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>  News Releases >   2009 >   December

Jose W. Fernandez '77 to lead State Department bureau

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 12/10/09 • Media Contact: Office of Public Affairs (603) 646-3661

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Jose W. Fernandez '77

On December 1, Jose Fernandez '77, a Dartmouth College Trustee since 2002, was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs. Formerly an international and commercial lawyer at Latham & Watkins LLP in New York City, Fernandez will work in a long-term position in Washington, D.C., for the first time in his career.

In this senior position in the U.S. State Department, Fernandez will work closely with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others to help set economic policy relating to issues such as food security, trade and investment, terrorist financing, energy, and strengthening ties with emerging economies.

The position requires that Fernandez resign from all boards, and as a result he has resigned as a Dartmouth Trustee. "I will miss my friends on the Board and being able to support the Kim [Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim] presidency, which I'm convinced will galvanize Dartmouth in its constant mission to turn some of the brightest young minds in the universe into tomorrow's leaders and thinkers," says Fernandez. Ed Haldeman '70, chair of the Board of Trustees, says, "While I regret that the Board is losing Jose's wise counsel, I'm thrilled that the State Department, and the country, is gaining such a capable and inspired leader. This is a proud moment for Dartmouth."

Fernandez was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 22 and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 20. He spoke about his background and how he will approach his new role in a statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on September 15, 2009.

He said: "I am grateful for the confidence shown in me by the President and Secretary Clinton, and if confirmed, you have my word that I will work tirelessly to advance our country’s international economic objectives to secure greater prosperity and opportunity for the American people."

jose sarah
Jose Fernandez '77 and his daughter Annie at Dartmouth's first home football game in September. Jose's daughter Sarah was recently accepted to Dartmouth as a member of the Class of 2014. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Fernandez talked about his roots with the committee. “I grew up in a small town that sits on a beautiful bay in southern Cuba, next to the Bay of Pigs, where my father was one of a handful of lawyers in town," he said. He described the dark days that followed the Cuban Revolution, which led his family to immigrate to Hudson County, N.J., in 1967, where his mother worked as a seamstress in a local factory.

Six years later, he said, "I ended up at Dartmouth College, where I was nurtured and challenged by educators and administrators whom I will never be able to repay, and who convinced me that a career in international law was not beyond my reach." Fernandez majored in history and graduated magna cum laude in 1977. He went on to earn a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia University in 1980.

The State Department notes that Fernandez is “a lifelong supporter of education, the arts and commercial engagement.” He has served on the boards of Accion International and the Council of the Americas, and he is the co-founder of TeatroStageFest, a 2-week Latino theater festival in New York City. He was named one of the "World's Leading Lawyers" by Chambers Global and an “Expert” in finance by the International Financial Law Review.

In his September statement to the senators, Fernandez noted that his business and personal experiences have influenced his perspective.

"I know what American businesses look for when they invest in foreign countries, but I have also lived with the anxiety of a factory worker in the U.S. who goes home from a day's labor not knowing whether her job will have moved abroad when she comes back the next day,” he said. “I've witnessed the human suffering and displacement of societies wracked by poverty and inequality, but I have also seen the redemptive power of American investment in countries trying to crawl out of poverty and hopelessness. And, finally, I have lived the hope that the mere mention of the United States inspires among the poor and marginalized around the world."

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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