Dr. Rebecca Bill Chavez is president and CEO of the Inter-American Dialogue. She is formerly a senior fellow in the Dialogue’s Rule of Law Program. She is a member of the Truman Center for National Policy Board of Directors, the Leadership Council for Women in National Security (LCWINS) Steering Committee, the Princeton University Institute for Regional and International Studies Advisory Board, and the Foreign Policy for America Advisory Board.
Dr. Chavez served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2013 until 2016 where she prioritized Women, Peace, and Security initiatives, combatting the militarization of law enforcement, and expanding defense institution building programs. Her areas of focus included shaping Defense Department contributions to President Obama’s Central America Strategy, moving the U.S.- Mexico relationship beyond the narrow counternarcotics focus, supporting the Colombian peace process, resetting defense relations with Argentina and Brazil, and establishing a productive dialogue with Cuba on humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Prior to joining the Obama-Biden administration, Dr. Chavez was a tenured professor of political science at the United States Naval Academy where she served on the Admissions Board and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. Her research focused on democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, and she taught a wide variety of comparative politics and international relations courses, including Latin American and Caribbean Politics, Democratization, and United States-Latin America Relations.
Dr. Chavez is the author of The Rule of Law in Nascent Democracies (Stanford University Press). Her work has appeared in edited volumes and scholarly journals, including The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics, Courts in Latin America (Cambridge University Press), Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics and Society, and The Journal of Latin American Studies. Her opinion pieces have been published in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and Defense One.
Raised in Austin, Texas, Dr. Chavez received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and her B.A. in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the recipient of multiple academic grants, including a Fulbright Scholarship.