DFI’s most precious asset is its diverse and experienced team. Driven by our clients to serve as a truly international operation, DFI employs talented professionals from around the globe. Our experience pulls from diverse backgrounds in the private sector, government, international aid agencies, and NGOs - with sector expertise across the spectrum. As a result of these efforts, DFI has assisted its clients in leveraging nearly $1 Billion of emerging market business over the past 16 years. Since inception, Diane Willkens and Christine Purka have provided strong vision to both the firm and clients alike, building a strong organization and guiding global strategy across the entire staff.
Diane M. Willkens, President and CEO
As Founder and President of Development Finance International, Inc. (DFI), Diane M. Willkens has built a consulting practice that integrates her corporate and legal background in international business. She leads the global consultancy from the Bethesda, Maryland headquarters.
Driven by her commitment to private sector excellence in emerging markets, Diane has built a worldwide reputation for DFI as a leader in international development, including the business and practice of development funding and international procurement. Her vision has propelled DFI clients into successful market expansion efforts throughout the developing world. Her understanding of the intricacies of multilateral development bank procurement methodologies has ensured a fair and level playing field, not only for DFI clients, but for many consultants, suppliers, and civil works firms worldwide.
Diane’s hands-on approach is evident from the day DFI is engaged by a client. She participates in corporate strategy sessions, advises on day-to-day management decisions, and travels across the globe to ensure that the strategies developed at client headquarters are implemented successfully on-the-ground. Diane’s sector experience includes information technology, health, environment, education technology, agro-industry, pharmaceuticals, engineering consulting, science and technology, water, banking, and government modernization.
In addition to her corporate work, Ms. Willkens has advised numerous national trade promotion agencies, international trade associations, U.S. Government agencies, and multilateral organizations. Over the past few years, she has led a coalition of US and European industry groups to ensure that the reform of procurement systems of the multilateral development banks support a global procurement system that is fair, transparent, and competitive.
In addition to seventeen years as head of DFI, Diane worked with Digital Equipment Corporation for seven years in its Washington-based International Trade office. Diane was the architect and manager of Digital’s successful worldwide start-up Development Agencies Group. Prior to Digital, Diane practiced international corporate law for five years and earlier completed a federal court clerkship. Ms. Willkens is a 1978 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and a 1972 graduate of New York State University College of Geneseo. More recently, Ms. Willkens served for 3 years on the U.S. Export-Import Bank Advisory Committee.
Christine Purka, Vice President and Head of Asia Regional Office
Christine Purka is Vice President and a co-owner of DFI, having been with the company since 1993, the year after its founding. In January 2002, Christine opened DFI’s first overseas presence – the Asia Regional Representative Office based in Manila, Philippines. Today she is leading a team of ten professionals in Manila, which has extended DFI’s reach for its clients across the Asia region, from Pakistan to the Pacific.
The first nine years in DFI’s Headquarters Office provided Christine the experience and network to navigate through the number of development actors based in Washington, DC, including the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Trade & Development Agency, and the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The move to Asia offered the rewarding challenge of building DFI’s expertise and network for Asian-based development stakeholders such as the Asian Development Bank, country-level bilateral donors, United Nations Agencies, and NGOs.
With this background, Christine has led the design and implementation of a number of clients’ emerging market business plans in the health, information technology, education, agriculture, and environment sectors. Executing on DFI’s unique model, she is adept at driving the vision and strategy with regional corporate management while also tactically implementing the programs with country field teams.
Driven by her commitment to public-private partnerships, Christine has also led the company to adopt a more proactive and concerted approach to the integration of regional and country-level corporate business plans into the programs of the development agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders to create win-win sustainable market development approaches. Most recently, she has designed business models to access population segments at the middle and “base of the pyramid” resulting in new market growth for DFI’s clients. She has also delivered workshops to client field staff on emerging market business strategies, procurement, public-private partnerships, and innovative financing sources to support sustainable business growth in developing Asia.
Behind the scenes, Christine is also the managing architect behind the development of DFInsightTM and DFInfluenceTM, the firm’s proprietary database systems used to track and inform DFI clients of the myriad of influencing stakeholders and project opportunities in developing countries. Prior to DFI, Christine’s professional experience includes assignments at the World Bank, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the White House, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.