Leland Lazarus is the Associate Director of National Security at Florida International University’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy. He is the technical expert on China-Latin America relations and manages a team of researchers and interns that collect data and analysis on US national security and governance in Latin America and the Caribbean.
From 2021 to 2022, Lazarus served as the special assistant and speechwriter to the commander of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). He advised the commander on a broad spectrum of policy considerations related to China in Latin America and the Caribbean; helped develop SOUTHCOM’s counter-China strategic messaging; and provided focused support and operational and strategic research to the commander.
From 2016 to 2021, Lazarus was a US State Department foreign service officer, serving as deputy public affairs officer at US Embassy Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean; consular officer at the US Consulate General in Shenyang, China; and Pickering fellow at US Embassy Beijing and the China Desk in Washington, DC.
Before joining the US government, Lazarus worked as an associate producer at China Central Television and taught English as a Fulbright scholar in Panama. He leads the Diversity and Inclusion initiatives as a board member of the Fulbright Association and founded the Chinese Language Group under the National Association for Black Engagement in Asia. His articles and commentary have appeared on The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, the Sinica Podcast, TedX, and the National Interest.
Throughout his career, Leland has received awards such as the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award from the US Department of Defense and the Distinguished Honor Award from the State Department. He is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a nonresident Fellow at the Atlantic Council Global China Hub.
Fluent in both Mandarin and Spanish, He holds an MA in US-China foreign policy from the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a BA in international relations from Brown University.