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Meet the Team


  • Rafael Fernández de Castro

    Rafael Fernández de Castro

    Director, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies; Professor, GPS | 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.


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

    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

    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

    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.

  • Alan Sweedler

    Alan Sweedler

    Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment

    Alan Sweedler is Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment at USMEX where his expertise is in the area of energy policy, technology and environmental impacts of energy use, especially climate change and the energy-water nexus. Sweedler was a Congressional Science Fellow and worked in the U.S. Senate on issues of energy, water and national security. He was also a Carnegie Foundation Science Fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Arms Control and was a visiting scholar at the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation as well as director of the California Energy Commission’s Energy Innovation Small Grants Program. He has edited, co-edited and contributed chapters to books dealing with energy, air quality, security and climate change with a focus on the U.S.-Mexico border region. He recently retired from San Diego State University, where he was associate vice president in charge of the university’s international programs, director of the Center for Energy Studies and a professor of physics. He currently holds a PIMSE Chair as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at CETYS University in Mexico and serves on the Congressionally mandated Good Neighbor Environmental Board (GNEB).

  • Arturo Chiquito

    Arturo Chiquito

    Program Coordinator
    (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
    (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.

  • Adana Martinez

    Adana Martinez

    Research Center Events Coordinator

    Adana Martinez assists in coordinating and executing event, conference and workshops logistics.

  • Iva Kostova

    Iva Kostova

    Manager of Research Programs
    (858) 822-3103

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

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