Madjid Bouguerra became ambassador of Algeria to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015. Ambassador Bouguerra previously served as minister delegate in charge of Maghreb and African affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2013-14), Algeria’s ambassador to Germany (2010-13), secretary-general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2007-09) and ambassador to China (2001-05). He was also Algeria’s ambassador to Niger (1992-97), its ambassador to Zambia (1987-90), counselor at the Algerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York (1981-85) and first secretary at the Algerian Embassy in Tanzania (1978-81). In addition, Ambassador Bouguerra has held various postings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Africa Department, including director general (1997-2001), director (1990-92) and deputy director (1986). Ambassador Bouguerra holds a diploma from the National School of Administration and a degree in economics from the University of Algiers. He speaks Arabic, French, English and intermediate German.
Dorottya Martonffy Nagy assumed the position of trade representative attaché on Oct. 1, replacing Katalin Balogne Csorba.
Geir H. Haarde became ambassador of Iceland to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015. Ambassador Haarde was prime minister of Iceland from 2006 to 2009, the country’s minister for foreign affairs from 2005 to 2006 and its minister of finance from 1998 to 2005. Since 2009, he has worked as independent consultant and speaker. Ambassador Haarde previously served as a long-time member of the Icelandic parliament, the Althingi (1987-2009); chairman (2005-09) and vice chairman (1999-2005) of the Independence Party; member of the International Monetary and Financial Committee of the International Monetary Fund (2002-04); and chairman of the Independence Party’s Parliamentary Group (1991-98). Other postings include chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Althingi (1995-98); president of the Nordic Council (1995); chairman of the Nordic Council’s Conservative Party (1995-97); chairman of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (1995-98); and chairman of the Organizing Committee of the World Championship in Team Handball in Iceland (1995). Ambassador Haarde was also political advisor to the minister of finance (1983-87) and an economist with the Central Bank of Iceland (1977-83). He holds a bachelor’s magna cum laude in economics from Brandeis University, a master’s in economics from the University of Minnesota and a master’s with distinction in international relations from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Born in 1951, Ambassador Haarde is married to Inga Jona Thordardottir and has five children.
Luis Miguel Castilla Rubio became ambassador of Peru to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015, having previously served as minister of economy and finance of Peru from 2011 to 2014 under the administration of President Ollanta Humala. During his tenure, he implemented major reforms to attract foreign direct investment to Peru, spur economic growth, reduce poverty and foster economic and social development. He promoted a series of second-generation reforms in infrastructure public-private partnerships, civil service, fiscal rules, pension system, capital market development, financial inclusion, taxation, government procurement and state modernization, among others. During the past three years, Peru’s credit ratings were upgraded by all major credit rating agencies. Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Castilla held several positions at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, including deputy finance minister (2010-11) and chief of staff (2009). In addition, he has over 15 years of experience at multilateral development banks, including the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C., and the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America in Caracas, where he was chief economist and vice president of public policies and competitiveness (2006-09), acting vice president of development strategies (2005), director of economic research (2003-05) and country economist for Bolivia, Peru and Argentina (1996-2002). He has served as the editor of various publications and book chapters and has taught at Johns Hopkins University and the Universidad del Pacífico in Peru. Ambassador Castilla holds a bachelor’s with honors in economics from McGill University, as well as a master’s and a Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University. He speaks Spanish, English and intermediate French, and is a widow with two daughters.
Djerdj Matkovic became ambassador of Serbia to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015. Ambassador Matkovic, who entered the Foreign Service in 1981, previously served as deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Yugoslavia in Hungary, first counselor at the Embassy of Serbia in Washington, D.C., chief of protocol and director of the Department for North and South America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and, most recently, as foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Born in Subotica in northern Serbia, Ambassador Matkovic to Belgrade in 1971, graduating from the Law Faculty of the University of Belgrade with a degree in international relations.
Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu became ambassador of South Africa to the United States of Feb. 23, 2015. Known as “MJ,” Ambassador Mahlangu’s public and political life started in the late 1960s when he was elected president of the Student Christian Movement, in then Eastern Transvaal. From 1973 to 1976, he served as assistant secretary of the Transvaal United African Teachers Association. Ambassador Mahlangu played a critical role in the processes leading up to the end of apartheid. Between 1991 and 1994, he was a negotiator at the Congress for Democratic South Africa (CODESA) and the Multiparty Negotiation Forum. In 1993, he became the co-chairperson of these bodies, and from 1993 to 1994, he was a member of South Africa’s Transitional Executive Council. After the first democratic elections in 1994, Ambassador Mahlangu joined the National Assembly in the Parliament of South Africa as a representative of the African National Congress. He became a member of the Constitutional Assembly, the body that drafted the constitution. During his tenure with the National Assembly, he also served as chairperson of House Committees. In 2002, Ambassador Mahlangu was elected permanent deputy chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Parliament, becoming chairperson in 2005, a position he held until 2014. Ambassador Mahlangu has represented South Africa in many international platforms, including the United Nations and G20 Speakers Conferences. He was the leader of the South African Parliament’s delegation to the Pan-African Parliament and has served as chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa region) and president of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (international). He is married to Nomaswazi Mahlangu and they have two daughters and three sons.
Sylvana Simson-Hew A. Kee assumed the position of second secretary in August 2014, having previously served as the chief of protocol to the president and desk officer in the Americas Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Hargwatie Maikoe departed the post of first secretary in May 2014.
Pisan Manawapat became the 44th ambassador of Thailand to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015, having most recently served as the Thai ambassador to the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourg, India and Canada. His first overseas posting was in D.C. (1986-90), where he spent his first 12 months on Capitol Hill as an APSA Congressional Fellow in the offices of Congressman Don J. Pease (D-Ohio) and Sen. Daniel P. Inouye (D-Hawaii). He also served at the Royal Thai Embassy in Malaysia (1993-95) and as deputy chief of mission in Japan (1999-2002). Ambassador Manawapat served as director-general of the Department of International Economic Affairs from 2002 to 2004, during which time he was also APEC SOM leader for Thailand while Thailand hosted APEC 2003. From 2004 to 2007, Ambassador Manawapat served as the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s deputy permanent secretary supervising all bilateral relations. He was also Thailand’s chief negotiator for the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement from start to finish (2002-06). Born in 1956, Ambassador Manawapat attended Bangkok Christian College and Triam U-dom Suksa School in Bangkok. He graduated with a bachelor’s in economics and a master’s in economics, majoring in international trade, from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of London, respectively. He also completed Thailand’s National Defence College in 2003. He is married to Wanchana Manawapat and has one daughter.
Maximilien Sanchez Arvelaiz assumed the position of chargé d’affaires on July 4, 2014, replacing Calixto Ortega.
Pham Quang Vinh became ambassador of Vietnam to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015. He has also been accredited the title of senior ambassador, the highest rank for a Vietnamese career diplomat. From 2011 to 2014, Ambassador Vinh served as deputy minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of relations with countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, and as Vietnam’s senior official to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN SOM leader). From 2008 to 2011, he held the position of assistant minister of foreign affairs and Vietnam’s ASEAN SOM leader (2008-11), as well as deputy director general, then director general and Vietnam’s ASEAN SOM leader (2007-08). Much of the earlier years of Ambassador Vinh’s public service career was attached to the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Department of International Organizations, where he started off as a desk officer in 1980 before being promoted to assistant director general in 1994, and then deputy director general in 1995, the position that he held until the end of 2003. Ambassador Vinh was also posted twice to Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, first as an attaché from 1987 to 1990 and then as a minister counselor and deputy permanent representative from 1996 to 1999. His third posting was to the Embassy of Vietnam in Thailand as a minister counselor from 2003 to 2007. Ambassador Vinh graduated from the University of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi and earned a master’s degree in international relations from Canberra College of Advanced Education in Australia. He is married to Hoang Bich Lien and has two children.