Global Trade Makes a Large Impact on California’s Economy


Leah Goold-Haws is shaping global trade and re-examining the impact it can have across California. Community college students can have successful careers in global trade without ever leaving their hometowns.

As Statewide Director of Global Trade for the California Community Colleges Workforce and Economic Development Division, Goold-Haws is spreading the word about the value community college students can bring to small and medium-sized businesses that are California based but have e-commerce operations around the world.

“Most small businesses have an online presence, and many of those businesses are engaged in e-commerce as a platform for global sales from Shopify to Alibaba,” Good-Haws said. “We are reframing skill sets that are critical to global trade.”

Skill sets include search engine optimization and digital advertising, which are essential to a successful online business. As digital natives, college students are poised to jump in and lend their expertise to help small businesses expand their footprints abroad.

“Most students already have friends through social media that are in multiple countries, so they are engaged online with other cultures already,” Goold-Haws said. We are taking that fluency and helping them become an asset from a business standpoint.”

As Statewide Director for Global Trade, Goold-Haws oversees a team that works with California’s 114 community colleges to build a globally-competent workforce. Before becoming Statewide Director, she served as Deputy Sector Navigator of Global Trade and Logistics in both Northern California and the Los Angeles County region. She’s also worked as a consultant for the Centers for International Trade Development and operated a federal Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

There are currently five Global Trade Regional Directors throughout the state, with plans to add a sixth in the Bay Area. Goold-Haws is working to share best practices across the state and champion multi-region initiatives like a virtual internship program that allows students to work remotely under the supervision of a global trade professional.

Goold-Haws is also an accomplished entrepreneur and plans to integrate the global trade sector into entrepreneurship activities throughout the California Community College system. Additionally, she hopes to collaborate with other sectors on certificate programs that will break down academic silos in order to create a more well-rounded student experience.

“There are several spaces our colleges are already training in that align with the skills that businesses need for a global-ready workforce,” she said. “I want to make sure we have defined certificates and programs to empower students to move into a small business setting.”

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