Our speaker this week will be Liliana Ayalde, retired US Embassador
Ambassador Ayalde recently retired from the U.S. Foreign Service following a distinguished 38-year career with assignments in Washington, D.C. and abroad. She dedicated her diplomatic career to foreign affairs, development, defense and security in Latin America and the Caribbean. A diplomat and negotiator with demonstrated success in executive leadership and management positions across U.S. government agencies, spearheading teams in strategic planning, cooperation programs and outreach engagements.
Most recently, Ambassador Ayalde served as the Civilian Deputy to the Commander and Foreign Policy Advisor at the United States Southern Command in Miami until September 2019. She led the engagement with the Department of State and Embassies abroad ensuring coordination between policy and Command-sponsored security cooperation programs. She provided the Command with geo-political, political-military, and economic counsel shaping strategies, security cooperation plans, strategic communication, public affairs and human rights initiatives.
She served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil (2013-2016) overseeing a robust bilateral and global policy agenda which included political, economic and security issues. She led the U.S. support to the 2014 World Cup, the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Para Olympic Games hosted by Brazil. Prior to this appointment she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the Department of State overseeing bilateral relations with Central America, the Caribbean, and Cuba. She was also the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Latin American and Caribbean Bureau for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) guiding high priority development assistance in Mexico, Haiti and Central America. Following her assignment as USAID Mission Director in Colombia where she had responsibility for the development assistance portfolio under Plan Colombia she was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Paraguay. She also held assignments in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia with USAID.
Ambassador Ayalde is a Senior Advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, member of Southern Command’s Advisory Group, the Brazil Institute of the Wilson Center, and member of the Board of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including USAID’s Distinguished Career Award, the Department of State’s Distinguished Service Honor Award and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the highest award given to a civilian by the Department of Defense. She has also been honored with recognitions by the governments in the countries she served in, including the Order of San Carlos by the Government of Colombia, the Order for Gran Cruz by the Government of Paraguay and several recognition by the Government of Brazil.
Ambassador Ayalde earned her BA from the School of International Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University in Louisiana. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and has a working knowledge of French.