The Department of State celebrates America’s rich Hispanic history and culture with National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 – October 15. National Hispanic Heritage Month, with roots going back to 1968, celebrates the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period. Columbus Day in Mexico (Día de la Raza) is on October 12.

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize the contributions and the important presence of Hispanic and Latin Americans in the U.S. and within the Department. In commemoration of the 2019 National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Department highlights biographies of outstanding Hispanic employees who support diplomatic efforts around the world.

Also, please see the President’s proclamation declaring September 15 – October 15, 2019, as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

 

Abigail Olvera

As an Economic Officer in the largest country by population in the Middle East, Abigail Olvera works closely with Egyptian government officials, investment and development bankers, as well as representatives of local and international financial institutions in connection with reforms related to Egypt’s IMF-led $12 billion EFF program, which concludes in November. As a part of her responsibilities, Abi is the embassy’s action officer on Egypt’s macroeconomic reforms, banking, financial flows, and entrepreneurship. Abi regularly briefs high level government counterparts.  She is also the embassy’s lead on money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. Abi previously worked at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal where she led the implementation of the first Interview Waiver Program for the country. Abi began her career as a Thomas R. Pickering Fellow where she served at the U.S. Embassy in Nepal and the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States.

Amy Rustan Haslett

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.

Arnold Chacon

Arnold Chacon holds the rank of Career Minister and is the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University. He served as Director General of the Foreign Service and Ambassador in Guatemala. His other assignments include the U.S. Missions in Honduras, Mexico, Chile, Italy, Peru, Ecuador, the United Nations and as Deputy Executive Secretary in the Executive Secretariat. He is the recipient of two Presidential Merit Rank Awards, Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, and Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay.

Brianna May

Brianna May is a third tour Special Agent serving in Shenyang, China as the ARSO-I.  Brianna’s previous tours were the Boston Field Office and Manama, Bahrain. Adopted from Bogota, Colombia, Brianna grew up overseas as a “diplobrat” with parents who served in the Foreign Service. Brianna received her B.A. at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She speaks Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, and some Greek.  Brianna is a proud ally to the LGBTQI community and advocate of inclusion and diversity within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security as well as the greater State Department community.

Camelia Valldejuly 

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.

Carmen Muñoz

Senior Advisor

Office of the Special Representative for Venezuela 

Carmen Muñoz serves as a Senior Advisor to the Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams and assists on coordinating State Department and interagency activities designed to advance the U.S. policy goal of helping Venezuelans return their country to a democratic, stable, and prosperous nation.  

Carmen joined the Department in July 2016 as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) and Venezuela Desk Officer. As a PMF, she did a six-month rotation at Embassy Bogota in the Political Section and a three-month rotation in the House Foreign Affairs Committee for Chairman Royce.  Prior to State, Carmen was the Assistant Director in the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council.

Carmen graduated from Georgetown in 2014 with an M.S. in Foreign Service, and M.A. in History. Originally from California, she graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in History before joining the Peace Corps where she served in Guatemala and Jamaica.

Carolina Escalera

Information Officer

U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo

Carolina serves as the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Dominican Republic.  Previous tours include Rio de Janeiro as a Consular Officer and Surabaya, Indonesia as a Public Affairs Officer.  Prior to the Foreign Service, she worked at the White House covering Latino Media and has over five years of experience as a reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a Masters of Public Administration from Columbia University.  She is a former Fulbright fellow and State Department Rangel Fellow. She speaks Indonesian, Spanish and Portuguese.  

Catherine Rodriguez 

U.S. Consul General to Lahore, Pakistan  – 

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.  

Chris Andino

Chris Andino is the Political Counselor at Embassy Buenos Aires.  Most recently, he served as the Deputy INL Director in Kabul. Previous assignments include service as the Political Counselor in Panamá, as well as postings in Washington, Kuwait, Libya, and Colombia.  While his father immigrated from Honduras to Iowa in 1969, Chris learned most of his Spanish at FSI and on the visa line. He studied and drove a bus at the University of Virginia.

Craig Anthony Rychel

Acting Economic Counselor

U.S. Embassy Panama

Craig Rychel covers the Panama Canal, maritime issues and energy.  He previously served in Washington, as the Special Assistant to the Special Envoy for the Colombia Peace Process – the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC.  In addition, Craig was a Staff Assistant for the WHA Assistant Secretary, and served in Caracas and Asuncion. A native of San Diego, Craig has a bachelor’s degree in International Development from UCLA, and a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown.  

David Giamellaro 

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.

David Gutierrez

David Gutierrez joined the Foreign Service in 2016 and completed his first tour in Guadalajara, Mexico. His second tour was originally Caracas, Venezuela, but he was re-assigned to Washington after the countries severed diplomatic relations. 

David is serving as a political officer in Canberra, where he covers the Middle East, counterterrorism, and trafficking in persons.  Prior to the Foreign Service, David completed his Masters in Public Policy and International Area Studies at UC Berkeley and served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Mexico City in 2013.

 

David Mendez

Dave Mendez is a second-tour Political Officer who joined the Foreign Service in 2015.  Before joining the Department officially, Dave completed an internship with the Bureau of Legislative Affairs and later in the Political – Economic Section of Embassy Abu Dhabi as part of his Rangel Fellowship.  Dave served his first tour in Embassy Tegucigalpa as a Consular Officer, working as both a non-immigrant visa officer and as the immigrant visa unit chief during a time of increased migration from Honduras. Now in his second tour, Dave is a Political Officer at the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna (UNVIE), where he represents U.S. interests as the anti-crime lead at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  As the anti-crime lead, Dave conveys U.S. positions on variety of issues including cybercrime, corruption, environmental crimes, trafficking in firearms, and trafficking in persons. In addition to coordinating U.S. participation in large conferences such as the annual Crime Commission, Dave helps uphold existing global norms in crime prevention, criminal justice, international cooperation, and technical assistance – reinforcing the avenues that states can use to assist one another in confronting transnational crime.  Dave is originally a California native and completed his bachelor’s at Georgetown University and his master’s at George Washington University.  

David Rodriguez

Mr. David Rodriguez serves as the Director, Office of Logistics Operations for the Department of State.  His office is one of two offices making up the global supply chain that is critical for logistics support of embassies and consulates throughout the world under the direction of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Logistics Management in the Bureau of Administration.  His responsibilities cover an extremely broad scope of logistics duties that include travel, freight and household goods shipments, secure logistics, and freight consolidation operations that spread across a wide span of U.S. and overseas locations. Prior to that, he served as the Director, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Installation Support providing agency-wide policy, program, and worldwide support in environmental and safety management; personal property and equipment management; facility management; security and emergency services; and family morale, welfare and recreation services for DLA. 

Mr. Rodriguez is a native of Brooklyn.  He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico, a Master of Business Administration from Tarleton State University, and a Master of Science in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.  He served 27 years in the Army as a logistics officer performing a wide variety of disciplines, including general supply chain management, warehousing and distribution, and subsistence management. Mr. Rodriguez retired from the Army as a colonel in 2010.

Demian Smith

Demian focuses on U.S.-New Zealand cooperation in the Pacific and Antarctica. He was Chief of Staff to Counselor Kristie Kenney, managing projects including State’s Obama-Trump transition. His assignments include: EAP Special Assistant, the Policy Planning Staff and postings to Thailand, Serbia and India. Years ago, he taught middle school, drove a school bus, and worked as a chef. Demian is the proud son of Berta Llera, originally from Mexico.

Edward Stewart

Edward Stewart is a first-generation Colombian-American and first in his family to attend college. He is a Strategic Program Designer in the Collaboratory, the innovation office of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this role, he develops pilot programs for the EAP and SCA regions. He also leads training workshops on human-centered design, storytelling, and virtual exchanges at FSI, as well as produces ECA’s 22.33 podcast.

Edward started his career at the Department of State in 2015 as a graduate intern for ECA’s Public Affairs and Strategic Communications (PASC) office. As an intern, he worked on graphic design, video production, social media, and website development projects. He then transitioned to a full-time role as a Digital Diplomacy Specialist, where he focused on expanding the digital marketing and social media analytics capabilities of the bureau, as well as the rollout, administration, and training of digital tools such as Slack, Box, and Google Suite. 

Before coming to State, Edward worked in the tech startup, international hosteling, and world music industries. He attended graduate school at the University of San Franciso, studied abroad at the Freie Universität Berlin, and attended undergraduate schools at the City College of New York (CUNY) and Miami Dade College.

Edwin Valasquez

Foreign Affairs Officer

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Edwin Valasquez joined the Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers – Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in January of 2016. He is responsible for managing the Third Party Transfers (TPT) team’s utilization of the Department of Defense’s Security Cooperation Information Portal as well as spearheading the TPT team’s efforts in transitioning to an online case processing system.  In addition, Mr. Valasquez coordinates and implements decisions related to the sale and transfer of U.S. defense articles, technical data and defense services– the transfer, sale, disposal, or change in end use of any U.S. origin defense articles submitted via the U.S. embassy in country, through the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, Security Assistance Office, or Joint U.S. Military Assistance Groups –  to countries around the world, including NATO countries, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, pursuant to Section 3 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and Section 505 of the Foreign Assistance Act. He also coordinates policy positions relating to arms transfer’s issues, decisions, policies, and procedures within the Department, interagency (Air Force, Navy, Army, NSA, and DSCA), U.S. defense industry, and U.S. embassy representatives to ensure a robust process.  

Prior to joining the team Mr. Valasquez served honorably in the United States Army.  He is a decorated veteran of war having served in the oversea deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Republic of Korea.  Mr. Valasquez deployed two times which spanned three different operations – Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Enduring Freedom.  In total he served eleven years in active duty and reserve services occupying the positions of platoon sergeant to team leader. Mr. Valasquez currently holds degrees in business management, philosophy, and a degree in international studies from the American University, Washington DC.  When not busy with work, he enjoys spending time with his boyfriend hiking, camping, and cooking. He is currently training for his fifth Marine Corps Marathon. He has two Siamese cats named Mew and Chai.

Eila Sepulveda

Eila Sepulveda joined the Foreign Service in 2013. She works in INL/WHP designing and monitoring law enforcement and justice sector programming in the Western Hemisphere. She previously served 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.

Eric Salgado

Eric Salgado is a first tour Political Officer completing a Political/Consular rotation in Yaounde, Cameroon.  Eric joined the State Department in 2017 and is a recipient of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship. He has received the Department’s Meritorious Honor Award for his reporting on human rights, democracy, and humanitarian issues and his contact work that led to a better understanding of the sociopolitical crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon.    

As the son of a Honduran father and American mother, Eric is proud of his bicultural heritage.  His personal and professional experiences demonstrate a commitment to human rights and a passion for Western Hemisphere affairs.  He has worked with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission within the U.S. House of Representatives, interned in the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, and interned in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. His next overseas assignment will take him to Lima, Peru. 

Eric holds a B.A. in Spanish from Fairfield University and a Master’s in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University.  He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

Francisco Palmieri

Senior Diplomatic Fellow

Yale University

A proud Colombian-American from New Haven, Connecticut, Francisco (Paco) Palmieri served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs (2017 to 2018.)  He led efforts for the successful 2018 Summit of the Americas, Alliance for Prosperity, Plan Colombia and the Merida Initiative. He worked directly for six Secretaries of State and volunteered in Embassy Baghdad (2010-2011).  Paco holds an M.S. in International Strategic Studies from the National War College and an A.B. in Politics from Princeton University. 

Gabriela Arias Villela 

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.  

George G. Sarmiento

George G. Sarmiento is an economic-coned FSO at Embassy Rome covering the trade portfolio.  George was born and raised in New York City and is proud of his Dominican heritage. He and his wife, accepted ”worldwide availability” wholeheartedly, completing tours with their children, in Chennai (Consular), Santo Domingo (Consular), Liberia (Political), and Kuwait (Economic).  George also served as the sole economic and commercial officer for one year in the Libya External Office. He speaks Arabic, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Greg Pardo

Greg is serving as a political officer in the Office for Israel and Palestinian Affairs.  Previously, he served as the public diplomacy officer for India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Maldives.  In that role, Greg developed a $1.15 million U.S.-India university research partnership initiative and also established exchange programs for leaders from the government, civil society, and media in the South Asia region. He has served as an assistant public affairs officer at the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata, a consular officer and staff assistant to the Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, and a political officer in the Office for Cuban Affairs.  He is president of the Hispanic Employee Council for Foreign Affairs Agencies and a 2008 Rangel International Affairs Fellow.  

Originally from San Antonio, Greg holds a BA in international relations and political science from St. Mary’s University and masters from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Spanish, Hindi, and Bengali. He is a member of the Edgewood I.S.D. Hall of Fame and was included in the 2012 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Law and Policy.

Heidi Sierra

Foreign Service Office Management Specialist

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Heidi Sierra, born in California to Salvadoran immigrants, is currently serving as an Office Management Specialist (OMS) for the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) section in U.S. Embassy Mexico City.  

Most recently, she was the OMS to the Deputy Chief of Mission in Caracas, Venezuela, where she endured the expulsion of the Chief of Mission and Deputy Chief of Mission.  However, these expulsions led to the release of a U.S. political prisoner held by the Maduro regime. The political situation took a turn for the worse when the Embassy was evacuated in January 2019, and the U.S. flag was lowered and the Embassy closed in March 2019.  

Heidi’s previous tours include Lima, Islamabad, Tel Aviv, and Bangui.  She has a degree in Public Administration.  

Isabel Rioja-Scott

Isabel is Political and Economic Counselor in Embassy Panama.  She was Deputy Director of WHA’s Office of Policy Planning and served in Mexico City as Political Counselor and Trade Officer.  

Isabel was in Embassy Tunis during the Arab Spring and a Rusk Fellowship in Georgetown University.  She also served in the Ops Center, Caracas, and Santo Domingo. She is active in Balancing Act@State.  Isabel is from Spain and Arizona, and has a B.A. from the U. of Pennsylvania. 

Isabel Romero

Security Program Officer, Western Hemisphere Affairs
Diplomatic Security

Isabel Romero works in the Facility Protection Division within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security as a Security Program Officer. She implements policy standards and provides management oversight for local guard programs at overseas posts in the Western Hemisphere. She also provides guidance, training, and support to RSOs and other security officers. Previously, Isabel worked as a Special Assistant in the Consular Affairs Front Office, a Security Specialist working on Afghanistan in Diplomatic Security, and a Budget Analyst in the Diplomatic Security Executive Office.

Isabel started her State Department career as an unpaid intern at the Foreign Service Institute. She worked as a Program Analyst within the Stability Operations Division, supporting Afghanistan and Iraq Familiarization courses, and the Consular Training Division supporting mid-level and senior level consular courses.

Born in Fairfax, Virginia to immigrants from Venezuela and the Philippines, Isabel has a Master’s Degree in International Security and Bachelor’s Degree in Global Affairs from George Mason University. She is active in HECFAA, programming their leadership and professional development events and planning Hispanic Heritage Month. Isabel is also part of Executive Women at State, which focuses on promoting, supporting, and mentoring women for senior leadership positions at the State Department.

J.M. Saxton-Ruiz

J.M. Saxton-Ruiz currently serves as the Political/Economic Deputy Chief in La Paz. His previous assignments include Panama/Costa Rica Desk Officer; Political/Economic Chief in Adana, Turkey; Vice-Consul in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Economic Officer in Islamabad, Pakistan. Prior to joining State, J.M. analyzed political risk at OPIC. Before that, he developed airline tariff strategies for U.S. Airways. He received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. from George Mason University. J.M. speaks Spanish, French, and Turkish and is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Jatnna Garcia

Vice Consul

U.S. Consulate General Chennai

Jatnna Garcia is a first tour political-coned officer serving in the Consular section of U.S. Consulate Chennai. She is a Thomas R. Pickering Fellow and previously interned with the Department in the Office of Brazil and the Southern Cone and Embassy Panama. 

Jatnna is originally from NYC. She obtained her bachelor’s in International Relations and Linguistics from Boston University and her master’s in International Affairs from Northeastern University.

Jose Luis Salazar

Jose Luis Salazar is a Venezuelan-American citizen, holds a B.A. with a Major in Venezuela Legal Studies, and holds an M.A. in Criminal Law from Santa Maria University, Caracas, Venezuela. He joined the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in 2008 as a contractor and in 2011, he became a direct hire employee, working as a Spanish Language and Culture instructor.  He has served as a Language Instructor, Certificated Tester and Leaning Consultant for the Spanish section at FSI. As a Learning Consultant, he has been recognized three times with a group Franklin Award for his accomplishments in exceptional teaching, teamwork and invaluable contributions to student training, evaluation, and curricular enhancements. In December 2018, he was selected as the Winner of prestigious Una Chapman Cox Award for Excellence in Language Teaching.  This award recognizes exceptional teaching and dedication to helping the Foreign Service and other personnel acquire the foreign language proficiency they need to succeed in the overseas assignments.

Juan José Aparicio

Political Officer

Embassy Tbilisi 

 Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Juan José received the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship in 2014 and interned in the Political and Economic Section in Recife, Brazil, and in the INR Watch, the Department’s 24-hour intelligence nerve center.  He joined State in 2017 and currently serves as the Human Rights and Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer in Tbilisi, Georgia. His onward assignment is to Erbil, Iraq, where he will work in the Consular Section. 

Juan grew up the oldest of five kids in a proud Mexican-American household.  He studied theatre and ballet, and he received the Emerging Young Artist Award from the California State Summer School for the Arts.  He holds an A.B. in Government and Russian from Harvard College, where he was also a member of the university ballet company, and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, and Georgian, and he looks forward to studying Kurdish for his next tour.

Manuel “Manny” Medrano

Deputy Division Chief
Bureau of Diplomatic Security

Manuel Medrano is the Deputy Division Chief for the Cyber Threat Analysis Division (CTAD) with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) Cyber and Technology Security (CTS) Directorate.  As the Deputy for CTAD, Manuel leads several branches that address cyber threat affecting the Department of State’s information infrastructure through analysis and threat reporting, indications and warning, intelligence, and counterintelligence operations.  Mr. Medrano is also a board members of Balancing Act, an employee led organization focusing on the Department’s work-life policies and priorities. Manuel also recently graduated from the Excellence in Government Fellowship with the Partnership for Public Service.  During his spare time he teaches indoor cycle and has been an Adjunct Faculty for higher education for over 15 years teaching information technology courses. Mr. Medrano is also a member of the Dona Ana Community College (DACC) Advisory Board focusing on curriculum development for the Computer and Information Technology Department.  

Manuel was born in Mexico, migrated to Las Cruces, New Mexico at an age of 10 years old.  He attended Dona Ana Community College (DACC) and New Mexico State University (NMSU). He graduated with an Associate in Applied Science and B.S. in Engineering Technology. Two years later Manuel graduated from Capella University with a Master of Science in Information Technology. Ten years ago, he moved to the Washington, DC area and worked for the World Bank as a Computer Engineer before joining the Federal Government. Additionally, he served as a civilian in Afghanistan and worked on a USAID funded project on water irrigation and food security. 

Manuel Pereira Colocci

Manuel Pereira Colocci is a facilitator in the Public Diplomacy Research and Evaluation Unit. Formerly, he was a program designer in an innovation hub that piloted new approaches to educational and cultural diplomacy. A native Uruguayan, he graduated from the UCF with a degree in International Studies. His experience teaching in Brazil, administering Fulbright scholar exchanges, and moderating diplomatic panels at comic conventions has built an affinity for how people share stories and build global relationships.

Maria Macarena

As WHA’s energy officer, Maria Macarena advises leadership on energy trends and their impact on U.S. foreign policy. She served as energy and infrastructure officer on TDY at Embassy Buenos Aires and worked on the Colombia desk. She is a 2018 International Career Advancement Program fellow and a WHA diversity committee member.  She started her career on Capitol Hill and has an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University.

Mery Arcila

Foreign Service Officer 

U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo

Mery Arcila is a Public Diplomacy coned Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.  She is currently serving as Vice-Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo. Mery interned at the State Department’s Operations Center and in the Public Affairs Section in U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. She joined the Foreign Service in September 2018 and is a recipient of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship. Prior to joining the State Department, she worked at City Year Miami as a development and media manager for three years. 

Mery received a B.A. in diplomacy and international relations from Seton Hall University in 2013 and an M.A. in public administration from New York University in 2018. She was born and raised in Colombia and considers Miami her hometown. 

Michelle Angulo

Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer 

Michelle Angulo is a Colombian-American Foreign Service Officer who serves as the Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.  She specializes in promoting cultural exchanges between the United States and Egypt through U.S. Embassy programming and initiatives. Michelle previously served as a consular officer in Shanghai, China where she conducted non-immigrant visa interviews and worked in the American Citizen Services Unit.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Michelle completed internships at the U.S. Embassy in Banjul, The Gambia and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.  

Michelle holds a Bachelors degree in International Studies from the University of Chicago, a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Master of Science from the University of Oxford’s International Development Department.  She enjoys spending time with her family, trying out new fitness classes with her partner, and learning new languages. She speaks Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic.  

Natalia Arenas

Political Officer
U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo

Natalia Arenas is a first tour Political Officer serving in the Consular Section of U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo. Natalia is a Charles B. Rangel Fellow and previously interned with the Department of State in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs and in Bangkok, Thailand.

Natalia grew up in South Carolina in a Colombian-American household. Natalia received her B.A. from Furman University and M.A. from Johns Hopkins SAIS. Natalia speaks Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Natalia Molano

Foreign Service Officer

U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru

Natalia Molano joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 2009 as a Public Diplomacy officer.  Natalia currently serves as Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer in Lima. Prior to Peru, she worked as Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer in Kabul, Public Affairs Officer in Port Moresby, and consular officer in Guatemala City.  Her previous assignments in Washington include Career Development Officer in the Human Resources Bureau and desk officer in the Office of Mexican Affairs.  

Natalia is a Floridian with Colombian roots.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and a Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University.  She is the Vice President of the American Employees Community Association in Peru, a member of the Pickering & Rangel Fellows Association (PRFA), the Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA), and the Executive Women at State affinity groups. 

Paloma Gonzalez

Paloma is a Political-coned Foreign Service Officer for the Department of State. She leads Counternarcotics Policy in Colombia for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Previously she served as a Haiti Program Officer managing a $76 million budget. She has also served as the Pol/Econ Chief in Recife, Brazil; Staff Assistant for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; American Citizen Services Officer in Tijuana, Mexico; and Political Officer in Bogota, Colombia.  From 2017- 2018, Paloma acted as a foreign policy advisor for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of the Department’s Pearson Fellowship. She has a B.A. in International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College and M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Paloma is a first-generation Mexican-American and hails from San Diego, California. 

Pedro Jose Martin

Deputy Public Affairs Officer

U.S. Embassy Baghdad

Pedro Martin is a native of Pembroke Pines, FL.  He joined the U.S. Department of State in 2002 and has served overseas in Santo Domingo, Mexico City, Tunis, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and for the U.S. Mission to Somalia.  He has served domestically in the Bureaus of International Information Programs, Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Near Eastern Affairs. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Syracuse University, a Master of Science degree from the National Defense University, and has received multiple Department awards.

Rosibel N. Hernandez

Rosibel (Rosa) Hernandez was born in El Salvador and at three years old, she and her family migrated to the Washington, D.C. area. In 2001, she attained a Bachelor of Science degree from George Mason University. Later, she completed a Master of Arts degree in Business Management from Regent University in 2004.

While attending Regent University, she studied abroad at Oxford’s Hertford College in England, where her passion for international travel began. Rosa held internships at the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House.  She also worked as an international trade specialist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where she honed her negotiation skills. Furthermore, Rosa was a key player in starting one of her family’s businesses and after 18 years, it continues to thrive.  Most recently, Rosa became a published author of, “Betrayal by a Father and the Power of Forgiveness” and the Spanish version, “La Traición de un Padre y El Poder del Perdón.”  

In 2005, Rosa joined the Department of State as an Office Management Specialist, then later she transitioned to the Human Resources Officer (HRO) career track.  She has served in Athens, Bucharest, Havana, Santiago, Mexico City and Washington, DC. In her capacity as an HRO while overseas, Rosa worked by helping to implement and enforce policies and regulations in the most effective way possible while making sure they aligned with the host government’s employment laws. Her most challenging and rewarding post to date was Embassy Mexico City which employs approximately 2,300 employees mission-wide.  Rosa played a key role in HR-related matters as she traveled throughout the region to consulates in Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Guadalajara. Presently, Rosa is an Assignments Officer at HR/CDA/AD in Washington, DC. She  hopes to add 10 additional countries to explore on her bucket list.

Susana Guzman

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.  

Tabatha Fairclough

Tabby serves as Information Officer in the Public Affairs Section in Panama City. Prior to that, she was a Political Officer in Uruguay covering human rights, domestic and multilateral political issues, and political-military and security issues. After three years as Public Affairs Officer in Guyana, Tabby converted from the Civil Service to the Foreign Service. She spent six years as a Colombia Desk Officer in Washington, DC.  Tabby speaks fluent Spanish because her parents are from Argentina. 

Carlos Trujillo 

U.S. Permanent Representative

Organization of American States (OAS)

Ambassador Carlos Trujillo was sworn as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States on March 30, 2018, and presented his credentials to the organization on April 5, 2018. A former a prominent Florida attorney and politician, he served as the State Representative for the 105th District in the Florida House of Representatives, Tallahassee, Florida, from 2010 to 2017. He was a Founding Partner, of Trujillo, Vargas, Gonzalez and Hevia LLP, Coral Gables, Florida (2011 – 2017) and President, Carlos Trujillo, PA, Coral Gables, Florida (2007 – 2017.)

Known for his constituent advocacy, legal acumen and leadership, Ambassador Trujillo is fluent in Spanish and has a thorough understanding of Latin American politics. Prior to his ambassadorial confirmation, he also served as special advisor at the United States Mission to the United Nations.

Previously, Mr. Trujillo served as Assistant State Attorney, Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Office, Miami, Florida (2007 – 2011). He has been a member of three real estate holding companies in Coral Gables, Florida in recent years. Demonstrating commitment to public service, he also served as a Board Member, Public Health Trust of Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida (2015 – 2016).

Ambassador Trujillo earned a B.S. in business administration from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama and a J.D. from Florida State College of Law, Tallahassee, Florida. He was Florida Prosecuting Association Legislator of the Year in 2016 and Florida Sheriff’s Association Legislator of the Year in 2015. 

Sandy Perez Rousseau

Sandy Perez Rousseau is currently on an overseas detail, serving as Acting Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Panama covering political-military, human rights, human trafficking, and migration issues. Her home bureau is the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) at the U.S. Department of State, where she serves as the lead Program Officer for the Western Hemisphere. She monitors performance and oversees grant activities, provides policy guidance and technical expertise on anti-TIP programs and activities, and works closely with USG agencies, non-profit organizations and international institutions committed to fighting modern-day slavery.

Prior to this position, Mrs. Perez Rousseau served in SCA and OES at the State Department, at the United Nations Environment Programme in Paris, and at various international human rights organizations. Mrs. Perez Rousseau received her Bachelor’s Degree from the American University of Paris and holds Master’s Degrees in Politics, French and Spanish, and Mediterranean Studies from the University of York (UK) and Middlebury College. She is a recipient of several Department awards, including a recent Superior Honor Award for creatively designing a comprehensive program based on a Congressional directive to develop and support a multifaceted approach to combat human trafficking in Guatemala. She is fluent in French and Spanish and is conversational in Portuguese. Sandy is a first-generation Mexican-American born in Chicago.

 

U.S. Department of State

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