Jim Winkler

Vice President, Economic Growth Division



Jim Winkler, Ph.D., is a veteran development leader specializing in trade and investment, economic policy reform and strategic management. He oversees Creative’s work to support the private sector, create jobs, attract investment and improve livelihoods as Vice President and Senior Director of the Economic Growth Division.

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Jim Winkler manages a business unit with over $200 million in economic growth contracts in trade and investment, agriculture, private sector development, blended finance and youth and workforce development in over 20 countries. Jim joined Creative in January 2020 as its Vice President of Economic Growth. He oversees a growing portfolio of experts and projects in the Economic Growth Division.

Jim joined Creative after 30 years in senior leadership and management positions with DAI. There he managed economic growth projects in trade and investment, private sector development, agriculture and competitiveness.

He was Chief of Party five times for large economic growth projects in the Palestinian Territories, Thailand and East Asia, Croatia, Vietnam and South Africa and the Southern Africa region.

He held senior leadership positions in U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Trade and Investment Hubs in East Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa since 2014.

From 2003 to 2004, he led a study commissioned by USAID on a groundbreaking study, Enterprise Growth Strategies: Strategic Directions and Options, that spawned a new generation of projects that integrated business enabling environment, competitiveness and private sector engagement.

He advised a portfolio of over 20 projects valued at over $550 million operating in 36 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe that were funded by USAID and U.K. Aid’s Department for International Development. 

Jim is known for his leadership in economic growth projects that work at the highest levels of government and the private sector to bring about impactful change in emerging economies. He led one of the largest regulatory reforms known as Project 30 in Vietnam’s history from 2007 to 2011.

Working with the Prime Minister’s Office of Government, his team worked closely with government leaders in central and 63 provincial governments and Vietnamese and international private sector organizations across all sectors to simplify hundreds of thousands of administrative procedures and regulations that reduced the cost of doing business by an estimated $1.4 billion per year. 

He supported a similar program with the Prime Minister’s office in Croatia from 2005 to 2007. 

He also worked closely with the Palestinian Minister of Economy and private sector leaders from 1997 to 2001 to establish the Palestine Trade Center which exists today. PalTrade is the unified voice of the private sector that promotes global trade competitiveness and economic growth in West Bank and Gaza. 

He has a long history of managing business advisory services and enterprise transactions including private equity, market linkages, foreign direct investment and enterprise restructuring.

In Croatia, for example, he led a project that assisted over 7,000 enterprises, created over 20,000 new jobs, facilitated over $100 million in foreign investment, extended over $100 million in credit through commercial banks to over 4,000 enterprises, trained over 2,600 entrepreneurs and facilitated over $150 million in new sales and $55 million in new exports.

Jim is a member of Creative’s executive committee. Since 2017, he’s been on the Board of Directors of the Corporate Council on Africa. He served on the Board of the Brain Wellness Fund in Bethesda, Maryland, from 2017 to 2019 to conduct research and heal traumatic brain injuries on U.S. veterans and citizens. He was appointed and elected to the Board of Directors of four international schools in Bangkok, Jerusalem, Zagreb and Hanoi from 1996 to 2010.

Hear more from Jim in this Q&A.


    B.A. in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from Georgetown University, Tufts University; M.A.L.D. in International Business, Economic Development, Political Development from Tufts University 



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“I share Creative’s strong belief in supporting local-led initiatives and equipping all stakeholders with the tools to flourish and improve their communities.”

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