Major General John C. Thompson, USA (Ret), – served as Dean of Students at National Defense University’s Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies after he retired from active duty in 2000. His military assignments included serving as Chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board and Director of the Inter-American Defense College. He was also Commanding General of the U.S. Total Army Personnel Command.
A graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, General Thompson earned a Masters Degree in Military Art and Science at Fort Leavenworth. He also participated in the Army’s Advanced Management program at Stanford University. He attended National Security Leadership Courses at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and at Johns Hopkins University. General Thompson also has a Masters Degree from Middlebury College which required study in Madrid, Spain. He did post graduate work in History at New York University and at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He is a member of the Americas Society; Inter-American Dialogue; the Inter-American Council; the Association of the United States Army and the Armor Association. He is a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Task Force on Venezuela. He is fluent in Spanish.
Mauricio Tamargo, Esq. -is a Founding Partner of Poblete Tamargo LLP – a solutions-driven law and public policy practice. With over 25 years of government affairs and public policy experience, Mr. Tamargo was named among the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business Magazine.
Mr. Tamargo previously served as Chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States at the Department of Justice (“FCSC”) and held several senior congressional positions. During his employment by Congress, Tamargo was Staff Director and Legal Counsel to three House Committee on International Relations Subcommittees; the International Operations and Human Rights, the International Economic Policy and Trade, and the Africa Subcommittees, while also serving as Chief of Staff and General Counsel to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Mr. Tamargo earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami and a Juris Doctor from Cumberland School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in Florida and the District of Columbia and is a member of the US Court of Federal Claims, Supreme Court of the United States, American Bar Association, Cuban American Bar Association and District of Columbia Hispanic Bar Association. He is fluent in Spanish.
Manuel Celaya Alberni (Chair) – is an expert in Latin American affairs, with a focus on security and policy matters. Mr. Celaya has over thirty years experience in business and organizational development across a range of industries including finance, real estate, telecommunications and information technologies. He is a strategic planning consultant to commercial and government clients.
He is a Board member of the Alianza Democrática since 1990, and former President (2008 – 2011). This non-profit educational organization led the way in 1989 with Project Democracy, an initiative to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba through education. In 1994, Project Guantánamo was created to assist in the relief effort of the tens of thousands of refugees in the US Navy’s base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and he was appointed to direct its activities. For his work, he received the 1995 “Humanitarian of the Year Award” from World Relief. Fluent in Spanish, and has a BA in Management from St. Leo University, with post graduate work in Finance at Florida International University.
Mr. Mike Bargeron – is co-founder and Managing Director of The Belair Group. With over 29 years experience in the banking industry, he’s worked as a loan officer, manager, underwriter, and operations manager. He served as a regional manager for a top 10 mortgage company where he oversaw underwriting, closing, post-closing and shipping, regulatory compliance, Fair Lending and Community Reinvestment Act compliance. He has served on commercial loan committees, and administered commercial real estate loans, equipment leases and floor-plan financing.
His experience also includes work with the TS, CC, FDIC, HUD, FHLMC, & FNMA. He has extensive experience with the creation and implementation of policies & procedures. Mr. Bargeron has been a teacher and speaker at various times for the lending industry. He drafted two white papers for HUD which ultimately led to the issuance of a new mortgagee letter. Mike is a HUD Loss Mitigation Specialist.
Professor Angel Clarens, AIA – retired as a tenured Associate Professor of Architecture at Howard University’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences where he taught since 1981. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects. He is the principal architect and owner of a small architectural firm in Washington. He has served on the Board of Architects of the District of Columbia from 1987 to 1991; on the Board of Zoning Adjustment from 1991 through 1996; and on the Zoning Commission from 1996 to 1998.
His work has been published and has received awards for excellence in design. Currently his practice includes single family residential projects, renovations and additions to private residences and the renovation of large affordable housing projects. His experience includes the design of retail establishments, restaurants, renovation of public buildings, design of facilities for the DC prison system, housing projects and consulting work for International Organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the Catholic University of America in Washington DC and did his graduate work at L’Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris, France. He is fluent in Spanish.