UNITED STATES SENATE
SUBJECT: Ambassadorial Nomination: Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)
POST: Republic of Panama
CANDIDATE: Mari Carmen Aponte
Mari Carmen Aponte is a former Ambassador to El Salvador and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. As Ambassador, she strongly promoted initiatives offering young Salvadorans an alternative to gang membership through USAID’s after school programs, and succeeded in bringing, through extradition, the first Salvadoran in a century to face the American judicial process. She was the first woman to be elected president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, opening up the historically male-dominated leadership within the organization and further encouraging Latinas to run for the office. Ms. Aponte’s distinguished career as a diplomat, lawyer and civic leader makes her well-qualified to serve for a second time as a U.S. ambassador.
Ms. Aponte was Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration at the Commonwealth Federal Agency in Washington, D.C. Appointed to the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission, she helped bring more women and Hispanics to the D.C. bench. She also chaired the Minority Women Subcommittee of the ABA’s Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession for three years and worked to help advance minorities within the legal profession. Currently a consultant in Washington, D.C., she previously was a consultant and solo law practitioner in both New York and Washington, D.C. Early in her career, Ms. Aponte was the first Latina lawyer to serve as a White House Fellow.
Ms. Aponte earned a B.A. at Rosemont College (Pennsylvania), an M.A. at Villanova University, and a J.D. at Temple University School of Law where, upon graduation, she became the first female Puerto Rican lawyer in Pennsylvania. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including honorary doctorates of laws from Temple University and the District of Columbia School of Law, and the Graciela Olivarez Award from UnidosUS. She speaks Spanish and French.