Kezia McKeague

KeziaI pursued my interests in Latin America and U.S. foreign policy through a double major in Political Science and Spanish.  I also took advantage of Wake Forest’s study-abroad opportunities, from a program in Havana (my mother’s hometown and the inspiration for my passion for all things Cuban) to a semester in Venice and an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid.  Most importantly, I undertook an independent research project in Buenos Aires with the support of a Richter grant.  In 2005, I returned to Argentina for my last semester as an exchange student at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, which is known for its excellence in the social sciences.  Buenos Aires is a difficult city to leave; those initial three months turned into three wonderful and very formative years.  I became a research associate at a local think tank, the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL), and enrolled in the master’s program in International Studies at Di Tella.  Following a brief stint in New York for an internship at the United Nations Secretariat, I completed the degree at Sciences Po in Paris.

These peregrinations ultimately led me to Washington, DC.  From 2008 to 2011, I was a Legislative Assistant on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where I contributed to multiple staff studies that helped shape debate on U.S. policy towards Latin America.  I also enjoyed a unique vantage point for learning the mechanics of Congress and observing the role of the legislative branch in foreign policymaking.  In March of 2011, the Council of the Americas recruited me to be Director of Government Relations in the Washington office.  Based in New York since its founding by David Rockefeller in 1965, the Council is a cross between a think tank and a business association.  Its membership consists of leading international companies across a range of sectors, with a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.  As the organization’s chief liaison to the U.S. government and the diplomatic community, I led our advocacy efforts in support of congressional passage of the free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.  I continue to manage the annual Washington Conference on the Americas, co-sponsored with the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, as well as the activities of the Council’s Trade Advisory Group.  Since 2012, I have worked with Ambassador John Negroponte, Chairman of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, on an initiative focused on fostering a public-private dialogue around improving management of the U.S.-Mexico border and highlighting the economic opportunities in the bilateral relationship.  I also write on occasion for the blog of the Americas Quarterly.

Over the last three years, I have been honored to serve on the Reynolds Scholarship Committee.  The trips back to campus have reinforced the depth of my gratitude to Wake Forest’s faculty and administration, particularly the Politics and Romance Languages departments. [posted July 2013]