Seattle International Foundation (SIF) today named José Arturo Aguilar as its new Executive Director. Aguilar is an internationally-renowned human rights defender and political strategist, with more than 20 years of experience championing justice and democracy in Latin America, especially in his home country of Guatemala.

In Aguilar, SIF has found a passionate, visionary leader committed to social justice with deep experience working with public, private, and diplomatic entities throughout Latin America, the United States, and Europe. Most recently, Aguilar, who goes by Arturo, served as senior advisor and second in command on the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Prior to his work at CICIG, from 2011-2014 Aguilar was the Secretary of Strategic and Private Affairs and top advisor to Claudia Paz y Paz, Guatemala’s former Attorney General.

Aguilar’s passion for service began while his home country was still at war in the late 1990’s. He worked at the Office of Human Rights for the Archbishop of Guatemala (ODHAG) for over 10 years, where he served as coordinator of legal affairs. Aguilar went on to champion other cases, eventually landing a key position as the coordinator for strategic litigation at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala (OHCHR). Aguilar has a Master of Sciences in Strategic Studies and Political Science and a JD equivalent, both from Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where he also taught as an Adjunct Professor of Law.

“In Arturo, SIF has gained a widely respected human rights advocate with an outstanding track record for developing new initiatives with quantifiable results. He brings a commitment to social justice, coupled with diplomacy and the ability to build partnerships across sectors,” said Bill Clapp, SIF’s Founder and Board Chair. “We are thrilled to have someone with Arturo’s expertise lead SIF through its next phase of growth and impact, and I look forward to working closely with him on our new strategy in Central America.”

“Central America has an unprecedented, historic opportunity to embark on a profound cultural and political transformation toward a more open and inclusive democratic model. As friends and partners of the region, SIF must help shape this transformation with our work and our passion for sustainable change,” Aguilar said.

Given his past experience, Aguilar is the ideal leader to guide SIF in fulfilling its mission to reduce poverty and inequality, and increase opportunity especially for underrepresented communities. SIF is thrilled to have a new leader from the region, in line with its commitment to the future of Central America.

“Arturo has a strong ability to build bridges across sectors, as well as positive relations with many external government officials, including in the United States. His extensive experience in building effective partnerships and cross-sector efforts, added to his personal passion, will be a profound help to SIF’s mission,” Clapp continued. “His background and connections will help us in our effort to increase U.S. support and cooperation for the region.”

SIF will also continue to work to increase internationally-focused philanthropy from the greater Seattle region, one of SIF’s founding goals.

For more information about this announcement, please contact Kathleen Steffen, SIF’s Deputy Director, at

To learn more about Arturo Aguilar please visit SIF’s website.

More about Seattle International Foundation

Seattle International Foundation (SIF) has a strategic focus on Central America, based on its founders’ 20 plus years of experience working throughout the region. Bill and Paula Clapp first began by helping to develop the microfinance community through founding Global Partnerships. They subsequently founded SIF in 2008, with a focus on the international community in Seattle and development work in Central America, where they had their start.

SIF organizes the annual Central America Donors Forum; publishes research on funding to the region; and collaborates with both current and future leaders, as well as networks throughout the region. SIF also facilitates grantmaking on behalf of other donors to the region, such as the CAMY Fund (Central America & Mexico Youth Fund), which provides grants to youth-led projects. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter @SeaIF and on Facebook.