WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will headline the upcoming National Ethanol Conference (NEC) in Grapevine, Texas, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announcedÂ today. The 20th annual NEC, which will take place Feb. 18–20, looks beyond America's borders as many speakers will address the conference's theme of "going global." Mr. Kirk is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19. Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, touted Ambassador Kirk, noting, "Mr. Kirk is uniquely qualified to speak directly to this year's conference theme 'going global'. As we look to new horizons and expand into new markets, Mr. Kirk gives us a peek behind the curtain of world markets and trade relations. His valuable insight will help shine a spotlight on new opportunities for American-made biofuels and co-products all across the globe." Ambassador Kirk was appointed by President Barack Obama as the United States Trade Representative and served from 2009 to 2013. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Kirk has close ties to the state as he gained his undergraduate and law degrees at Austin College and the University of Texas School of Law respectively. He joined Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's staff before rising to the position of Texas Secretary of State and eventually becoming the Mayor of Dallas. NEC will give attendees a chance to hear from key industry leaders on export markets as well as public policy, higher-level ethanol blends, rail transportation, and more. In line with the conference theme, NEC will host a panel titled "Going Global: Building Ethanol Demand Internationally." The panel will be moderated by RFA's General Counsel Ed Hubbard and will feature Eco-Energy's Pedro Paranhos, Lakeview Energy's Jim Galvin, Henrique Pacini of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Mike Dwyer, and ePURE's Robert Wright. Early-bird registration concludes on Friday. More information and registration details can be found at www.NationalEthanolConference.com.