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Binational Staff

Al Zapanta
President & CEO
U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce
Tel: (703) 752-4752

Al Zapanta was born in Los Angeles, Calif., and attended local schools and college in the Los Angeles area. He received an Associate of Arts from East Los Angeles College, a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Psychology, a Master of Arts in Public Administration and completed course work for his Ph.D. in International Political Economics from the University of Southern California. He graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Business and the Inter-American Defense College, the National War College, in Washington, D.C. He speaks Spanish fluently and has an elementary knowledge of French.

In the private sector, he worked as an industrial engineer for Bethlehem Steel, and as Director of Governmental Affairs for ARCO until his retirement in 1993 after 18 years of service as a senior executive. During his time with ARCO, Al was responsible for negotiations with Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) on oil and gas matters and the copper mines owned by Anaconda, an acquisition of ARCO. He was also the company's representative to local, state and federal governments on oil and gas legislation, environmental regulation, transportation-related issues (pipelines, ocean tankers, tanker trucks and rail tank cars) and public affairs.

Al has held numerous Presidential appointments, including a White House fellow in 1973-74 and as Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Management and Administration from 1976-77. During both of these assignments he participated as chairman of Infrastructure Studies on Urban Mass Transit, Rail Transportation, the Airport Airways Study, the Water Conservation Initiative, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Fraud Review, the Teton Dam Disaster Audit, and was the Department's representative to the National Visitor Center Intermodal Station in Washington, D.C. Al was also appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on International Trade Technology and Development from 1981-1987, and by President George W. Bush as a private sector delegate to the U.S. - Mexico Partnership for Prosperity from 2001-Present. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfield appointed Al Zapanta to serve as Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) from 2002-2004.

He was appointed the first U.S. senior officer to lead a Peacekeeping Mission to the United Nations Referendum on the Western Sahara to serve with USSR, People's Republic of China, French and British military officers as the Chief of Staff. General Zapanta's military record includes the award of the Silver Star, five Bronze Stars for Valor, the Purple Heart and thirty other awards during the Vietnam War. He was also recently awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Restore Hope in Somalia and Restore Democracy in Haiti. Mr. Zapanta was appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia to the rank of Major General.

Presently, Al is the President and CEO of the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and is responsible for operations in eight regional offices in the United States and nine in Mexico.

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