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Li Zhao

Co-Founder & President

Li Zhao is a native of China who spent 25 years there before living in Holland, the U.K. and the U.S. Combined with over 15 years of international trade experience, Li is considered one of the top China experts in Iowa. Li leverages her background and relationships to deliver exceptional results for her clients.

Prior to founding China Iowa Group, Li held positions at Agricredit and De Lage Landen — subsidiaries of Rabobank Group, one of the largest agricultural banks in the world. Her previous work experience includes positions at a variety of international companies in China including New Oriental, Shanghai Phoenix Bicycle Import and Export Company, and American Greetings. 

Li holds undergraduate and Master’s degrees in International Trade and Economics from Central South University in Changsha, China. She is the youngest board member of Bankers Trust community board and also sits on the Board of Trustees for Grandview University. Her accomplishments have been recognized by receiving the Passport to Prosperity Award, The Business Record’s Forty Under 40, and the Governor’s Volunteer Award. She was also featured in the Des Moines Register’s “Feeding China”, an in-depth report exhibiting key players in China’s ever growing demand for food. She has been on CNBC's "Closing Bell" and is also a frequent guest on Chinese overseas TV station CGTN.

Justin Mandelbaum


Justin Mandelbaum is a native of Iowa who spent over ten years living in New York, Tokyo and Philadelphia. In addition to co-founding China Iowa Group, he is a principal of his family’s real estate office, Mandelbaum Properties. Justin has worked internationally at global investment firms including Goldman Sachs and Starwood Capital Group, and has extensive cross-cultural experience through business, study and travel in 30 countries throughout Asia, Europe, Australia and North and South America. He has traveled extensively throughout China.

Justin is a graduate of the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. In addition to his time at the University of Pennsylvania, Justin studied at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, Japan.

meet the team

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