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Mr. Fernandez serves as the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. He leads the Bureau that is responsible for overseeing work on international trade and investment policy; international finance, development, and debt policy; economic sanctions and combating terrorist financing; international energy security policy; international telecommunications and transportation policies; and support for U.S. businesses and the private sector overseas.
Nominated by President Obama on August 6, 2009, Mr. Fernandez was sworn in as Assistant Secretary on December 1, 2009. Mr. Fernandez came to the State Department after having served as a partner in the New York office of Latham & Watkins, and Global Chair of the firm's Latin America practice. For nearly three decades, his practice has focused on Latin America, Europe and Africa, advising clients on international mergers and acquisitions, financings, trade and other matters as the economies of these regions have evolved.
Mr. Fernandez was named one of the "World's Leading Lawyers" by Chambers Global for his M&A and corporate expertise, an "Expert" in International Financial Law Review's "Guide to the World's Leading Project Finance Lawyers", and one of the "World's Leading Privatization Lawyers" by Euromoney Publications. He is recognized as a leading Corporate Finance attorney in the Latin American market in the Chambers Global 2008 legal guide and a leading Latin America attorney in the Chambers U.S. 2008 legal guide. He was featured by Hispanic Business Magazine in its "100 Influentials List" for 2006 and 2007.
A lifelong supporter of education, the arts and commercial engagement, prior to his appointment at the State Department Mr. Fernandez served on the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College and on the Board of Directors of Accion International and the Council of the Americas. He has been chair both of the American Bar Association's Inter-American Law Committee and the Committee on Inter-American Affairs of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and co-chair of the Cross Border M&A and Joint Ventures Committee of the New York State Bar Association. He recently headed the Latin American and Caribbean division of the ABA's Rule of Law Initiative. He has also served on the boards of NPR-station WBGO-FM, Ballet Hispanico of New York and the Middle East Institute. He was a co-founder of TeatroStageFest, a 2-week Latino theater festival in New York City, and was appointed a Commissioner of New York’s Latin Media and Entertainment Commission. Mr. Fernandez is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.
Mr. Fernandez graduated magna cum laude with high honors from Dartmouth College earning a bachelors degree in history, and also received an honorary degree from the college. He earned a J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law, where he received the Charles Evans Hughes Prize and a Parker School Certificate of International Law with Honors.