In Honor of Caribbean-American Heritage Month 2020
The Department of State joins in the celebration of Caribbean Americans’ rich contributions to U.S. history, culture, and society as our nation commemorates Caribbean-American Heritage Month this June.
While this current pandemic has kept us physically distant, the cultural and social ties that bind us remain strong, and the spirit of Caribbean-American Heritage Month endures. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Cynthia Kierscht delivered keynote remarks during the virtual opening session of Caribbean-American Heritage Month. Other events the Department of State will join include a call with the diaspora community, and Diplomacy Day hosted by the Institute of Caribbean Studies.
This year marks the fifteenth celebration of Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the United States. The first Proclamation was issued by President George Bush on June 6, 2006. Since 2006, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month. The 2020 Presidential Proclamation can be found here.
Past Presidential Proclamations have recognized Caribbean-Americans such as Alexander Hamilton, who came from poverty in Nevis, was a key contributor to our Constitution and the first Secretary of the Treasury, helping to establish our modern financial system and to create the United States Coast Guard. Joseph Sandiford Atwell, who was born in Barbados in 1831, moved to the United States in 1863 and attended the Philadelphia Divinity School. Following the Civil War, he went to spread God’s message of hope and love to the emancipated slaves in the South. Due to the strength of his ministry, he became the first black Episcopal deacon ordained in the Diocese of Kentucky and went on to become the first black Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Virginia. Dr. William Thornton, a native of the British Virgin Islands, designed the United States Capitol and is generally considered the first “Architect of the Capitol”. Jean Baptiste du Sable, the first permanent resident of Chicago, was born in Haiti. Widely recognized as the “Founder of Chicago,” his prosperous trade settlement has become one of the most iconic cities in the world.
This month, we recognize the accomplishments and contributions of Caribbean Americans within the Department of State by highlighting biographies of outstanding Caribbean-American employees who support diplomatic efforts around the world. We will continue to add biographies to this page throughout June.
Kenya Jordana James is a second-tour Public Diplomacy Officer, who joined the Foreign Service in 2015. Before joining the Department, Kenya worked as a press assistant with the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy and Communication Center, an office under the leadership of former Senator Harry Reid and Senator Charles Schumer. As a part of her Rangel Fellowship, Kenya completed an internship in the Public Affairs Section of Embassy Antananarivo. Kenya served her first tour at Consulate HCMC as a Consular Officer, working as both a non-immigrant and immigrant visa officer. Now in her second tour, Kenya serves as the Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea. She specializes in cultural outreach and promoting cultural exchanges between the United States and Guinea through U.S. Embassy programming and initiatives. Kenya holds a Bachelors degree in Political Science from Howard University and a Masters in International Affairs from the New School. Kenya is Jamaican American.
Amanda Roach serves as Human Rights Officer in U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo. In this capacity she liases with Dominican government and civil society representatives to promote human rights protections for vulnerable groups. During her first tour with the Foreign Service, she served as Staff Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya as well as an immigrant visa Vice Consul covering six East African countries. Prior to joining the State Department, Amanda taught English in Senegal and worked in global health non-profits in Washington DC.
A child of Trinidadian immigrants, Amanda has had a lifelong interest in Caribbean and African affairs. She has a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master’s degree in African studies from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Amanda is a recipient of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship. She speaks French, Spanish, and Somali.
Malore Brown is the Regional Public Engagement Specialist based in Bogota, Colombia and covers the countries of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. She was previously based in Accra, Ghana. She served as an Information Resource Officer (IRO) in Abuja, Nigeria and the Office of American Spaces in Washington, D.C. Malore began her career as a community outreach librarian for the Milwaukee Public Library and later a children’s librarian for the Chicago Public Library. As a university professor she taught at the graduate schools of information science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Rutgers University (New Jersey). Malore was also the Executive Director for the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association (the organization best known for giving the most prestigious book awards for children; the Newbery and Caldecott awards), and an Assistant Vice President, Project Director for Sesame Workshop’s re-launch of the television show The Electric Company. Before joining the U.S. Department of State in June 2011, Malore served as a Senior Program Officer for the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Public Programs. She holds a Multidisciplinary Ph.D. in the areas of Urban Education and Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She speaks Spanish and French. Her hobbies include quilting, baking, reading, and traveling. Malore was born in Jamaica and grew up in the Bahamas. She calls Milwaukee, Wisconsin home.
George G. Sarmiento joined the Foreign Service in 2006 and currently serves as an economic officer at U.S. Embassy Rome covering the sectoral and trade portfolios. George was born and raised in New York City and is proud of his Dominican heritage. He attended the City College of New York where he majored in International Studies and Public Policy and earned a Master of Planning degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Prior to joining the State Department, George was accredited by the American Institute of Certified Planners and worked as the Director of Planning and Development for the City of El Paso, Texas and as a transportation planner in Rockland County, New York. George has been ”worldwide available” since joining the Foreign Service having completed tours with his wife and their two children in Chennai, India; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Monrovia, Liberia; and, Kuwait City, Kuwait. George also served in the Libya External Office based in Tunis, Tunisia. He speaks Arabic, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Joaquin Monserrate is Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States. A native Caribbean, Joaquin grew up in Puerto Rico where he worked as a journalist and a lawyer until 1999, when he joined the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. His first tour was in Indonesia, where he would return in 2012. In Asia, he also served in Vietnam and India. In the Western Hemisphere, Joaquin has served in Mexico City, Havana and now in Bridgetown, an embassy that covers the 10+ countries and jurisdictions east and south of Puerto Rico and up to Grenada. Joaquin graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in 1984 and from the University of Puerto Rico with a J.D. in 1991. He attended the University of London in 1986, where he met his wife and fellow Caribbean, Michaela.
Gabriela joined the Foreign Service in 2013, and served her first two tours in Santo Domingo and Shanghai as a consular officer. Prior to that, she worked in WHA’s Office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs for two years. She received a master’s degree from Georgetown University in Latin American studies, and attended William & Mary for her undergraduate degree. Gabriela is a native Spanish and Portuguese speaker, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami, FL.
Program Assistant, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Camelia Valldejuly serves as a Program Assistant in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). As a contractor on INL’s Caribbean Team, Camelia offers programmatic support for foreign assistance programs that build partner nation capacity for law enforcement, counternarcotics, and justice. Before joining the Department of State in 2019, she was a Program Associate at the San Juan-based think tank, Center for a New Economy (CNE). Camelia is from Puerto Rico, and graduated from Harvard College in 2017 with a B.A. in Government.
Director, San Juan Passport Agency
Mr. Giamellaro, of Puerto Rican ancestry, oversees U.S. passport production, fraud prevention, and customer service initiatives in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
He received the Department of State’s Mary A. Ryan Award for Outstanding Public Service, due to his outstanding leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges faced in evacuating U.S. citizens from islands in the Caribbean in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and two weeks later evacuating the staff and entire DOS operation from San Juan in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Eila Sepulveda joined the Foreign Service in 2013. She works as A/GSO in Embassy Bogota overseeing procurement and customs and shipping for over 40 agencies present at Post. She previously served in INL/WHP designing and monitoring law enforcement and justice sector programming in the Western Hemisphere. Her first two tours were in the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and in EAP/EX. Eila has been an active member of the Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA) and served as co-chair of recruiting from 2017 to 2019. Before joining the Foreign Service, Eila worked in a variety of organizations including the National Council of La Raza, at LTL Strategies managing a USAID-funded project, and at The Washington Center managing a congressional internship program. Eila completed a M.A. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez.
Catherine Rodriguez is the U.S. Consul General in Lahore, Pakistan. She is a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, most recently serving as the Chief of Staff for the Director General of the U.S. Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources responsible for the 76,000 employees stationed domestically and abroad.
Consul General Rodriguez began her Foreign Service career with the United States Agency for International Development in Washington D.C., with additional tours in Costa Rica and El Salvador before joining the Department of State. Her previous assignments include New Delhi, Washington DC, Karachi and Peshawar. She served as a Regional Director for the Office of Foreign Missions in Miami supporting over 3,000 foreign diplomats stationed across the Southeastern United States. She has also served as a Diplomat in Residence for South Florida and Puerto Rico responsible for recruiting and mentoring future members of the Foreign Service and Civil Service.
She is the daughter of Cuban refugees and hails from Miami, Florida. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a Master’s degree in Business Administration, and a Master’s in Accounting from Florida International University. She is a Certified Public Accountant and also has a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University.
Amy Rustan Haslett is J/TIP’s Bureau Planner. She is responsible for resource requests and reporting on performance. She joined the State Department in 2008 and worked previously at ECA and INL. Prior to joining State, she worked at George Washington University (GWU), was in the Peace Corps in Cabo Verde, and worked at NGOs in DC and in Ecuador serving at-risk youth. Amy holds a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College and a master’s degree from GWU. Amy is Cuban American.
Susana Guzman serves as a program officer in the Academic Programs Division of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She completed her undergraduate degree at Florida International University and Miami Dade College in 2016. Her experience within the State Department includes coordinating funding for EducationUSA advising centers worldwide; working in the Fulbright Program handling emergency on-program support cases and supporting programming in Europe and Eurasia. Susana seeks to further U.S. foreign policy objectives and build mutual understanding through cultural exchanges. She began her career at the State Department as an intern in the Office of Private Exchanges focusing on high school programs. Before completing her undergraduate degree, she received a Cultural Vistas Fellowship to Argentina, worked in Global Ties-Miami for the International Visitor Leadership Program, and served as a delegate for the Clinton Global Initiative. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and is a first-generation American, born to a Colombian mother and Cuban father.
David Anthony Rodriguez is the Political Officer in the Office of Mexican Affairs within the Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. He is responsible for covering issues pertaining to domestic politics, external politics, political-military affairs, human rights, and trafficking in persons.
He most recently served as Programs Officer in the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Section at the Embassy of the United States of America in Lima, Peru. Mr. Rodriguez worked as a Political-Military Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan from 2014 to 2016. He also served at the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey, Mexico as a vice consul from 2011 to 2013. From 2009 to 2010, Mr. Rodriguez was a civil servant in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs’ Office of Regional Security and Policy.
Mr. Rodriguez is a 2008 recipient of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship. He earned an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University prior to joining the Foreign Service. He also received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Geography and International Relations from Florida International University with a Certificate of Specialization in Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. Mr. Rodriguez was born in Hialeah, FL to parents that escaped Cuba’s communist regime in the early 1960s. He is part of a Foreign Service tandem couple and has a two-year old daughter.
Jacqueline Gayle Bony joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 2016 as a Health Development Officer where she advances U.S. foreign assistance goals through maternal and child health programs around the world. Currently posted to USAID/Ghana, she oversees programs that strengthen the delivery of health and social welfare services in the West African country. She started her public health career in 2001 as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer working with South African primary school teachers to address the impacts of AIDS on students and their families early in the country’s epidemic. She then spent several years developing and managing public health programs for non-profits and the U.S. government, which allowed her to work and live across sub-Saharan Africa including Tanzania, Madagascar, Rwanda, Uganda, Mozambique. Ms. Bony speaks French and earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark Atlanta, a historically black university, and a master’s degree in International Affairs from Ohio University. Born and raised in South Florida, her parents immigrated to the region from Jamaica in the 1970s.
Aurelie Florian was born in the Dominican Republic. Prior to joining State, Aurelie served in the U.S. Air Force on numerous assignments, domestic and abroad. She worked as Production Manager for aircraft systems, and in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, as a Public Health Specialist overseeing Occupational Health Programs. In the Department of State, Aurelie worked as an Office Manager Specialist for the Public Affairs Office at USNATO Brussels, Belgium. Additional tours include Lagos, Nigeria, Luanda, Angola, Washington DC. and most recently, Islamabad, Pakistan. Aurelie holds an M.A. in Communications and Public Relations from La Salle University, PA and speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese. She is currently attending the first ever joint virtual A-100 and SOAR Orientation Class as a Public Diplomacy Officer.
Shona Carter joined the Foreign Service in 2016 after completing her graduate degree at American University, where she studied International Economic Relations and Finance. She has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts- Dartmouth. She completed her first tour as a Consular Officer in Port au Prince, Haiti and is currently serving as an Economic Officer in Accra, Ghana.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she held internships in the U.S. Senate, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and in the House of Representatives. She has also worked as a Global Governance Analyst and a Teacher’s Assistant in Washington, DC. Her interests include development, economics, education, and international trade and investment. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and her family hails from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.
Alexandra King Pile is the Chief of Political and Economic Affairs at U.S. Embassy Georgetown. As Political and Economic Chief, Ms. King Pile serves as a counselor to the Ambassador on issues that impact U.S. foreign policy interests in Guyana and within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) organization. The section she manages also provides assistance and information to U.S. companies interested in doing business in Guyana and vice versa. Ms. King Pile has previously served in Bolivia, Brazil and Angola. She will transfer to Zambia later this year. Prior to joining the Department of State in 2012, she practiced civil law in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Her interest in international affairs and blending of cultures started at home with her Caribbean and African American parentage and developed over the years she spent growing up between Baltimore, Maryland, Trinidad & Tobago, and Barbados. She has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Drexel University in Philadelphia, studied international law and commercial dispute resolution at the University of the Netherlands Antilles in Curação, and earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
Juan Alfonso Clar is a second tour ECON officer heading to Kuala Lumpur. His first Post was in Mumbai, where he worked as the Deputy Fraud Prevention Manager at one of the world’s largest consular sections. Prior to his Foreign Service career, Juan interned at the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan and worked with the New York and New Jersey state governments. He holds an MBA from The George Washington University, a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University.
Leslie-Ann Nwokora is the Office Director for the Office of Acquisition and Assistance (OAA) at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mali. During her career as a commissioned Foreign Service Officer, she has served in Pakistan, and the following regional posts: West Africa (Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Benin), Bangladesh (Nepal), and Hungary (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cypress, Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro). Before joining USAID, Ms. Nwokora was the Associate Director of Administration for Peace Corps South Africa where she managed a large in-country program with regional responsibilities in Lesotho. Ms. Nwokora enjoys external development work impacting the host country’s citizens as beneficiaries. She also enjoys internal talent management and developing staff through mentoring, training, and career planning. Although Ms. Nwokora considers herself a perpetual learner, she holds degrees in Business Administration and Psychology demonstrating her continued compassion for people’s forward progression. Ms. Nwokora was born in Trinidad and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the past recipient of USAID’s Mary A. Reynolds Memorial Award for Innovation in Acquisition or Assistance which recognized her continued creativity during her Foreign Service career.