ABOUT AACC
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Mr. Sulaiman Lutfi
Chairman of the Board
Sulaiman Lutfi is the current Chairman of the Board of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and a Member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  He is one of the Founding Members and has helped develop the brand of AACC and supported the marketing efforts of the organization, since its inception.   He was one of the key planners in organizing AACC’s Annual Matchmaking Conferences by securing sponsors, promoting the conference and handling public relation and media efforts.

He has over 20 years of experience in marketing and media communications. As an Afghan-American business owner of family owned, TriVision Studios, Sulaiman Lutfi has helped start a successful business with offices in the United States and Afghanistan. TriVision Studios is an award-winning, full service agency that develops innovative strategies to achieve powerful and creative marketing, entertainment and media campaigns for its clients. TriVision manages cross-platform advertising and integrated communication programs for a diverse group of clients, ranging from start-up companies to government agencies to some of the world's leading multi-national organizations.

Prior to AACC, Sulaiman Lutfi has served and helped to create many Afghan organizations in the United States. He co-founded the Afghan Student Association (ASA) in 1992 and served as the President of the organization from 1994 to 1997 and thereafter as the Director of Events and Programming until 1999. In his involvement with ASA, he organized community and cultural events and helped raise funds for needy children and women in Afghanistan.  He also co-founded the Afghan Sports Federation in 1997 and serves as the Vice-President and Soccer League Commissioner for the organization.   Afghan Sports Federation is the largest sports organization outside Afghanistan with over 1000 members.  In addition, he has also worked and contributed to many other organizations, such as Afghan Academy, Mustafa Center and Society of Afghan Professional.

Sulaiman Lutfi received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Decision Science Management Information System from George Mason University and participated in many professional training and conferences for media communications and branding.  He has received many awards and certificates for his achievements and innovation.

Sulaiman Lutfi and his wife, Zakia Lutfi, have three children – Arman, Sabrina and Sultan. They reside in Virginia.


 
altHon. Don Ritter
President & CEO
The Honorable Dr. Donald Ritter is the current President and CEO of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  Since 2002, he has worked full time on Afghanistan and has been back to the country 22 times. Dr. Ritter represented Pennsylvania’s 15th district, the “Lehigh Valley”, from 1979 to 1993 in the U.S. House of Representatives, and has a near 30-year history in Afghanistan. As ranking member on the Congressional Helsinki Commission, he fought for liberty and human rights in the former Soviet Union, serving also as the founding chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Baltic States and Ukraine. No other Congressional body even came close to the number of hearings the Helsinki Commission held on Afghanistan under Ritter’s guidance. As one of the leading congressional proponents of U.S. assistance to the people of Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and occupation as prime author of the “Material Assistance“legislation and founder and Chairman of the “Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan”, Dr. Ritter continues his effort today via the economy and private sector to find solutions to Afghanistan's challenges of insurgency and drug trade.
 
He is founder and former Chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Afghanistan Foundation, later known as the Afghanistan-America Foundation and a founder of the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) in 2002. He also served as Senior Advisor to the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce and the Afghan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC) in Kabul during the creation and development years of AICC, 2004 and 2005 under a USAID grant. Dr. Ritter was a major architect of the AICC, the first independent, free-market oriented Chamber in the history of Afghanistan, now merged with the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). Dr. Ritter presently seeks to continue AACC’s seminal role in assisting the development of the Afghan market economy to bring stability and prosperity to Afghanistan. He also wears the hat of private businessman and investor in Afghanistan and is active in businesses involving consumer services, construction and carpets. Dr. Ritter holds a B.S. in Engineering from Lehigh University and an engineering doctorate from M.I.T.  He was a NAS Scientific Exchange fellow in the former Soviet Union for a year and speaks fluent Russian. He was a member of the faculty and administration at Lehigh University for 10 years, a consultant to industry, and, after 7 terms and 14 years in the US Congress, was founder and President of the National Environmental Policy Institute (NEPI) for 10 years. Don also serves on the Board of Directors of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and is Chairman of their Development Committee.
 
Cheryl Benard
Ms. Cheryl Benard, Ph. D.
Secretary of the Board
Dr. Cheryl Benard is the director of The Bamiyan Project, a 501©3 dedicated to the defense and restoration of cultural heritage sites.

She is a senior analyst with the RAND Corporation within its National Defense Research Institute. From 2002 until 2009, she served as director of the Initiative for Middle Eastern Youth and the Alternative Strategies Initiative at RAND.  Dr. Benard has led research and published books on a broad range of issues related to post-conflict nation-building, including the reconstruction of health services after war; improving the delivery of humanitarian assistance in situations requiring NGO-military collaboration; challenges of peace-keeping in Africa; and strengthening the ability of reformers to impact social development. Dr. Benard also has implemented a number of pro bono efforts, including the development and delivery of an educational media program for Afghan school children in conjunction with Sesame Street, a guide for basketball coaches in post-conflict settings, a primer on elections for new voters in recently democratic countries and the handbook “Best of Muslim Family Law – A 13 Country Study” in cooperation with the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. At the United Nations, Dr. Benard founded the organization UWAN, which brought together a group of diplomats, journalists, human rights groups and media activists to lobby successfully for the passage of Security Council Resolution 1820.

Dr. Benard has been a member of numerous academic and governmental advisory commissions and she is currently a member of ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites. She received her B.A. in political science from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and her Ph.D., summa cum laude, from the University of Vienna, Austria.

She and her husband, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, have two sons, Alexander and Maximilian.


 
altMr. Yama Azami
Treasurer
Yama Azami is the current Treasurer of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and migrated to the United States with his family in 1983. He attended the University of Texas graduating in 1993 with a Bachelors degree in Marketing. In 1996, he relocated to the Washington D.C. area. He continued his business profession as well as his organizational professions with Afghan Student Association, serving as vice president for one year and president from 1998-1999. In this role, he was very involved in community activities as well as raising funds to help the women and children in Afghanistan, sending significant amounts of monetary aid to help provide clothing, food, health care supplies and all items of necessity for the poverty stricken and helpless individuals of Afghanistan. During this time, he was building his professional experience and prospering in the mortgage industry. He has been in the mortgage industry since 1999 and he opened up his own company in 2005. He is the President of Washington Mortgage Group, which provides residential and commercial financing for the Washington DC metro area. His company has built up an impeccable track record for the service they provide to their clients. While he has been continuing his business profession, he has also been a member of the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce and is currently on the board of directors. Even though he devotes a great deal of time to his professional and organizational commitments, he still makes time for his personal commitments. He currently resides in Fairfax Station, Virginia with his wife Fara and two children, Neela, Neda and Layla.


 
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Mr. William C. Joern
At-Large Member 
William C. (Bill) Joern is At-Large member of the Executive Committee of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and a member of Board of Directors.He has over 35 years of general management, strategic planning, program development and evaluation, budgeting, and contract management experience with private corporations and non-profit entities. His experience includes serving as a vice-president of an international training company, CEO of a health planning corporation, and group manager for the Washington operations of a R & D / information services organization. He has provided contract management and proposal development services on behalf of several US Government agencies. He has been an active participant with several organizations including the Washington-based Washington International Trade Association (WITA) and the Washington Regional Board of Trade.
 
Mr. Joern is associated with US companies which manufacture, install, and maintain equipment in several sectors such as: food processing and packaging, food storage facilities, waste water and water purification treatment, building materials and technology, and pharmaceutical and medical supplies. He is familiar with a wide range of funding sources including private funds and the US ExIm Bank, US OPIC, and the World Bank's IFC.
 
Assad Mattin 
Mr. Assad Mattin
At-Large Member 
Assad Mattin is At-Large member of the Executive Committee of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and a member of Board of Directors. A former Chief of Staff to a President and Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Assad Mattin leads the Oxus Consulting Group, a firm that Provides business development, strategic communications and commercial Facilitation support to corporations, organizations and individuals desiring to do business in, and with, Afghanistan. 

Mr. Mattin has held senior management positions with The St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, USF+G Corporation, Marriott Corporation, First Equitable Corporation and MG Consultants Inc. Before beginning his corporate career, Mr. Mattin was deeply involved with the Afghan political sphere, and with that country’s Foreign Service, serving as Director of Communication and Spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

Born in Kabul, Mr. Mattin completed his undergraduate studies in Economics at Kabul University. His postgraduate education consists of Economics and Political Science at the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, and a Political Science and Diplomacy at Oxford University. Mr. Mattin also studied Business Administration at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and Strategic Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Mr. Mattin regularly supplies subject matter expertise in economic and political matters to Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and Radio Liberty. He is a senior advisor and board member at the Afghanistan Builders’ Association, a board member of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce and the Campaign for a U.S.-Afghan Partnership. He also serves as a Council Member on the Kabul Municipality Mayoral Advisory Board.