Position Title
Assistant Administrator (2021-2024)

Marcela Escobari served as the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean from 2021-2024. For over two decades, the Hon. Marcela Escobari led organizations focused on promoting inclusive economic growth. She is spearheading USAID’s efforts to advance a collaborative, regional response to the historic displacement of seven million people across the LAC region. Working with the US Government and regional partners, USAID is driving forward a three-pronged strategy focused on addressing root causes, expanding legal pathways, and promoting the integration of migrants into host communities. She is also expanding the bureau’s efforts to help democratic reformers in the region to deliver for their citizens in the face of the economic contraction caused by COVID-19, which hit Latin America and the Caribbean harder than any other region in the world.

Escobari previously served in the Obama-Biden Administration in this role in 2016, during which time she reinforced U.S. support for Peace Colombia, helped mobilize a humanitarian response plan to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, and helped unlock obstacles to deliver humanitarian aid in Venezuela. In response to Congress’ doubling of funding to Central America, she led changes in strategy, organization and execution to help USAID’s missions in the region expand programs to improve citizen security, strengthen governance, and create economic opportunity.

Prior to serving in government, Escobari was Executive Director at the Center for International Development at Harvard University. During her tenure, the Center launched projects in 17 countries across five continents, and the online platform the Atlas for Economic Complexity,  focused on helping countries diversify their exports and unlock constraints to economic growth.

Most recently, as a senior fellow at Brookings, she created the Workforce of the Future initiative and applied international economic development models to map the industrial path of American cities and identify policies to help workers prosper in the face of evolving labor markets. She worked with US local leaders, companies and policy makers, including in Idaho and Texas, to strengthen paths to the middle class. Her publications “Growing Cities that Work for All,” “Realism about Reskilling,” and “Moving Up” were featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Bloomberg, among other leading outlets.

Her career has spanned the private sector, government and academia, with a common thread of producing growth that is inclusive and sustainable.  She began her career as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan and worked across the globe on export competitiveness projects as a strategy consultant.  The World Economic Forum named her a Young Global Leader in 2013. She co-authored the book “In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty.” She holds a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College and an M.A. in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.


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