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 2018 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, 2018, as National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Juan José Aparicio is a first tour Political Officer serving in Tbilisi, Georgia. Juan is a Thomas R. Pickering Fellow and previously interned with the Department of State in the Watch, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and in Recife, Brazil.
Originally from Los Angeles, California, Juan grew up the oldest of five kids in a proud Mexican-American household. A product of the Los Angeles public school system, he received his A.B at Harvard College and Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, and Georgian.
Oscar was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in Boston, and is a proud immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen. He joined the Department in 2012, most recently serving in the Operations Center, the 24-hour communications and crisis management center tasked with briefings for the Secretary of State and senior Department policymakers. Overseas, Oscar has served as Human Rights Officer in Brasilia, Vice Consul in Shanghai, and completed temporary assignments in Luanda, Brussels, and Port-au-Prince. His onward assignment is to Beirut, Lebanon, where he will work in the Political Section. Oscar has received the Department’s Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards for his work coordinating outreach to a consular district of 200 million people in Eastern China, reporting of migration issues in Brazil, and his efforts to facilitate the evacuation of thousands of U.S. citizens from hurricane-ravaged Caribbean countries.
Oscar brings to State a wide range of prior public service experiences, including fellowships working on education and foreign policy in the U.S. Senate and on the White House Communications team. Back home in Massachusetts, Oscar taught civics classes to adult immigrants preparing to become U.S. citizens.
Oscar holds a B.A. in Political Science from Amherst College and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University. He speaks Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin, Russian, and some Haitian Creole.
Olga is currently a Media Relations Officer at the Washington Foreign Press Center covering East Asian and Pacific Affairs. She organizes briefings and reporting tours for foreign journalists to increase understanding of U.S. foreign policy, history, and culture. Previous domestic assignments include working in the Office of Caribbean Affairs engaging with Public Diplomacy Officers in the field and working for the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Overseas, she served as a Vice-Consul at the U.S. Embassies in Manila, Philippines, and Asunción, Paraguay. Her most recent overseas posting was as the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juárez, México.
Olga joined the Foreign Service in 2005 and is a recipient of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship. Prior to joining the U.S. Department of State, she worked at the U.S. Department of Defense as an investigator and for the U.S. Agency for International Development as a press officer.
Olga received a B.A. in international studies from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in 2002 and an M.A. in international affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 2005. She is fluent in Spanish and has a working knowledge of Tagalog.
Ivan P. Carpio is the president of the Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA) and a civil servant in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Office of Western Hemisphere Programs (INL/WHP). As a program officer on INL’s Caribbean Team, Ivan works with U.S. embassy counterparts to manage counternarcotics and criminal justice reform projects in the Eastern Caribbean and Guyana. Ivan’s two-year term as HECFAA President began in May 2017.
From January to July 2017, Ivan completed the Department’s Capitol Hill Fellowship Program, serving as a foreign affairs legislative fellow with a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Prior to joining the civil service, Ivan worked on INL’s Honduras portfolio as a contractor, and interned in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of Peace Operations, Sanctions, and Counterterrorism. Prior to joining the Department, Ivan interned with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, served as an Assistant to the Chair of the United National Committee against Torture, and interned with United Nations Development Programme’s Washington Representation Office.
Ivan received his bachelor’s degree in legal studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his law degree and master’s degree in international affairs from American University. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ivan is a naturalized, first-generation U.S. citizen of Peruvian descent.
Ambassador Chacon is the Senior Vice President at the National Defense University. He is a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service and holds the rank of Career Minister.
Prior to NDU, Ambassador Chacon served as Diplomat in Residence at Duke University and has held senior leadership positions, including Chief of Mission in Guatemala and Director General of the Foreign Service. He is widely recognized for his expertise in Latin American and European affairs, talent management, communication strategies and building a diverse workforce.
As Director General from 2014-2017, he developed strategic guidance for the full range of human resources activities for the State Department’s 75,000 worldwide workforce. As Ambassador to Guatemala from 2011-2014, he implemented one of the largest economic development, counter-narcotics and rule of law programs in Latin America, directing 500 staff and representing a dozen U.S. Government agencies. He served as Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in Spain, and his other diplomatic assignments include postings to U.S. Missions in Honduras, Mexico, Chile, Italy, Peru, Ecuador and the United Nations. He was also the Deputy Executive Secretary of the State Department’s Executive Secretariat and served in the Bureaus of Western Hemisphere Affairs and European Affairs.
A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies, Ambassador Chacon has received numerous leadership awards, including the Presidential Rank Award, Superior Honor Awards and Performance Pay.
Mr. Cubas is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, management cone, currently serving as the Deputy Executive Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, a position he’s held since September of 2017. Previously he was the Supervisory General Services Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Deputy Consul General at the U.S. Consulate-General in Basrah, and Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka. He also served in Washington, DC, Managua, Seoul, and Osaka-Kobe. Mr. Cubas has a J.D. degree from the University of Miami, School of Law; a B.A. in history from Florida International University; and he was a graduate student of medieval Japanese history at the University of Miami.
He speaks Spanish and Japanese.
Rear Adm. Yvette M. Davids is a native of San Antonio, TX. A surface warfare officer, she is a 1989 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, receiving a BS in Oceanography. She earned an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies in 2002 from the Naval War College and an MS in National Resource Strategy from ICAF in 2012.
Her sea assignments include electrical officer, combat information center officer and communications officer aboard USS San Jose (AFS 7) deploying in support of Desert Shield/Storm; operations officer aboard USS David R. Ray (DD 971); operations officer aboard USS Normandy (CG 60); executive officer aboard USS Higgins (DDG 76) during the initial combat operations of Iraqi Freedom; and later executive officer aboard USS Benfold (DDG 65).
Davids commanded USS Curts (FFG 38) deploying to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom. Subsequently, she commanded USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) serving as air defense commander for the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.
Ashore, she served as aide to the deputy and chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Fleet; as a joint exercise communications planner at Joint Forces Command; deputy executive assistant to the deputy chief of naval operations for Information, Plans, and Strategy; director, Naval Academy Sailing, USNA; executive assistant to the executive director of Commander, Naval Surface Forces Command; and assistant chief of staff for Requirements, Experimentation and Innovation for the commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet. In addition to receiving numerous decorations, she is the 2008 recipient of the MANA National Latina Organization’s “Las Primeras” award as the first Hispanic female to command a warship in the U.S. Navy.
Miguel Ferrufino works in the Mobile & Remote Access (MRA) division within the bureau of IRM as an IT Project Manager. Born in Washington, DC to immigrants from Bolivia – South America, Miguel grew up in the DC metropolitan area and has a Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech. He has been with the Department for 8 years and has been instrumental in growing the division from its original role as a single branch (previously Mobile Computing) to its current state as a division with two branches: Mobile Operations and Mobile Strategies. Initially, by reorganizing and improving the Mobile Operations help desk and then by leading the development, implementation, and expansion of many current production mobile programs supporting nearly 60,000 customers. Leveraging project management principles and MSP-IT framework he led BlackBerry, XenMobile, and Global OpenNet (GO) development/Assessment & Accreditation (A&A)/deployment/upgrades to name a few. He continues to work on several new initiatives and modernization projects with the goal of improving how the Department communicates and deals with an ever more dynamic and interconnected world, while ensuring adherence to strict security principles for the protection of our enterprise. His guiding principles have always been to provide the best possible products and support for the Department to help it accomplish its mission of diplomacy throughout the world. The work accomplished to date has been very rewarding and fulfilling knowing it leaves a positive impact on the Department’s technical progression and, therefore, its ability to promote its mission.
Alejandro Garcia, a California-born son of Mexican immigrants, is a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), where he administers foreign assistance programs to strengthen rule of law institutions in Mexico and to combat transnational criminal organizations that directly impact the safety and security of the United States.
He is passionate about advancing U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives in Latin America. Although still in the early stages of his career, Alejandro has had a broad array of experiences working at several government and research institutions. He has worked border security issues with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S.-Mexico relations with the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, Cuban and China-Latin America relations with the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, strategic planning with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and regional security and defense issues at National Defense University.
Alejandro has a master’s degree in Security Policy Studies from the George Washington University and a double bachelor’s degree in Geography and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has published for the Center for American Progress, the International Affairs Review, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.
Alejandro is also a Pastor and inspirational speaker, taking the stage in front of hundreds every Sunday at a dynamic church in Washington, D.C.
Juan is currently learning the Vietnamese language at the Foreign Service Institute. He recently returned from a tour in Beijing, China, where he worked in the Consular Section. Juan is a PD-coned (Public Diplomacy) officer. Before joining the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer, he was a fellow at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Office of Public Diplomacy (EUR/PD), and at the U.S. Consulate General in Recife, Brazil.
In 2012, he graduated from Occidental College with a degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs. While attending Occidental, Juan interned for the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations, where he helped Guatemala get elected to the Security Council for the 2012-2013 term and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Juan is a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, a Congress-Bundestag for Young Professionals Fellow, a Fulbright-ETA Recipient to Turkey and a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow. In May of 2015, he graduated with a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University: Heinz College, where he focused on International Policy.
Paloma is a Political-coned Foreign Service Officer for the Department of State. She is currently the Haiti Program Officer for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement managing a $76 million budget. Previously she served as the Pol/Econ Chief in Recife, Brazil, where she developed a unique program to promote collaboration between the United States and Brazil on climate change, generating multi-million dollar contracts for U.S. renewable energy companies. Paloma has also assisted in the development of a Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Ethnic and Racial Discrimination and Promote Equality in Colombia; managed one of the busiest Passport and Citizenship sections in the world in Tijuana, Mexico; and staffed the Western Hemisphere Affairs Assistant Secretary at the U.N. General Assembly helping to advance U.S. multilateral priorities with regional leaders. From 2017- 2018, Paloma acted as a foreign policy advisor for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of the prestigious Department of State Pearson Fellowship. Paloma has a B.A. in International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College and M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University with a certificate in International Business. She is fluent in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Paloma is a first-generation Mexican-American and hails from San Diego, California. Since 2013, she has been an active member of the Department of State’s Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA), including currently serving on the Board. As part of her work in the Department, she has received two Meritorious Awards and a Superior Award.
Susana Guzman currently serves as a Junior Program Officer in the Office of Academic Exchanges. Upon completing her undergraduate degree at Florida International University in 2016, she transitioned to the State Department as a full-time contractor. Her current portfolio includes working in the front office fielding grantee emergencies; and in the Fulbright Europe/Eurasia office furthering U.S. foreign policies, goals for mutual benefit, and cultural exchanges. She first began her career at the State Department as an intern in the Office of Private Exchanges. Before the completion of her undergraduate degree, she was a recipient of a Cultural Vistas Fellowship to Argentina, worked in Global Ties-Miami for the International Visitors Leadership Program, and was a Clinton Global Initiative delegate.
She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, as a first-generation American, by a Colombian mother and Cuban father.
Nihad Khdair has been with the Department of State since 1992 when he began as an intern with the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States (US/OAS). He returned for several summers while in college, and then accepted a contract position in the Department with Unisys Corporation. Nihad joined the Foreign Service in 1999 as an information technology Foreign Service Specialist and traveled extensively providing regional communications support for the first six years of his career. He has served in South Africa, Germany, Russia, Colombia, and Cuba.
Most recently he was the Information Management Officer at our mission in Havana, Cuba where he managed the communications for the embassy during a tumultuous time in U.S. – Cuban relations. Fidel Castro died only three months after his arrival to post, and Nihad witnessed the funeral procession with Castro’s remains as they drove past him on Avenida Quinta. Soon afterward, relations took a turn for the worse, resulting in the cold shoulder from Nihad’s counterparts at the Ministry of Communications and unexplained illnesses among some staff.
Currently, Nihad is the Division Chief for IRM’s software testing office MSO/MT, where he manages a team of 40 systems engineers and technicians. Their mission is to apply quality assurance and thorough testing of software that is developed and maintained in-house, such as SMART and eRecords. Nihad holds a B.S. degree in Intelligence studies and has a Project Management certification.
Saúl Leyva is the Customer Service Manager at the San Diego Passport Agency. Saúl started his DOS career back in 2009 as an Abductions Country Desk Officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs Overseas Citizens Services Office of Children’s Issues (CA/OCS/CI). For six years he worked there to protect American citizens overseas by collaborating with foreign authorities to safely return home children victims of international parental child abductions. In October 2015 he moved back to California when he accepted a Supervisor position at the San Diego Passport Agency, in April 2017 he accepted the Customer Service position. Saúl is currently working on several projects including a critical collaboration with Customs and Border Protection and our colleagues at the U.S CG Tijuana to get U.S citizens documented along the border.
Because of his unique skills, he served on six different Department-wide crisis response task forces focusing on Consular assistance to American citizens. From the Haiti Earthquake Taskforce in 2010, Japan earthquake task force in 2011 to the Philippines typhoon response in December 2013. He has also had the opportunity to serve different U.S missions, providing Consular assistance through temporary duty assignments in the Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2011, U.S Embassy in Lima, Peru, and most recently in 2014 at the U.S Embassy Kingston Jamaica. He is the recipient of numerous Department awards and is grateful for the work of Consular Affairs.
David Martinez, a political-coned Foreign Service Officer, currently serves as Negotiation Courses Chair at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) where he leads instruction and the redesign of the Department’s negotiation training courses. His team recently finalized implementation of a new, simulation-based curriculum designed in coordination with negotiation experts from the Harvard Program on Negotiation. From 2015-17, David served in Bogotá as Special Assistant to the U.S. Special Envoy for the Colombian Peace Process where he supported peace negotiations in Cuba between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas that ended the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere and for which Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize. David’s prior overseas assignments include Jerusalem where he reported on political and security issues in the Gaza Strip, and Baghdad where he helped lead the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for at-risk Iraqi employees of the U.S. government. In Washington, David served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR).
In addition to his work in the Department, David is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a 2018 Atlantic Council Millennium Leadership Fellow, and a State Department International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) Fellow. In 2017, the University of Arizona Honors College named him their Alumnus of the Year for his commitment to peacebuilding and diplomacy. Before joining the Foreign Service, David served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia and as a Governor’s Fellow in his home state of New Mexico.
Manuel Medrano has over seven years of service with the Department of State. Mr. Medrano started his career as the Information Systems Security Officer for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs where he provided guidance to Senior Bureau Officials and staff about information security and represented the Bureau at the ISSO Working Group. Manuel has been an advocate for IT Modernization and has worked with several Bureaus across the Department including IRM, DS, and IIP — to name a few. Most recently, Mr. Medrano became the Branch Chief for the Cyber and Threat Analysis Branch with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. In his new position, he leads a team of 12 staff members who brief Senior Department Officials and staff on cybersecurity threats.
Manuel was born in Mexico, grew up in New Mexico, and attended New Mexico State University. He graduated with a B.S. in Engineering Technology. Two years later Manuel graduated from Capella University with a Master of Science in Information Technology. Seven years ago, he moved to the Washington, DC area and worked for the World Bank as a Computer Engineer. Additionally, he has served as a civilian in Afghanistan and worked on a USAID funded project on water irrigation and food security. He has been an Adjunct faculty member for 15 years teaching information technology courses.
Carmen works on U.S. policy toward Venezuela with the goal to help Venezuelans return their country to a democratic, stable, and prosperous nation. Carmen was the Assistant Director in the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council before she joined the Department in July 2016 as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF). 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.
Carmen graduated from Georgetown in 2014 with an M.S. in Foreign Service, and M.A. in History. While at Georgetown, she focused her internships on democracy and governance at the Brookings Institution and in Somalia for a local NGO. Originally from California, Carmen Muñoz graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in History before joining the Peace Corps where she served in Guatemala and Jamaica. In continuation with her work in youth development through sports, she spent a year working with Real Salt Lake, a professional soccer team, at their residential youth academy.
Daniela Nevarez entered the Department of State in 2016 through the Pathways Program. Currently, Daniela serves as an Adoptions Officer at the Office of Children’s Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, where she manages a portfolio of countries in Europe, leading efforts to promote intercountry adoption under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect to Intercountry Adoption.
As an Adoptions Officer, Daniela works within the department, federal and state agencies, and private organizations to promote intercountry adoption as a viable option for children in need throughout the world. In this role, Daniela also engages with foreign governments to reinforce and strengthen cooperation for the purpose of intercountry adoptions.
Daniela has a Masters in Latin America and Hemispheric Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, where she concentrated in Security and Public Policy within the Western Hemisphere. Originally from Fort Worth, TX, and a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Daniela is a strong supporter of mentoring the future generations of public servants in a more diverse environment to allow the work of the Department of State to be more robust.
As Economic Officer in the largest country by population in the Middle East, Abigail Olvera collaborates with Egyptian government officials, investment and development banks, as well as local institutions during Egypt’s critical period of IMF-led $12 billion fiscal and economic transformation. Her focus is on the macroeconomic reforms, banking, financial flows, and entrepreneurship. Abi’s served her first tour as Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy of Dakar leading the implementation of the first Interview Waiver Program there.
Abigail has extensive experience in the non-profit sector, including immigrant advocacy centers in her hometown, Women in International Trade Charitable Trust in DC, as well as low-income tax preparation and teaching English. She also has worked as a lead data analyst for one of Yale’s international programmes survey data as well as worked as a Teaching Assistant at the Yale Business School.
Abigail received her Master’s in Global Affairs from Yale University in 2014, with a focus on private sector growth and finance in developing countries. Abigail also holds a bachelor’s degree in International Studies: World Politics with a minor in Law and Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond. Abigail was a Pickering Fellow and enjoys mentoring diverse students entering foreign policy or seeking scholarships.
She is fluent in French and Spanish and is conversational in Arabic and Portuguese. Abigail is from El Paso, Texas.
Sandy Perez Rousseau serves as the Program Officer for the Western Hemisphere in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) at the U.S. Department of State. As a Grants Officer Representative (GOR), she monitors performance and oversees activities related to assigned grant projects in the Western Hemisphere. She 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 holds Masters Degrees in International Politics, French and Spanish, and Mediterranean Studies; she was raised in Chicago and is of Mexican background.
Paco joined the Foreign Service in 2008. Since then, he has served overseas five times and has been a committed member of the Hispanic Employees Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies. As a PD-coned Foreign Service Officer Paco has hosted Conversations in America en Español, has done visa interviews in Portuguese, served as spokesperson for U.S. Embassy Cotonou in Francophone Africa, and is now leading the Public Affairs team in Panamá. Paco was also part of a team which received a Superior Honor Award from then-Secretary Clinton for outstanding work in the Operations Center during hostage situations in Algeria, protests throughout the Middle East, and Ebola outbreaks in Africa. He helped put Benin on the map by working with outstanding YALI fellows, partnering with Akon on solar-power initiatives, and training thousands of young African entrepreneurs. In Panama, he oversaw the outreach strategy which successfully connected Ambassador John Feeley to everyday Panamanians while at the same time minimizing the negative public effects of tough Treasury sanctions.
Paco studied international business at the University of Tampa where he played soccer and served as student government president. He graduated from law school in his home state of New Mexico, and worked on the House Subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere before joining the Foreign Service. Paco and Stephanie were featured for their efforts to bring more Hispanics into State in a 2013 Washington Post article discussing the low percentages of Hispanics in government.
Assistant Secretary Yleem D.S. Pobleteis the senior Senate confirmed Hispanic female at the Department of State and the first Hispanic to lead the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance (AVC). Dr. Poblete is honored to advance the President’s foreign policy vision and goals for the American people. In this capacity, she supports a key strategic goal of the Department: “to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems” through rigorous verification of compliance with arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament treaties, agreements and commitments across traditional and new domains of warfare to which the U.S. is party. In this vein, Dr. Poblete plays an important role in supporting the Secretary’s and the Administration’s efforts concerning the verifiable denuclearization of the DPRK, preventing Iran the means to acquire weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, and holding Syria accountable for CW use. Per statute, she serves as the principal policy representative to the intelligence community for verification and compliance matters.
Assistant Secretary Poblete joined the State Department after a distinguished career in public service that includes the Department of State, the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served as Chief of Staff on the Committee on Foreign Affairs. During her tenure on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Dr. Poblete worked on a wide range of regional and functional national security issues and spearheaded legislative efforts to advance key U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities, including laws designed to counter proliferation, to hold violators accountable, and to compel the disarmament of rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
Dr. Poblete holds a B.A., an M.A, and a Ph.D. in International Relations.
Cecilia (Patty) Reyes supports the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of Overseas Criminal Investigations, as a Management Analyst. She is also a graduate from George Mason University receiving a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Integrative Studies with a concentration in Organizational Administration. In conjunction to her undergraduate studies, she has completed internships both locally and internationally and as a result of her experiences has developed a keen interest to follow her professional path supporting efforts that embrace different cultures and mutual understanding.
In August 2005, Mr. Orlando L. Rivera assumed the duties of Director of the Philadelphia Passport Agency. In December 2002, he was selected as the Assistant Director at the New York Passport Agency within the Bureau of Consular Affairs. From August 2000 to December 2002, he served as the Public Works Transportation Superintendent, US Naval Weapons Station Earle, Colts Neck, New Jersey.
During his 22-year military career as a U.S. Army Infantry Officer, he served in Infantry/Airborne units, including the 4th Infantry Division, 18th Airborne Corps, and the 82nd Airborne Division. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His overseas assignments include five years in Germany and two years in Turkey. Mr. Rivera was posted to assignments at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, US Army School of the Americas, US Army Airborne School, and Armed Forces Staff College. Mr. Rivera began working in the private sector as a military consultant with Vinnell-Arabia Corporation serving three years in Saudi Arabia as the Director of the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) Modernization Training Division.
Mr. Rivera has a Master of Education Degree in Biology and is a graduate of the US Air Force War College, Basic Consular General Course, and FSI Advanced Leadership Course. Mr. Rivera was born in Puerto Rico.
Isabel Romero currently works as a Security Program Analyst for the Office of Overseas Protective Operations within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. She previously worked for the Bureau of Consular Affairs as a Special Assistant for the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resources and Executive Assistant for the Deputy Secretary for Visa Services. Previous experience also includes work at the Foreign Service Institute for the Consular Training Division and the Stability Operations Division. She began her career as an unpaid intern for FSI with the Management Training and Tradecraft Division.
Isabel just finished her Master’s degree in International Security at George Mason University, and she received her undergraduate degree in Global Affairs from Mason as well. Her father is from Venezuela, and her mother is from the Philippines but also has Spanish roots. Isabel serves as the Board Secretary for the Hispanic Employee Council for Foreign Affairs Agencies and as part of the Entry and Junior Cohort for Executive Women at State.
Mr. Jaime Salcedo is responsible for the execution of over $2.0 billion in Capital Construction Programs in China and Russia. The New Embassy Complex in Beijing was completed and occupied in October 2008 and received three architectural and one structural engineering awards. The New Consulate Compound in Guangzhou was completed and occupied in July 2013, and received five awards. Two additional large Building Annexes projects each in Beijing and Moscow were recently completed. The China and Russia projects are complex and unique, demanding extraordinary security and technology. The projects are extremely high profile within the Department, the Intelligence Community, the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Management and Budget and the Congress. Prior to this, he also served in OBO as a Senior Project Manager.
From September 2015 to September 2016, he served as the Acting the Managing Director for Program Development, Coordination and Support (PDCS) Directorate, responsible for all aspects of the development, coordination, and support of the execution phase of the Department of State’s facilities design and engineering program. He directed the development of criteria and guidelines, and implemented related policies and standards for 55 new Department of State facilities and renovation projects valued at over $9.0 billion. He directed this effort through a staff of 300 design, engineering, cost management, and project management professionals in four functional offices within the Directorate.
Mr. Salcedo has received several Department of State awards including, Superior and Meritorious Honor awards for performance, the Bureau of Administration Assistant Secretary’s Award for Excellence, the Senior Executive Service Performance Award, and a Presidential Rank Award in December 2015. He entered service with the Department of State in 1989 and joined the ranks of the Senior Executive Service in 2008.
Graduated as Valedictorian from the Republic of Colombia Naval Academy, he served as an Engineering Officer at sea on a Colombian Navy destroyer. Mr. Salcedo received a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from John Hopkins University and a Master’s degree in Engineering Management from George Washington University. Mr. Salcedo completed the Federal Financial Management Certificate Program and was also awarded a Certificate in Public Leadership from the Brookings Executive Education Program, a partnership of the Brookings Institution and Washington University of St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to joining the government in 1986, Mr. Salcedo worked in the private sector for ten years.
Monica E. Skinner is a Foreign Service Specialist working in the Information Resource Management Bureau, as a Foreign Operations Regional Technical Manager. Her overseas experience includes working at the American Embassies in Mexico City, Tel Aviv, and Montevideo, as well as Washington, DC assignments serving on the Secretary of State Mobile Communications Team, and the Foreign Service Institute. Last year, Monica completed the Chief Information Officer Certificate at the National Defense University.
Monica earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Management Information Systems from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Monica was born in Lima, Peru.
Nitza Sola-Rotger is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. She is currently assigned to the Office of Public Diplomacy, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs where she manages the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). YSEALI is the U.S. government’s flagship program for young leaders in Southeast Asia that connects them to U.S. experts and institutions to reinforce their leadership capacities and enhance regional cooperation. As YSEALI Coordinator, Nitza works closely with 12 U.S. Missions in Southeast Asia, three State Department bureaus, and U.S.-based partner institutions to offer regional workshops, exchange programs, grants competitions, and virtual programming to a network of close to 130,000 young leaders in Southeast Asia.
Nitza, who specializes in Public Diplomacy, previously served in diplomatic assignments at the U.S. embassies in Mauritania, Sudan, Egypt, Senegal, and Cameroon.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Nitza worked in the field of Public Affairs for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the U.S. Army, and the Department of Defense’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.
Nitza, a native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, has a B.A. in International Relations and French from Wellesley College and an M.A. in economic and technical translation from the University of Paris, Sorbonne Nouvelle.
Adam Sotomayor advises on counterterrorism finance and designations, and works with multilateral organizations and foreign governments to advance global counterterrorism objectives as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism at the U.S. Department of State. Previously, Adam worked on management policy issues, including diversity and inclusion, on behalf of the Office of the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of HR at the U.S. Department of State. Adam has served as Deputy Press Attaché at U.S. Embassy France in Paris, where he coordinated press initiatives and managed the digital engagement portfolio for the U.S. Mission. Adam worked closely with White House and Embassy staff to cover key events, including the U.S. President’s visit to Paris for bilateral meetings with the President of France.
Adam started his State Department career as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF), where he launched and facilitated public-private partnerships for economic development on behalf of the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships. Adam also has advanced human rights and political-military initiatives during an assignment as a Political-Economic Officer at U.S. Embassy Asuncion. In 2016, Adam was featured on Huffington Post’s list of 40 under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy for his work on the National Security Council Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security workforce, which resulted in a Presidential Memorandum and two executive orders to strengthen the pipeline of diverse candidates in foreign affairs.
Adam started his career managing commercial advertising for Turner Broadcasting networks in Latin America. He graduated from the University of Florida with a Masters in International Business and Bachelor of Science in Finance. Adam is an alumnus of the International Career Advancement Program.
David currently serves as the Honduras Desk Officer in WHA’s Office of Central American and Panamanian Affairs (WHA/CEN). Prior to this assignment, he served on CEN’s Strategy Team where he assisted in the preparation of a Cabinet-level Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America. David began his career supporting democracy and human rights programs in Latin America and the Caribbean, first as an implementer with a D.C-based non-profit organization and then with the Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL). While working in DRL’s Office of Global Programming, David managed programs supporting civil society and human rights in Cuba. Upon being awarded the Presidential Management Fellowship, David began work as a Staff Assistant in the WHA Front Office. During his time as a Staff Assistant, he provided critical support to the Bureau during the transition in Administrations, ensuring the incoming Secretary was apprised of WHA policy priorities. From June to September 2017, David completed a rotational assignment as a Program Officer in INL/WHP on the Mexico desk. In this capacity, he coordinated INL’s foreign assistance programs in Mexico, specifically working to expand INL’s police professionalization and counternarcotics efforts throughout the country. David also served in the INL section at Embassy Tegucigalpa in the spring of 2018 where he coordinated programs aimed at preventing and reducing crime in Honduras, and improving Honduran National Police effectiveness in investigating major crimes.
David graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and received a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
Joseph Terrazas, USAID Foreign Service Officer currently serves as the Desk Officer for El Salvador and CAM Regional. He served as a Program Manager/Small Business Specialist in the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization from 2016 to 2018 as the first FSO assigned in that office. Before coming back to Washington, Mr. Terrazas was posted in El Salvador from 2012 through 2015. He was responsible for providing regional acquisition and assistance services to the Central America and Mexico Missions. He arrived to San Salvador from Kabul, Afghanistan, where he supported the Office of Social Sector Development from September 2010 through 2011.
Before joining the foreign service, Mr. Terrazas worked at USAID’s Office of Acquisition and Assistance supporting the Economic Growth Agriculture and Trade office for nearly 2 years as a civil service Contracting Officer. Prior to joining USAID, Mr. Terrazas was a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and as an Export/Import Administrator at BAE Systems.
Mr. Terrazas holds a Master’s Degree in International Commerce and Policy from the Schar School of Policy, Government and International Affairs at George Mason University and a Certificate in Procurement and Contracts Management from the University of Virginia.
Sebastian Eliyahu Ventling-Jimenez is currently a Passport Specialist at the National Passport Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In his position, Sebastian utilizes his understanding of complex citizenship, regulations, and procedures to issue passports and to detect fraudulent information submitted on applications.
Sebastian graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with honors. He earned his BA in Italian Studies and two minors, Scandinavian Studies and Germanic Languages. At UCLA, he was awarded a scholarship from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund in 2009-20010, and a Blue and Gold Scholarship from UCLA.
Sebastian is in his final course at the American Public University where he is studying for a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in National Security.
Sebastian is a Colombian dual-citizen and is a first generation American on his mother’s side. He has a passion for travel and has completed numerous study abroad programs in the Philippines, Italy, Spain, Norway, Belgium, and Switzerland. Sebastian’s several years of language study abroad have helped to develop his Spanish as well as Italian and Norwegian language skills.
Sebastian is an Army veteran and served from 2005 to 2011 in the California Army National Guard as a Military Policeman. He continues his commitment to public service volunteerism by several years involvement with Lions Club International.