President Laura Chinchilla and Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. Selected as New Co-Chairs of the Inter-American Dialogue

During a meeting of the Dialogue’s Board of Directors on October 30, the Board unanimously voted for President Chinchilla and Ambassador Shannon to replace Ambassador Carla Hills and President Ernesto Zedillo.

November 1, 2018
Contact: Joan Caivano

Washington, DC– The Inter-American Dialogue’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that at its meeting on October 30, 2018 it voted unanimously to appoint President Laura Chinchilla and Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. as the new Latin American and US co-chairs of the Board. Shannon and Chinchilla will replace Ambassador Carla Hills and President Ernesto Zedillo, the outgoing co-chairs.

“I am extremely grateful for Ambassador Hills’ and President Zedillo’s leadership throughout the years,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue. “During their tenure the Dialogue achieved critical milestones; they leave our organization stronger and better prepared to fulfill its mission and confront major hemispheric challenges.”

President Chinchilla and Ambassador Shannon bring more than 60 years of combined public policy experience to their role as co-chairs. Shannon joined the United States Foreign Service in 1984, and since then has served in embassies around the world. Most recently he served as undersecretary of state for political affairs. Laura Chinchilla served as the 46th president of Costa Rica from 2010-2014, the first woman president of her country. Before that she was vice president and minister of justice from 2006-2008 and from 2002-2006 she served in the National Assembly.

“We are very honored to have been chosen as the new co-chairs of such a prestigious institution,” said the Dialogue’s new co-chairs. “We look forward to working with Michael and the Dialogue’s leadership to continue building on the great legacy left by Carla Hills and Ernesto Zedillo.”

The new co-chairs of the Dialogue will begin their tenure in January 2019.

For inquiries about the Board and the new co-chairs contact Joan Caivano at

About the Inter-American Dialogue

The Inter-American Dialogue is the leading US center for policy analysis, exchange, and communication on Western Hemisphere affairs, dedicated to advancing a regional agenda of democratic governance, prosperity, and social equity. Its mission is to bring together public and private leaders from around the world to debate the most critical issues facing the Americas and find cooperative solutions to common challenges.

Laura Chinchilla was president of Costa Rica from 2010 to 2014. She previously served as vice president and minister of justice under Óscar Arias and as a member of the National Assembly from 2002 to 2006. Chinchilla has been a member of the Inter-American Dialogue since 2014. Chinchilla graduated from the University of Costa Rica and received her master’s in public policy from Georgetown University. Prior to entering politics, Chinchilla worked as an NGO consultant in Latin America and Africa, specializing in judicial reform and public security issues.

Tom Shannon spent over 30 years in the foreign service, most recently as under-secretary of state for political affairs in the US Department of State from 2016-2018. He previously served as counselor and senior advisor to the secretary following a four-year term as US ambassador to Brazil. Shannon served as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs from 2005-2009 and as special assistant to the president and senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council from 2003 to 2005, among other senior roles across the region.