February 2019



Roya Rahmani became the first woman ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States on Jan. 11, 2019. Prior to this, she served as Afghanistan’s first woman ambassador to Indonesia and the country’s first accredited ambassador to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). During her tenure in Indonesia, she was also accredited as Afghanistan’s nonresident ambassador to Singapore.

Ambassador Rahmani joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) as a senior advisor to the deputy foreign minister in 2011. From 2012 to 2016, she served as the first director-general for regional cooperation at MoFA, where she managed and promoted the country’s position in dozens of regional organizations and fora. In addition, she spearheaded the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process at MoFA.

From 2009 to 2011, Ambassador Rahmani managed a program implemented in 11 countries that promoted women’s empowerment. She also worked as a part-time subject matter expert with the NATO Joint Forces Training Center for two years and as a consultant for various agencies, including: the New York Department of Education; the United Nations Secretariat in New York; the Department of Trade and International Affairs of Canada; Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan; Women Living under Muslim Laws; and other NGOs

In addition, from 2004 to 2007, Ambassador Rahmani worked as the country director of the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development in Kabul and traveled around Afghanistan. In 2007, she was awarded the Best Human Rights Activist Award by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission for her work on a marriage document that secured equitable rights for the family and contributed to data collection at a national level.

Ambassador Rahmani holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in software engineering from McGill University. She has won several awards and fellowships and is a Fulbright Scholar. She has been featured by numerous international media and was named the “People’s Ambassador” in 2017 by the Tattler Indonesia. Ambassador Rahmani was born in 1978 in Kabul in a middle-class family, and she is married and has one daughter named Bareen.


Ngote Gali Koutou became ambassador of Chad to the United States on Jan. 24, 2018. Ambassador Gali Koutou previously served as director-general of the Société des Hydrocarbures du Tchad (2015-16; 2012-13); director of the president’s civil cabinet (2014); director of the prime minister’s cabinet (2003-09); secretary-general of the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation (1999-2003); and director of the Aménagement du Territoire et de la Planification Régionale (1997-98). He holds degrees from L’Ecole Nationale d’Administration and holds the title of a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures en Assurances. Ambassador Gali Koutou, who was born in 1957 in Kyabé, Chad, is married with six children.

Costa Rica

Fernando Llorca Castro became ambassador of Costa Rica to the United States on Sept. 17, 2018. Ambassador Llorca has over 12 years of experience in international development throughout Europe and has held prominent positions transnational organizations as a health policy advisor, a medical and research manager, and a primary care medical practitioner

in Spain and in Costa Rica. He also worked as a registered medical disability analyst in the United Kingdom.

In 2014, Ambassador Llorca was appointed by ex-President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera as the deputy minister of health, subsequently becoming the minister and the stewardof the Health, Nutrition and Sports Sector in Costa Rica, where he established private and public safety regulations and best practices policies.

Amid a crisis of the largest public pension system in Costa Rica, he was asked to take on the role of executive president of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), the most important health care provider in the region.

Ambassador Llorca holds an advanced studies diploma in political economy from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, a master’s of science in health policy, planning and finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). He also holds two master’s degrees in health care management as well as health economics and pharmacoeconomics from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. He was trained in Costa Rica as a medical doctor, and has full license to practice medicine in Costa Rica, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Ambassador Llorca is married and has two children.

Côte d’Ivoire

Mamadou Haïdara became ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire on March. 28, 2018, having previously served in Washington as commercial counselor and director of Côte d’Ivoire’s Economic Office at the embassy in D.C. Ambassador Haïdara is president of the think tank Cercle Libéral de Côte d’Ivoire and has also served as board chairman of SONITRA (Société Nationale Ivoirienne de Travaux), a public-private partnership that undertakes public works projects, such as roads, bridges and other infrastructure, in Côte d’Ivoire.


Sankatana Gabriel Maja become ambassador of Lesotho to the United States on June 22, 2018. Ambassador Maja brings to the post over 30 years of experience working with international agencies and the private sector in Lesotho. He previously worked for CARE (Cooperative For American Relief Everywhere) as the administrative/finance officer, as well as for USAID (United States International Development Agency) as the finance/administrative manager, focusing on three districts where volunteers with the SSIAP (Small Scale Intensive Agricultural Project) helped communities increase their vegetable production. Ambassador Maja later joined the United States Peace Corps Training Unit as the assistant training director, handling the overall training finances, budgets, traveling, procurement and logistics.

In addition, Ambassador Maja has an extensive background in the private sector. He worked for the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) to ensure that church institutions such as hospitals and clinics were trained in accounting and administration. Ambassador Maja also worked for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) as an advisor to the resident country director and deputy resident country. He liaised with various stakeholders on behalf of MCC, including development partners, government contacts as well as Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Lesotho counterparts.

He has been trained on project management as well as community financing for middle-level management in Kinshasa, Zaire, as well as in health services management and administration in Lusaka, Zambia, while working for Christian Health Association of Lesotho.


Martha Bárcena Coqui became the first woman ambassador of Mexico to the United States on Jan. 11, 2019. She joined the Mexican Foreign Service in 1979 and has served as the consul in Barcelona (1989-90); ambassador to Denmark with non-residency accreditation to Norway and Iceland (2004-13; Ambassador to Turkey, with non-residency accreditation to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan (2013-17); and permanent representative of Mexico to the United Nations Agencies based in Rome (2017-18).

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bárcena has been technical secretary of the III LAC-EU Summit (2003-04); adviser to the undersecretary for Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United Nations, specializing in international security and peacekeeping operations (2000-03); deputy director of the Planning and Prospective Division (1998-2000); advisor to the executive director of the Mexican Institute of International Cooperation (1986-89). She was also head of the Department of Migrant Workers and Border Cooperation in the General Directorate for North America.

In the social sector, Ambassador Bárcena served as advisor to the director of the Regional Center for Cooperation in Adult Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (CREFAL) and general director of CELAG (Latin American Center for Globality), an NGO that promotes research on global governance and the impact of globalization in Latin America.

She has combined professional activity with academic work as a professor since 1981 at the Universidad Iberoamericana, where she has taught the subjects of international organizations and international trade negotiations. She was also a professor at the Matías Romero Institute in matters of security and diplomacy, in addition to teaching at the Naval Studies Center (CESNAV) on matters of national security in the United States and U.N. peacekeeping operations. She has also participated in several conferences at the National Defense College, the Diplomatic Academy of Argentina and the University of Växjö in Sweden, as well as at various universities in Turkey.

She is the author of several articles on the reconceptualization of security, globalization, U.N. peacekeeping, the role of civil society in international relations, culture and diplomacy, and Mexico-EU relations, as well as the Agenda 2030. Ambassador Bárcena has participated in seminars and workshops on the U.S.-Mexico security agenda and in the Commission of Studies for State Reform in Mexico, and she is a founding member of Desarmex, an NGO that promotes education for peace and disarmament.

Ambassador Bárcena has a degree in communication sciences from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and a degree in philosophy, summa cum laude, from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. She holds a master’s degree in international studies from the Diplomatic School in Spain and a master’s degree in philosophy specializing in political philosophy from the Universidad Iberoamericana. She speaks English, French and Italian and has knowledge of German, Danish and Mandarin.

Ambassador Bárcena was a professional ballet dancer at the Compañía Nacional de Danza. She is an avid reader and enjoys classical music, opera and ballet.

Born in Veracruz, Mexico, on March 2, 1957, she is married to Agustín Gutiérrez Canet (retired career diplomat), with whom she has two daughters: Mercedes and Martha.


Santiago Cabanas Ansorena became ambassador of Spain to the United States on Sept. 17, 2018, having most recently served as ambassador to Algeria since 2017. Prior to that, he held top-ranking positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including as director of the minister’s cabinet and director general for foreign policy. Ambassador Cabanas has also served as director general for consular affairs and director general for cultural and scientific relations.

In addition to his ambassadorship to Algeria, he has been Spain’s ambassador to the Czech Republic and to Jordan. He previously served as a political counselor at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., and as consul general in Miami.

Born in Madrid in 1954, Ambassador Cabanas holds a law degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and joined the Spanish Foreign Service in 1981.