Advisory Board

Robson Mello

Secretary-General IREO

Robson-Mello-IREORobson Mello led the creation of Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (IREO) in 2008 to address the urgent need to transition from carbon based energy systems to clean and renewable energy technology that promoted sustainable human development.

Under his leadership, IREO has built alliances with leading organizations from all sectors and mobilized support for a broad range of programs that achieve this mission and support the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Mr. Mello is a renowned visionary, entrepreneur, and advocate for emerging energy technologies and the economic development of disadvantaged communities worldwide. A Brazilian immigrant to the United States, he has achieved success as an entrepreneur in fashion, publishing, sports marketing, and construction. Prior to his work for IREO, Mr. Mello established the Brazilian Foundation of America (BFA), a nonprofit organization, in 1999, to assist Brazilian Americans and other immigrants living in the tri-state area. The BFA established language, legal, insurance and investment seminars that have touched thousands of lives.

In 2004, Mr. Mello was the founding president of BFA in Brazil, which operates with authorization from the Brazilian Ministry of Justice. Focused on underprivileged communities in northeast Brazil, the BFA has become widely recognized for its work with parents to keep children in school. As a result of his efforts, the BFA now holds consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Mr. Mello’s humanitarian work with the BFA has earned him recognition from Senator Hillary Clinton, Nassau county executive Thomas Suozzi, and from the Consulate General of Brazil in New York.

His Excellency Ambassador Joseph Huggins

President and CEO The Huggins Group

Joseph HugginsAmbassador Joseph Huggins, a retired Career Diplomat, is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Huggins Group (THG).  The firm, which was founded in 2006, provides strategic advice to U.S. companies Interested in trade and investment opportunities in Africa.  He is also the Chairman and co-owner of Travel Leisure (PTY) Ltd., a tour operating business in Botswana, and a Principal Member of Energy Resources International, LLC (ERI).

ERI provides strategic advice to companies on the purchase of hydrocarbon products.  Prior to his current position, Ambassador Huggins had a long and distinguished Diplomatic career serving in senior positions in the former Soviet Union, Kenya, Guinea, Togo, and Jordan. In his last overseas assignment from January 2003 to July 2005, he served as Ambassador to the Republic of Botswana and the Secretary of State’s Special Representative to the Southern Africa Development Community, a political and economic organization comprised of 14 countries in southern Africa.

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  During his tour in Botswana, Ambassador Huggins was responsible for strengthening U.S.-Botswana relations and promoting trade and investment opportunities for U.S. firms.  Following his assignment to Botswana, Ambassador Huggins worked with The Corporate Council on Africa as Senior Advisor to the Financing and Capital Flows Committee in developing strategies to increase investment flows to Africa. He also served as a liaison between the Council and multilateral organizations, African governments and the broader (non-member) business community on issues related specifically to finance and capital flows.

Ambassador Huggins previously served as Executive Director for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs where he worked closely with the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in formulating policy and resource requirements for 44 U.S. Embassies in Africa.

Ambassador Huggins serves on the Sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee for the Export-Import Bank of the United States.  The Committee, established by an act of Congress, provides expert guidance to the Bank in developing policies to strengthen Bank support of U.S. exports to Africa.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of The Osgood Center for International Studies (  He Chairs the Board of Directors of the non-profit Ariel Foundation International and is a founding board member of Airborne Lifeline Foundation.  He is also a founding board member of  the Botswana based “Show You Care Trust,” and  sits on the Advisory Boards of the New York based Monolith Africa Infrastructure Fund, L.P., and Harvard University’s Young African Leaders Association.  He has been featured in the documentary film, Africa Investment Horizons, Fox 5 New York News broadcast on Botswana, Reuters Africa Journal Broadcast, and Cleveland, Ohio’s National Public Radio – WCPN 90.3 – broadcast, Africa, Land of the 144 Percent Investment Return.

Dr. Gloria B. Herndon

Dr. Herndon earned her Bachelors Degrees in Economics and Political Science, as well as a Masters and a PhD in International Law and Economics from Johns Hopkins University. Subsequently, she worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an economist, then joined the State Department and was posted to U.S. Embassy Commerce positions in Africa and Europe.

Upon leaving the State Department, Dr. Herndon founded and continues to direct GB Herndon and Associates, which is domiciled in the District of Columbia. The company initially focused upon structuring medical and benefits insurance for its corporate clients, but evolved into a multi-line insurance broker and is now more than a decade old. Its diverse clientele include the National Medical Association, embassies of foreign governments, the National Association of Postal and Federal Employees (NAPFE) and the University of the District of Columbia.

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In recent years, Dr. Herndon has further diversified the company by forging strategic partnerships with leading providers of insurance and student financial services for the higher education market. GB Herndon and Associates maintains corporate affiliations with National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

Dr. Herndon is active in the business and local communities through her active involvement with various organizations such as the Board of Trade, the DC Chamber of Commerce, the National Conference of Negro Women (NCNW), Africare, and Women’s Business Network, to name a few. Corporations including Office Depot, Six Continent Hotels, and American Express have appointed her to Advisory Board positions. Dr. Herndon co-chairs the Board of Directors of the Women’s Business Center and chairs the Corporate Advisory Boards of the National Head Start Association (NHSA) and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). On occasion, she is a consulting resource for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the insurance industry and provides other AIDS-related information when requested by the United States Department of State.

Dr. Herndon is a published author, member of numerous public and private entity boards and the recipient of a number of awards. She also established the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) program for advising small and minority-owned businesses on the design and implementation of business and benefits insurance programs.