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Two former Latin American presidents, a U.S. business leader and diplomat, and a European foreign minister named senior leadership fellows at the Adam Smith Center

Two former Latin American presidents, a U.S. business leader and diplomat, and a European foreign minister named senior leadership fellows at the Adam Smith Center

September 25, 2023 at 5:40pm

This fall, FIU's Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom is welcoming its fifth cohort of Senior Leadership Fellows. The distinguished group will include national and international public servants.

The Senior Leadership Fellowship program is one of the center's most prestigious and well-known programs, bringing students close to prominent leaders through exclusive off-the-record study groups. It allows participants to engage in exciting and candid discussions and mentorship opportunities.

“I am truly privileged to welcome to our center this exceptional class of Senior Leadership Fellows,” said Carlos Díaz-Rosillo, founding director of the Adam Smith Center. "Their remarkable achievements and dedication to public service will be a source of great inspiration for our students."

The new cohort of Senior Leadership Fellows includes:

Jamil Mahuad, president of Ecuador from 1998 to 2000.  Before becoming president, Mahuad served as mayor of Quito from 1992 to 1998. Mahuad played an instrumental role in negotiating and signing a definitive peace treaty with neighboring Peru, ending one of the longest territorial disputes in the region. He also earned the prestigious 1999 World Wildlife Fund's Gift to the Earth award in recognition of his exemplary efforts in safeguarding the pristine tropical rainforests nestled in the Ecuadorian headwaters of the Amazon River. He also is responsible for dollarizing the Ecuadorian economy, a topic of great interest today.

Mahuad’s study group is titled “In the President’s Shoes: Leading in a Globalized and Angry World.”

“We will explore how the tools of decision-making, negotiation, and communication facilitate exercising leadership in situations where high values are at risk, uncertainty prevails, and decisions are urgent,” Mahuad said.

Juan Guaidó, interim president of Venezuela from 2019 to 2023. Prior to his appointment as interim President, Guaidó served as the president of the National Assembly and emerged as a prominent opposition figure to Nicolás Maduro's government. His leadership gained international recognition and was supported by more than 60 countries, including the United States and several European nations, as they sought a political solution to Venezuela's deepening crisis.

His study group will focus on “Rescuing Democracy and Resisting a Dictatorship.”

“We will examine what is necessary to protect and rescue democracy, identify what is missing to achieve it, and discuss how it can drive progress, increase stability, reduce migration, and close the poverty gap in our region,” Guaidó said.

Robin S. Bernstein, United States ambassador to the Dominican Republic from 2018 to 2021.  Bernstein is a leader with over four decades of experience in business, government, and the non-profit sector. Her diverse background encompasses entrepreneurship, diplomacy, business consulting, insurance, real estate, and government service, including her role on the presidential transition team of President Jimmy Carter. During her tenure as ambassador, she received accolades for her impactful work, which included delivering aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, fostering business opportunities, promoting education partnerships, and combating various challenges, from narcotics trafficking to crisis management.

Bernstein will lead “Leadership and Diplomacy: Lessons from the Public and Private Sectors”

“I am very excited to work with FIU students and bring to my study group several special guests, including a few former U.S. ambassadors and a former president of the Dominican Republic, who will share their remarkable and diverse experiences as diplomats, politicians, and public servants.” Bernstein said.

Miomir Žužul, minister of foreign affairs of Croatia from 2003 and 2005, and, prior to that, Croatian ambassador to the United States. Žužul has also served as a special envoy for peace talks. He is currently is a senior international policy advisor at Arnold Porter LLP, offering strategic counsel on global politics, economics, NATO, and EU matters to clients across Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. He founded Croatia's first private university, DIU Libertas, and has taught at prestigious universities worldwide. With a Ph.D. in social psychology, he has held advisory roles at Deloitte, Monitor Group, and Squire Patton Boggs, LLP. Žužul has received many prestigious awards, including the Knight of the Sovereign Order of Malta and the United Nations Human Rights Award.

Žužul will teach about “The Art of Diplomacy in Free Market Democracies.”

“What a privilege to share my experience in foreign affairs with the participants of this study group. I am looking forward to having many great conversations and learning from such a talented and inspiring group,” Žužul said.

Students interested in applying to participate in one of the multi-week study groups directed by the senior leadership fellows can do so at

Jamil Mahuad


Juan Guaidó


Robin S. Bernstein


Miomir Žužul