Juan Carlos Portilla graduated as a lawyer from the Sabana Law School in February, 2000, and successfully completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Administrative Law at Rosario University in August, 2001. Juan Carlos carried out graduate studies in Economics Law at the Externado Law School in which CONTEXTO, an Externado Law Review, published his master’s thesis for graduation in 2009. He earned a certificate from Harvard Law School for completing the Fall 2011 Negotiation and Dispute Resolution course.
As a law student, Juan Carlos did an internship at the Good Government Foundation, and was elected by Colombian students to the 1997 Liberal Party National Convention. He then worked for the legal division at the Bogota Chamber of Commerce. In 2000, he worked for the Colombian Ministry of Finance, in which he joined the government team that led the Colombian economic recovery. At the Finance Ministry, he was in charge of legal affairs under the General Secretary. In 2003, the government promoted him to work abroad as an international officer, where he went to Tegucigalpa-Honduras to work for the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, in which Colombia is one of the extra-territorial shareholders. Juan Carlos taught law at St. Thomas of Aquinas University for two years and was one of the emerging leaders who created the National Party for Social Unity. After the 2006 presidential election, Juan Carlos spent two years working for the private sector as a vice president of the Colombian Federation of Entrepreneurs. He served as a Board of Director member at the Tourism Promotion Fund of Colombia, which is part of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.
In 2009, he returned to public service when Colombian president Alvaro Uribe appointed him to be Superintendent of Surveillance and Private Security, a position within the Ministry of National Defense. Juan Carlos shut down private armies with links to drug trafficking and criminal gangs, demonstrating the government’s commitment to tackling the drug crisis. As Superintendent, he also played a leadership role in the approval of a bill reforming the statute governing the private security industry in Colombia’s Senate Committee on Defense, National Security and Foreign Affairs.
Juan Carlos has published several articles on law and public policy in Portfolio, one of the most influential Colombian business newspapers. He is married to Lina Alejandra Morales, with whom he has a six year-old boy, Juan Carlos Jr. At Fletcher, he will be studying a master’s degree in public international law (LL.M). Juan Carlos strongly believes that his Fletcher education will boost his professional future. He would like to work for an international organization, and in the long-term return to Colombia to pursue his ultimate goal in life to serve his country.