Carlos Urrutia became ambassador of Colombia to the United States on Sept. 19. Throughout his career, Ambassador Urrutia has served in both the public and private sectors, including as managing partner of Brigard & Urrutia, the oldest and one of the largest law firms in Colombia, from 1999 to 2012. Prior to that, Ambassador Urrutia, who has been with the firm since May 1977, served as partner beginning in 1981. During his 35-year career at the firm, he advised clients on a variety of issues, including commercial law, commercial transactions, energy projects, international financial transactions, litigation and arbitration. Ambassador Urrutia’s work in the public sector began in 1975 when he became secretary-general of the Governorship of the Department of Cundinamarca, serving until 1977, after which time he briefly became secretary of finance for the governorship. Appointed by the Colombian Government, Ambassador Urrutia is also currently a member of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Panel of Arbitrators. In addition, he has been a member of various boards of directors of Colombian companies and financial institutions, including: Allianz Colseguros S.A., the largest insurance company in Colombia; Ladrillera Santafe S.A.; 3M Colombia S.A.; Leo Burnett Colombia S.A.; Cámara de Comercio Colombo Francesa; and Dividendo por Colombia, a Colombian nonprofit affiliated with United Way. Ambassador Urrutia, an associate member of the American Bar Association and International Bar Association, began his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., and completed his studies at Facultad de Derecho of Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, earning a degree in law.
Mohamed M. Tawfik became ambassador of Egypt to the United States on Sept. 19, having previously served as ambassador to Lebanon since 2011. Ambassador Tawfik also served as director-general of the Egyptian Building Fund Authority at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2008-11); ambassador to Australia and nonresident ambassador to New Zealand, Western Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Marshall Islands (2004-08); director of the Cabinet of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Cairo (2002-04); and counselor, minister plenipotentiary and deputy permanent representative at the Egyptian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva (1997-2002). In addition, he served in Washington, D.C., on a prior occasion, as third and second secretary at the Egyptian Embassy (1986-90), as well as first secretary at the Egyptian Embassy in Harare (1991-95). Ambassador Tawfik has served various other postings in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he joined in 1983, including first secretary at the African Department (1995-97), second secretary in the Cabinet of the Foreign Affairs Minister (1990-91), and attaché in the International Organizations Department (1984-85). He holds a bachelor’s of science degree in civil engineering from Cairo University; a diploma in international diplomacy from the Egyptian Institute of Diplomatic Studies; a diploma in international relations from the Institut International D’Administration Publique in Paris, and a master’s degree in international organizations’ law from the Universite de Paris XI. Ambassador Tawfik is married to Amani Amin and has two children, Mostafa and Amr. His interests include literature and the arts.
Ama Twum-Amoah assumed the position of minister/head of chancery at the Embassy of Ghana on Oct. 1, replacing Matilda Osei-Agyeman, who departed the post Sept. 31.
Christos P. Panagopoulos became ambassador of Greece to the United States on Sept. 19. Ambassador Panagopoulos, who joined the Greek Foreign Service in 1978, previously served as director of the Diplomatic Cabinet of the Minister and of the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2008. He was also Greece’s ambassador to Serbia after having spent five years as ambassador to Cyprus. Ambassador Panagopoulos started his career at the Greek Embassy in Ankara. In addition, he worked on various European issues as head of the European Integration Directorate as well as head of the Directorate for Balkan Affairs. Ambassador has also served in the United States before as consul general in Los Angeles and dean of the New England Consular Corps in Boston. Born in Kalamata, Greece, in 1954, Ambassador Panagopoulos holds a law degree from the University of Athens and a master’s degree in international law and international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He served in the Hellenic Navy at the Office of the Admiral, Chief of the Hellenic Fleet. He was also a member of the Junior National Waterpolo Team of Greece.
György Rétházi assumed the position of cultural attaché at the Embassy of Hungary on Sept. 1, having previously served at the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the European Union.
Stephen Vasciannie became ambassador of Jamaica to the United States on July 16. He is also Jamaica’s permanent representative to the Organization of American States and was chairman of the Permanent Council of the OAS until Sept. 30. Ambassador Vasciannie previously served as the principal of the Norman Manley Law School, based at the University of the West Indies on its Mona campus, where he was also a part-time lecturer in international law (2008-12). Earlier in his teaching career, he had also been an international law professor, senior lecturer and head of the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies. In addition, he was an active member of the United Nations International Law Commission (2007-12) and an adjunct professor at Stetson University, lecturing on Caribbean human rights law. From 2004 to 2008, Ambassador Vasciannie worked as a consultant in the Attorney General’s Chambers and then as a deputy solicitor general responsible for international affairs in the Jamaican government, which he represented before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He was also chairman of the Air Policy of Jamaica, responsible for negotiating air traffic treaties with various countries. Ambassador Vasciannie, a Kingston College Old Boy, served as the chairman of the board of his alma mater before moving to Washington D.C. He has also served on the board of Scotiabank Jamaica and related Scotiabank boards, and chaired Scotia Investments Jamaica Ltd., leaving to take up to his current appointment. Ambassador Vasciannie holds first-class honours degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the University of the West Indies, as well as a doctorate from Oxford. Ambassador Vasciannie is married to Lisa, until recently a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, and has two sons.
Amjad Halem Al Mbideen assumed the position of counselor at the Embassy of Jordan on Aug. 14. Al Mbideen, who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1999, previously served at the Jordanian Embassy in Brussels, where he was in charge of the Union Mediterranean and NATO portfolio (2001-11), and at the Jordanian Embassy in Damascus, where he was in charge of U.S.-Syria relations and Syria-Lebanon relations as well as consular affairs.