Michael A. Orona

Michael A. Orona has worked for the U.S. Department of State for 18 years where he has held an array of senior-level foreign policy advisory positions. From 2018-2019, Michael served at the White House as National Security Council Director for African Affairs where he oversaw foreign policy formulation and chaired senior-level U.S. government meetings focused on a diversity of issues facing the continent. During the Obama administration, he served as Special Advisor to the U.S. Department of State’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs during the tenure of Secretary of State John Kerry. From 2009-2013, Michael served at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he helped to gain the release of three human rights prisoners of conscience. From 2005-2009, he served as deputy director and later promoted to serve as director for the State Department’s Office of Human Rights, Democracy, and Labor. He currently serves as Division Chief in the State Department’s African Affairs Bureau.  

In 2004, Michael helped to establish the U.S. State Department’s Atrocities Documentation team, which included U.S. government officials and NGO representatives that were dispatched by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to investigate the violence in Darfur, Sudan. For more than six weeks, the team, led by Michael, lived in tents and traveled along the Chad/Sudan border documenting atrocities, which included providing reports in real time to senior government officials back in Washington. The evidence gathered by the team led directly to the U.S. government’s historic determination of genocide in Darfur.   
Recognized as an honest broker on U.S. foreign policy matters among democratic and republican administrations alike, Michael has received four U.S. Department of State Superior Honor Awards and three Meritorious Honor Awards for his work promoting and protecting human rights throughout Asia and Africa.

Michael Orona is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University (’92 B.A. Criminal Justice). He is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps University – Command and Staff College in Quantico, Va., where he received the Foreign Area Officer Association award for exceptional research in international affairs.  Michael is married with three children and lives in the Washington, D.C., area.