate to the W20

Anne Simmons-Benton is an experienced leader and practitioner in international development with over 25 years experience in the government, private sector, and academia designing, managing and implementing programs around the world.  Her professional experience includes: complex remote team management, strategy design and implementation, change management, and business development coupled with strong technical skills in trade, business enabling environment, entrepreneurship, finance, gender and law.  Anne is a thought leader and early innovator – pioneering business in the early post-Soviet days in Russia, integrating and measuring women’s impact in economic programs to create the business case for inclusion, conducting simulations in international fora for the CAFTA negotiations and the World Trade Organization, linking economics to peace in the post-conflict Balkans and creating the first solar powered electric-vehicle charging station in the Middle East.  

Anne serves as a US Delegate to the W20, an Engagement Group of the G20 (Saudi Arabia) where she provides expertise across working groups (entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, labor and digital inclusion) to ensure that women’s issues are included in the G20 agenda. The W20 is a transnational network that brings together women leaders of civil society, businesses, entrepreneurship ventures and think tanks.

Anne is a Board Member and Officer of the Society for International Development – Washington D.C. Chapter since 2015, and recently chaired the 2019 Annual Conference focusing on the ‘’Wicked Problems of International Development.”  Anne also served as a proxy Board Member on the US Global Leadership Coalition for three years as well as the President of the American Embassy Community Association in Moscow.

Previously, as Executive Director for Arizona State University, she launched and led the Washington Office of ASU International Development. She worked closely with USAID, the State Department and implementing partners to find the right role for ASU in international opportunities in a wide range of activities:  gender, education, crime prevention, countering violent extremism, health, economic growth, trade, finance, governance, rule of law, climate change, water, food, conservation and energy.  Anne created a new model for university engagement in international development.

Prior to joining ASU, she was the Project Director/Chief of Party of the $46 million USAID/Jordan Competitiveness Program and served as a Global Practice Leader at DAI, where she started two new practice areas in the Solutions Group – one focused on trade and regulatory reform and one on gender.  Anne managed and led the Trade portfolio for Booz Allen Hamilton’s Foreign Affairs Business. There, she was Key Personnel and conducted assessments of countries’ business environments through the BizCLIR project and created the first diagnostic tool to assess the business enabling environment for women, known as GENDERCLIR. 

Anne worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) both serving in Russia as the first Business Development Advisor and Head of the Banking Division, and in Washington, D.C. as Senior Trade Advisor. For the Department of Commerce, she served as Senior Counsel in the Commercial Law Development Program  (CLDP) where she specialized in trade and economic development.  She served at a delegate for the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva as the Donor representative to the Integrated Framework for three years and was successful in bringing in the private sector for the first time to accelerate linkages between business and development.

Anne has been a licensed attorney for over 30 years and worked in law firms for the first part of her career.  She holds a J.D. from the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., a Change Management Advance Practitioner Certificate from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.  She is married to Jonathan S. Benton, a Foreign Service Officer, and they have three adult children and three grandchildren.