Introducing the Dialogue’s President

photo of Rebecca Bill Chavez

Greetings from our President & CEO
Rebecca Bill Chavez

I’m excited to let you know that last week I joined the Inter-American Dialogue as its new President and CEO.

I am deeply grateful to the Dialogue’s impressive Board of Directors, to Michael Shifter for his leadership as president, the Dialogue’s excellent team, our members who bring insight and energy to the Dialogue, and the broader Dialogue community. Together, these individuals and groups have built an exceptional institution that has been the central meeting place for open, honest, and constructive discussions on hemispheric issues for four decades.

It is truly a privilege and honor (and quite humbling!) to lead an institution with such a strong legacy, reputation, impact, and – most important – future in advancing the interests of our hemisphere. 

As the Dialogue celebrates its 40th anniversary and on the eve of the Summit of the Americas, we have the opportunity to build on the organization’s strong foundation to increase even further its impact as a thought leader and agenda-setter. We are only as strong as our network of supporters, and I want to thank you for engaging with our work and helping us achieve our shared vision and goals.

Message from our Co-Chairs
Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. & President Laura Chinchilla 

We are pleased to announce that the Inter-American Dialogue’s Board of Directors has selected Rebecca Bill Chavez to serve as President and CEO. The decision comes after an extensive search process that yielded a very talented and diverse pool of candidates. 

Rebecca´s intellectual breadth, commitment to and knowledge of the hemisphere, leadership style and vision for the Dialogue, impressed the members of the Board who voted unanimously to appoint her.

Rebecca is a Latin America expert with an accomplished career in both academia and government. She is eager to use her academic credentials combined with her senior level government leadership experience, and relationships, to energize our existing work and elevate it to new horizons. Her ideas, and recognition, on how organizations today must adapt to the changes and challenges ahead aligned with the Board’s vision of the Dialogue as an organization that can expand its presence throughout the Hemisphere.

We are grateful to our search committee for their tireless work, as well as our board members and staff for their excellent input. Lastly, we extend our heartful gratitude to outgoing President Michael Shifter, who has skillfully and successfully guided the Dialogue through the past 12 years of ever-shifting relations across the Americas. Michael leaves the Dialogue in good and capable hands, and we eagerly anticipate the work we can expect from the team under Rebecca’s excellent leadership. 

Rebecca brings a refreshing vision to the Dialogue. As we celebrate the organization’s 40th anniversary, we are thrilled to see what the next chapter holds for the Dialogue and its work.  

More on Rebecca

Dr. Rebecca Bill Chavez is currently a senior fellow in the Inter-American Dialogue’s Rule of Law Program. She is a member of the Truman Center for National Policy Board of Directors, the Leadership Council for Women in National Security (LCWINS) Steering Committee, the Princeton University Institute for Regional and International Studies Advisory Board, and the Foreign Policy for America Advisory Board.

Dr. Chavez served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2013 until 2016 where she prioritized Women, Peace, and Security initiatives, combatting the militarization of law enforcement, and expanding defense institution building programs. Her areas of focus included shaping Defense Department contributions to President Obama’s Central America Strategy, moving the U.S.- Mexico relationship beyond the narrow counternarcotics focus, supporting the Colombian peace process, resetting defense relations with Argentina and Brazil, and establishing a productive dialogue with Cuba on humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Prior to joining the Obama-Biden administration, Dr. Chavez was a tenured professor of political science at the United States Naval Academy where she served on the Admissions Board and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. Her research focused on democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, and she taught a wide variety of comparative politics and international relations courses, including Latin American and Caribbean Politics, Democratization, and United States-Latin America Relations.

Dr. Chavez is the author of The Rule of Law in Nascent Democracies (Stanford University Press). Her work has appeared in edited volumes and scholarly journals, including The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics, Courts in Latin America (Cambridge University Press), Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics and Society, and The Journal of Latin American Studies. Her opinion pieces have been published in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and Defense One

Raised in Austin, Texas, Dr. Chavez received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and her B.A. in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the recipient of multiple academic grants, including a Fulbright Scholarship.

Dr. Chavez lives in Washington, DC with her husband Pablo and their two children, Oscar and Penelope.

Read Rebecca’s full bio here

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Mujeres latinoamericanas lideran la defensa de los DD. HH. del continente (El Espectador)