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Challenges in U.S./Mexico/Central America Policy at the Beginning of the Biden Administration

March 2, 2021 |  12:15 - 1:15 pm  |  Zoom Webinar

On Tuesday, March 2, the Strauss Center is pleased to welcome Joy Olson, Consultant; Former Executive Director of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), for a virtual talk on “Challenges in U.S./Mexico/Central America Policy at the Beginning of the Biden Administration.” This webinar, moderated by Stephanie Leutert, Director of the Central America and Mexico Policy Initiative, will discuss the policy challenges faced in the first few months of 2021, how they are being addressed by the Biden Administration, and where there is potential for constructive engagement.

Registration is required. Please note you must have a Zoom account and login to Zoom with the same email address you used to register. 


Joy Olson is a consultant working with a wide range of NGOs and foundations, bringing her more than 20 years of experience running human rights advocacy NGOs to helping organizations work through problems, manage change, and create and carryout multi-sectorial advocacy strategies. She is a leading expert on human rights and US policy toward Latin America.

As Executive Director of WOLA (the Washington Office on Latin America) from 2003-2016, she pioneered new approaches to advocacy in the areas of drug policy, youth gang violence prevention, and human rights and organized crime. She rebuilt this storied organization, leading it through a financial crisis, building cutting edge communications capacity, and doubling the budget by dramatically changing its fundraising structure to rebalance foundation and non-foundation income.

Ms. Olson testified before Congress seven times on Latin America policy issues ranging from human rights in Mexico to drug policy to the problems of poverty and inequality in the region.

Her many accomplishments include, developing and monitoring human rights conditionality in US assistance toward Latin America, leading NGO efforts to increase U.S. funding for and Central American peace accords implementation and a successful advocacy effort to lift the ban on food and medicine sales to Cuba. In the 1980s she worked on immigration and refugees issues, and developed legislation to suspend the deportation of Salvadoran refugees from the United States.

Prior to joining WOLA, Ms. Olson directed the Latin America Working Group (LAWG), a coalition of sixty non-governmental organizations working to promote peaceful and just U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America.

Ms. Olson earned a Masters degree in Latin American Studies from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, following two years’ work in community development in Honduras.

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