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Press Releases 2009

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

May 13, 2009

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts: María Otero, Under Secretary of Global Affairs, Department of State; and Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State. 

President Obama said, "It gives me great confidence that these talented individuals will be joining my administration as we work to rebuild our economy, preserve our environment and keep our nation safe. Their experience and dedication will be of great value to the American people, and I look forward to working with these individuals in the coming months and years."

María Otero, Nominee for Under Secretary of Global Affairs, Department of State

María Otero, born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia, is president and CEO of ACCION International, a pioneer and leader in microfinance working in 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and in the United States. Under Otero’s tenure as CEO, ACCION’s network has expanded its reach from serving 460,000 people to over 3.7 million, through a combined portfolio that has grown from $274 million to nearly $3.6 billion. She has become a leading voice on sustainable microfinance, publishing extensively on the subject and speaking throughout the world on microfinance, women’s issues and poverty alleviation. Prior to her work with ACCION, Otero served for five years at the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA). Otero was also the Economist for Latin America for the Women in Development office of USAID. Otero chairs the board of ACCION Investments, a $50 million microfinance investment company and serves on the boards of BancoSol; the Calvert Foundation; BRAC of Bangladesh, one of the world’s largest NGOs; and the Public Welfare Foundation. In June 2006, Otero was appointed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the UN Advisors Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors, and in 2007 was named to the Advisory Councils of the Inter-American Foundation and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Otero holds an M.A. in literature from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in international relations from Johns Hopkins’ Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), in Washington, D.C. Since 1997, she has also served as an adjunct professor at SAIS.

Arturo Valenzuela, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State,

Dr. Arturo Valenzuela is Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is a specialist on the origins and consolidation of democracy; the institutional dimensions of democratic governance; Latin American politics; and U.S.-Latin American relations. Prior to joining the Georgetown faculty he was Professor of Political Science and Director of the Council on Latin American Studies at Duke University. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University, the University of Sussex, the University of Florence (Italy) and the Catholic University of Chile. During the Clinton administration, Valenzuela served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs in the United States Department of State, where his primary responsibility was United States foreign policy towards Mexico. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he has been listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Higher Education and has served on the editorial boards of leading academic journals. For his diplomatic contributions he has been honored with the National Order of the Southern Cross by the government of Brazil and the Order of Boyacá by the government of Colombia. Valenzuela has served on the board of directors of Drew University, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the advisory boards of America’s Watch and the Institut des Amériques in Paris. He holds a Doctorate and a Master’s degree in Political Science from Columbia University, and a B.A. summa cum laude in Political Science and Religion from Drew University.