Juan Cruz joined CSIS in May 2019. Prior to that, he had served in the National Security Council, a position he assumed in May 2017. As the special assistant to the President and senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs, he drove the interagency decisionmaking process for the region; prepared the president for interactions with foreign leaders; and worked with international partners to foster a shared understanding of key issues. He was instrumental in defining the administration’s approach to the Venezuelan crisis, the administration’s Cuba policy, and furthering the overall Western Hemisphere strategy. Mr. Cruz retired from the U.S. government in 2019 after serving for more than 30 years. His assignments include those overseas with the Department of State in various capacities, including high-level leadership positions within the Western Hemisphere. Mr. Cruz’s deep understanding of the Latin American region was honed through overseas postings in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. While in Colombia, Mr. Cruz fostered historic successes against drug cartels and guerrilla insurgencies. Throughout his government service, Mr. Cruz has led teams to support, execute, and shape U.S. foreign policy and national security. Mr. Cruz speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, a master’s degree in international public policy from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and an executive leadership certification from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He also studied at the Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.