About the group

Since its founding in 2017, the Advisory Group has been co-chaired by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This year, upon Senator Blunt’s retirement, Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) assumes the honorary chairmanship alongside Senator Cardin.

Senators Cardin and Hagerty are both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where, in addition to other assignments, Senator Cardin serves as Chairman and Senator Hagerty as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on State Department & USAID Management, International Operations, & Bilateral International Development. The two senators bring additional regional and global expertise to their honorary co-chairmanship: Senator Cardin is a member of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, & Global Women’s Issues; and Senator Hagerty is a member of the Subcommittee on East Asia, The Pacific, & International Cybersecurity Policy.

In 2023-2024, the Advisory Group will provide a concrete plan on how to navigate the potential changes in US-Colombia relations. A new administration in Colombia represents a unique opportunity to work with an increasingly diverse set of actors in the public, private, and civil society sectors to deepen US-Colombia economic and diplomatic ties. The Advisory Group will advance concrete recommendations where the United States and Colombia can advance long-lasting peace and socio-economic prosperity that mutually benefits each country.

Key areas of focus

To achieve this goal, the Advisory Group will prioritize four key areas of focus, each of which is key to the future of US-Colombia and to US interests across the region more broadly:

Deepening democratic participation, peacebuilding efforts, and institutional resilience

As Colombia looks to consolidate peace and establish the rule of law in the areas hardest hit by its armed conflict, it is vital to deepen the country’s democracy by ensuring wider civic participation and institutional resilience. Colombia made important commitments in its 2016 peace agreement meant to ensure representation of and oversight by indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in the implementation of the accord and should be encouraged to stand by them. There are opportunities for bilateral coordination in order to address challenges to peacebuilding, including by tackling social inequality and political polarization, and moving forward it is vital to ensure equal access to justice and opportunities for members of marginalized and underserved communities. Ultimately Colombia can and should build from strength, leveraging its commitment to democratic norms in order to ensure that the benefits of democracy are enjoyed by all.

Accelerating a democratic solution to Venezuela’s crisis through multilateral coordination

As a neighboring country and host of more than two million Venezuelan migrants and refugees, Colombia is well-positioned to ensure that Venezuela’s crisis remains a priority for the international community. By promoting multilateral coordination, Colombia can leverage existing diplomatic and commercial relations with Venezuela while also working with other countries to encourage the restoration of its democratic institutions. This is vital for regional stability and to deter US global rivals who see Venezuela as a way to deepen their influence in the rest of the region. A stable and democratic Venezuela would also benefit Colombia’s economy by improving trade and investment opportunities.

Advancing drug policy and security cooperation while promoting best practices and alternative sustainable development

The United States and Colombia are evaluating new, more effective ways to address the problems arising from the supply and demand for illicit drugs. These dynamics, as well as a lack of state presence and the absence of economic alternatives in many parts of rural Colombia, have created longstanding challenges. Addressing this reality will require bilateral coordination in support of sustained progress in the implementation of the peace accords as well as robust investment in rural development, citizen security, and access to justice.

Fostering inclusive economic growth and prosperity

The United States is a key trading partner for Colombia and the current Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) has helped to position Colombia as a stable and predictable investment environment for US companies seeking to nearshore their supply chains. Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce has identified a number of US companies with an interest in nearshoring to Colombia, particularly in the pharmaceutical, petrochemical, information technologies, and fashion sectors. The challenge will be to ensure that possible opportunities to deepen bilateral trade and investment can withstand economic transformations in Colombia, new outreach by China, and can serve as a catalyst to address social inequality in Colombia, in both rural and urban areas.

Impact goals

Our impact goals are clear—we aim to broaden understanding of bilateral issues among key constituencies in Colombia, the United States, and across the Western Hemisphere. In doing so we hope to build consensus among key stakeholders, provide innovative recommendations, and move the needle on critical discussions regarding US-Colombia relations by shaping high-level policy conversations.

We are proud to build on the work of the Atlantic Council’s 2021 US-Colombia Task Force Plan for Post-Covid Recovery and the 2019 US-Colombia Task Force Report on Untapped Potential, which laid the groundwork for strengthened US-Colombia cooperation and provided a roadmap for a modernized bilateral agenda.


Members of the US-Colombia Advisory Group

About the members

Cynthia J. Arnson
Cynthia J. Arnson is a distinguished fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center Scholars and former director of its Latin American Program. She is a widely recognized expert on Latin American politics and international relations, including US policy in the Western Hemisphere. She has testified multiple times on Colombia and Venezuela before committees of the US Congress. A former policy aide, Arnson also held positions at Human Rights Watch and in academia. 

Minister Carolina Barco
Amb. Carolina Barco formerly served as Colombia’s foreign minister from 2002 to 2006, Colombia’s ambassador to the United States from 2006 to 2010, and ambassador to Spain from 2019 to 2020. Barco was a consultant for eight years with the Inter-American Development Bank.

Rand Beers
Rand Beers is the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Before becoming the Acting Secretary, Beers concurrently served as the Department’s Counterterrorism Coordinator.  Beers served on the National Security Council Staff under four Presidents as Director for Counter-terrorism and Director for Peacekeeping  Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism. 

Ambassador William Brownfield
William Brownfield is a career ambassador for the US Foreign Service. He previously served as the assistant secretary for drugs and law enforcement during the last seven years of his diplomatic career. Amb. Brownfield was US ambassador to Chile, Venezuela, and Colombia, and has received the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award and the Presidential Performance Award three times each. He has been a non-resident senior advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Americas Program since 2018.

Senator Ben Cardin
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has represented Maryland in the US Senate since 2007 and before that in the US House of Representatives. He works to integrate good governance, transparency and respect for human rights in American foreign policy. Cardin is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Enrique Carrizosa
Enrique Carrizosa is the Chairman of the Board of IC Holdings. Their business invests and operates in a multitude of sectors including real estate development, power generation, technology, financial services, and the food industry. Carrizosa has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. He lives in Bogotá with his family. 

Andrés Cadena
Andrés Cadena leads McKinsey’s Strategy & Corporate Finance, Financial Services, and Public Sector Practices in Latin America and heads the McKinsey Center for Government in the region. He directs the firm’s work in Latin America on sustainable cities and economic development. Since joining McKinsey, Cadena has led more than 250 client projects, with a focus on national and local governments, multilateral organizations, financial institutions, and consumer-goods companies. Cadena serves on the boards of multiple nonprofit organizations that focus on education, economic development, and social services in Colombia.  

Representative Dan Crenshaw
Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has represented Texas’ second congressional district since 2018. In Congress, he serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has the broadest jurisdiction of any legislative committee. Dan serves on the Health Subcommittee and the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee. Crenshaw also serves on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Rosario Córdoba
Rosario Córdoba is the president of Grupo Argos’ board of directors and served as president of the Private Competitiveness Council until July 2021. Previously, she worked at Fedesarrollo as an editor and Coyuntura Económica as an associate researcher. She was part of the Commission of Experts for Equity and Tax Competitiveness.

Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky
Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, is a foreign policy expert and former diplomat specializing in national security affairs, she is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Vice Chair of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. She brings over 30 years of government and international experience across senior levels of diplomacy, business, and defense. She was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Thomson Reuters and held the Distinguished National Security Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy. Her high-level government positions include Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, President’s Envoy to Northern Ireland, National Security Council Director of European and Soviet Affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy, Dobriansky also served on the Defense Policy Board, the Secretary of State’s Foreign Policy Board, and as Chair of ExIm Bank’s Council on China Competition. She has a BSFS summa cum laude from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an MA and Ph.D. in Soviet political/military affairs from Harvard University. She has received high-level international recognition from the governments of Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, and Colombia.

Stephen Donehoo
Stephen Donehoo leads the McLarty Associates’ work in Northern Latin America. He is also the firm’s lead on intelligence, national security, and defense related issues. He is a former military intelligence officer specializing in Latin America who provided strategic policy advice on the region while serving at the White House, Office of the Secretary of Defense and the US Southern Command. Donehoo was raised in Colombia, has lived in Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador.  

Representative Ruben Gallego
Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) has represented Arizona’s seventh district in the US House of Representatives since 2014. Gallego is a Marine Corps combat veteran, a lifelong community leader, and the son of Hispanic immigrants. Representative Gallego has largely focused on U.S. national security in his time in Washington. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he has led the response to Russia’s attack on NATO, maintaining the European Deterrence Initiative following President Trump’s efforts to cut the vital defense program. Gallego is also a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Senator Bill Hagerty
Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) was elected to the United States Senate in 2020 and proudly represents the great state of Tennessee. He is a member of the following US Senate Committees: Appropriations; Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs; Foreign Relations; and Rules & Administration. Prior to his election to the US Senate, Hagerty served as the US Ambassador to Japan, the world’s third-largest economy and America’s closest ally in the region.

Steve Hege
Steve Hege is the Country Director for the US Institute of Peace based in Bogotá where he leads an office of ten senior experts contributing to security and intelligence reforms, negotiations with armed groups, drug policy innovations, and restorative justice processes. He has worked in Colombia at multiple stages in his career, totaling over a decade since 2002. Steve has contributed extensively as a technical advisor to negotiations processes in multiple other contexts, including Myanmar, Lebanon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he also served as the Coordinator of the UN Group of Experts from 2010 to 2012 leading investigations into conflict financing and human rights violations for the Security Council. He holds graduate degrees from Columbia University (New York), Sciences-Po (Paris), and Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá).

Muni Jensen
Muni Jensen is a political analyst and senior advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group-Dentons Global Advisors. She previously worked at the Colombian Embassy in Washington, D.C., focusing on public affairs, trade and congressional affairs, and press. She has worked at Cali Chamber of Commerce division of International Trade and as vice president for market intelligence of Proexport Colombia in Bogotá. She received an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University.  

Josefina Klinger
Josefina Klinger is an Afro-Colombian environmentalist and human rights defender. She was recognized by the US Department of State as a recipient of the International Women’s Courage Prize for advancing peace, equality, and human rights in Colombia’s Chocó region. Klinger is the director and one of the founders of Mano Cambiada, which seeks to empower communities to manage and protect local ecosystems through sustainable ecotourism on Colombia’s Pacific Coast. Klinger works to develop socioeconomic initiatives that combine environmental sustainability and conservation with Afro-Colombian and indigenous cultural identity. In 2015, she received a Cafam Woman Award for her efforts to advance labor equality and economic opportunity in her birthplace of Nuquí.

Minister Maria Claudia Lacouture
Maria Claudia Lacouture is the executive director of the Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce and president of Alianza de Asociaciones y Gremios (Aliadas). Lacouture previously served as the minister of commerce, industry, and tourism of Colombia, following her position as president of ProColombia from 2010 to 2016. Lacouture is a columnist at the La República newspaper.

Maria Victoria Llorente
María Victoria Llorente is executive director of Fundación Ideas para la Paz (FIP). Before joining FIP in 2007, she worked as an associate researcher of the Center for Studies on Economic Development at the Universidad de Los Andes from 1998 to 2006, where she coordinated the Public Peace Studies Group, which conducted multiple research projects on violence, security and justice in Colombia. She has also worked as a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Colombian National Police Force and the Office of the Mayor of Bogotá on several projects related to citizen security policies, prevention of juvenile delinquency, and police reform. She earned a political science degree from the Universidad de Los Andes. 

The Hon. Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, III
Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty has been chairman and co-founder of McLarty Associates since its establishment in 1998 and serves as chairman of the McLarty Companies. He previously was President William J. Clinton’s chief of staff, where he helped enact the North American Free Trade Agreement. McLarty was appointed as special envoy for the Americas in 1997.

Bruce Mac Master
Bruce Mac Master is the president of Colombia’s National Business Association (ANDI). Prior to this role, he served as the first director of the Social Prosperity Department of Colombia. Mac Master was also the vice minister of finance in Colombia, and mayor of Cartagena. He has been an investment banker for more than 20 Years at Inverlink which is also the first Colombian investment bank.  

Jason Marczak
Jason Marczak is senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, which he joined in 2013 to launch the center. Marczak has over twenty years of expertise in regional economics, politics, and development, working with policymakers and private-sector executives to shape public policy. Since 2016, Marczak is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He was previously director of policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas,
cofounder and senior editor of Americas Quarterly magazine, and has held positions in the US Congress. Marczak has testified on US-Colombia relations in the US Senate.

Angélica Mayolo
Angélica Mayolo is the former Minister of Culture of Colombia. She has held numerous other roles in public service in Colombia, having formerly served as Executive President of the Chamber of Commerce in Buenaventura, and the Secretary of Economic Development in the Mayor’s Office of Cali. Mayolo specializes in economic development, cultural and creative industries, sustainability, international cooperation, and high-impact projects in vulnerable populations. Mayolo is currently a MIT MLK fellow and a consultant for the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative where she leads the Afro-Interamerican Forum on Climate Change, an international network that works to highlight the critical role of Afro-descendant populations in global climate action.

Ambassador P. Michael McKinley
Amb. Michael McKinley is a former US ambassador to Colombia, Afghanistan, Brazil, and Peru. As ambassador to Colombia, McKinley helped finalize the entry into force of the bilateral free trade agreement between the United States and Colombia and provided support for Colombia’s peace negotiations. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the Financial Times, and Politico. McKinley is a non-resident senior advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Americas Program. 

Representative Gregory Meeks
Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY) has been the congressional representative for New York’s 5th District since 1998 and is the first Black member of Congress to serve as chair of the House Foreign A-airs Committee. He is also a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions.

Alejandro Mesa
Alejandro Mesa has been a partner at Baker McKenzie since 2008. Since joining Baker McKenzie in 1995, he has focused on the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors. He is a highly regarded practitioner in project finance transactions, being recognized for his advisory and representation work for American and European companies in the Colombian market. Due to his experience working with Colombian government entities, he has advised major clients seeking to participate in government procurement procedures or to structure distribution channels in Colombia. He obtained his law degree from Universidad de Los Andes.

Ambassador Roger Noriega
Ambassador Roger Noriega has more than three decades of public policy experience focusing on U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere.  After a 10-year career on Capitol Hill, he was appointed by President Bush to senior State Department posts. As U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Noriega managed a 3,000-person team in Washington and 50 diplomatic posts to design and implement political and economic strategies in Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  Previously, he served as U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States. On Capitol Hill, Noriega counseled Congressional leaders on all aspects of U.S. interests in the Americas and helped draft historic legislation including blueprints to hasten democracy such as Plan Colombia, and advance anti-drug efforts.  

Juan Esteban Orduz
Juan Esteban Orduz was appointed president of the Colombian Coffee Federation in New York, in August of 2003, after ending a year as fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. Previously, he served as minister plenipotentiary and deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of Colombia to the United States in Washington, D.C. where he was deeply involved in the design and implementation of Plan Colombia and the extension of trade preferences.  An attorney and specialist in finance, he has been legal vice president of Cementos Mexicanos Cemex, in Colombia, and associate attorney at Consultores Jurídicos y Económicos, working on trade and foreign investment issues in Colombia. 

Ambassador Mariana Pacheco
Ambassador Mariana Pacheco served as an Ambassador of Colombia in India, with concurrent responsibilities in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Prior to this role, she held the position of Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Colombia in Washington. Pacheco played a key role in Plan Colombia’s strengthening and in launching the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) while leading the Colombian Trade Office in Washington. Mariana’s career spans both the public and private sectors working at Postobon, Coltabaco, Chemonics International, Pan American and the Organization of American States.

Ambassador Anne Patterson
Ambassador Patterson was the assistant secretary for Near Eastern and North African Affairs at the Department of State (2013-2017) before being appointed to the Dow Jones Special Committee in April 2018. She served as US ambassador to Egypt, Pakistan, Colombia, and El Salvador. Patterson also served as assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. She is currently a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale and a member of the Commission on National Defense Strategy.   

Kristie Pellecchia
Kristie Pellecchia is the founder and principal at Pellecchia International, a relationship-focused financial advisory firm that offers bespoke capital solutions and strategic consulting on a global basis, with a particular focus on the Latin American region. She previously led the Western Hemisphere portfolio for the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). Before joining the DFC, Pellecchia spent 16 years at multinational financial institutions with a focus on the Americas, most recently as managing director at SMBC and previously as director at BNP Paribas. She has an MBA in finance from the Wharton School and a BS in industrial engineering from Lehigh University.

Alejandro Santo Domingo
Alejandro Santo Domingo is the president of Grupo Santo Domingo. He also serves as senior managing director at Quadrant Capital Advisors in New York City. Santo Domingo is a member of the board of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller Plc. Santo Domingo is chairman of the board of Bavaria S.A. in Colombia and Valorem, a company which manages a diverse portfolio of industrial and media assets in Latin America. He is a member of Harvard University’s Global Advisory Council (GAC). Santo Domingo is a member of the board of trustees of the Mount Sinai Health System.

Michael Shifter
Michael Shifter is a senior fellow and the former president of the Inter-American Dialogue. Shifter held senior positions at the Dialogue for nearly three decades. Prior to joining the Dialogue, Shifter directed the Latin American and Caribbean program at the National Endowment for Democracy and, before that, the Ford Foundation’s governance and human rights program in the Andean region and Southern Cone, where he was based, first, in Lima, Peru and then in Santiago, Chile. Since 1993, Shifter has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he teaches Latin American politics.  

Angela Maria Tafur
Angela Maria Tafur is the executive director of the Association for Private Capital Investment in Latin America (LAVCA). She is a founding member and chair of the board of Give to Colombia (G2C), a US-based philanthropic platform that has channeled more than $26 million to Colombia and improved the lives of more than 3 million people. Tafur is also a trustee of G2C UK, a charity based in the United Kingdom that seeks to support sustainable projects in Colombia and Latin America, and a trustee for the Nature Conservancy.  

Mabel Gisela Torres
Mabel Torres is the former Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation of Colombia. With over 25 years of career in natural sciences research, she has integrated it with the development of territories with vulnerable populations, based on environmental sustainability and ancestral knowledge. In 2012, she led the creation of Bioinnova, which has strengthened and scaled over 30 technology-based ventures. Torres is also the founder of Selvaceútica, a company that utilizes local biodiversity inputs and ancestral knowledge for the development of products with added value in Biocosmetics and Phytopharmaceuticals.

Arturo Valenzuela
Dr. Arturo Valenzuela is professor emeritus of government at Georgetown University. An authority on the consolidation and breakdown of democracy, Latin American politics, and U.S. Latin American relations, he served as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the first Obama Administration. In Clinton’s second term, he was senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council, where he directed the formulation and execution of Plan Colombia. Previously, he was responsible for US –Mexican relations at the Department of State. A member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council of Foreign Relations, he serves on the boards of several international non-profits. 

Jorge Mario Velásquez
Jorge Mario Velásquez is the president and CEO of Grupo Argos, an infrastructure holding company in the Americas. Prior to this role, he served as president of Cementos Argos, a leading company in the cement business in Colombia. Since arriving at Argos in 1986, Velásquez has held various positions at Cementos Argos including vice president of logistics of Argos, general manager of Cementos del Nare, president of Cemetos Paz del Rio, and vice president for the Caribbean region. He is currently a senior member of the board of directors of Cementos Argos, Celsia, Odinsa, Fundación Grupo Argos, the National Association of Entrepreneurs, and others.

US-Colombia Advisory Group Coordinators

The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center broadens understanding of regional transformations and delivers constructive, results-oriented solutions to inform how the public and private sectors can advance hemispheric prosperity.

Photo Credit: Martin Falbisoner