Dennis Hays joined the Foreign Service fresh out of the University of Florida and was first assigned to the Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica as a vice consul and management officer. Mr. Hays then returned to the Department of State in Washington where he was an Advance Man for Presidential and Vice Presidential visits overseas, spending four to six weeks in foreign capitals preparing for Presidential delegations.
After a year at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard, where he received a Masters Degree in Public Administration, and two tours as the elected President of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), Mr. Hays served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at our Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi. From there he served first as DCM and then for two years as Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana. At this time the Inspector General formally recognized Dennis as having the best managed mid-sized Embassy worldwide.
After a year at the National War College at Ft. McNair, Mr. Hays became the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs during the time of the Cuban Rafter Crisis. He resigned from that position in the wake of a policy shift he felt he couldn’t support and was reassigned as Director of Mexican Affairs where he focused on NAFTA implementation. Mr. Hays completed his service as Ambassador to the Republic of Suriname. Mr Hays was awarded the Meritorious Honor Award in 1979 and the Superior Honor Award in 1982, 1987, 1992 and 1995. He was presented the Christian Herter Award for Intellectual Courage and Creative Dissent in 1996 for his actions as Cuba Coordinator.
After retiring from the Service, Mr. Hays was the Executive Vice President of the Cuban American National Foundation, the largest organization in the world working for Cuban freedom. He has also worked as a lobbyist for domestic and foreign technology companies, for an advanced nuclear fuel technology company and currently in the field of rule of law, anti-corruption and police reform and training overseas. In all of these positions he has had direct and ongoing contact with our Embassies. Mr. Hays also frequently travels to Ft. Bragg and other military establishments to train Special Forces soldiers preparing to be assigned to our Embassies overseas on how to effectively operate in a foreign environment.
Ambassador Hays retains a strong interest in Cuba and US/Cuban affairs. He frequently speaks and debates on the subject and appears on national news programs.