Michele Manatt is an expert in both American politics and in U.S. - Latin American relations. She served as the Senior Policy Advisor to three Assistant Secretaries of State for Latin America and the Caribbean at the State Department during the government of President Bill Clinton, during which time the United States hosted the Summit of the Americas in Miami. In the final two years of the Clinton Administration, she worked at the intersection of counternarcotics policy, the drug treatment community, and law enforcement cooperation as the Director of Legislative Affairs for Drug Czar General Barry R. McCaffrey. Prior to her executive branch service, she served as a professional staff member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, under the leadership of Chairmen Dante Fascell (D-FL) and subsequently Lee Hamilton (D-IN).
Fluent in Spanish, she has strong cultural proficiency in U.S.-Latino affairs. She was a consultant to a multi-year project of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas on Hispanic Integration in Atlanta, Omaha, Nashville, and Portland. She researched and documented success stories of business and community leaders in those cities, each of which has experienced a surge in its immigrant population in the past fifteen years.
For the past twelve years, Ms. Manatt has worked in public diplomacy. In January 2023 she joined the Advisory Council of the Truman National Security Project. She is a board director of the Diplomacy Center Foundation, the private foundation partner helping to complete development of the National Museum of American Diplomacy at the State Department. NMAD will be the first-ever museum dedicated to telling the history and practice of diplomacy, with a collection of nearly 11,000 objects. The next phase of its opening will be October 2024. Earlier, she served as the founding chair of the Council on Women’s Leadership at Meridian International and was a Meridian trustee from 2012-2018.
Michele lived a brief time in the Dominican Republic in early 2001 during the closing months of the ambassadorship of her late father, Charles T. Manatt and her mother Kathleen Manatt. During that time she lent a hand with much-needed interpretation for her father who, alas, did not speak Spanish.
Ms. Manatt holds a bachelor’s degree in the Political Economy of Industrial Society (PEIS)
from the University of California, Berkeley. During her college years she studied at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and at Universidad Complutense in Madrid. She grew up in Los Angeles, California and is a graduate of Westlake School for Girls, now known as Harvard-Westlake.
Ms. Manatt lives just outside of Washington in McLean, Virginia. Her two children are graduates of the IB program at Washington International School where they studied both Spanish and Mandarin; they are now pursuing degrees in higher education.