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US Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Speaks at Kellogg on "Democracy and Human Development"

Elizabeth Rankin • October 15, 2011

Maria OteroMaria Otero, the US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, will speak at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies on Thursday, October 13. Reporting to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Otero is one of the nation’s foremost foreign relations officials, with a portfolio that includes issues as diverse as human trafficking and global water security.

Sworn in as under secretary in August 2009, Otero oversees and coordinates US foreign relations on a variety of global issues, including democracy, human rights, and labor; environment, oceans, health and science; population, refugees, and migration; and monitoring and combating trafficking in persons. She also serves as the special coordinator for Tibetan issues.

Four years ago, Otero was awarded the 2007 Notre Dame Prize for Distinguished Public Service in Latin America for her work to foster economic opportunity for the poor. Administered by the Kellogg Institute, the Prize recognizes the efforts of visionary leaders to enhance the region’s welfare.

At the time, she was the president and CEO of ACCION International, a pioneer in microfinance working in 25 countries around the globe. She has been a leading voice on sustainable microfinance, publishing extensively on the subject and speaking throughout the world on microfinance, women’s issues, and poverty alleviation.

Born and raised until she was 12 in Bolivia, Otero is currently the highest-ranking Hispanic official at the State Department, and the first Latina under secretary in its history. In 2005, Newsweek named her one of the 20 most influential women in the United States. Her ties to the University are long-standing: her father, Rene Otero Calderón, attended law school at Notre Dame in the 1940s.

In 2006, Otero was appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the UN Advisors Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors. She has chaired the board of Bread for the World, and served on the boards of the Calvert Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, and BRAC Holding of Bangladesh. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Contacts: Elizabeth Rankin, Kellogg Institute, 574-631-9184,; or Therese Hanlon, Kellogg Institute, 574-631-4150,




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The Kellogg Institute promotes scholarship, learning, and linkages that address issues of critical importance to our world. At the center of our interdisciplinary community’s work are two key themes: democratization and human development. 

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