Diane M. Willkens
President and CEO
As Founder, President and CEO, Diane has built DFI® into a globally involved strategy-through-execution consulting firm, involved in the most challenging development issues of the day. Working with the world’s largest, most innovative companies, international institutions and stakeholders, Diane leads DFI’s growth strategy and execution, including executive oversight and/or direct leadership on client engagements from the firm’s Bethesda, Maryland headquarters.
Driven by her commitment to private sector excellence in emerging markets, Diane and the DFI Team have built a worldwide reputation for DFI as a leader bridging international development and business. This includes: clients’ strategic growth strategies, market access, project and business development, integrated communications and marketing, development funding, and international procurement. Diane’s vision has propelled DFI clients into successful market expansion efforts throughout the fastest growing emerging markets of today and the growth markets of tomorrow.
From day one, Diane’s signature hands-on method is evident in every engagement with DFI. Her disciplined approach fuels corporate strategy sessions, informs day-to-day management decisions, and secured on-the-ground execution of agreed pursuit plans. 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, Diane has advised numerous national trade promotion agencies, international trade associations, U.S. Government agencies, and multilateral organizations. Over the last several few years, she has led a coalition of US and European industry groups to ensure that the reform of procurement systems of the international financial institutions support a global procurement system that is fair, transparent, and competitive. 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.
Prior to DFI, Diane worked with Digital Equipment Corporation for seven years in its Washington-based International Trade office where she was, among other roles, architect and manager of Digital’s successful start-up Development Agencies Group. Prior to Digital, Diane practiced international corporate law for five years after completing a federal court clerkship. Diane is a 1978 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and a 1972 graduate of New York State University College of Geneseo. Diane also serves as Chair of the Board of the Theatre Lab School for the Dramatic Art.
Diane served for 3 years on the U.S. Export-Import Bank Advisory Committee; more recently, two terms on the U.S. Export-Import Bank Sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee, and is in the second of two terms on the Board of Directors of the Corporate Council on Africa.