Mpls. Downtown Council Exec to Lead MN Trade Office
A Minneapolis Downtown Council leader has been named executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office.
Kathleen Motzenbecker succeeds Katie Clark Sieben, who was appointed commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in October.
Motzenbecker has extensive experience in international trade and foreign direct investment, having previously served as deputy director for Asia Pacific at the Illinois Department of Commerce and working for the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.
She joins the Trade Office from the Minneapolis Downtown Council, where she served as director of membership. In addition to recruiting members to join the organization, she was part of the team that launched the 2025 Plan—a 15-year road map for growth in downtown Minneapolis.
Motzenbecker will report to Robin Sternberg, DEED’s deputy commissioner of economic development.
At the Illinois Department of Commerce, Motzenbecker supervised four Asian trade offices for the state, led trade missions to China, represented the state at foreign direct investment seminars in Asia, and created an outreach program to promote international trade.
At the Council on Foreign Relations, she designed outreach events with global political leaders such as Yasser Arafat, Benazir Bhutto, and Henry Kissinger. She also helped arrange more than 100 foreign policy meetings each year and managed a bipartisan foreign policy series for more than 200 key congressional staff.
Motzenbecker’s other past stints include serving as the founding director of the Center for Global Peace Through Commerce at Dominican University in Oak Park, Illinois; executive director of the U.S. Committee for UN Development Programme; and assistant at the National Democratic Institute.
“Kathleen has a wealth of experience that will advance the Minnesota Trade Office’s mission of increasing Minnesota exports and attracting foreign direct investment to the state,” Sieben said, adding that “this is a key leadership role for the State of Minnesota.”
The Minnesota Trade Office, which operates within DEED, offers programs and services that aim to help Minnesota companies compete. It provides export information, market research, education and training, and counseling to Minnesota companies that want to sell manufactured goods and services internationally. The office also arranges and coordinates trade missions and encourages foreign companies to do business in Minnesota.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Downtown Council’s mission is to preserve and enhance a vital and attractive downtown for the people who invest, work, shop, visit, and live in Minneapolis. It was founded in 1955 and is one of the oldest central business district associations in the nation.
Sieben, who became the Trade Office’s executive director in January 2011, left that post last fall to replace Mark Phillips as DEED commissioner. Phillips left his post as commissioner in order to return to a previous job as director of business development for Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson Construction Company.