Law School alumna Maria Echaveste was nominated by President Obama to be the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.
Law School alumna Maria Echaveste was nominated by President Obama to be the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

Last month, President Barack Obama nominated law school alumna Maria Echaveste, the policy and program development director at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy as the next U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Echaveste would become the country’s first female ambassador to Mexico, and the third-ever Mexican-American to hold the position.

Echaveste earned her law degree in 1980 from UC Berkeley. Today, she is a lecturer for the law school, and has been a senior fellow for the Center for Latin American Studies for the past nine years.

Her background and “deep knowledge of Mexico” give her an appreciation of the culture, people, society and perspective, which will be invaluable as the U.S. ambassador, according to Harley Shaiken, Department Chair for the Center for Latin American Studies.

“Maria’s appointment is truly an inspired choice,” said Shaiken. “She has remarkable determination and focus and is very highly regarded across campus.”

In March, Echaveste spoke with United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez and Actor-Director Diego Luna following a university screening of the film, “Cesar Chavez.”

“The ambassador doesn’t just represent the U.S., she interprets Mexico for policy makers,” said Shaiken, who said he believes “she will get things done” in Washington.

After graduating from Berkeley, Echaveste spent many years working within politics. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton appointed Echaveste as a special representative to Bolivia.

She also served as a presidential advisor and White House deputy chief of staff during the second Clinton administration.

In addition, Echaveste has extensive experience working in the private sector. Today, she is a senior advisor and cofounder of Nueva Vista Group, a government relations firm that focuses on issues such as immigration and labor.

“While Echaveste has been actively involved in the effort to pass sensible immigration reform, she understands that the relationship between the United States and Mexico goes well beyond issues of immigration, including critical trade and commerce alliances,” according to a White House statement issued to GradNews.

A California native, Echaveste was born in the border town of Harlingen, Texas, and later grew up in Fresno County. She is the oldest of seven children of Mexican immigrants. As a child she picked produce with her family in the San Joaquin Valley and Ventura County.

To learn about Maria Echaveste, visit Berkeley Law.