Insights@Meridian featuring His Excellency Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS)


Event Details

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Amidst tumultuous times in the Americas, the 54th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) is set to convene in Asunción, Paraguay from June 26-28, 2024, under the theme of "Integration and Security for the Sustainable Development of the Region." This gathering assumes critical importance against a backdrop of escalating chaos and deadly gang violence in Haiti, mounting ESG challenges in the critical mineral mining sector, and a whirlwind of 11 national elections slated throughout the western hemisphere this year.

Against this backdrop of evolving regional dynamics and transformative opportunities, Meridian is honored to host His Excellency Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, for an insightful preview of the forthcoming General Assembly. Join us for a frank preview and discussion as Secretary General Almagro unveils his vision for the final year of his term, offering invaluable insights into strategic initiatives aimed at strengthening democracy, defending human rights, enhancing multidimensional security, and advancing integral development across the Americas. From bolstering democratic governance and safeguarding human rights to confronting transnational challenges and fortifying economic resilience, this event promises an illuminating exploration of the key priorities and agenda items that will shape regional discourse and drive hemispheric cooperation and solidarity. 


8:30 AM: Registration and Networking Breakfast

9:00 AM: Welcome Remarks

Speaker: Natalie Jones, Executive Vice President, Meridian International Center

Host Remarks

  • Speaker: Nicole Isaac, Vice President, Global Public Policy for Government Affairs, Cisco

Fireside Chat

  • Speaker: His Excellency Luis Almagro, SecretaryGeneral, Organization of American States
  • Moderator:María Renee Barillas, Anchor, Telemundo 44

Audience Q&A

10:00 AM: Program Concludes

Program Speakers

His Excellency Luis Almagro
Secretary General, Organization of American States

His Excellenvy Luis Almagro was re-elected for a second term as Secretary General of the OAS on March 20, 2020. He was first elected as Secretary General of the OAS on March 18, 2015, with the support of 33 of the 34 member states and one abstention. Upon taking up the leadership of the OAS, he announced that the central theme of his administration would be “more rights for more people” and that he would work “to be the voice of the voiceless.” His priority at the helm of the General Secretariat is to put the Organization in touch with people’s needs and the new realities in the Hemisphere, as well as helping to ensure greater democracy, more rights, more security, and more development and prosperity for all. As Secretary General, Almagro has prioritized defense of democracy and human rights in his daily work and has not hesitated to speak out when democracy and human rights are being trampled, as in the case of Venezuela, where he pressed for the enforcement of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC), the “Constitution of the Americas,” as he calls it. He is the first OAS Secretary General to have invoked Article 20 of the IADC.

Pursuing a type of multilateral diplomacy predicated on principles, Almagro has also played an instrumental role in the search for solutions to the crisis in Nicaragua; he has put the struggle to restore democracy in Cuba at the very top of the regional agenda; he has increased OAS support for the Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP) in Colombia; he drove the creation of the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), the first OAS mission of its kind; and he reinvigorated and expanded the OAS electoral observation missions, with the first-time deployment of missions in such countries as the USA and Brazil. Almagro also played a key role in ensuring elections in Haiti, mediated in the migrant crisis between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and deepened diplomatic efforts in the territorial differendum between Belize and Guatemala in relation to the Adjacency Zone, among other initiatives. A career diplomat, he has extensive regional and international experience. Almagro was his country’s foreign minister from March 1, 2010 to March 1, 2015. Almagro was also ambassador to China for three years, after occupying senior diplomatic posts in his country’s foreign ministry and at its embassies in Germany and Iran. In addition, he was elected as a senator in Uruguay’s national elections in October 2014. Almagro is a lawyer by profession, is married to Luisa Fernanda Marín and has seven children. Apart from Spanish, he speaks English and French.

María Renée Barillas
Telemundo 44 Washington DC

María Renée Barillas is an anchor and reporter for Telemundo 44 in Washington DC. Barillas fell in love with the impact of an audiovisual story more than 20 years ago and has made it her life passion to inspire, share, and create opportunities for people who find it hard to express their own voice. Barillas’ body of work spans a wide spectrum of storytelling including people struggling with homelessness to the powerful political elite. She has anchored unscripted breaking news broadcasts and covered events nationally and internationally including locations such as Guatemala, Los Angeles, Dallas and now Washington D.C.

Nicole Isaac
Vice President, Global Public Policy for Government Affairs, Cisco

As Vice President of Global Public Policy for Government Affairs, Nicole Isaac leads a team of experts that drive Cisco’s policy agenda to bolster ICT adoption around the world and to enable Cisco’s purpose to power an inclusive future for all. Prior to joining Cisco, Isaac spent more than 25 years in the government, corporate, legal, and nonprofit sectors. In addition to senior roles at Google, Meta, and LinkedIn, her background in government is wide-ranging. After beginning her career as counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives, she became a foreign law clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa before joining the office of U.S. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) as floor counsel. For five years of the Obama administration, Isaac was the deputy director for legislative affairs to then-Vice President Joe Biden and later served as a special assistant to President Barack Obama in the White House’s Office of Legislative Affairs. Passionate about empowering others, Nicole was the founder and CEO of Code the Streets, Inc.—a nonprofit organization designed to increase access to educational and mentoring resources for inner-city youth through technology. She has also been a trustee with World Learning Inc. and a board member of the Joseph R. Biden Foundation. She was recently appointed to serve as a commissioner to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

Natalie Jones
Executive Vice President, Meridian International Center

Natalie Jones serves as Executive Vice President of Meridian where she oversees Meridian’s three Centers: Global Leadership, Diplomacy and Culture and cultivates strategic philanthropic and programmatic partnerships for the organization. Since joining Meridian in June 2017 as Senior Vice President for External Affairs and Diplomatic Engagement, Jones has driven programmatic and financial organizational growth by spearheading the development of new initiatives including the Meridian Council, the Center for Diplomatic Engagement, DiplomacyRISE and Culturefix.

Prior, she served as Deputy Chief of Protocol of the United States. Throughout her tenure at the U.S. Department of State, Jones worked with over 100 foreign governments and delegations on their visits to the United States and traveled with the President, Vice President and Secretary of State to advise on protocol and logistical considerations of overseas trips. Before being promoted to Deputy Chief of Protocol in July 2011, she served as Assistant Chief of Protocol for Ceremonials from April 2009 – July 2011 where she oversaw the planning of all official and ceremonial events hosted by the Secretary of State. Jones joined the U.S Department of State with six years of fundraising and development experience. She raised millions of dollars for political candidates and organizations including the Democratic National Committee (2008, 2004), Secretary Hillary Clinton (2007-2008) and Senator Evan Bayh (2004-2006).


Learn more about the Meridian Center for Diplomatic Engagement

The Meridian Center for Diplomatic Engagement accelerates collaboration between international diplomatic corps and U.S. public and private sector leaders to cooperate on solutions to global economic and security issues. With more than 60 years of close relationships with the diplomatic community, Meridian is uniquely positioned to convene dialogues among leaders across borders, parties, and industries. These conversations are essential in today’s polarized society to achieve consensus and sustainable, mutually-beneficial solutions.

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For a full list of past Meridian Diplomatic Engagement Events, visit