John Otis Lifetime Achievement Award

The NASBITE John Otis Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor presented by NASBITE International. This award honors a lifetime of achievement in International Trade education or training by those who have distinguished themselves through leadership or service nationally or internationally. This award was established in 2004 and presented to John Otis, the original founder of NASBITE, as the Lifetime Achievement Award. It recognized a body of work that has had substantial impact on the field of international trade. This is not an annual award.

Who was John Otis?

John Otis was the founder of NASBITE International. Back in the mid- 1980’s, there were few international trade offerings at colleges and universities and just a few Small Business Development Centers offering trade assistance. These programs tended to operate without much awareness of what others were doing. It was John’s idea to bring those involved in trade promotion together to share ideas and best practices.

After 20 years as a small business owner, John founded the statewide SBDC program at Portland State University in Oregon. He invited Janis Parsley, the developer of a trade program at Seattle Community College, and Pru Baletero, SBA international trade officer for the Pacific Northwest, to help him plan a conference. Responses to a mailing indicated overwhelming support for a “best practices in trade training” conference to be held in Portland in May, 1988. The first conference attracted 130 people from 30 states.

At the end of the conference, John asked for volunteers to form a national steering committee. A group of 30 volunteered and gave John the charge to begin the national effort to develop a professional organization for those associated with trade training and assistance. That national steering committee became the NASBITE International Board of Governors when the group met in St. Paul, Minnesota to plan the first official NASBITE International Conference, held in 1989. All that NASBITE International has become today benefited from the guidance provided during the first 10 years by John Otis, who passed away in 2012. John was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. It was renamed the John Otis Lifetime Achievement Award after that to acknowledge the important role he played in developing NASBITE International.

Past Award Winners


James Foley, CGBP
Director, Bradley University International Trade Center
Peoria, IL


Ray Fogarty
Director, Bryant University
Smithfield, RI


Maurice Kogon
Director of the Center for International Trade Development, El Camino College (Retired)
Hawthorne, California


Barbara Moebius
Educational Consultant, Former Associate Dean of Global Business, Waukesha County Technical College
Waukesha, WI


Dr. William (Randy) Randolph Folks, Jr.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Business in the Sonoco International Business Department, Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina


Dr. Robert Scherer
Dean, Monte Ahuja College of Business, Cleveland State University
Cleveland, Ohio


John Otis
 President, Eye of the Sacred Wind Foundation (Retired)
Whitefish, MT