USAID Director Receives Guatemala's Highest Honor

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
USAID Press Office

GUATEMALA CITY, 13 JULY, 2010. Director of the USAID Mission in Guatemala, Wayne R. Nilsestuen, was awarded the country's highest honor, the Order of the Quetzal, in a ceremony on July 13. The Minister of Exterior Relations, Ambassador Haroldo Rodas Melgar, represented the Guatemalan Government and presented the award in the presence of U.S. Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland and other members of the diplomatic corps, Government of Guatemala officials, representatives of donor agencies, and USAID staff and partners.

During his four year tenure Mr. Nilsustuen worked to reach the most vulnerable in Guatemala; particularly children and rural communities. The Ambassador highlighted the USAID Director's support of food security and his facilitation of humanitarian assistance to the families of children with acute malnutrition -- specifically his leadership of the critical $15 million in immediate USAID humanitarian assistance for the acute malnutrition crisis in 2009-2010. Nilsestuen's leadership and collaboration on several critical development initiatives designed to enhance peace, security and well-being in Guatemala was also praised.

The Order of the Quetzal is the highest honor bestowed by the Government of Guatemala upon officials of nations, organizations and entities that collaborate closely with Guatemala and whose civic, artistic, scientific or humanitarian characteristics merit special acknowledgement. The Order of the Quetzal has six grades in ascending order of importance: Band and Collar, Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, and Knight. Mr. Nilsestuen was awarded the Grand Official grade.

Earlier the same day Mr. Nilsestuen was also honored by the Guatemalan Government Peace Secretariat (SEPAZ, Spanish acronym) in the official Changing of the Rose ceremony presided over by Orlando Blanco, Secretary of SEPAZ. During the ceremony, Mr. Nilsestuen was officially named "Ambassador of Peace", a title given to individuals who work daily to build peace in Guatemala.

Mr. Nilsestuen will officially retire from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) next month and will then be "recalled" to serve as Mission Director in Bolivia in September. In his 37 years of government service, Mr. Nilsustuen embodied the professional and personal qualities of clear vision, collaborative team work, empathy and patience as well as devotion to family and friends.

Mr. Nilsestuen hails from Arcadia, Wisconsin and began his public service career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa (1968-1970.) Mr. Nilsestuen joined USAID in 1973 as an International Development Intern (IDI) and began his career at USAID as an agricultural economist assigned to Pakistan. Since then he has served in Senegal, El Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia, Paraguay and Guatemala.

Last updated: November 12, 2014

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