Sept. 22, 2020
During Hispanic Heritage Heritage Month, it is typical for national security institutions to celebrate the accomplishments of Latino national security and foreign policy leaders, like former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, current Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez, former U.S. Ambassador to Brazil and Paraguay Liliana Ayalde, and many others. In addition to celebrating these leaders’ important legacies, it is equally important to celebrate rising leaders in this space.
In 2019, the Diversity in National Security Network and New America highlighted our inaugural list of next generation Latino Foreign Policy and National Security experts. This list is part of a series highlighting the need for diverse voices in national security and foreign policy. We encourage you to read "Bringing More Diversity to the National Security Arena" and all of the lists in the #NextGenNatSec series. In 2020, our organizations are committed to continuing this important work.
The Diversity in National Security Network and New America are pleased to honor the contributions of 40 Latino and Latina experts in U.S. national security and foreign policy. The list features experts currently serving in government, think tanks, academia, civil society, and the media. Selection is based on excellence and leadership; their current work in national security or foreign policy; and their contributions to their issues of expertise through thought leadership.
Diana I. Acosta
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Diana I. Acosta is the Deputy Division Chief of the Empowerment and Inclusion Division at USAID. For close to a decade, Diana has led U.S. Government foreign assistance initiatives providing access to health services and assistive health technologies; promoting the human rights of persons with disabilities; addressing the mental health and psychosocial needs of survivors of torture and trauma; and improving the safety and well-being of at-risk children; in Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia. Prior to USAID, Diana worked at Montefiore Medical Center’s School Health Program, the Pan American Health Organization, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. Diana is an alumna of the 2008 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Graduate Fellowship, and a 2020 International Career Advancement Program Fellow. She holds a B.S. in Health Science and an M.A. in Public Policy from the State University of New York-Stony Brook.
Connect with Diana I. Acosta on LinkedIn.
Areas of Expertise: Global Health, Democracy, Human Rights & Governance, Inclusive Development, Foreign Policy, Public-Private Partnerships; Latin America & Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia
Dr. Gerard Acosta
Colonel, U.S. Army
Colonel Gerard (Jerry) M. Acosta, U.S.Army, is a distinguished graduate and national scholar of the Eisenhower School for National and Resource Strategy, National Defense University. Jerry serves as the Defense Logistics Agency's (DLA) Director, Strategic Group and will next assume command of the DLA CENTCOM & SOCOM Brigade. A veteran of three Iraq and Afghanistan combat tours, Jerry has served in an array of legislative and strategic assignments, including serving as a Congressional Fellow during the 110th/111th Congress, Security Cooperation Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt during the 2013 revolution, and a Division Logistics Officer in Europe and the Baltic States in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. Jerry holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Walden University, a graduate degree in Legislative Studies from Georgetown University, and a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of South Florida. Jerry serves on the National Hispanic Economic Outlook Committee.
Connect with Gerard Acosta on LinkedIn.
Area of Expertise: National Security
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Annika Betancourt is currently serving as the deputy director and Peru desk officer in the Office of Andean Affairs. She recently completed the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship at the Brookings Institution, conducting public engagement and analysis on confidence-building measures between the U.S. and North Korea. Annika has served overseas in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; Athens, Greece; and Kabul, Afghanistan. During her tenure in the North Korea unit from 2016-2018, she played a critical role in the release of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier and the subsequent release of the remaining three U.S. detainees from North Korea. Annika is a Pickering Fellow and an alumna of the International Career Advancement Program (ICAP). She currently serves as Vice President for Foreign Service for the Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies. Annika holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park and an M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
Connect with Annika Betancourt on LinkedIn.
Areas of Expertise: International Negotiations, North Korea, Latin America
Assistant Dean of Administration, New York University Abu Dhabi
Jayson Browder is an Assistant Dean at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). He provides strategic and operational support for the Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. Prior to NYUAD, Jayson was the Executive Director for an executive level training and leadership development non-profit for top-tier veterans based in Washington, D.C. He formerly served as a Presidential Management Fellow at the White House, Office of Management and Budget where he managed a $250 million portfolio in the international affairs division. Jayson is a decorated US Air Force and Iraq War veteran and former US Fulbright Scholar to Turkey. His analysis on global affairs and policy issues have been published in numerous media publications such as Asia Times, NPR, Carnegie Council, and Foreign Policy Journal. Jayson holds a Global Executive M.P.A. from New York University and the University College London and was named one of "40 Under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy" by the Huffington Post.
Areas of Expertise: Middle East Policy, Veteran and Military Affairs, Appropriations, Public-Private Partnerships, Educational/Cultural Exchanges, Diversity & Inclusion
Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
Ivan Carpio serves in the Department of State’s Office of Caribbean Affairs, where he leads U.S. engagement with Caribbean partners through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and the U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership. Ivan previously served in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, at various times on Haiti, Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, and Honduras portfolios. From January to July 2017, Ivan was detailed to Congress, where he supported Rep. Joaquín Castro’s work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ivan holds a B.A. in Legal Studies from UC Santa Cruz and a J.D. and an M.A. in International Affairs from American University. He was born in Peru and raised in San Ramon, California in a first-generation immigrant household. He serves on the board of the International Career Program (ICAP) Fellows Association and was a 2019 ICAP Fellow. Ivan served as president of the Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies from 2017 to 2019.
Areas of Expertise: International Relations, National Security, Criminal Justice Sector Reform, Disaster Resilience, Western Hemisphere, Diversity & Inclusion
Dr. Frances Colón
Co-Chair Roundtable on Global Science Diplomacy, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine
Dr. Frances Colón is the former (2012-2017) Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State. As a science diplomat in Washington D.C. from 2006 to 2017, she promoted the integration of science and technology into foreign policy dialogues, global advancement of women in science, and coordinated climate change policy for President Obama’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. Frances earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2004 from Brandeis University and her B.S. in Biology in 1997 from the University of Puerto Rico. She currently specializes in consulting on evidence-based decision-making for local and foreign governments. As an Open Society Foundations 2019 Leadership in Government Fellow, Frances worked to catalyze policy actions to counter the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities. She is Co-Chair of the Global Science Diplomacy Roundtable for the National Academies of Science.
Area of Expertise: Science Diplomacy
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
As a career Foreign Service Officer at USAID, Alicia Contreras-Donello is a foreign affairs professional spending 12 years implementing US policies and strategies, coordinating international development and private investment totaling over $1 billion. She has served in El Salvador, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Pakistan, and Washington, D.C. Alicia has delivered results implementing US foreign policy in partnership with the private sector and foreign governments for food and energy security, humanitarian assistance, and digital technology. Alicia was featured in Women in Foreign Policy for her work as a Latina in US foreign policy and national security. Her leadership and expertise in foreign affairs and her passion for diversity and inclusion as a member of the Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies, as an International Career Advancement Program alumna and Payne Fellowship mentor, have been critical to successful US foreign policy implementation and in supporting future US leaders.
Connect with Alicia Contreras-Donello on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Latin America, Africa, Central & South Asia, Development & Humanitarian Assistance, Foreign Policy, Private Sector Engagement & Development, Partnerships, Entrepreneurship, Strategic Planning, Procurement and Program Management, Civilian-Military Coordination, Food Security, Energy Security, Digital Technology & Innovation, Diversity & Inclusion
Senior Policy Advisor for Public Safety, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Charlene Cordero is the Senior Policy Advisor for Public Safety to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, where she focuses on issues including hate crimes, human trafficking, gun control, police reform, and criminal justice reform through a national and human security lens. As a former Excelsior Service Fellow, Charlene spent six months at the New York State Intelligence Center, where she advised senior intelligence officials on inter-state and national drug trafficking best practices. Prior to joining the State of New York, Charlene worked on Capitol Hill in the offices of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), aiding in their committee work in the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees respectively. Charlene is a Truman Security Fellow and a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellowship alumna. Charlene holds an M.P.A. and M.A.I.R. from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a certificate in International Security from Sciences Po, Paris.
Connect with Charlene Cordero on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Public Safety, Inter-State Security, National Security, Homeland Security, Social and Criminal Justice, Violence Prevention & Victim Services
Professional Staff Member, Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Mariana Cruz-Muñoz serves as a Professional Staff Member in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she advises Subcommittee Chairman Albio Sires (D-N.J.) on Western Hemisphere policy issues. In this role, she has traveled throughout the region in fact-finding missions that have led to hearings and legislation. Before joining Chairman Sires’ staff, she worked in the office of Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.). Prior to her work on Capitol Hill, Mariana managed and taught at an ESL school for foreign students and immigrants in New York City, ensuring strict compliance with government regulations and standards. She also worked as a bartender to keep up with the economic demands of living in New York. Her interactions with so many hard-working immigrants in both contexts led her to a career focused on U.S. foreign policy.
Mariana grew up in Puerto Rico and holds a B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a certificate from Georgetown University.
Connect with Mariana Cruz-Muñoz on Linkedin.
Area of Expertise: Western Hemisphere
Senior International Relations Officer, U.S. Department of Labor
Lorena Dávalos is a Senior International Relations Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT). Her portfolio includes overseeing grants and project design in Latin America, focusing on child labor, youth employability, acceptable working conditions, and migration. Her extended overseas experiences include working in Mexico, Brazil, Mozambique, and Timor-Leste. Lorena has served as the co-chair of the ILAB Diversity & Inclusion Committee and is an International Career Advancement Program (ICAP 2018) alumna.
She holds a master’s degree in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) and a bachelor’s degree in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis. She speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese at home with her kids and continues to learn Japanese and French.
Connect with Lorena Dávalos on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: International Development, Latin America, Youth Employment, Community Development, Rural Development, International Agriculture, Gender, Child Labor, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking, Migration
Antonio De Loera-Brust
Special Assistant, Office of Representative Joaquin Castro
Antonio De Loera-Brust is a Mexican-American congressional staffer from Yolo County, California, currently serving in the Office of Representative Joaquin Castro. He previously served as a policy staffer on Secretary Julian Castro and Senator Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaigns. Prior to the 2020 campaign, he worked for Congressman Marc Veasey and participated in congressional oversight trips to Border Patrol facilities holding migrant children. He arrived in Washington D.C. as a Public Policy Fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Antonio has extensive experience along the U.S.-Mexico border and has reported on drugs, migration, and the peace process along the Colombian-Venezuelan border.
Antonio also has experience in local government, having served as Latino Outreach Specialist for Yolo County at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. He holds degrees in Film Production and Chicano Studies from Loyola Marymount University.
Areas of Expertise: Western Hemisphere, Venezuela, U.S.-Mexico Relations, Migration, Germany, Europe, Authoritarianism, Agricultural Labor
Major, U.S. Army
Major Vincent “Vinny” Dueñas is a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) with experience as the Chief of the Commander’s Action Group and Executive Officer for the Inter-American Defense College. Previously, he was a Politico-Military Affairs Officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was the Deputy Army Section Chief in Chile. Before serving as an FAO, Vinny was a Signal Officer, commanding in Fort Bragg and deploying with the 101st Airborne Division to Afghanistan. Prior to that, he was a Cavalry Platoon Leader in combat in Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Vinny graduated from Adelphi University and commissioned from Hofstra University in New York. He earned a master’s degree in International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Vinny is a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member, a Milken Institute Military Leadership Circle member, and is on the editorial board of the FAO Association Journal. He writes about Latin America and national security topics.
Connect with Vincent Dueñas on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Latin America, National Security, Strategy, Military Leadership, Decision-Making
Chief of Staff, Leadership Division and Managing Director, Equity and Inclusion, The Aspen Institute
Maribel Duran is Chief of Staff for the Aspen Institute’s Leadership Division, which includes the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is also the Institute’s first Managing Director for Equity and Inclusion. Maribel served in the Obama Administration’s U.S. Department of Education from 2009-2017 as Special Assistant to Cabinet Secretary Arne Duncan; Chief of Staff, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; Chief of Staff, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Advisor, White House Council on Women and Girls. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and an honorary doctorate from Southern New Hampshire University, where she serves as a trustee. She is a member of the Institute on Educational Leadership and Center for American Progress’ U.S.-Mexico Leaders Initiative, a University of Denver International Career Advancement Program Fellow, and a Leadership Center for Excellence’s 40 Under 40 Leader.
Connect with Maribel Duran on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Global Leadership Development, Equity and Inclusion, and Education
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Carolina Escalera is a career Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State currently serving as the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic. In the Dominican Republic, she has focused on building capacity for local journalists and highlighting public diplomacy across the interagency, receiving the Joint Civil Service Achievement Medal from the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff for her commendable service of major significance to the Department of Defense. Her previous assignments 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 journalist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and an M.P.A. from Columbia University. She is a former Fulbright fellow and State Department Charles B. Rangel Fellow. She speaks Indonesian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Connect with Carolina Escalera on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Public Diplomacy, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Foreign Policy, Communications and Public Outreach, Social Media
María José Espinosa Carrillo
Director of Programs, Center for Democracy in the Americas
María José Espinosa Carrillo is an economist and foreign policy expert with over a decade of experience in policy research, advocacy, and international relations. María José is the Director of Programs at the Center for Democracy in the Americas, where she leads initiatives and strategic advocacy to promote a U.S. policy toward the Americas based on engagement and mutual respect. María José has also developed the organization’s initiatives on women and LGBTQI+ rights. She has played a key role in bringing voices from the region into the US policy debate and has led dozens of high-level US delegations on fact-finding trips to the region. María José holds master’s degrees from the Universitat de les Illes Balears and from the University of Havana, and a B.A. from the University of Havana. She is the recipient of multiple awards and was selected March 2019 Young Ambassador of the Month by Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation.
Areas of Expertise: International Relations, Latin America & the Caribbean (with an emphasis on Cuba and U.S. policy toward the region), Regional Migration, Gender Equality, Congressional Advocacy
Janie S. Esteva
Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
Janie S. Esteva oversees the promotion of democracy and human rights in Venezuela, Brazil and the Southern Cone for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State. In this position, she has been recognized for her efforts and campaigns to highlight the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, the plight of its refugees, and the vulnerability of Indigenous Communities throughout Latin America. During her decade-long tenure at the Department of State, she has been lauded for her tireless efforts to further U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, including the implementation of the Leahy Law. Honors she has received include Franklin Awards and Meritorious Honor Awards for exemplary service. She is known as a fierce advocate of diversity in the US diplomatic corps and in her spare time mentors first-generation high school students. A native Washingtonian and proud Salvadoran-American she holds an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland and is an alumna of Trinity Washington University.
Connect with Janie Esteva on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Democracy & Human Rights
Deputy Director of Immigration Policy, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Andrea Flores is the deputy director of policy for the ACLU’s Equality Division, where she leads the ACLU’s national immigration advocacy work. Andrea has spent the last decade working at the intersection of immigration politics and policy and has worked to reform the nation’s immigration system from multiple arenas of change. Previously, Andrea was a litigator in private practice and a Regional Policy Director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Andrea also served three years in the Obama Administration, both at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, where she worked on a range of policies including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the 2013 Senate immigration bill. Andrea grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and attended Columbia Law School and Harvard College, where she was the first Latinx student body president. She is a co-author of the New York Times Bestseller “Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House.”
Areas of Expertise: Immigration, U.S.-Mexico Border Policy, National Security
Campaign Manager, Center for American Progress
Claudia Flores is the Immigration Campaign Manager at the Center for American Progress. Flores has years of advocacy and political work experience, at the federal, state, and local levels. During the 2013-2014 immigration debate, she worked with congressional leadership on immigration reform, including border security issues, and protections for migrant families. Born in Honduras, Flores is deeply committed to strengthening the global response to forced migration. As refugees and migrants increasingly become the focus of the political debate surrounding immigration, Claudia believes that immigration has a significant role to play in supporting national security priorities, but a balance must be struck to ensure that the human rights of the world’s most vulnerable are being protected.
Claudia earned her B.S. in Political Science from Santa Clara University. She is an alumna of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and New Leaders Council.
Connect with Claudia Flores on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Immigration & Refugee Integration, Western Hemisphere Affairs
Dr. Desha Girod
Associate Professor, Georgetown University
Dr. Desha Girod is an associate professor and director of the Master’s in Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Desha grew up thinking about how powerful countries help and hurt less powerful ones. Desha has published an important book and many articles on the subject. Desha’s research has received wide support, including from the CIA-funded Political Instability Task Force. A leading mentor, Desha has appeared on panels to discuss identity, career, and foreign policy at Georgetown’s Casa Latinx, LGBTQ Center, and School of Foreign Service, as well as at the Carnegie Endowment. Desha received a Ph.D. from Stanford, an M.Phil from Trinity College, Dublin, and a B.A. from Penn State University after serving as student-body president of its 33,000 undergraduates. The Bunton-Waller Scholarship for under-represented minorities funded her baccalaureate degree; the US-Ireland Alliance funded her M.Phil; and Stanford and the Truman Foundation funded her doctoral degree.
Areas of Expertise: Human Security, Foreign Aid, Conflict Resolution
Senior Director for Programs and Strategy, Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)
Geysha González is the Senior Director for Programs and Strategy at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Prior to joining CEPA, she was the Deputy Director for Policy Partnership for the Atlantic Council’s (AC) DFRLab where she led the integration of the AC’s efforts around disinformation, worked to translate research into policy, and expanded its networks of partners, fellows, and contributors from around the globe. Geysha also served as Deputy Director of AC's Eurasia Center, where she oversaw strategy, programming, and development. She led the Center’s work on Kremlin disinformation campaigns, including designing the annual StratCom D.C.
She launched the AC's first Congressional Fellowship program, a bipartisan effort that brings together senior staffers with thought leaders working on Eurasia. Her work has been featured on The Washington Post and The Hill. She holds an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a B.A. from Marquette University.
Areas of Expertise: Europe/Eurasia, Disinformation, Influence Operations, Democracy
Senior Fellow, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement
Juan S. González is a Senior Fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and Principal at JSG Strategy. His last appointment in the Obama-Biden Administration was as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He also served in the White House for four-and-a-half years first as National Security Council Director for the Western Hemisphere and then as Special Advisor to Vice President Biden. He represented the Biden campaign on the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on Immigration and was appointed by Senator Chuck Schummer in 2017 to serve on the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Congressional Commission.
He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala and is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Areas of Expertise: Latin America & the Caribbean
International Affairs Executive
Mileydi Guilarte has nearly two decades working in the foreign policy space, directly involved in the design, approval and implementation of key policies at the White House, USAID, the World Bank, IMF, and the United Nations. As a former National Security Council Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, she successfully shepherded an interagency coordination process that led to the approval of $750 million, one of the largest U.S. assistance packages to Central America in 2016. Coupled with years of field experience in Latin America and Southeast Asia, Mileydi is also an immigrant, native Spanish speaker, and first-generation college graduate-a diverse set of characteristics that have deeply informed her worldview and approach on issues related to the promotion of democracy, human rights and economic development.
Connect with Mileydi Guilarte on LinkedIn.
Areas of Expertise: Democracy, Human Rights, Peacebuilding, International Development
Managing Director, SUDECC, Inc. and former Deputy Director of the Washington, D.C. Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs
Julio Güity-Guevara is the Managing Director of Sustainable Development and Climate Change (SUDECC), Inc. and former Deputy Director of the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (2015-2019). Under Julio’s leadership, SUDECC has formed partnerships with U.S. government agencies and international organizations to help build capacity and design sustainable development projects in Afro-Latinx communities. Currently, he works on addressing data collection on the Afro-Latinx populations in the 2020 U.S. Census, and on measures to facilitate the post-COVID-19 recovery in vulnerable communities of Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2002 Julio began his career at the Organization of American States as an Attorney Fellow. He also worked for the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group as a legal advisor and project attorney. Julio is a dual citizen of the United States and Honduras. He holds a Master of Laws with a specialization in International Business Law, from Washington College of Law, American University.
Connect with Julio Güity-Guevara on LinkedIn.
Areas of Expertise: U.S. Development Assistance to Afro-descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean
Jessie Hernández is a recognized rising leader in National Security and Emerging Technology. Currently, he is at Capgemini, working to incorporate analytics technology for national security and public safety challenges of today. Jessie has a thorough national security background, including as a policy expert on the US Insular Areas for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and an appointed member of White House task forces on defense and security during the Obama Administration. A leader in his community, Jessie also has served as a local commissioner, working to redefine public safety in D.C. He has received distinguished service awards from DHS and President Obama and recognition by the Aspen Institute. He also has served on several advisory boards, including a non-profit helping bridge the technology divide for people of color. Jessie holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley and training from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
Areas of Expertise: Refugees, Immigration, U.S. Insular Areas, Homeland Security Industry, Acquisition, and Innovation, Strategy and Capabilities, Geopolitics and International Security, Long-Term Futures
Principal & Founder, Resilient Strategies, LLC
Bernadette Hobson is Principal & Founder of Resilient Strategies. Previously, Bernadette was a Government Affairs Senior Manager at PepsiCo. There, she oversaw relationships with Members of Congress and the Executive Branch and spearheaded advocacy on global trade and supply chains. She was selected to the Corporate Leaders Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and was named by Prospanica D.C. as one of 40 Under 40 Latinos. Bernadette was also appointed to serve in the administration of President Barack Obama as Deputy White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prior to this, she led the coordinating efforts of the U.S.-Mexico Clean Energy Climate Task Force at the U.S. Department of Energy. There, she helped advance bilateral climate objectives resulting in an agreement to reduce methane emissions by 45 percent by 2025. She also worked at the National Economic Council at the White House, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, and the Department of State.
Areas of Expertise: U.S.-Mexico Relations, International Trade, Energy & Energy Security, Global Supply Chains, Sustainability, Sustainable Agriculture, Climate and Clean Energy, Aluminum and Steel Tariffs, U.S.-China Trade War
Associate, Pointe Bello
Cecilia Joy-Pérez is an associate at Pointe Bello, where she delivers analysis on Chinese economic statecraft. Cecilia has profound expertise in Chinese companies and their economic engagements overseas derived from years of monitoring their activities. Prior to joining Pointe Bello, Cecilia worked as a research associate in demographics and political economy at the American Enterprise Institute, where she contributed to the Chinese Global Investment Tracker. Cecilia’s research spans the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s demographic changes, and human rights issues in the Korean Peninsula. She has published her work at the American Enterprise Institute, The Hill, the Jamestown Foundation, and China-US Focus. Prior to coming to D.C., Cecilia completed a certificate in Chinese American Studies from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China and a B.A. in political science from Washington University in St. Louis. She is fluent in Spanish and English and highly proficient in Mandarin Chinese.
Areas of Expertise: China, Political Economy, Demographics
Amanda Lee Keammerer
Chief Executive Officer, Javilud LLC
Amanda is the CEO of Javilud LLC, transforming innovation at the intersection of people, politics, technology, and art through consulting, events, and creative collaborations. Previously, Amanda was the Vice President of Cybersecurity and Director of CyberSecurity San Antonio at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Before returning to Texas, Amanda served as a special assistant and policy advisor to the Federal CIO and CISO at the Office of Management and Budget. Prior to the White House, Amanda led digital marketing projects at the Kaiser Family Foundation, and managed community relations at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
Amanda earned her M.A. in Global Communication from The George Washington University, and her B.A. in Russian from Smith College. A proud SAISD graduate, Amanda serves on the Board for Family Service and the SAISD Foundation. Amanda is an Honorary Commander with the 502nd Air Base Wing, a Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, and a member of the DARPA ASED Advisory Board.
Areas of Expertise: Cybersecurity, Communications & Public Relations, National Security and Technology Policy, Military Affairs, Public-Private Partnerships, Diversity and Inclusion, Global Communications, Strategic Planning
Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, African Middle Eastern Leadership Project
Gabriel Kohan is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project (AMEL), and an Associate at Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick. AMEL is a D.C.-based non-profit that mobilizes and equips young leaders in the Middle East and Africa with practical skills and knowledge to effectuate their human rights and civil society activism. In addition to overseeing AMEL’s operations, Gabriel played a vital role in launching the AMEL Speakers Bureau and the AMEL Institute. He is a Term Member on the Council on Foreign Relations, and his writings have appeared in CNN, Lawfare, The American Interest, and other outlets.
Gabriel holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. with honors from Stanford University. He served as a law clerk to the Hon. Joseph A. Greenaway of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Hon. Alvin K. Hellerstein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Connect with Gabriel Kohan on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Middle East & North Africa, Arab-Israel Relations, Sudan, Youth Empowerment in the Middle East and Africa, Liberal Democracy/Democratic Governance, Human Rights, International Law, Humanitarian Intervention, Technology & Democracy, Rule of Law, Economic Peacemaking
United Nations' Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization
Josue López is the President and Co-Founder of The Baseball Foundation. There he works on furthering the international collegiate baseball and softball movement through sports diplomacy initiatives such as the Diamond Diplomacy Series.
In addition, he serves in the United Nations' Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization as an International Civil Service Officer. Previously, Josue served several roles in the Obama Administration's Presidential Personnel Office at the White House and the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He is a Master of Science in Analytics Candidate at Georgia Tech and holds a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2010, he was a U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar to Thammasat University in Thailand and has served as a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Ambassador. Josue has also served as the Co-Curator and Treasurer of the Washington D.C. World Economic Forum Global Shapers Hub, as President and Treasurer of the Washington D.C. Rotaract Chapter, and as an Advisor to the Treasury Department Recreation Association. He is a California transplant now residing in Virginia and is a proud father, husband and son of Mexican immigrants.
Connect with Josue López on his website.
Areas of Expertise: Global Health, Economics
Dr. Lily López-McGee
Director, Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Program
Dr. Lily López-McGee has dedicated more than a decade to capacity building, diversity, equity, and inclusion within US national security and foreign policy. In her current role as the director of the nationally recognized Pickering Graduate Fellowship Program, Lily manages a vital pipeline of diverse, talented US diplomats. She also empowers and educates future leaders as an adjunct professor at American University. Lily is a scholar, researcher, and speaker on the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion, international education, and careers in international affairs. A certified Intercultural Development Inventory Qualified Administrator, Lily examines how bias affects employee and student success and regularly consults with national and international organizations. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from George Mason University and is a graduate of the University of Washington where she earned her M.P.A. and B.A. in International Relations.
Areas of Expertise: Citizen Diplomacy, Workforce Development, Educational/Cultural Exchanges, Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity, Capacity Building
Colonel, U.S. Army, Army War College Fellow, Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies
Colonel Fernando Lujan is a U.S. Army Special Forces Officer and Foreign Area Specialist. He most recently served in the Joint Special Operations Command and as a senior advisor on Ambassador Khalilzad's negotiating team assisting with efforts to secure a political settlement in Afghanistan. From 2014 to 2017, he was Director for Afghanistan, then Senior Director for South Asia on the NSC, where he helped lead interagency planning for the South Asia Strategy. Fernando has deployed multiple times to Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Latin America with special operations forces to carry out foreign internal defense, counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism missions. He is a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, and holds a bachelor's degree (in physics) from West Point, and a master’s degree (in public policy) from Harvard. Fernando is currently a Ph.D. student at Johns Hopkins SAIS studying the use of specialized military forces in great power competition.
Areas of Expertise: Counterterrorism, Special Operations, South Asia Studies
Principal, Geia Strategies LLC
Linda Manus is Principal of Geia Strategies LLC. Most recently focused on the Latinx diaspora community in South Chicago, she has led racial healing circles to provide transformation among diverse groups and participated in the 9th Global Diplomacy Impact Lab to explore global and local solutions for urban violence. Linda has served as White House Liaison at USAID and in the Executive Office of the President at the White House. She was a legislative aide in the House of Representatives, advising on foreign affairs and interned on the Africa and Global Health Subcommittee. She has interned at the Embassy of Greece and the Permanent Mission of Cote d’Ivoire at the United Nations. She graduated from Seton Hall University with a bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations. Linda was born and raised in New Jersey; her mother and maternal ancestors hail from Chota, Cajamarca, Perú. She was named one of 40 Under 40 Latinos in American politics by Huffington Post in 2015.
Areas of Expertise: Diplomacy & International Relations, Peace Building, Human Relations
Sanctions Investigator, U.S. Department of Treasury
Anthony Musa serves as a Sanctions Investigator at the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. At OFAC, Anthony works in the Counterterrorism division. His academic and research interests include: sanctions policy, sanctions evasion, racially motivated violent extremism, and decentralized cryptocurrency. Outside of his work at OFAC and American University, Anthony serves on the Board of Directors for Capital Pride Alliance and is involved with various other community organizations in Washington, D.C. Anthony has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in Political Science, a master’s degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and is working towards a Master’s in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University.
Areas of Expertise: Terrorism & Nonproliferation
Sandy Pérez Rousseau
Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
Sandy Pérez Rousseau, a 2020 ICAP Fellow, works in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State as a Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean. Sandy is currently the Vice President for Civil Service for the Department's affinity group, Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies. Last summer, she served on an overseas detail as Acting Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Panama covering human rights, human trafficking, and migration issues. Prior to this position, Sandy served in the Bureaus of South and Central Asian Affairs and Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the State Department. She also worked at the United Nations Environment Programme in Paris. Sandy received her bachelor’s degree from the American University of Paris and holds master’s degrees from the University of York (UK) and Middlebury College. Sandy is part of the 2020-21 cohort of the Executive Potential Program. She speaks French, Spanish, and intermediate Portuguese. She is a recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor and Franklin Awards. She was born in Chicago and is Mexican-American.
Connect with Sandy Pérez Rousseau on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: Human Rights, Human Trafficking, Migration, Security, Women's Issues
Senior Advisor on Western Hemisphere Affairs, International Labor Affairs Bureau, Department of Labor
Carolina Rizzo is a Senior Advisor on Western Hemisphere Affairs in the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In ILAB, she has overseen compliance of labor provisions within U.S. free trade agreements, and led research and wrote congressionally-mandated reports on international child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking issues. From 2014 to 2016, she served in the Obama Administration leading the implementation of award-winning employee engagement initiatives at DOL.
In 2020, Carolina was nationally recognized among 40 LGBTQIA+ top foreign policy leaders. She is an alumna of the International Career Advancement Program and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Graduate Fellowship Program. She's a member of ILAB's Diversity and Inclusion Committee and passionate about mentoring aspiring Latino leaders. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the American University Washington College of Law.
Connect with Carolina Rizzo on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: International Relations, International Trade and Labor Affairs, International Human Rights Law, Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking
Certified Emergency Manager, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management
Grelia Steele is a bilingual resiliency and homeland security expert. Her focus has been to enhance the preparedness culture among under resourced communities and building private-public partnerships. She has developed over 2,000 partnerships between local government and the private sector including Wegmans, Target, and Fannie Mae. She is often consulted on matters of resiliency, language access, and diversity by governmental and legislative officials to implement programs that reflect community needs. Her strategies focus on data driven and actionable methods; many have been implemented in other states and countries. She holds a double B.A. in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and in Political Science. She is a licensed FAA Remote Pilot and is recognized as the sole holder of the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) credentials in one of the largest jurisdictions in the National Capital Region. She is a Freedom House Fellow and a Professional Development Fellowship alumna.
Areas of Expertise: Emergency Management, Crisis Communications, Community Development, Resilience, Security, Public-Private Partnerships
Program Officer, Organization of American States
Luis Suárez-Isaza is a Program Officer at the Organization of American States (OAS), where he works with countries in criminal justice reform in Latin America and the Caribbean. Luis works with national security and justice ministries, supreme courts, independent agencies and civil society to design and implement evidence-based policies that respect the human rights of vulnerable populations such as rural communities, substance users, women, minors, LGBTI communities, and prison populations. Prior to the OAS, Luis was the German Embassy's Congressional Liaison Officer, served in Senator Chris Coons' staff, and interned at the UK House of Commons, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, and the National Defense University (INSS). Luis has a dual M.P.A./M.P.P. from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the Berlin Hertie School of Governance (HSoG), an M.A. from Sciences Po Paris, and a B.A. from the University of Florida.
Connect with Luis Suárez-Isaza on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: International Security, Criminal Justice Reform
Director of Policy Research and Programs, The Soufan Center
Emerita Torres is the Director of Policy Research and Programs at The Soufan Center, a non-partisan strategy center dedicated to making sense of global security issues, from countering white supremacy to understanding disinformation. She is responsible for managing staff, research fellows, public outreach, and coordinates the research and program agenda for the Center. Previously, Emerita spent over 10 years at the U.S. Department of State as a diplomat, where she served in Brasilia, Islamabad, Bogotá, Washington, and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Emerita has provided expert testimony to Congress on national security and has contributed to Politico, SiriusXM Radio’s Press Pool, PRI Global, and Univision. She holds an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. from NYU. Emerita is a Term Member on the Council on Foreign Relations and an Aspen Security Fellow. She is also a community activist in the Bronx, New York, where she was recently elected as State Committeewoman.
Areas of Expertise: Diplomacy, National Security, Multilateral/UN Affairs, Latin America and the Middle East, Counterterrorism
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force and Chief of Women, Peace, and Security
Lieutenant Colonel Duilia Mora Turner is a Foreign Area Officer, currently serving as the Chief of the Women, Peace and Security at SOUTHCOM. She advises military leaders on the integration of gender perspectives across Latin America and the Caribbean.
She enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1997. Early in her career, Duilia supported shuttle missions at Cape Canaveral and served as a combat weather observer. She received a full scholarship, earning a B.S. in Meteorology from the University of Hawaiʻi. As a meteorologist, she oversaw weather operations in support of President Obama’s Air Force One. Duilia attended the Naval Postgraduate School, earning an M.A. in Security Studies with distinction.
She has worked in Argentina, Uruguay, and French Guiana. Duilia has also served as a Country Desk Officer for the Dominican Republic and Haiti. She has been featured on Univision and Telemundo and has presented at the Inter-American Defense Board, the Organization of American States, and various international forums. She has deployed to Bosnia and Afghanistan.
Areas of Expertise: Military Diplomacy, Women, Peace & Security, Partnership Building
Operations Associate, Protect Democracy
Rolando Velásquez is currently an Operations Associate at Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting attacks, from at home and abroad, on our right to free, fair, and fully informed self-government. In this role, Rolando provides operational support to the entire Protect Democracy team, participates in strategy discussions, and supports ongoing work product by researching, writing, editing, and contributing to projects. Before joining Protect Democracy, Rolando managed the membership and chapters program for Truman National Security Project, where he oversaw the recruitment, application, chapter engagement, and onboarding process for more than 2,000 national security professionals. Rolando also served as an assistant at the Child Refugee Support Network in Dallas, assisting asylum seekers with their applications. Rolando holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Connect with Rolando Velásquez on Linkedin.
Areas of Expertise: International Relations, National Security & Immigration, Diversity & Inclusion