Meet Empire State Development’s Foreign Office Directors

Our global network of trade directors provides local expertise for the markets they represent by conducting customized research, facilitating connections and identifying potential distributors and agents for New York companies looking to export their products and services globally. They also serve as liaisons between Empire State Development and potential foreign investors. Global NY’s foreign office directors are currently located in Africa, Canada, China, Europe, India, Israel, Mexico, and South America.


Richard Zurba

Global NY Director, Africa - Trade

Richard is the Director of Zurcom International (Pty) Ltd, the contracted representative for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers, representing ESD/Global NY in sub-Saharan Africa since 1999. Richard came to Africa in 1993, and worked on humanitarian projects in the D. R. Congo for World Vision Relief before moving to South Africa in 1996 as an export manager selling into 20 African countries.  In 1999, Richard opened the Great Lakes St Lawrence Governors & Premiers Africa Trade Office in Johannesburg, representing several U.S. state governments in international business development.  Richard is Coordinator for the IBG Global partnership, providing trade network services through 22 partner companies in 56 countries servicing more than 150 country markets. Zurcom has worked with approximately 3,700 companies on international trade projects, with staff in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Richard has a B.A. and M.A. in International Relations (University of Alberta; the London School of Economics) and an M.B.A. in International Business (University of Western Ontario).  Prior to his move to Africa, Richard led development projects in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Austria, Malawi and the Bahamas.  


Benjamin Kalman

Global NY Director, Canada - Trade & Investment

Benjamin holds a Master’s degree from Concordia University in Montreal. He has spent the majority of his career in economic development, having become a subject matter expert in investment attraction. He has extensive experience leading teams of Economic Development Associates on behalf of state and federal government clients in multiple sectors, including automotive, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and materials, life sciences, AI and advanced technology, clean tech, and tourism. He has also developed specialized programs with Fortune-level companies which has led to longstanding business relationships with renowned organizations and significant FDI projects for a multitude of clients with companies such as Equinix, Instacart, Intel, Microsoft, Mondelez, Mouser Electronics, Nordstrom, Twitter and WeWork.

Headshot, Sapphire Chang, China Representative, Trade and Investment


Sapphire Tang

Global NY Director, China - Trade & Investment

Ms. Sapphire Tang joined Tractus as a Consultant in August 2021. Since she joined Tractus, She is representing the New York State Empire State Development (ESD) in China for both investment attraction and trade promotion. Ms. Tang earned her bachelor’s degree from Tongji University, majoring in Industrial Design. Sapphire has rich experience in cross-cultural project management, consulting in fund raising, government negotiations, facilitation of trade and investment co-operations, and business development. Her strength is in resource integration and negotiations.

Prior to joining Tractus, Sapphire was in a small consultancy start-up that focused on China-Europe co-operations as one of the co-founding partners and Business Development Manager. She was involved in many trade & investment related projects and has worked with Chinese government officials & staffs (some of the YRD cities, and some from Sichuan Province, mostly investment recruitment office, few cities to their mayors), European government officials (Germany, Serbia), European and South America trading companies, Chinese SOEs (Construction, grain& agricultural product, aluminum, steel& alloy), Chinese manufacturers (PPE, steel, medical, large machine), Chinese Trading & Trade Service groups (Shanghai), and Investment Bank & Funds (Medical and new energy sectors, mostly VC funds, some PE funds, few Chinese gov. funds).

Photo of Global NY Foreign Director Barbara Grunewald


Barbara Grunewald

Global NY Director, Europe - Trade & Investment

Barbara has over 15 years of experience in economic and social business development, project management, strategic analysis and client relationship management in a range of industries including the financial sector, the aviation industry, and international development. She holds a master’s degree in English, Business Administration and International Law, as well as a Master of Advanced Studies in International Development and Cooperation.

In the past, Barbara established a regional office in Brazil for a global SME operating in the aviation industry. She liaised directly with a broad range of stakeholders including customers, investors, small business organizations and government agencies. After successful market entry and a sharp increase in sales, a local representative took over the local operation. Barbara moved on to give strategic and operational support to the US office, overseeing the development of a growth strategy which led to an increase in international trade. 

Throughout her career, Barbara has developed strong business acumen and an extensive knowledge in trade and investment of SMEs and global corporations. She has lived and worked in Europe, North and South America and is fluent in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and French.   

Sreehari Marar, Global NY Director, India


Sreehari Marar

Global NY Director, India - Investment

Mr. Sreehari Marar has built up considerable experience in his 12 years advising both public organizations and private sector companies realize trade and investment opportunities between North America and Asia. His past clients include the States of Washington and New Jersey as well as large corporations such as Met Life and Dow Chemicals. Mr. Marar started his career at Goldman Sachs in the wealth management division. In recent years he has advised over 50 North American companies enter the Indian market, as well as advised several Indian firms on investing in North America.

Through providing advice to private and public clients, Mr. Marar has built up considerable experience in economic development, cross-border trade and investment, international trade, corporate finance and government relations across multiple sectors. Past projects has provided him with experience in the aerospace, automotive, energy, infrastructure, health and life sciences, financial services, IT, among many others.

Mr. Marar holds an MBA in Strategy and International Business from Copenhagen Business School and European Business School. His undergraduate education was in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai.


Gerry Stoch

Global NY Director, Israel - Trade & Investment

Gerry has been a business and economic development consultant based in Israel—and  since 1998,  Director of Global NY’s Office in Israel promoting exports from New York State to Israel and foreign direct investment from Israel to New York.  In this role, Gerry has organized several Technology Cooperation Agreements between the State of New York and Israel.  He has led several delegations of Israeli companies to New York and hosted visiting delegations. Most recently, he hosted a Global NY delegation, identifying potential distributors and import partners.  Eight of the 10 companies signed agreements within six months.  From 2003-2010, Gerry also managed the back office of a major Private Equity Fund. Gerry  works closely with foreign investors, including U.S.-based semiconductor designer, Advanced Micro Devices. Gerry is a board member of the Friends of the Volcani Institute, the Israeli Government’s arm for Agricultural Research and Development and International cooperation, the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce in Tel Aviv and the Orthodox Chamber of Commerce. Gerry previously worked for the Israeli Government Ministry of Finance, both in Israel and in the U.S. He has an M.S. in Agricultural Economics and Management from the Hebrew University at Rehovot and a B.A. in Economics and Psychology from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.


Efren Flores Rangel

Global NY Director, Mexico - Trade

Efren holds degrees from California State University Northridge and  ITESM in Monterrey, Mexico. As an international business development consultant, he travels widely throughout the U.S. and Latin America addressing marketing strategies and opportunities to do business in Mexico. He’s consulted with federal and state governments in Mexico and overseas, as a representative of the World Trade Organization for the Ministry of Economy, a member of APEC negotiation board and a senior trade specialist for a recognized consulting firm. He is General Director of Global Business Partners Mexico, S.C., a firm he founded in 2006. Efren has participated in 45 trade missions to Mexico and has worked with more than 1,500 U.S companies from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, New York and Wisconsin as well as European companies to establish business ties in Mexico. He’s been recognized for skills in negotiation, international business development, business culture, international trade and investment, market strategy, strategic planning, international sales and business management. Efren’s expertise spans a range of industry sectors including: automotive, environmental, agricultural products and equipment, heavy machinery, telecommunications, civil and general security, medical, plastics and chemicals.

Headshot of Veronica Medina, Global NY Director, South America - Argentina, Chile, Colombia, & Peru


Veronica Medina

Global NY Director, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru - Trade

Veronica Medina is the Founder and CEO of BusinessHub Consultants, one of South America´s leading international business development firms which she founded in 2014.  BusinessHub is headquartered in Chile and has an office in Peru. Ms. Medina has over 25 years of experience in international business development and has assisted many governments and companies achieve their international trade and investment objectives in Latin America.  Her industry experience includes agriculture, F&B, clean tech, mining, infrastructure, fintech, ICT, innovation & technology, and renewable energy, among many others. Her previous positions included COO of TradeChile, European Manager for the Colorado Trade Office in London, Medical Information Manager at Gensia Europe Ltd., Drug Surveillance Officer for Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), and Events Organizer at the British Red Cross.  She has a Certificate in International Trade from the World Trade Center Denver & Metropolitan State College in Colorado. In addition, she earned her Masters of Science in Clinical Pharmacology from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Dallas (USA). Veronica has been a foreign office director for ESD since 2017 helping New York companies to grow their export to South America.

Headshot of Claudia Maria Tomaselli, Global NY Director, Brazil

Claudia Maria Tomaselli

Global NY Director, Brazil - Trade

Founder and Partner Director at TVZ International, Ms. Tomaselli has over 20 years of experience in trade promotion, international business development, project management, and trade events organization. She has been acting as the Principal of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers Trade Office in Brazil since December 2004. Before founding TVZ, Claudia served as the Interim Director and Deputy Director of the Council of Great Lakes Governors (CGLG) Brazil Office, representing and promoting the exports of the States of Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin; the Special Assistant to the US Commercial Center’s Director at the US & Foreign Commercial Service; Trade Event Assistant at the USFCS; and founder and director at CMT Design, a design and promotional event company. Throughout her career Claudia built up considerable experience bridging the US and Brazilian business cultures, having advised over 1,500 US companies interested in entering or expending their presence in the Brazilian market. Claudia received Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Communication and Industrial Design from Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP) in São Paulo, Brazil.  In addition to her native Portuguese, Claudia is fluent in English and is conversant in French, Italian, and Spanish.

Headshot of Vania Zulatto, Global NY Director, Brazil

Vânia Zulatto

Global NY Director, Brazil - Trade

Vânia Zulatto, founder and co-director of TVZ International brought to the company 15 years of experience in working with American companies and US government agencies in International trade, export promotion, market entry strategies, marketing and Foreign Direct Investment in the USA, positioning foreign companies to enter the Brazilian market and Brazilian businesses in establishing subsidiaries overseas. Ms. Zulatto is also TVZ’s financial and administrative director responsible for the company’s finance strategies, and for all the office’s budgetary, personnel and administrative aspects.

Prior to founding TVZ in December 2004, Ms. Zulatto worked with the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, formerly the Council of Great Lakes Governors (CGLG) established in 1997 and assisted the CGLG member state companies to improve and expand their exports, by establishing partnership agreements like technology transfers, joint ventures, distribution, and representation agreements in several Brazilian industry sectors. Ms. Zulatto was previously associated with the USFCS in São Paulo, Brazil, as a Co-Manager of the Trade Events Unit. Her activities included the coordination of all trade fair events on a countrywide basis, assisting the Trade Fairs Unit Director in event recruiting, negotiation of trade fair space and price with prospective exhibitors. Prior to that Ms. Zulatto experienced nine years of working in the private sector, acting as Buyer for Alternativa Produtos Naturais e Integrais, a health food store where she was responsible for the purchase and pricing of approximately 2,000 items.

Ms. Zulatto received her Bachelor´s Degree in Social Sciences from The Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil in 1993 and is also graduated in Visual Communication at Escola Panamericana de Artes in São Paulo. Ms. Zulatto who speaks Portuguese and English fluently, accomplished her English language studies in 1979 in Brazil, taking soon after that  an English extension course in California, and concluded a Business English course at the Wall Street Institute in Brazil. Ms. Zulatto also has conversational and reading skills in Spanish and Italian. 

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