News | CITT Assesses the COVID-19 Supply Chain in First Virtual Town Hall

Stop the Video



by Jenny Benitez

The Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) held its annual Town Hall meeting on Tuesday October 6, 2020, with the theme A COVID-19 Supply Chain Report Card: Balancing Perception and Reality. Since its inception in 1999, the CITT Town Hall has delivered a dialogue-driven opportunity for transportation and supply chain stakeholders to discuss pertinent transportation and trade-related issues.

This year’s panelists were Leslie Blakey, President of Coalition for America’s Gateway and Trade Corridors and Advisory Committee Member to the Department of Commerce on Supply Chain Effectiveness; Carla Fernandez, Supervisory Consumer Safety Officer of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Donna Lemm, Executive Vice President of National Sales of IMC Companies; LCDR Kazu Okumura, Imports Specialist of the FDA; and Bobby Olvera, Jr., International Vice President (Mainland) of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Another special guest included opening speaker, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology at the US Department of Transportation.

This Town Hall was the first all-digital meeting for CITT, combining video content and simultaneous livestreams. CITT/METRANS Event Coordinator Alix Traver stated, “Because we had to move to a virtual event, we were able to expand throughout the U.S. and internationally. Thus, we ended up with not only our longstanding and loyal local audience, but also with registrations from interested parties across the U.S. as well as from Canada, Europe, South America, and Asia.” The event’s ability to extend its reach to a larger and global audience shows that among the difficulties brought on by the pandemic, there are also newfound opportunities in connectivity and technological advancement.

During the event, the audience and panelists were asked to assess the performance of the supply chain’s response to the supply and demand shocks caused by the pandemic- and a significant percentage agreed that a “B” grade was appropriate. Bobby Olvera, Jr. pointed out that from the perspective of ground-zero at the port, the workers “did not miss a beat”--continuous efforts by men and women working day and night allowed adaptations to occur rapidly. Carla Fernandez added that “there is always room for improvement,” and the panelists agreed that this unforeseen situation is far from over. Going forward, the industry leaders stressed the importance of safety for workers, predicted a surge in openings for full-time work, and noticed opportunities for increased connectivity across sectors in the supply chain. In addition to the innovation made necessary by the pandemic, there is also a deepened gratitude toward the workers who make supply chain operations possible.

The meeting concluded with the annual presentation of CITT’s Domenick Miretti Award to Vivian Malauulu, Long Beach Community College District (LBCCD) Board President and ILWU Local 13 Benefits Officer. Her pioneering contributions as the first woman Benefits Officer for ILWU, the first Latina nominated to the LBCCD Board of Trustees, and the youngest Public Relations Commissioner for the City of Carson exhibit the virtues celebrated by the Miretti Award. The presentation of the award demonstrates the importance of recognizing devoted individuals helping to foster partnerships along the supply chain, facilitating dialogue among industry participants, showing a long-term dedication to the trade and transportation industry, and earning the respect of a wide variety of stakeholders.