Hispanic Heritage Month Student Foreign Policy Symposium 2023
Isabel Carneiro is the President of the Hispanic & Latin Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA) and the Programs Chair for Executive Women at State. She works as a Contract Specialist in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of the Executive Director, serving as the Contracting Officer Representative for the Global Support Strategy contract. She has worked in three functional bureaus: Diplomatic Security, Consular Affairs, and the Foreign Service Institute. She holds a Masters Degree in International Security and Bachelors Degree in Global Affairs from George Mason University. She started at the Department of State as an unpaid intern, and her parents are from Venezuela and the Philippines.
Kayla C. Bruner is a Program Analyst in the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Global Public Affairs. She serves as the Lead Coordinator for student outreach and engagement with Minority-Serving Institutions, which include Hispanic Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and she is the lead organizer of the annual Minority-Serving Institutions Conference. She began her career at the State Department in 2011, as a Pathways Intern – in her junior year of high school, and she continued the internship while working towards the completion of her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Bowie State University. She received her degree with Honors and joined the Civil Service in 2017. As a proud Black woman and HBCU alumna from Washington, D.C. – she is personally committed to organizing programs for students and institutions in underrepresented communities, and to raising awareness about early career opportunities in the federal government.
Josiane “Josie” Lee is currently serving as one of five (5) Department of State National Recruiters, in the Bureau of Global Talent Management, Office of Talent Acquisition; Direct Candidates Engagement Division (GTM/TAC/DCE). Prior to her current position, Josie served as Assignment Officer in the Executive Office of Global Talent Management (GTM) Bureau. She also served as Human Resources Specialist/ Recruitment Coordinator in Frankfurt, Germany, the fifth largest post worldwide. Her previous posts include, U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, U.S. Embassy Lima, Peru, and Consulate General Montreal, Canada. She is also fluent in French and Spanish, intermediate in German and Amharic. Ms. Lee holds a Bachelors in International Business.
10:00 a.m.-10:50 a.m. EST Careers@State: Student Internship and Fellowship
Antoinette Hurtado is a career Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State with 19 years of service. She has served in a number of countries including Australia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Italy, and has studied Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. Antoinette joined the State Department after graduate school as a recipient of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. She has a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University. She currently serves as the Diplomat in Residence for the Southwest region. You can learn more about her assignments and experiences here.
Luis Calvo became a participant in the Pathways Student Programs at the U. S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) in 2019, where he worked in the CA/EX Human Resource division while completing his master’s degree at George Washington University. Luis has a Master’s in International Affairs with a concentration on U.S. Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy. Previously, Luis served with the Department as a summer intern for CA in 2017 and as FA campus coordinator at his undergraduate institution in Florida where he assisted the Diplomat in Residence for South Florida with outreach activities. Luis served at the Sudan Desk for three years and recently joined IO/UNP as part of the new Professional Development Mobility Program (PDMP) that allows civil servants to do rotations at the State Department. This is Luis’ first PDMP rotation and he will be in UNP for 18 months.
Constanza Castro Zúñiga currently serves as the Non-Immigrant Visa Chief at U.S. Embassy Oslo. She was born in Santiago, Chile, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science and economics at the University of Kansas and her master’s in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Prior to joining the department, Constanza worked in the office of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings and with the Council for Opportunity in Education fighting for educational access for underrepresented groups. Constanza joined the Department of State in 2019 as a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellow. Next year, Constanza will join the International Organizations Office and work at the United Nations Political Affairs Office in Washington.
Karina G. Garcia joined the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs’ Office of European Union and Regional Affairs (EUR/ERA) in July as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Political Section. Karina was previously an Intelligence Analyst on the European Union in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)/EUR. During a tour as the Ecuador Desk Officer, she helped to rebuild the U.S.-Ecuador bilateral partnership. She has served at Embassies Dublin and Bogotá and interned at the U.S. Mission to the EU and in the Western Hemisphere Affairs Front Office as a Pickering Fellow. Karina is currently the Chief of Staff for the Hispanic and Latin Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA). Karina earned a Masters of International Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles.
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST All-Stars Panel: Highlighting Hispanic Leadership in Foreign Affairs
Saúl Hernández is a career Foreign Service Officer with over 19 years of experience at the U.S. Department of State. He is the Diplomat in Residence for the Southern region, recruiting diverse talent for the Department’s career and student program opportunities in the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.
Saúl’s diplomatic assignments abroad include the U.S. Embassies in Bogotá, Colombia, and Prague, Czech Republic, where he served as a consular officer. His third assignment abroad was to U.S. Embassy Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, as the Cultural Affairs Officer. His next assignment was at the Washington Foreign Press Center. Afterward, he served as the Digital Media Advisor for the Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. He then served as the press officer at U.S. Embassy Lima, Peru. Before his current assignment, Saúl led two teams in Washington focused on outreach to regional youth leadership networks and on advocacy before the U.S. Congress on public diplomacy resources for the Department of State.
Saúl earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining the Department of State, he worked as an information technology consultant and software developer in the Atlanta area.
Mari Carmen Aponte is a distinguished lawyer, civic leader, and the first female Puerto Rican Ambassador. She served as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador (2012–2016) and as Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. She was confirmed as Ambassador to Panama by the U.S. Senate on September 29, 2022.
After earning a B.A. in political science from Rosemont College, she taught in Camden, New Jersey, and became aware of underrepresented educational needs of minority students. Mari enrolled in Temple University Beasley School of Law and earned a J.D. in 1975. She was one of few Puerto Rican women enrolled in a U.S. accredited law program at that time and, subsequently, the first Latina lawyer in Pennsylvania. Mari moved to Washington in 1979 to serve as a White House Fellow.
She continued practicing law in Washington and cofounded one of the first minority-owned law firms. In 1984, Mari was elected the first woman president of the Hispanic National Bar Association. She continued to hold leadership positions for the next 25 years, advocating for women and the Latino community. From 2001–2004 she was Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. She has also served on the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission, chaired the Minority Women Subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession, as well as served on the board of directors for the National Council of La Raza and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Mari is the recipient of numerous honors, including honorary doctorates of law from Temple University and the District of Columbia School of Law, the Graciela Olivarez Award from UnidosUS and the 2015 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association, in recognition of her community service.
Prior to her time as U.S. Ambassador to Panama, Mari worked as a consultant in Washington. She is fluent in Spanish and French.
Michael Gonzales was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia in August 2022. He previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for West Africa and African Regional Peace and Security and as the acting U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahel Region.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, Michael’s previous senior positions include service as the Director for Analysis of Africa in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., at the U.S. Embassies in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Lilongwe, Malawi.
Throughout his career, Michael has built partnerships with host governments, international partners, and civil society organizations to promote good governance, open political space, improve business environments, protect human rights, and expand economic opportunity. His previous assignments include service as the Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at U.S. Embassies in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia; the Horn of Africa Unit Chief in the Office of East African Affairs; Deputy Public Affairs Officer in Kampala, Uganda; Information Officer and Embassy Spokesman in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Environment, Science, and Technology Officer in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Michael was an economic analyst in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
In 2009, the American Foreign Service Association awarded Michael the William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent. In 2022, President Biden recognized him with a Presidential Rank Award. He is a five-time recipient of the Department of State’s Superior Honor Award. A native of Seaside, California, Michael is married to a USAID foreign service officer, with whom he has two children. Michael received a Master of Arts degree in international development from American University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College. He has studied Spanish, French, Italian, and Bengali.
Frank Mora, Ph.D., was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States on December 30, 2022. Prior to his current position, he was Professor of Politics and International Relations and Senior Researcher at the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University (FIU). From 2013 to 2020, Frank served as Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at FIU. Prior to arriving at FIU, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere from 2009–2013. He has held several teaching positions, including Professor of National Security Strategy and Latin American Studies at the National War College, National Defense University (2004–2009), and Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of International Studies, Rhodes College (2000–2004).
During the last 20 years Frank worked as a consultant to the Library of Congress, the Institute for National Security Studies, the National Democratic Institute, the U.S. State Department, the Organization of American States, and U.S. Southern Command. He has spoken at numerous conferences in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. His opinion pieces and other commentaries have appeared in U.S. and Latin American media outlets.
Frank is the author or editor of five books, including Neighborly Adversaries: U.S.-Latin American Relations (2015); Paraguay and the United States: Distant Allies (2008) and Latin American and Caribbean Foreign Policy (2003); and over 30 academic and policy articles, book chapters, and monographs on hemispheric security, U.S.-Latin American relations, civil-military relations, Cuban politics and the military, and Latin American political economy and integration.
Frank received his Ph.D. in International Affairs and an M.A. in Inter-American Studies from the University of Miami. He earned his B.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University. He also completed studies at universities in Peru and Costa Rica. Frank is a recipient of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, Department of Defense (2012). In 2022, he was confirmed by the Senate as the Permanent Representative of the United States to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador.
12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST ForeignPolicy@State: Climate Change and Food Security
Eduardo Garcia is an economic-coned Foreign Service Officer currently serving as a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment. He most recently served in Washington as an analyst covering Western Hemisphere economic issues and as the Deputy in the Economic Section in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he also covered economic relations with Maldives. Eduardo has served in overseas positions in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Brazil and in Washington in the Economic Bureau. He studied Latin American history at Amherst College and economic development at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He is originally from Houston, Texas, and is one-half of a Foreign Service tandem couple. He has two daughters.
Cristina Fernandez-Baca has served as the Environment, Science, Technology and Health officer in the Office of Mexican Affairs since August 2021. She started at the U.S. Department of State as a Science and Technology Policy fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 2021–2022. She is an environmental engineer by training and holds a B.S. and M.S. in environmental engineering from the University of Iowa. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University where she studied the greenhouse gas emissions and surface water quality impacts from onsite wastewater treatment systems. She also conducted water quality research while at Cornell, quantifying fecal indicator bacteria and harmful algal blooms in the Finger Lakes. During her postdoctoral fellowship at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she undertook cross-scale interdisciplinary studies on arsenic uptake in rice to reduce arsenic exposure from rice consumption.
Leonardo Martinez-Diaz is Managing Director for Climate Finance in the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Previously, he was the global director of the Sustainable Finance Center at the World Resources Institute, where he led a team working to promote the flow of public and private finance to environmentally -sustainable activities, including climate adaptation and mitigation. During the Barack Obama Administration, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy and Environment in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. Prior to that, he served as Director of the Office of Policy at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He is co-author of Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption.
Isabel Rioja-Scott is a career Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, currently serving as the Economic Counselor in U.S. Embassy Madrid. From 2021–2022 she served as Director for North America in the White House National Security Council, where she helped craft the President’s bilateral agendas with Mexico and Canada and revived structures for North American integration. She also served as Economic and Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy Panama City, focusing on illicit finance, geostrategic security issues, and maritime affairs, and was Deputy Director in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs’ Office of Policy Planning and Coordination (WHA/PPC), which fields regional issues in the Western Hemisphere. She also served as Political Counselor and Trade Officer in U.S. Embassy Mexico City from 2012–2016 during trade agreement negotiations under the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. EST ForeignPolicy@State: Global Migration, Refugee Crisis, and Trafficking in Persons
Lucia Gallegos is a contractor with Cherokee Federal, currently serving as a Program Advisor at the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP). Lucia plays a pivotal role in overseeing the office’s Training and Technical Assistance program. With a background deeply rooted in public service, Lucia previously served as the TIP Office’s Interagency Program Assistant on the Intergovernmental Affairs Team. Before joining the Department, Lucia honed her expertise during internships at other government institutions. At the Department of the Treasury’s Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes office, she conducted extensive research and analysis, focusing on terrorist financing and money laundering patterns in Latin America and the Caribbean. Lucia also interned at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, where she actively engaged with the Central America, South America, and Mexico Desks, further enhancing her understanding of regional dynamics.
Born and raised in Arequipa, Peru, Lucia brings a unique perspective and multicultural background to her work. Her journey took her to Miami, Florida, at the age of 14, where she has since thrived and embraced diverse experiences. Lucia holds a master’s in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s in International Relations from Florida International university.
Kayla Hall-Morgan is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. She attended Wake Forest University as an undergraduate, where she first worked as a victims’ advocate as a Legal Aid intern, followed by studies at The George Washington University School of Law. After traveling extensively on study abroad programs including to England, Benin, Australia, Japan, and South Korea and working in private law firms and clinics, she began her 20-year federal career in intelligence with the Bureau Diplomatic Security (DS) of the Department of State as a Presidential Management Fellow with the Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis in the Western Hemisphere Division, covering Central America and the Caribbean as a Foreign Affairs Officer. She then served as a Special Assistant to the Executive Director for DS. Kayla is the founding manager for the Victims’ Resource Advocacy Program (VRAP), established in 2010 and now in the DS Office of Special Investigations. The mission of VRAP is to empower those who have been victimized as a result of crimes investigated by DS so they may handle the realities that follow traumatic experiences and understand the surrounding judicial processes. Kayla is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the Supreme Court. She holds a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University and is a licensed professional therapist. She also received a Master’s in Social Work from Howard University and is a licensed clinical social worker.
Supervisory Special Agent Ryan LaBranche is the Human Trafficking Investigations Coordinator (HTIC) for the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). The HTIC is responsible for DSS’s human trafficking policy, interagency coordination, and operational strategy. In addition, the HTIC office coordinates multijurisdictional cases and advises on/tracks all DSS human trafficking investigations. Ryan joined DSS in October 2010. His assignments include the Boston Field Office, Secretary of State’s Protective Detail, Kathmandu, Peshawar, Cape Town, and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force-Washington. Prior to joining DSS, Ryan was an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army. He graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.A. and has a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma.
Joshua Youle leads the governance pillar of the Strategy Team at the office of Central American Affairs. Joshua previously served in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP). At the TIP Office, he served as a program officer for the Program to End Modern Slavery, supporting the preparation and implementation of a $150 million global program. He has managed a wide range of anti-trafficking projects in Brazil, Costa Rica, India, the Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Vietnam. He also worked on refugee admissions at the Refugee Processing Center under the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migrations. Joshua held a portfolio that covered family reunification, Cuban refugees, and sensitive cases.
Before joining the Department of State, Josh lived in Germany and worked as an English instructor, teaching courses at several German companies.
He has a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Postconflict Reconstruction from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College with a focus on Russian and Eurasian studies.
Amy Rustan Haslett returned to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) as the Deputy Senior Coordinator for International Programs in early 2023. In this role, she leads her team in the strategic planning, award, and oversight of a global portfolio of anti-trafficking programs. Previously, Amy worked in the Office of Foreign Assistance (F) where she coordinated over $8 billion in annual foreign assistance for Africa across a range of accounts and programs and was the lead for F during the recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. While at F, Amy completed a detail to the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services where she worked on domestic resettlement efforts as part of Operation Allies Welcome. While at F, Amy also served for three -months as Acting Deputy Director of an 80-person division including the Performance Management, Data, Evaluation, Strategic Planning, and Foreign Assistance Information Systems teams.
Amy joined the State Department in 2008 as a career civil servant. Prior to joining F, she worked for nine years at J/TIP, first as a Program Officer on the International Programs team covering East Asia Pacific and then Africa and then was dual-hatted as the Bureau Strategic Planner and long-term Acting Deputy for Resource Management and Planning. Earlier in her career, she worked at State’s Bureau of International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Affairs covering Haiti and at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs where she managed international exchange programs. Prior to the State Department, she worked at The George Washington University, served in the Peace Corps as a community and youth development volunteer in Cabo Verde, and worked at non-governmental organizations in Washington and in Ecuador serving at-risk youth.
Amy holds a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College, a master’s degree from The George Washington University, and completed a yearlong executive leadership program from 2021–2022.
David Tagle serves as a Consular Officer at U.S. Embassy Kampala. His previous assignments include Political Officer at U.S. Consulate General São Paulo, Desk Officer for Honduras, Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s Office of Global Programs, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Mexico desk, and in the INL section at U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa. Before joining the Department, he managed human rights programs in Latin America for a Washington-based democracy and governance NGO. Originally from Arlington, Virginia, David was a Presidential Management Fellow and holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in International Relations and a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service.
3:00-3:45 p.m. EST Careers@State: Education and Cultural Exchange
Susana Guzman serves as a civil servant for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs working on the EducationUSA Program. Her experience within the Department of State includes working on the Fulbright Program, high school private exchanges, and in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs-Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Her career has been focused on promoting mutual and cultural understanding between people in the United States and the world through the Department’s flagship diplomacy exchange programs. Susana is currently serving as a board member of the Hispanic and Latin Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA) as the Professional Development Co-Chair. Susana holds undergraduate degrees in International Relations from Miami Dade College and Florida International University, and a master’s degree in International Education from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Susana is a first-generation American with Cuban and Colombian descent.
José Marrero is an academic exchange specialist in the Office of Global Educational Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State where he manages a portfolio of academic exchange programs including the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program and the Community College Administrator Program. José started at the Department in 2011 and has worked on a variety of academic programs and initiatives including the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars, Secondary Educators, and Student Leaders and the YSEALI Academic Fellowship. In addition, José has worked with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Asunción, Paraguay, on the Embassy’s Daily Press Summary in English, and Spanish, and other initiatives. Prior to joining the Department, José was the Associate Director of the Huntsman Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He also has worked as a professor of Italian language and culture. He is a graduate of the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Middlebury College, and Indiana University and has a Ph.D. in Italian Studies.
Dineo Brinson manages outreach to higher education institutions and students along with alumni engagement for the Fulbright Program in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. She previously led the Spelman College Office of Alumnae Affairs for over a decade and worked closely with alumnae, students, faculty, staff, and dignitaries like Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder on large-scale events. As a civil servant, she began her federal career in the U.S. Department of Education as a civil rights investigator in elementary, secondary, and university school systems.
Dineo earned a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in Spanish from Spelman College and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Dineo is passionate about study abroad programs and mentoring. She was part of an international children’s village in Clermont-Ferrand, France, as an elementary student and spent a college semester in the Dominican Republic. She also interned at the U.S. Embassy in Panama in the Public Affairs Section, where she supported educational and cultural programs, including the country’s third Pride Parade. Dineo grew up in New York learning Spanish in and outside the classroom and is now attempting French.
Joshua Trinidad is a Foreign Service Officer working as a Program Officer in the Cultural Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Prior to this, he served as a Consular Officer in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and Sydney, Australia. Joshua joined the State Department in 2017 after receiving a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University through the Rangel Fellowship program. He received a B.A. in World Languages and Literatures and Translation and Interpretation Studies from the City University of New York Baccalaureate Program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies. As an undergraduate, Joshua studied abroad through the Gilman Scholarship, the Critical Language Scholarship and the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program, which convinced him to pursue a career in international affairs and cultural diplomacy. Before that, he worked as an ESL teacher, predominantly in New York City, but also in Paris and Bucaramanga, Colombia. He’s originally from Cayey, Puerto Rico, but grew up in Illinois, Oregon, New Mexico, Florida, and New York. In his free time, Joshua is an amateur aerial acrobat.
4:00-4:45 p.m. EST Foreign Policy@State: Human Rights, Foreign Aid and Assistance
Sierra Bracero, a dedicated professional, holds the position of Treasurer at the Hispanic and Latin Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA). Within the U.S. Department of State, Sierra serves as an Anti-Corruption Advisor in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, specializing in Western Hemisphere sanctions and visa restrictions. Sierra’s passion for public service stems from her previous role as a Low Altitude Air Defense Gunner in the U.S. Marines. Fluent in both English and Spanish, Sierra brings valuable linguistic skills to her work. In addition to her commitments, she actively contributes as a board member of the Foreign Affairs Recreation Association and is the head of events and engagements in the Global Advocacy and Diplomacy working group of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation. Sierra completed her undergraduate studies at Norwich University, majoring in National Security Studies, and is currently pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Government at Harvard University.
Ivan P. Carpio is the Coordinator for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and the lead for security issues in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Caribbean Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. He is a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Civil Service. Ivan served in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) from 2012–2020, at different times working on the Haiti, Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, and Honduras portfolios. From January to July 2017, Ivan was detailed to Congress, where he supported Representative Joaquín Castro’s work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including roles on the Western Hemisphere and Africa subcommittees.
Ivan holds a B.A. in Legal Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a J.D. and an M.A. in International Affairs from American University. He was born in Lima, Peru, and grew up in San Ramon, California, in a first-generation immigrant household. He served as Vice President of the International Career Program (ICAP) Fellows Association from November 2020 until July 2022, and was a 2019 ICAP Fellow. Ivan served as president of the State Department Chapter of the Hispanic and Latin Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA) from 2017 to 2019, and continues to serve as an HECFAA Senior Advisor. In 2020, New America and the Diversity in National Security Network named Ivan to their list of Latino National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.
C. Eduardo Vargas Toro is the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor/Western Hemisphere Affairs’ Policy Adviser for human rights in the Andean Region. Before joining the Department of State, he served in the Administration of President Barack Obama and USAID. During his tenure at USAID, he served as Deputy Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and as Senior Communications Officer at the USAID Mission in Guatemala City. Eduardo, a Colombian American, earned his M.A. in International Relations at Seton Hall University.
Francisco Bencosme is the Deputy to the Presidential Compacts of Free Association (COFA) Envoy and Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau at the Department of State. As Senior Advisor, he advises on regional strategy and crosscutting issues as well as serves as the primary speechwriter for the Assistant Secretary. He also serves as a Deputy and Senior Advisor to the Compact of Freely Associated States negotiating team, advising Special Presidential Envoy for Compact Negotiations Joseph Yun.
Prior to joining the Department of State, he was a Senior Policy Advisor at the Open Society Foundations covering Asia and Latin America where he supported the group’s policy and advocacy in those respective regions. During his time at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), Francisco led the U.S. human rights policy and advocacy program towards the Asia Pacific. Francisco has testified before Congress and has provided media commentary on multiple outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Francisco was named one of The Hill’s Top 2018 Lobbyists for a campaign on issues regarding the Rohingya in Burma. 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 alum. Francisco received his Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a graduate certificate from the U.S. Air Force Air University, and his B.A. from Wake Forest University. As a senior at the Bronx High School of Science, he won the Grand National Speech and Debate Tournament in 2008.
Brian Camblin is a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) within the U.S. Department of State. In DRL’s Office of Global Programs, Brian manages foreign assistance programs to support civil society organizations working to advance democracy and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Prior to joining DRL, Brian was a Program Manager at the National Democratic Institute where he implemented programs in support of human rights defenders working in closed contexts in LAC. Brian has a master’s degree in international political economy from the University of California, San Diego. He was also twice a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras and Colombia and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Brazil.