Ambassador from Ecuador: Who Is Nathalie Cely?

Sunday, February 19, 2012
For the first time in nine months, the South American nation of Ecuador has an ambassador at its Washington, DC, embassy. On January 18, 2012, Nathalie Cely Suárez replaced Luis Gallegos, whom the U.S. expelled in April 2011 as retaliation for Ecuador’s expulsion of U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges, after the release by WikiLeaks of a diplomatic cable in which Hodges discussed allegedly corrupt police officials appointed by President Rafael Correa, and even speculated that Correa “must have known” about the corruption.
 
Born in Portoviejo, Ecuador, on December 28, 1965, Cely earned a degree in economics at the Catholic University of Guayaquil in 1990, and in 2001 a Master’s in Public Administration and a Diploma in Public and Social Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where she was an Edward Mason Fellow. From 2005 to 2008, Cely was a candidate for a Doctorate in Development Economics at the FLACSO (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences). Her doctoral project was on “Determinants of collective action in the generation of private and public goods of associative networks.”
 
Cely worked in the private sector early in her career, including two stints with financial firm Stratega. Her first jobs were as a currency trader and then, in 1993, Vice President of Banco Union, where she collaborated with Roberto Baquerizo Valenzuela, a brother of Ecuadoran President Gustavo Noboa, who was accused in 2000 of irregularities during the banking crisis of the late 1990s.
 
From December 1996 to July 1998, Cely was Vice President of Development at Stratega, where she was a member of the management committee and was responsible for launching trading operations in 1998. She left for public service, serving from August 1998 to June 1999 as Benefits Outreach Program Director at CONAM (the National Council of State Modernization), where she designed and implemented a cash grant program to cushion the impact of the elimination of subsidies to gas, diesel and electrical energy on Ecuador’s poorest citizens.
 
Returning to Stratega in 2002, Cely was co-founder and President of the Stratega Foundation and of Stratega Business Development Services, subsidiaries of Stratega dedicated to promoting sustainable business development by working with micro and small businesses in Ecuador. She remained at Stratega until February 2007, at the same time working as a consultant on numerous development projects, including several involving the Inter-American Development Bank (“IDB”), which is the largest source of development financing for Latin America.
 
Cely consulted on projects such as designing a strategy for implementing reforms of Suriname’s elementary education system pursuant to IDB funding (January-December 2003); preparing reformed lending policies for an IDB Competitive Support Program for Ecuador (April-October 2003); designing an agenda for achieving more efficient and transparent social spending in Guatemala (June–December 2003); designing an action plan and terms of reference relating to competitiveness reform in Guyana for an IDB Competitive Support Program (October-December 2004); designing an action plan for Ecuador’s climate change initiative under IDB funding (October-December 2004); consulting for the Ecuador Inter-American Development Bank (April-October 2005); and designing a program to implement a $25 million loan to the Bahamas (October 2005-January 2006).
 
Cely returned to government to serve the left-leaning administration of President Rafael Correa, whom she first met when both were students at the Catholic University of Guayaquil. She served as Coordinating Minister of Social Development from March 2007 to April 2009, where she was responsible for ncreasing economic opportunity for working people and the poor. From May 2009 to November 2011, Cely served as Coordinating Minister of Production, Employment and Competitiveness. Since July 2009, Cely has served on the International Advisory Board of the Netherlands Development Organization.
 
Cely is the author of several publications on economic issues, especially in the field of development. She is married to Ivan Hernández, and they have two sons, Ivan and Daniel.
-Matt Bewig
 

Nathalie Cely, una ministra frontal e influyente (by Carolina Enríquez, El Comercio) 

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