Ambassador Ayalde recently retired from the U.S. Foreign Service following a distinguished 38-year career with assignments in Washington, D.C. and abroad. She dedicated her diplomatic career to foreign affairs, development, defense, and security in Latin America and the Caribbean. Most recently, Ambassador Ayalde served as the civilian deputy to the commander and foreign policy advisor at the United States Southern Command in Miami until September 2019. She served as the U.S. ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil (2013-2016). Prior to this appointment she served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs in the Department of State. She was also the senior deputy assistant administrator for the Latin American and Caribbean Bureau for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Following her assignment as USAID mission director in Colombia, where she had responsibility for the development assistance portfolio under Plan Colombia, she was confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Paraguay. She also held assignments in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Bolivia with USAID. Ambassador Ayalde is a member of Southern Command’s Advisory Group and the Brazil Institute of the Wilson Center. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including USAID’s Distinguished Career Award, the Department of State’s Distinguished Service Honor Award, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the highest award given to a civilian by the Department of Defense. She has also been honored with recognitions by the governments in the countries she served in, including the Order of San Carlos by the Government of Colombia, the Order for Gran Cruz by the Government of Paraguay, and several recognitions by the Government of Brazil. Ambassador Ayalde earned her B.A. from the School of International Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. and a M.P.H. from Tulane University in Louisiana. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and has a working knowledge of French.