Latino National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders
Sept. 16, 2019
Current events have signaled that the American people want a government that reflects the diversity of our nation and leadership at the national level that brings together different perspectives to address America’s emerging national security and foreign policy challenges.
The Latino community is abundant with leadership in defense, diplomacy, and international development, and an excellent resource in addressing such challenges. From the Revolution to today, Latinos have helped build this country. Latinos have served in uniform from the Navy’s first Admiral David Farragut to the Congressional Gold Medal Borinqueneers; to the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson and current Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez; to Jose Garzon, professor and a 30-year veteran of the USAID Foreign Service and international activists like Chef Jose Andrés, who formed World Central Kitchen to feed families and individuals touched by disasters. Their contributions highlight that there has been no shortage of important contributions from this talent-rich and diverse community.
The Diversity in National Security Network and the New America Foundation take great pleasure in recognizing the caliber of talent available within the Latino community and elevating the next generation of voices in the national security conversation. We are pleased to honor the contributions of 30 Latino rising-star professionals in U.S. national security and foreign policy. The list features experts currently serving in government, think tanks, academia, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and the media. Selection is based on career excellence and leadership, current work in national security or foreign policy, contributions to their issues of expertise through thought leadership, and demonstrated service to their communities.
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 the previous lists in this series for Black American and Asian American and Pacific Islander National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders and after you learn about this year's Latino National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.
Maria Macarena Apud
Energy Officer, U.S. Department of State
Maria Macarena Apud is the lead action officer on energy issues in Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America at the State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. She analyzes and advises bureau leadership on energy trends and their impact on broader U.S. foreign policy objectives. Maria Macarena is a 2018 International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) fellow, which inspired her to become one of the founding members of her bureau’s diversity committee. She also volunteers engaging students and young professionals interested in opportunities in national security and foreign policy to expand diversity and inclusion in the field. She started her career at the State Department on the Colombia desk and worked on Capitol Hill for more than four years. Maria Macarena holds an M.A. in International Affairs, with concentrations in Economic Affairs and Latin America, from The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology also from The George Washington University. Learn more about her on LinkedIn.
Expertise: Energy Security
Asia Pacific Advocacy Manager, Amnesty International USA
Francisco Bencosme is the Asia Pacific Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). Francisco has testified before Congress and has provided media commentary on multiple outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2018, Francisco was named one of The Hill’s Top 2018 Lobbyist for their campaign on Myanmar Rohingya issues. Before joining AIUSA, he served as a Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he assisted Democratic Senators on issues related to East Asia/Pacific, South Asia, and State Department/USAID oversight. Francisco also served as the President of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association and as a board member of the Foreign Affairs Congressional Staff Association. Francisco is also a Truman Security Fellow, a Penn-Kemble Fellow, and an International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) alum. Francisco received his Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a graduate certificate from the USAF Air University, and his B.A. from Wake Forest University. Learn more about his work here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: International Relations; Human Rights; and Asia-Pacific
Political Strategist & Consultant
Pam Campos-Palma is a strategist and movement builder focused on peace and security, and strengthening democracy at home and abroad. An advisor to national-level leaders and organizations, she expertly bridges grassroots and grasstop worlds, brings foreign policy to life through organizing and diversifying military veterans’ voices. Pam served in the US Air Force for over a decade as an operations/anti-terrorism intelligence analyst in Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Her public service started in the immigrant rights movement, as a gubernatorial appointee, and consultant to global NGOs. She was named "Top 40 Under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy" by Huffington Post, ‘18 Champion of Change by the UN, and featured on NPR, MSNBC, CNN, among others. Pam has an MPA in International Policy & Management from New York University, is a Truman National Security Project Defense Council member, on the Advisory Board of Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security, and the Women’s March Steering Committee. Learn more about her current work on her website, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Military/Defense; Counterterrorism & Security Policy; Immigration; Global Populism/Nationalism; Democracy-Building & Global Social Movements; and Transatlantic Partnerships/NATO
China and Latin America Researcher
Natalia Cote-Muñoz conducts research on regionalization, globalization, global supply chains, China, and Latin America. She held fellowships with the German Marshall Fund's Manfred-Wörner Seminar, the Inter-American Dialogue's China and Latin America Young Scholar Program and with Princeton in Asia as a Lecturer in current affairs at the China Foreign Affairs University. Her work has been published in Foreign Policy, the Council on Foreign Relations' Latin America's Moment, Americas Quarterly, and the Harvard Kennedy School Review, among others. Natalia graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School Master in Public Policy. Prior to attending the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, she graduated with a B.A. with honors in Political Science from Swarthmore College. Natalia is trilingual in English, Spanish and French, and holds advanced proficiency in Mandarin. She lived and worked extensively in China and the Americas. Learn more about her current work here and follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Expertise: International Security; Trade and Development; Gender Equality; Democratization; Human Rights; Latin America; and China
Associate Director of Communications and Campaigns, National Security Action
Leo Cruz is currently the Associate Director for Communications and Campaigns at National Security Action. He has years of experience in state and national issue advocacy and electoral campaigns. During the Obama Administration, he served as a political appointee in the Department of Defense and in each branch of the military services. Prior to his service in the Obama Administration, Leo worked for various nonprofits and political organizations in community organizing and veterans support. Leo is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, serving as a Gunnery Officer aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS RAMAGE (DDG-61). Leo is a graduate of Norwich University with a B.A. in Political Science and an MPA from the University of Central Florida. Learn more about him here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Politics of National Security; Defense Budgets; Defense Personnel & Readiness; Military Force Structure; and Women, Peace & Security
Agustin "Augie” Dominguez
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Augie Dominguez is a U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer (FAO), with experience as the Chief of Security Cooperation in the Dominican Republic, Army Attache in Colombia, and as a Politico-Military Affairs Officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Before becoming a FAO, Augie was an artillery officer in the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy and 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. He led fire support teams, a platoon, and a firing battery through four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Augie was commissioned through the United States Military Academy at West Point and received an MBA in International Business from Florida International University. Augie was a class of 2014 Stephen M. Kellen Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has been published in the PRISM Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The Miami Herald, and the Small Wars Journal on Colombia’s peace process, democracy in Latin America, and military strategy. Learn more him about here and follow him on LinkedIn.
Expertise: National Security; Security Cooperation; and Latin America
Legislative Aide, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Nury Gambarrotti serves as a Legislative Aide for Western Hemisphere affairs at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A skilled writer and analyst, she has played an important role in the drafting of Senate legislation—including the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act of 2019 and the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-corruption Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-335)—which advance U.S. counter-narcotics, humanitarian assistance, and human rights accountability efforts in Venezuela and Nicaragua. In her position, Nury also plays an important role in conducting oversight of U.S foreign policy and foreign aid programs, which are critical to the national security of the United States and key elements of the Committee’s role in ensuring effective governance. She has a B.A. from Rutgers University and is currently an evening student at The George Washington University Law School. Learn more about her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Expertise: Western Hemisphere
Director of Events & Special Initiatives, Atlantic Council
Vicente Garcia is the Director of Events & Special initiatives at the Atlantic Council. His portfolio includes managing the organization’s 650+ global events a year, in addition to having founded and managing its Ambassador Leadership Council, overseeing the Atlantic Council’s engagement with Congress, and leading its efforts on diversity & inclusion. Such efforts include the launch of the LGBTI Advisory Council and a fellowship for LGBTI leaders in foreign policy. Vicente specializes in protocol and has worked with hundreds of heads of state/government and cabinet ministers. Prior to the Atlantic Council, Vicente worked at a variety of U.S. and international organizations, including the Center for American Progress, the World Security Institute, and the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office in Belgium. Vicente received his bachelor’s degree in government and philosophy from Georgetown University and his master’s degree in international conflict analysis from the University of Kent-Brussels School of International Studies. Learn more about him and follow his work here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Protocol; Congressional Relations; Diplomatic Relations; and Diversity & Inclusion
Cibeles Garcia Burt
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Cibeles Garcia Burt is a career U.S. Foreign Service Officer who joined USAID in 2012. She leads regional project design and evaluation for the $700 million USAID/Southern Africa Mission. Cibeles has over 12 years of foreign assistance management experience, and expertise in strategic planning, performance monitoring and impact assessment. Her overseas experience includes USAID assignments in Mexico, Rwanda, Colombia, and South Africa, as well as U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer service in Ghana (2004-2006) and the Dominican Republic (2006-2007). A champion for diversity and inclusion, Cibeles is a former board member of the Hispanic Employees Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies and current Advisory Board member of Women@AID and the Global Education Movement. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in International Education from New York University, and is a 2018 International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) alumna.
Expertise: Africa; Latin America; Development and Humanitarian Assistance; Foreign Policy; Refugees and Migration; Youth Development; Education; Democracy, Human Rights and Governance; Community-based Development; Strategic Planning; and Evaluations
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Paloma Gonzalez is a career Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State. She has worked over 10 years in Western Hemisphere Affairs advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives in Colombia, Brazil, Haiti, and Mexico. Paloma currently serves as the Colombia Counternarcotics Policy lead for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. From 2017 to 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 an M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She is a Rangel Fellow and an International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) alumna. Paloma serves as a Board member of the Department of State’s Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA). In 2016, Paloma was designated as one of Huffington Post’s “40 under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy.” Learn more about her work here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Western Hemisphere Affairs; Building Democratic Institutions; Strategic Planning; Security Assistance; and Social Inclusion & Diversity
Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress
Joel Martinez is the Mexico Policy Analyst for the National Security and International Policy team at the Center for American Progress (CAP). In this role, he conducts research and writes on U.S.-Mexico relations, the role of Latinxs in the United States, and policy developments within Latin America. Joel received his master’s degree from the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego, where he focused on international politics and economic development within Latin America. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Latino Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and is a proud alumnus of Ohlone Community College. Learn more about his work here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: U.S.-Mexico & U.S.-Latin America Relations
Chief, Office of Security Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Niamey, Niger
Maia Molina-Schaefer is an Army Sub-Saharan Africa Foreign Area Officer (FAO), serving in the U.S. Armed Forces for the last 14 years. A 2005 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Maia was commissioned as a Marine Corps Intelligence Officer. During her ten years as a Marine, Maia deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and earned a master’s degree in National Security Affairs. In 2015, Maia transferred to the Army as a Sub-Saharan FAO and was posted at U.S. Africa Command, where she served as the Deputy XO to Ambassador Alex Laskaris. Maia currently serves as the Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation in the U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger and is responsible for managing, executing, and planning all of the DoD's security cooperation activities with the Nigerien Defense Force. Maia has also spearheaded the Women, Peace, and Security effort in Niger. Throughout her career, Maia has written articles, served on panels, and created organizations advocating for the advancement of women and diversity in the military and beyond. Learn more about her on LinkedIn.
Expertise: Sub-Saharan Africa; Security Cooperation; and Women, Peace, and Security
Public Policy Manager and Latin America Lead, Strategic Response, Facebook
David Martinez is the Latin America Lead and Public Policy Manager for Strategic Response at Facebook, where he coordinates response to crisis incidents and advises leadership on platform risks that can lead to harm. He was previously a Foreign Service Officer and served in Jerusalem, Baghdad, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and the Foreign Service Institute where he led redesign of the State Department's negotiation training programs. David also served in Bogota and Havana as Special Assistant to the Special Envoy for the Colombia Peace Process, supporting negotiations that ended the war with the FARC guerrillas. David is a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member and sits on the Term Member Advisory Council. He is an Atlantic Council Millennium Leadership Fellow and an International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) fellow. David holds an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.S. from the University of Arizona, which named him the 2017 Honors College Alumnus of the Year. Learn more about him here.
Expertise: Diplomacy; Conflict Resolution; Negotiation Analysis; Crisis Management; Terrorism; Latin America; and Social Media
Deputy Director of Hispanic Media, Office of Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer
Michelle Moreno-Silva’s focus on foreign policy is through the communications lens, currently serving as the Deputy Director of Hispanic Media for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Throughout her time in the Democratic Leader’s office, Michelle has worked on alleviating the crisis in Venezuela, addressing the root causes of migration from Latin America, and prioritizing foreign cooperation on environmental issues, including fires in the Amazon rainforest. Michelle’s career is rooted in serving communities, just as she served her home state of Rhode Island while working for Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and as she spent time in Nicaragua focusing on community development. She is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Georgetown University. Learn more about her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Expertise: Communications & Public Relations
Advocacy Director, Middle East and North Africa, Amnesty International USA
Philippe Nassif is the Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), where he manages the Nobel prize winning organizations human rights work on the MENA region with the US Government. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana to a Mexican mother and Lebanese father, Philippe spent most of his life on the US gulf coast. Before coming to Amnesty, Philippe worked as the executive director at In Defense of Christians in the Middle East, where he advocated on behalf of persecuted religious minorities. Before that, he worked at the poverty fighting organization CARE USA, the Obama presidential campaign in Florida, The White House as part of President Barack Obama’s advance team, and for the former Mayor of Houston, Texas (TX), Anise Parker. Philippe received his M.A. in International Conflict Resolution from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX and his B.A in International Relations from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX. Learn more about his work here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Middle East Policy; Human Rights; Ethnic and Religious Conflict; War Crimes; and Weapons Proliferation & Arms Sales
Communications Director, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Juan Pachón is the Director of Communications for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic Staff. He is a seasoned communications and public relations professional with a decade of experience in helping inform the dialogue around public policies and government officials at the local, national, and international level. A longtime aide to Senator Bob Menéndez, Pachón is the first Latinx spokesperson for the Committee, where he serves as a senior advisor on a wide range of national security initiatives. He oversees the management and development of communications strategies leveraging public affairs, media, and digital campaigns around the oversight of the current Administration’s foreign policy. Formerly, Pachón served as Press Secretary for Hispanic and Latin American media for Majority Leader Harry Reid and as a national spokesperson for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Juan migrated to the U.S. with his family in 2001. Learn more about him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Expertise: Communications and Public Affairs
National Security Counsel, Office of U.S. Senator Tom Udall (NM)
Matt Padilla is Senator Tom Udall's National Security Counsel and advises him on national security, defense appropriations, and issues in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He received his B.A. in Political Science (International Relations) from the University of Notre Dame. Matt was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy through ROTC and served from 2003-2007, as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard the USS Iwo Jima and the USS Laboon. Matt received his J.D. in 2009 from American University. He is a member of the State Bar of New Mexico and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Matt plays a key role in securing and increasing appropriations for multiple defense programs in the state. He also works with bipartisan offices to further Senator Udall’s legislative efforts, including reigning in executive war making authorities through drafting of the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act. Learn more about him on LinkedIn.
Expertise: Senate Appropriations Process; International Relations; and International & National Security Law
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Greg Pardo currently serves as a political officer in the Office for Israel and Palestinian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Previously, he served as the public diplomacy officer for India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. In that role, Greg developed a $1.15 million U.S.-India university research partnership initiative and also established exchange programs for leaders from the government, civil society, and media in the South Asia region. He has served as an assistant public affairs officer at the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata, a consular officer and staff assistant to the Ambassador at U.S. Embassy-New Delhi, and a political officer in the Office for Cuban Affairs. He is president of the Hispanic Employee Council for Foreign Affairs Agencies. Originally from San Antonio, Greg holds a B.A. in International Relations and Political Science from St. Mary's University and an MPA from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Spanish, Hindi, and Bengali. Learn more about him on LinkedIn.
Expertise: Public Diplomacy
Assistant Professor, William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies
Fabiana Sofia Perera is an Assistant Professor at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies. Prior to joining the Perry Center, Fabiana was a Rosenthal Fellow at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary for Policy, Western Hemisphere Affairs. Fabiana has experience working in the public and private sectors. Fabiana holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University and earned a PhD in Political Science from The George Washington University. For her doctorate, Fabiana completed fieldwork in Venezuela and Ecuador. Fabiana has presented her research at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association and the Latin American Studies Association. Her research and analysis have appeared in numerous publications including The Washington Post, CNN.com, and War on the Rocks. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Western Hemisphere; Venezuela; and Oil-Producing Countries
Legislative Director, Representative Tom Malinowski
Eliza Ramirez-Gamboa serves as Legislative Director for Representative Tom Malinowski (NJ-7). Eliza started her Capitol Hill career on the Senate side where she worked for Senators Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez. In her previous role, she served as Legislative Assistant for Representative Michael Capuano. Eliza has been instrumental working with key international actors to secure funding for humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. She was named "40 Under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy" by the Huffington Post in 2016 and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Congressional Foreign Policy Study Group. Additionally, her passion to help others is indulged through her service to increase diversity and promote inclusion in Congress. Eliza is a former president of the Women's Congressional Staff Association and a founder of both the Latinos in Foreign Policy Association and Latinas in the House of Representatives Group. Learn more about her here and on LinkedIn.
Expertise: Middle East; Sub-Saharan Africa; and Peacekeeping
Senior Professional Staff Member, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee
Jacqueline Ramos is the Senior Professional Staff Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, advising the Chairman and all Democrats on matters related to Europe and Russia and associated functional issues. Previously, she was an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Prior to this, Jacqueline served as a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, a Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and the Russia Country Director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She has also worked as a Nonproliferation Fellow at the National Nuclear Security Administration and at EADS-North America. Raised in Wisconsin, Jacqueline holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and master’s degrees from Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations. Learn more about her on Twitter.
Expertise: Europe (including NATO and EU); Russia; and U.S. Defense Policy
Legislative Assistant, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard
Victoria Rivas serves as a Legislative Assistant for Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Victoria's portfolio includes homeland security, appropriations, immigration, foreign affairs, defense, judiciary, and civil rights. She is the lead staffer for Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s bill, H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. Working for a senior appropriator, Victoria focuses on creating a more humane immigration system, as well as foreign assistance that can mitigate push factors and root causes of migration. Victoria began her career working for Representative Xavier Becerra, former Chairman of the Democratic Caucus. Passionate about building a diverse congressional workforce, Victoria previously served as the President of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association, representing over 200 congressional Latinx staffers. A Southern California native, Victoria studied international relations and human rights at U.C. Berkeley. Learn more about her on LinkedIn.
Expertise: Homeland Security; Human Rights; Democracy; Immigration; Appropriations; and Latin America
Program Fellow, Cyber Initiative and Special Projects, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Monica Ruiz is the Program Fellow for the Cyber Initiative and Special Projects at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. In her work on the Cyber Initiative, she supports efforts to build a more robust cybersecurity field and improve policy-making. She also manages the foundation’s portfolio of Special Projects grants, part of a pool of flexible funds that allow the foundation to respond to unanticipated opportunities. Prior to joining the foundation, Monica was the first recipient of the U.S. Boren Fellowship to travel to Estonia, where her research focused on cybersecurity policy and strategy. Earlier in her career, she worked at U.S. Southern Command in the J9 Partnering Directorate, where she served as the military education coordinator between the Command and partners in the region. Born in Ecuador and raised in Miami, she holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Cybersecurity; Cyber Defense; and National Security
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Jeff Salaiz is the Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford, the senior military advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States. Previously, Jeff served one year as POLAD to the J5 Director for Strategy, Plans & Policy at the Pentagon. With over two decades experience mostly in Africa and Latin America, Jeff last served overseas as Deputy Chief of Mission in Bamako, Mali. As National Security Council Director for Central America and the Caribbean, Jeff helped advance President Obama's policy shift on Cuba and orchestrated the President's participation in the Summit of the Americas and with Caribbean leaders. Jeff holds a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College, a master’s degree in International Economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from St. Mary's University in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about him here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: National Security Strategy; Defense; Latin America; and Africa
National Security Advisor and Former Obama DHS Counterterrorism Official
Nate Snyder is a current Senior Advisor for Cambridge Global Advisors, LLC, a national security consulting and strategic communications firm. Most recently, Nate contributed to CBS This Morning, Meet the Press Daily, MSNBC Live, and CNN Tonight to provide counterterrorism analysis in the wake of the El Paso terrorist attack. Other contributions include his analysis on the 5G network national security threats posed by Huawei with Hill TV. Previously, Nate served as an Obama Administration DHS counterterrorism official and advisor to DOJ, FBI, NCTC, and the White House. Before joining the Obama Administration, Nate held numerous senior positions with the 2007-2008 Obama Presidential Campaign. Nate is a graduate of the White House National Security Leadership Workshop and board member of the Obama Latino Appointee Alumni Association, LATINOS44. He is a graduate of Syracuse University and has a master’s degree from the U.S. Naval War College in national security and counterterrorism. Learn more about him here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Counterterrorism and Cybersecurity
Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
Adam Sotomayor has worked with multilateral organizations and foreign governments overseas to advance global counterterrorism, political-military, public diplomacy, economic development, sanctions and human rights objectives for the U.S. Department of State. Previously, Adam represented the Office of the Director General of the Foreign Service on the National Security Council Initiative to Promote Diversity in the National Security workforce, which resulted in two executive orders to strengthen the pipeline of diverse candidates. Adam has advanced U.S. foreign policy priorities as a Political Officer at U.S. Embassy Asuncion and Deputy Press Attaché at U.S. Embassy Paris, where he supported the President’s first visit to France. Adam is an alumnus of the French American Foundation Young Leaders Program, International Career Advancement Program, U.S. Spain Council Young Leaders Program, and Presidential Management Fellows Program. Learn more about him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Expertise: Counterterrorism; Public Diplomacy; Sanctions; Public Private Partnerships; Human Rights; Educational/Cultural Exchanges; and Diversity and Inclusion
Senior Director, APCO Worldwide
Jordan Valdés is a senior director in APCO Worldwide’s Global Solutions practice and part of the headquarters leadership team. Based in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, Jordan is an international public affairs expert and assists clients on a wide range of issues from international crises to campaigns changing public perceptions. Prior to joining APCO, Jordan served as senior vice president for the Podesta Group, where she developed international government relations and strategic communications campaigns. A political appointee in the Obama Administration, she served as a senior advisor for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade before joining the Podesta Group. During her time with the administration, Jordan represented the SBA at the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations and developed key messaging and communications for the agency. She started her career in journalism in the Middle East. Jordan holds a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Learn more about her here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: International Economics and Trade Negotiations (TTIP and TPP); Latin America (with an emphasis on Cuba); International Energy and Natural Resources (with an emphasis on the Gulf States); and International Communications
C. Eduardo Vargas Toro
Senior Associate, International Center for Religion & Diplomacy (ICRD)
C. Eduardo Vargas Toro is special adviser to the president of ICRD on Latin America, multilateral organizations and countering violent extremism. In the Obama Administration, as Deputy Director of the Center for Faith Based & Community Initiatives at USAID, he led public diplomacy and partnerships for humanitarian and development priorities, including the 2014 Central American migration surge of unaccompanied children, protection of religious minorities in the Middle East, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Previously, he served as Director to the United Nations DPI/NGO Executive Committee. He also directed global refugee programs, development and humanitarian assistance projects, and advocacy campaigns for Caritas Internationalis, Intersections International, and Aya Worldwide. Honors include the Huffington Post’s “40 Under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy,” an M.A. in International Relations, and the Many Are One Alumni Servant Leadership Award from Seton Hall University. Learn more about him here, LinkedIn, and on Twitter.
Expertise: Multilateral Organizations; Latin America & Middle East; Conflict Mitigation; Countering Violent Extremism; Refugees; Development; Religion & Global Affairs; and Civil Society Engagement
Chief Operating Officer, Beacon Global Strategies
Kristin White is the Chief Operating Officer of Beacon Global Strategies, a strategic advisory firm specializing in aerospace, defense, intelligence, and technology policy, where she guides the firm's strategy and growth. In over fifteen years of consulting to the national security technology industry, Kristin has supported clients on a range of business issues, from strategic planning to acquisition due diligence. Prior to joining Beacon, Kristin worked for Avascent, a consulting firm serving clients operating in national security markets. From 2002 to 2004, she worked for Women In International Security (WIIS), a membership organization dedicated to increasing the number and visibility of women in the field of international security. She currently serves as a mentor for the Brooke Owens Fellowship Program. Kristin graduated magna cum laude with an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University. She holds a B.S. in Foreign Service also from Georgetown University. Learn more about her here and on LinkedIn.
Expertise: National Security and Technology Policy; Aerospace and Defense Industry; National Security and Immigration; and Strategic Planning
Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
Heather Wild-González Rubio has served at the U.S. Department of State for 12 years, most recently at U.S. Embassy Baghdad as a Political Military Officer. She has previously worked for the Deputy Secretary of State; the Bureau of Population Refugees Migration on the Syrian refugee and humanitarian crisis; the Office on Trafficking in Persons; the Secretary’s Office of Global Youth Issues; the Bureau of European Affairs; the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights; and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement working on Haiti earthquake recovery efforts. Heather is a graduate of George Mason and Georgetown Universities, a proud New Yorker, and daughter of a Colombian mother and Swiss-American father. She is a five-year term member with the Council on Foreign Relations; National Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project; Penn Kemble Fellow; member of Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security; Team Rubicon; and U.S. Spain Council alum. Learn more about her current work here.
Expertise: National Security; Middle East Affairs; Combating Trafficking in Persons; Human Rights; Political Military Affairs; and Diversity in National Security