By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 7, 2021: A Caribbean-born attorney is now the US’ ambassador to Spain.
Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, was sworn in officially by U.S. Vice President, Caribbean American Kamala Harris in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, on Thursday, January 6, 2022.
Reynoso was confirmed by the Senate to be the next United States Ambassador to Spain as well as Andorra. She was the chief of staff to First Lady Jill Biden and from March 2012 until December 2014, served as United States ambassador to Uruguay. She is also a former deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the United States Department of State.
President Biden nominated her to be the next United States Ambassador to Spain on July 27, 2021 and was confirmed on December 18, 2021.
Reynoso immigrated to the United States in 1982. She graduated valedictorian of her class at Aquinas High School in the Bronx and was admitted to Harvard University, where she helped found several student groups and was active with the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
After earning an A.B. in government from Harvard University in 1997, Reynoso was named the John Harvard Scholar and earned a Master of Philosophy in development studies in 1998 from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Reynoso also earned a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in 2001. At Columbia, she was the editor for the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. Her graduate studies were supported by The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. After law school, she clerked for Judge Laura Taylor Swain. In 2008, Reynoso was active in the Hillary Clinton 2008 presidential campaign before joining the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign.
In 2009, Reynoso joined former secretary of state Hillary Clinton to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. During her tenure, Reynoso was charged with developing and implementing a comprehensive security and rule of Law strategy for Central America and the Caribbean.
In October 2011, President Barack Obama expressed his intention to nominate Reynoso as United States ambassador to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, a nomination that required the advice and consent of the United States Senate.
On March 30, 2012, the U.S. Senate confirmed Reynoso as United States ambassador to Uruguay. As an ambassador, Reynoso focused on trade and commerce, with particular interest in agricultural trade, and on science, technology and education cooperation.
In 2014, during her time as Ambassador to Uruguay, Reynoso was allegedly denied entry into a restaurant in Montevideo because of racial discrimination, though they initially claimed it was due to lack of reservation and dress code despite others entering without a reservation. Uruguayan media called it a “diplomatic mess” and the restaurant apologized, claiming the host incorrectly discerned who could enter. Reynoso escalated this incident with the State Department.