Associate Director of National Security Policy Program
Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy
Leland Lazarus serves as Associate Director of Research at Florida International University’s Jack D. Gordon Institute of 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 U.S. national security and governance in Latin America and the Caribbean.
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.