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U.S. executive director of Inter-American Development Bank visits Cornell

Gustavo Arnavat '84, U.S. Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), visited Cornell April 6 and 7 to meet with faculty and students.

The IDB is the largest source of multilateral funding for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the United States is its largest shareholder with more than 30 percent of the bank's voting capital. In 2009 Arnavat was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the Senate as the representative of the United States on the IDB's board of executive directors, which is responsible for day-to-day oversight of the IDB's operations. He is also a senior member of the Department of the Treasury's International Affairs team.

In an Arts and Sciences College Career Conversation, Arnavat told students that his family emigrated from Cuba to the United States through Mexico in the late 1960s, ending up in South Florida. He said he experienced a profound sense of freedom after coming to America -- a freedom he especially felt as an undergraduate at Cornell, where he majored in government.

"I loved my experience at Cornell," he said, adding that Cornell gave him the chance to follow his intellectual curiosity and the opportunity to participate in many student organizations.

Speaking to the International Trade and Finance class taught by applied economics and management professor David Lee, he discussed the work of the IDB throughout the Americas and how such work promotes United States national security and economic interests. He also discussed the emerging need to focus on citizen security issues, noting that "it's hard to have economic development in the absence of security." Arnavat also met with faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture and Life Science, the ILR School and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies while on campus.

After graduating from Cornell, Arnavat received an M.P.P. degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellow. Prior to attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania, he was a Presidential Management fellow at the White House, the State Department and the Department of Justice.

Arnavat has almost two decades of international legal and banking experience on Wall Street, where he focused on Latin American financial and mergers and acquisitions transactions. During the 2008 presidential election, he was a member of the Obama for America National Leadership Council and advised senior campaign officials on Latin America policy. Following the election, he served on the Obama-Biden Transition Team in Washington, D.C.

His visit to Cornell was sponsored by the Department of Alumni Affairs and Development.

Linda Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Blaine Friedlander