Lauri Fitz-Pegado

Advisor, Advocate, Author, Teacher, Memoir: Dancing in the Dash: My Story of Empowerment, Diplomacy, and Resilience
  • Former U.S. Foreign Service Officer specializing in cultural affairs, dancer, Director General of the Foreign Commercial Service and corporate executive with extensive knowledge of cultural and commercial diplomacy
  • Insight into how culture shapes global relationships and foreign policy
  • Reflecting on her international career in diplomacy, policy, public affairs, communications and advocacy, Lauri captivates audiences with her life story.

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Cultural and commercial diplomacy are the hallmarks of Lauri’s career working at the Voice of America, the U.S. Information Agency, and serving as a Foreign Service Officer in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. A former Assistant Secretary and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, she managed 130 overseas and 90 domestic offices engaged in promoting US exports. Lauri was a senior executive at Hill and Knowlton and Gray and Company, and a partner at The Livingston Group. She also was a senior executive at Iridium, LLC, a mobile satellite company created by Motorola.

She now applies her communications, public relations business and leadership experience to mentoring, teaching ballet, advising dance institutions, promoting artists, writing, and board service. Her focus is promoting equity, inclusion and support for marginalized communities engaged in the arts. She is co-founder of The Collective (, dedicated to support ballet teachers and students of color in the DMV.

A Jones-Haywood School of Dance alumna, Lauri performed with the Capitol Ballet, Vassar Dance Theater, and Ballet Santo Domingo. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and has a B.A. cum laude from Vassar College, M.A from the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

She serves on the board of directors of The Washington Ballet, the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, and Mother Jones. She is on the Advisory Board of the Ron Brown Scholars, is a Senior Advisor for the International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the International Women’s Forum.

Lauri’s children and grandchildren live in Scotland, Angola, and Mozambique.

Her memoir, Dancing in the Dash: My Story of Empowerment, Diplomacy, and Resilience was published by Bold Story Press. ( (

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Speaker Video

Lauri Fitz-Pegado and Dance Institute of Washington's Kahina Haynes in Conversation

Addressing Racialization in Ballet

An African American Woman’s Path to Empowerment, Diplomacy and Resilience

Focus: Lauri’s Memoir: Dancing in the Dash

The unique connection between life skills acquired through the rigors of dance and a career in the Foreign Service, communications, public affairs, international trade, telecommunications, and advocacy.

The Role of Cultural Diplomacy and Cultural Competence in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security

Focus: Relevance to how U.S. policy, domestic and foreign, has undervalued cultural diplomacy; the importance of understanding the impact of culture and incorporating it into global relationships.

Debunking “Racialization” in the Creative Sector: Why Does is Matter?

Focus: Business, moral, and ethical imperatives

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