Ambassador Jean Elizabeth Manes was confirmed by the Senate on December 9, 2015 as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador.
She is a member of the Senior Foreign Service with the Department of State, having joined in 1992 and has served under four Presidents. Throughout her career she has led large scale operations focusing on empowering people and prioritizing resources.
Ambassador Manes is passionate about education, business development, and the environment. She believes in comprehensive solutions that include government, business, civil society, and most importantly the contribution of every citizen.
Prior to confirmation, Ambassador Manes served as Principal Deputy Coordinator for the Bureau of International Information Programs, which leads 21st Century foreign public engagement, including digital strategies for outreach, technical infrastructure for over 450 Embassy and Consulate websites, and oversight of 700+ American Spaces around the world.
Previously, Ambassador Manes served as Director of Resources for the Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy, overseeing $1.2 billion for public diplomacy domestic and worldwide operations. She ensured resources were directly tied to foreign policy priorities making the best investments on behalf of the American people.
Overseas, Ambassador Manes served in Afghanistan in 2012-13 as Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy leading her team in press outreach, education initiatives, and the improvement of opportunities for women. She also served as Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in the Azores, Portugal, where she led negotiations for the U.S. military presence in the Azores as well as cooperation on environment and education programs.
Throughout her career in Syria, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Washington, DC, she has served as Embassy spokesperson, Director of the Fulbright Board, press advance for President Bill Clinton, and led culture and exchange programs to advance foreign policy. Education has always been a centerpiece of her career and stems from her core belief that education is the gateway to opportunities and every person can make a difference. For her service, she has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Lois Roth Award for Culture and Education Diplomacy, and the Public Diplomacy Alumni Association Award for Public Diplomacy Professional of the Year.
She is the author of a chapter in a book about Public Diplomacy, The Last Three Feet” from 2012, about her experience in Brazil and the impact of the U.S. Embassy exchange program, “Youth Ambassadors” designed for low income students.
Ambassador Manes holds a Master’s degree in International Administration from the American University which she pursued at night while working at the State Department. Her Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Policy is from Liberty University where she played volleyball and coached the men’s club volleyball team. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and is a native of Pompano Beach, Florida. Her family heritage is German and American Indian. She was raised in a small family business and the values of hard work, dedication and perseverance remain central to her career. Having grown up near the ocean, Ambassador Manes has a deep appreciation for protection of the environment and volunteers for a Turtle Rescue Center in Florida.
Her spouse, Héctor R. Cerpa is from Salto, Uruguay, as are their two daughters, Connie and Candela. They enjoy outdoor family time hiking, fishing, kayaking, and in particular they love traveling to explore different food and cultures.