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José Tomás Perez, MA ‘92
Photo courtesy of José Tomás Pérez

There are almost 2 million Dominicans living in the U.S., and one Webster graduate is ambassador for them all.

José Tomás Pérez, 62, was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Dominican Republic to the United States in December of 2014. Before taking on this prestigious role, Pérez ran publicity campaigns for political officials, helped launch the School of Marketing at a prestigious university in Santo Domingo, was a professor at his alma maters, and even ran for president on the ticket of the Dominican Liberation Party.

Born in Santiago, the D.R.’s second largest city, Pérez studied civil engineering and psychology before coming to the United States to earn his master’s in marketing at Webster University’s St. Louis campus. It was this degree he says changed trajectory of his career: Not only did it give him a better grasp on the English language and American politics, but it helped establish skills in management and, most importantly, gave him a broader view of the world.

Numerous degrees, world travel, and high-ranking leadership roles have all helped Pérez succeed, but coming from a large family (he has 10 brothers and sisters), he says, is what gave him the social skills needed to interact with people—a quality that doesn’t go unnoticed when representing an entire country and its people.

José Tomás Perez, MA ‘92 with President Jimmy Carter
Photo courtesy of José Tomás Pérez
  • “My main daily task as ambassador is to maintain a healthy and productive relationship between our government and the U.S. government, emphasizing the economic and commercial issues. We also have the important mission of taking care of the interests of Dominicans in the United States, protecting and listening to it continuously.”
  • “The main challenge is to maintain a good relationship between the D.R. and the U.S. We have a free trade agreement that we have to take care of. Our country exports almost 90 percent of its production to the United States. The trade balance between the D.R. and the U.S. is about 15 billion dollars a year. So the D.R. and the U.S. need each other.”
  • “Other tasks include promoting our values and culture as a country, issuing special visas to the official staffs in U.S., dealing with deportation, attending diplomatic receptions, tracking and evaluating the results of the free trade agreement between the two countries, and promoting tourism and foreign investments.”
  • “I have contacts with high federal and government officials, with congressmen, with senators. Undoubtedly, when you hold a position in public office you have a unique opportunity to get to know the world and its great personalities. If there has been something transcendent and that I value in my career, it is precisely that opportunity.”
  • “A memorable moment occurred during my presentation of the diplomatic credentials when president Obama started talking to my 12-year-old daughter about her school and other topics related to her new life in D.C. I was impressed with his humility and good sense of humor. My child said that she felt like she was in front of a normal and common man. She perceived him as a very comfortable and warm person. And, really, he is.”
  • “I had never thought about being an ambassador, I had never thought about the diplomatic field. The opportunity came to me at a time when the current president, Danilo Medina, who has been my personal friend for more than 30 years, called me and asked me if I was interested in being an ambassador. I consulted with my wife, who at that time was a United Nations official. She was the one that really compelled me to make the decision to accept the position.”
  • “Being ambassador has been a wonderful experience, as I have had the opportunity to serve my country in a very splendid manner. The people that I met here, from different countries and cultures have transformed the way that I see the world and have influenced my mind to be more open and tolerant.”