|Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights|
August 10, 2009 – February 4, 2013
|Preceded by||Paula Dobriansky|
|Born||La Paz, Bolivia|
|Political party||Democratic Party|
|Spouse(s)||Joseph T. Eldridge|
|Alma mater||University of Maryland
Johns Hopkins University
|Portfolio||Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations; Population, Refugees, and Migration; Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; Bureau of Counterterrorism; Office of Global Youth Issues; Trafficking in persons; Office of Global Criminal Justice; Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.|
On January 17, 2012 Secretary Clinton named Maria Otero as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (J), a newly created office and position at the Department of State. Her tenure ended February 4, 2013. In her position as Under Secretary, she oversaw U.S. foreign policy related to civilian security, including issues of democracy, human rights, population, refugees, trafficking in persons, rule of law, counter-narcotics, crisis prevention and response, global criminal justice, and countering violent extremism. This included overseeing a realigned group of eight bureaus and offices dedicated to helping countries build just societies grounded in democratic principles and that guarantee respect for human rights, provide protection for individuals, and strengthen the rule of law, including the Bureaus of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO); Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL); International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL); Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM); and Counterterrorism (CT); as well as the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP); the Office of Global Criminal Justice (GCJ); and the Office of Global Youth Issues (GYI). Under Secretary Otero also served as the President’s Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.
Otero had previously held the position of Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs from August 10, 2009 through 2011. In this capacity, she oversaw U.S. foreign relations on a variety of global issues, including democracy, human rights, and labor; environment, oceans, health and science; population, refugees, and migration; trafficking in persons and Tibetan issues.
Otero was formerly the president and CEO of ACCION International, a pioneer and leader in microfinance working in 25 countries in around the globe. Under Otero’s tenure as CEO, ACCION’s network of microfinance institutions expanded its reach from serving 460,000 people to over 3.7 million, through a combined portfolio that grew from $274 million to nearly $3.6 billion. She is a leading voice on sustainable microfinance, publishing on the subject and speaking throughout the world on microfinance, women’s issues and poverty alleviation.
Prior to ACCION, Otero was the Economist for Latin America for the Women in Development office of USAID. She also served for five years at the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA).
Otero’s awards and recognition include selection by Newsweek in October 2005 as one of the United States’ 20 most influential women; Hispanic Business Magazine’s ‘Elite Women of 2007’; Notre Dame University’s Distinguished Service in Latin America Award; and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
In June 2006, Otero was appointed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the UN Advisors Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors. She served on the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace, a position to which she was originally appointed by President Bill Clinton. Otero has chaired the board of Bread for the World, and also served on the boards of the Calvert Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation and BRAC in Bangladesh. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Otero is currently the highest ranking Hispanic official at the State Department, and the first Latina Under Secretary in its history.
Otero holds an M.A. in literature from the University of Maryland, an M.A. in international relations from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), at the Johns Hopkins University, and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Dartmouth College. Since 1997, she has also served as an adjunct professor at SAIS, co-teaching a course on microfinance.
- "Cuban National Reconciliation: Task Force on Memory, Truth and Justice". Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- Duscha, Melissa (2008-05-13). "MICROCAPITAL STORY: ACCION International President, Maria Otero, Awarded Ellis Island Medal of Honor for Pioneering Work in Microfinance". Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- "Maria Otero". WhoRunsGov.Com. Retrieved 2009-10-01.