Menu Close

Leland Lazarus

Associate Director of National Security, Florida International University

Leland Lazarus serves as Associate Director of National Security at Florida International University’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy. He is also a nonresident Fellow of the Atlantic Council Global China Hub, and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

From 2021 to 2022, Leland served as the Special Assistant and Speechwriter to the Commander of U.S. Southern Command. He advised the Commander on a broad spectrum of subjects, issues, and policy considerations related to China in Latin America and the Caribbean; helped develop SOUTHCOM’s counter-PRC strategic messaging; and provided focused support and operational and strategic research to the Commander.

From 2016-2021, Leland was a State Department Foreign Service Officer, serving as Deputy Public Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean; Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Shenyang, China; and Pickering Fellow at U.S. Embassy Beijing and the China Desk in DC.

Before joining the U.S. government, Leland worked as an Associate Producer at China Central Television, and taught English Language as a Fulbright scholar in Panama. He leads the Diversity and Inclusion initiatives as 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, The Miami Herald, Foreign Policy Magazine, Sinica podcast, SupChina, TedX, The Diplomat, and The National Interest.

Throughout his career, Leland has received recognitions, such as being selected for the 2022 Center for a New American Security Shawn Brimley Next Generation National Security Leaders Program, and the 2022 American Mandarin Society African American China Leadership Fellows Program. He also received awards such as the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award from the Defense Department, and the Distinguished Honor Award from the State Department.

Fluent in both Mandarin and Spanish, He holds an M.A. in U.S.-China Foreign Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a B.A. in International Relations at Brown University.


  • 2022–present
    Associate Director of National Security, Florida International University Jack Gordon Institute for Public Policy
  • 2021–2022
    Special Assistant/Speechwriter, U.S. Southern Command
  • 2016–2021
    U.S. Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State


  • 2016 
    Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Masters in Law and Diplomacy
  • 2012 
    Brown University, Bachelors in International Relations


  • 2023
    Diversity among diplomats will strengthn U.S. foreign policy, Washington Post
  • 2023
    The Friction Points in Brazil-China Relations, The Diplomat
  • 2023
    China is Exploiting a U.S. Police Void in Latin America, Foreign Policy
  • 2023
    What Taiwan can Learn from Honduras's Switch to China, Foreign Policy
  • 2023
    US must counter China's trade inroads in Latin America by making these moves, The Miami Herald
  • 2023
    China is Banking on Argentina's Future Glory, The Diplomat
  • 2022
    China's New Year Ambitions for Latin America and the Caribbean, The Diplomat
  • 2022
    Washington Must Respond to China's Growing Military Presence in Latin America, Foreign Policy
  • 2021
    How China Helps the Cuban Regime Stay Afloat and Shut Down Protests, The Diplomat

Professional Memberships

  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • Atlantic Council Global China Hub