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Meet the Team

Director

  • Rafael Fernández de Castro

    Rafael Fernández de Castro

    Director, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies; Professor, GPS
    raf011@ucsd.edu | Bio

    Rafael Fernández de Castro is a professor at the School and director of USMEX. A former foreign policy adviser to President Felipe Calderón, he is an expert on bilateral relations between Mexico and the U.S. He is founder and former chair of the Department of International Studies at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in Mexico City. He has published numerous academic articles and written several books, including “Contemporary U.S.- Latin American Relations: Cooperation or Conflict in the 21st Century?” and “The United States and Mexico: Between Partnership and Conflict” with Jorge Domínguez. He also worked as the Project Director of the UNDP’s Human Development Report for Latin America 2013-14, “Citizen Security With a Human Face: Evidence and Proposals for Latin America.” He is the founder and editor of Foreign Affairs Latin America and contributes to the daily newspaper El Financiero and a regular contributor to Televisa.

Staff

The USMEX staff manages the research agenda of the center as well as its fellowship program on Mexican studies in the U.S., and the coordination of events and conferences throughout the year.

  • Cecilia Farfán Méndez

    Cecilia Farfán Méndez

    Head of Security Research Programs
    cfarfanmendez@ucsd.edu

    Cecilia Farfán leads the security research portfolio of the center. She is an expert on organized crime and U.S.-Mexico security cooperation and co-chairs the U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation Taskforce led by USMEX in partnership with the Justice in Mexico Program of the University of San Diego and the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas. Farfán is a member of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, the Urban Violence Research Network and sits in the board of directors of A New PATH [Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing].

    Farfán holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a Ph.D. in political science from UC Santa Barbara. She has been a recipient of several research fellowships including the Fulbright Program, the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and Mexico’s National Council on Science and Technology.

  • Michael Lettieri

    Michael Lettieri

    Senior Fellow for Human Rights
    mlettieri@ucsd.edu

    Michael Lettieri is a Senior Fellow for Human Rights at USMEX. His work has explored the political culture and authoritarian politics in 20th Century Mexico, journalism and threats to freedom of expression during the drug war and gender-based violence.

    He is the co-founder and managing editor of the Mexico Violence Resource Project and has written broadly about the intersections between democracy, security policy, organized crime and violence. His current work includes a study of foreign media coverage of the Mexican drug war, and an effort to develop new digital tools for documenting disappearances in partnership with local activists in Sinaloa.

    He holds a Ph.D. in modern Latin American history from UC San Diego and previously worked at the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego where he managed programs on human rights and the border region.

  • John B. McNeece III

    John B. McNeece III

    Senior Fellow for Energy & Trade
    jmcneece@ucsd.edu
    619-888-4889

    John McNeece is Senior Fellow for Energy & Trade at USMEX. His work in Mexico extends back to the NAFTA negotiations, where he served as an advisor on issues of Mexican law to the Office of the United States Trade Representative negotiating team for NAFTA Chapter Nineteen: Review and Dispute Settlement in Antidumping/Countervailing Duty Matters.

    Mr. McNeece’s transactional work in Mexico included legal advice on formation of cross-border joint ventures, acquisition and development of renewable energy projects, complex financial transactions, mergers and acquisitions and venture capital transactions. He has written extensively on the Mexican energy Reform in the power sector.

    McNeece is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley Law School. Mr. McNeece is also an attorney who worked with the international law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP working out of the firm’s San Diego and New York offices until his retirement from the practice of law in July 2017.  At Pillsbury, he was a member of the Latin America, Energy and Corporate & Securities practices.

  • Arturo Chiquito

    Arturo Chiquito

    Program Coordinator
    achiquito@ucsd.edu
    (858) 822-1309

    Arturo Chiquito works alongside the USMEX director to assist in the planning of events and programmatic activities. Previously, he worked as a research assistant at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. Chiquito holds a B.A. in political science with a minor in Catholic Social Traditions from the University of Notre Dame.  

  • Greg Mallinger

    Greg Mallinger

    Fellows Coordinator
    gmallinger@ucsd.edu
    (858) 822-1696

    Greg Mallinger manages the fellowship program at USMEX. He previously was the program coordinator for the Center, overseeing the first two Mexico Moving Forward conferences. Mallinger holds an MPIA from GPS and a B.A. in international relations from UC Davis.

  • Curtis Bruno

    Curtis Bruno

    Research Center Events Coordinator
    c1bruno@ucsd.edu
    (858) 534-2657

    Curtis Bruno assists in coordinating and executing event logistics for all research centers at GPS.

  • Iva Kostova

    Iva Kostova

    Manager of Research Programs
    ivakostova@ucsd.edu
    (858) 822-3103

    Iva Kostova oversees events, programming and fiscal management for all research centers at GPS. She holds an MPIA from GPS.

  • Simeng Zeng

    Simeng Zeng

    Research Center Events Coordinator
    s3zeng@ucsd.edu
    (858) 822-5059

    Simeng Zeng assists with events and fiscal-related tasks and managing travel arrangements for staff, faculty and guests.

Research Assistants

UC San Diego graduate students work on the various research projects at the Center.

  • Claudia A. Fernández Calleros

    Claudia A. Fernández Calleros

    Claudia A. Fernández Calleros is a 2021 Master of Public Policy candidate at GPS pursuing a double specialization on Program Design and Evaluation, and Peace and Security. She is also Director of Content for the Journal of International Policy Solutions and holds a B.A. in International Relations from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). Prior to GPS, she worked in the Directions for Health and Financial Literacy at the Institute for Mexicans Abroad.
  • Orly Romero Sevilla

    Orly Romero Sevilla

    Orly Romero Sevilla is a 2020 Master of International Affairs candidate at GPS. She studied Political Science and International Relations at Instituto Tecnoógico Autónomo de México (ITAM). She has nine years of experience in Mexico’s federal and local governments. While working at Mexico City’s local Congress, she managed a team of 25 people working on technical and legislative procedures, media, finance and human resources. Her team drafted several key bills on education, development and public services. At the Ministry of Social Development, she collaborated in the development of a real-time dashboard using socioeconomic indicators for Mexico’s poorest municipalities and supervised the evaluation of social programs