Ambassador to Brazil: Who Is Liliana Ayalde?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

President Barack Obama has turned to a veteran aid and development expert to represent the U.S., which is the most populous nation in the Western hemisphere, to the Americas’ second most populous nation, Brazil. With a population of about 201 million, Brazil is considered an emerging power of the 21st century, but extreme poverty and growing social unrest undermine its democratic progress. New ambassador Liliana Ayalde, who has spent more than 30 years in the Foreign Service, will succeed Thomas Shannon, who has served in Brasília since January 2010.


Born in Baltimore in March 1956, Liliana Ayalde was the daughter of a Colombian doctor living in the U.S. Ayalde earned a B.A. in International Studies at American University in 1978 and a Master’s in International Public Health at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 1980.


Ayalde began her Foreign Service career by joining the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1981, serving her first overseas posting in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


In 1985, Ayalde began a long career of working in Latin America with a stint in Guatemala, followed by a posting to Nicaragua (1995 to 1997), where she managed USAID programs.


Recalled to Washington in 1993, Ayalde served as deputy director for the Office of Central American Affairs in the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, rising to director in 1995.


Ayalde returned to Central America to serve as deputy mission director for USAID in Nicaragua from 1997 to 1999. She then served two consecutive stints as a USAID mission director, first in Bolivia from 1999 to 2005, and then in Colombia from 2005 to 2008.


Ayalde left USAID in 2008 to serve as ambassador to Paraguay from June 2008 to 2011, returning to Washington to serve as deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, beginning July 16, 2012.


Ayalde is married and has two daughters. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and has a working knowledge of French.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Global Narcotics Affairs

EUA nomeiam filha de colombiano como nova embaixadora no Brasil (by Eliane Cantanhêde, Folha) (in Portuguese)


Leave a comment