Roberta Jacobson Fills Long-Vacant Ambassador to Mexico Post

MAY 25, 2016
By: Justin Chapman, Pacific Council

On April 28, following 11 months of congressional gridlock, Roberta Jacobson was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. This is an important moment in the U.S.-Mexico relationship, with issues like trade, immigration, and border security at the top of the agenda.

Jacobson’s confirmation came just one week after the Mexican senate approved Carlos M. Sada as Mexico’s ambassador to the United States. The Pacific Council has a close working partnership with Ambassador Sada. With his help and support, we recently launched our new Mexico Initiative.

Ambassador Jacobson, a career civil servant and distinguished diplomat in the U.S. State Department, previously served as Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary for North America, and Director of Mexican Affairs.

Roberta Jacobson is "among the most highly qualified people ever tapped to represent the United States in Mexico." - Michael Camuñez, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce

Her confirmation has received bipartisan praise. "On issues ranging from trade to migration to security and the border, the interests of the United States are served... when our nation is well-represented in Mexico," said Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ). "Though long overdue, I’m pleased that the Senate has confirmed an individual as qualified and capable as Roberta Jacobson to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico."

Jacobson’s confirmation vote had been held up in the Senate due to her role in normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations. In order to drop the hold on Jacobson, the White House had to agree to several conditions, including that the State Department train Foreign Service Officers on the value of religious freedom, produce 40 new reports a year on a number of diverse issues, extend sanctions on Venezuelan government officials by another three years, and more.

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael C. Camuñez, a Pacific Council director, wrote in an op-ed that Jacobson is "among the most highly qualified people ever tapped to represent the United States in Mexico."

Secretary of State John Kerry also praised Jacobson’s record of service. "We are sending one of our finest diplomats to advance this important relationship," said Secretary of State John Kerry. "No one is more qualified than Roberta to represent the United States in Mexico. I will continue to count on her leadership and sound advice to advance our economic and political relationship with our partner and friend."


Justin Chapman is the Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Want more on Mexico? Read about the Pacific Council’s Mexico Initiative, which aims to expand programming, strengthen outreach and recruitment efforts, and produce analysis and commentary to inform public discourse regarding the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship.

Learn how you can directly contribute to the Pacific Council’s work on U.S.-Mexico relations. Support us now.


Posted by Pasadena Weekly Staff | May 24, 2016

Some couples meet when they are children attending school together. Others meet years later at high school reunions, through friends’ introductions, or at Happy Hours and other events for singles. Many more hook up via Internet dating sites or Facebook and other social media. And while all marriage proposals ask prospective partners, “Will you marry me,” this question can be posed in innumerable ways and settings unique to each couple.     

The five couples profiled in “Arroyo Weddings” illustrate a small segment of this diversity. Their choices of wedding and reception venues, photographers, caterers, hair and makeup stylists, and the many other details that create the perfect wedding demonstrate their individual tastes, values and priorities. 

The five profiles also offer suggestions for vendors that can be employed at other weddings. But don’t fret if you disagree with these choices — a large selection of other vendors is available to help design the specific atmosphere you desire on your wedding day. 




Marcile Vadell-Strickland and Andy Montoya met when they sat across the classroom from each other at Monterey Hills Elementary School in South Pasadena. However, Marcile recalls that Andy wouldn’t talk to her. “However, he did sit in the backseat of my mom’s car as we gave him rides home from Monterey Hills Elementary School,” she explains on the Tie the Knot website. “My mom now reminisces about how I would tell her ‘I like this boy, Andy. I like his face.’” However, the two eventually lost touch with each other.

More than 20 years later, Marcile’s dad and best friend convinced her to attend her 13th high school reunion, telling her “You’ll never know who is hoping you’ll be there.” That person was Andy, and the couple reconnected while dancing and talking. The next night they went on their first date; nine months later, they visited their former elementary school, where Andy proposed to Marcile outside their classroom.  

Andy and Marcile were married on Nov. 21, 2015 at the First Baptist Church in Pasadena. A yellow school bus transported guests to the ceremony and reception — a tribute to the elementary school where the Montoyas began their relationship.  



Wedding Venue: First Baptist Church, 75 N. Marengo Ave., Pasadena; (626) 793-7164, 

Reception Venue: Calamigos Equestrian, 480 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank; (818) 9782-5940,

Photographer/Videographer: K. Fiero Photography; (949) 505-3353,

Cake: Porto’s Bakery & Café, 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; (818) 956-5996,

Floral: Jessica Gray at Vave Studios, 950 Mission St., South Pasadena; (323) 487-9147,

Entertainment: DJ Albert Gonzalez, (626) 375-4822; Aaron Copenhaugen, guitarist; El Canito Cigar Events (909) 772-5121; 

Bridal Gown: Connie Tao Designs, 23 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; (626) 765-5939;

Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nordstrom;

Groom’s Tux: Macy’s;


Transportation: A yellow school bus to honor the fact that they met in elementary school




Chelsea Lee and Thomas Wuyek met in 2006 when they were freshmen at Johnson & Wales University in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Tommy was studying culinary arts and Chelsea was studying baking and pastry arts. “Our passion and love for food is what initially brought us together,” says Chelsea. “We love spending time cooking together just as much as we love going out and eating a good meal.”

After completing their college educations, the couple moved to California, Chelsea’s home state. During a 2013 trip to San Diego, Tommy, Chelsea and her parents spent the day on Coronado Island. While sitting on a bench watching the waves roll in, Tommy pulled out an engagement ring and proposed to Chelsea. 

 “I was a mess, in a pair of old jeans and a T-shirt, and my hair was crazy from being windblown by the salty air,” Chelsea recalls. “It was not how I thought I would look when I imagined being proposed to. But it didn’t matter; I had never been so happy in all my life.” Later that day, Chelsea’s sister joined the other family members for a celebratory dinner. 

The couple experienced some hard times during their two-year engagement: Tommy needed to have back surgery and Chelsea was saddened by her grandmother’s death. But the couple continued to love and support each other. They were married at the USC Pacific Asia Museum in December 2015



Wedding Venue: USC Pacific Asia Museum, 46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena; (626) 449-2742,  

Reception Venue: USC Pacific Asia Museum 

Photographer/Videographer: Samantha Turchin; (310) 738-8054,

Cake: Porto’s Bakery & Café; 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; (818) 956-5996,

Floral: Vave Studios; 950 Mission St., South Pasadena; (323) 487-9147,

Catering: Billotti’s Catering; 45 N. San Gabriel Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 354-1295,

Wedding Planner/Consultant: Jessica Wuyek; (443) 622-6747

Bridal Gown: Tak Hua at Aria; 850 S. Broadway, Suite 604, Los Angeles; (213) 629-6981, 

Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Angelo; 1036#B West Covina Parkway, West Covina: (626) 813-7700,

Groom’s Tux: Garment District, Downtown Los Angeles

Hair & Makeup: Heather Roach; (323) 212-2204,

Stationery/Invitations: VistaPrint; 




Solomon and Pearl Henderson have been married for more than 50 years. The couple met at a wedding, at which Pearl, a bridesmaid, recalls she “was taking a breather at the reception because the cheap, tight shoes dyed-to-match were hurting my feet. … Sol drove up in his red, convertible Jaguar, wearing a hat with a pipe in his mouth. I thought ‘What a handsome, debonair gentlemen. Who is he?’”

The couple struggled with their relationship for four years before getting married. “We were both feeling rather jaded after broken engagements, so it was not easy for us to get into a serious relationship,” says Pearl. “However, from the beginning we knew that something quite special was there between us.” Although they dated others, the two always came back together.

Sol never officially proposed to Pearl. But when Pearl visited Sol at the California National Guard facility during his two-week summer training, she was surprised when he introduced her as his “fiancé.” Six months later, on Dec. 19, 1965, the couple married at the Wilshire Methodist Church in Los Angeles, with a reception in the fellowship hall.

In December 1990, after 25 years of marriage, the Hendersons renewed their vows during a ceremony at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel. Twenty-five years later, they again renewed their vows in a ceremony at the Grand Wailea Hotel in Maui, Hawaii; they also celebrated their golden anniversary with a luncheon reception at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel on Dec. 20, 2015. 

The following information refers to the Hendersons’ 50th anniversary reception in Pasadena: 



Reception Venue: Pasadena Hilton Hotel, 168 S. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena; (626) 577-1000,

Photographer/Videographer: Jerome Sykes at Photographic Memories, 37827 Wisteria Trail, Palmdale; (323) 270-1870,

Cake: Pastries by Nancy, 761 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena; (626) 794-9839,

Floral: Jacob Maarse, 655 E. Green St., Pasadena; (626) 449-0246;

Entertainment: Jazz musician Billy Mitchell and friends; (626) 641-3262 

Bridal Gown: Mon Amie, 355 S. Bristol Ave., Costa Mesa;  (714) 546-5700, 

Hair & Makeup: Chris Owens at Classy Cuts; (323) 708-1920 

Stationery/Invitations: Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 449-4320,


mutual friend introduced Jacque Robinson and Marcus Baisley about 13 years ago. The two dated for three months before ending their relationship. “I admit,” says Jacque, “I looked for him occasionally on and off through social media throughout the years and could never find a connection. Then one day in 2014 — Aug. 17, to be exact — I found him on Facebook.”

Their reconnection led to another round of dating. By then, Jacque was serving her second term on the Pasadena City Council, and in 2015 she ran for mayor, eventually losing to Councilman Terry Tornek. In the midst of the campaign, Marcus proposed to Jacque during a brief trip to Las Vegas.

“He filmed me in the car asking ‘What would I think if I came back married?’” Jacque recalls. “And I responded that I wasn’t ready because my hair wasn’t done and I didn’t have anything to wear (of all things). It never crossed my mind that the proposal was the purpose of our trip.” After arriving at their hotel, Marcus placed an engagement ring on the bed, knelt on one knee and asked Jacque to marry him.

The couple married on Oct. 24, 2015 at the Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena. The date was carefully chosen. “His birthday is April 2 and mine is June 22,” explains Jackie. “Our wedding date is the combination of our birth months and days.”  



Wedding Venue: Scott United Methodist Church, 444 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 793-0543,

Reception Venue: Sophia Room at Noor, 300 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 200, Pasadena; (626) 793-4518,

Photographer/Videographer: Billy Preston at BP Photo 

Cake: Southern Girl Desserts, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 100, Los Angeles; (323) 293-2253;

Floral: Scarlett Flowers Designs; (626) 593-2034,

Entertainment: DJ Pierre Hall 

Wedding Planner/Consultant: Jacqueline Snell of Events by Jacqueline; (626) 399-3042

Bridal Gown: Panache Bridal, 78 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; (626) 585-8200,

Bridesmaids’ Dresses: David’s Bridal;

Hair Salon: Josephine Robinson at Salon 580; (626) 644-1778,

Makeup Salon: Nicole Stephens at Glamluxxe Makeup Artistry; (626) 644-5951,

Stationery/Invitations: Online at Paperless Post;

Transportation: Hertz, 2070 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 578-0443; 



Mercedes Blackehart, a freelance artist, videographer and production designer, and Justin Chapman, a writer and communications associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy,  could have known each other years before they started dating. The two grew up in Pasadena and Altadena, lived a few blocks from each other when they were children, had mutual friends in elementary and middle schools, and attended the same high school in Los Angeles. But they had never met until Mercedes began surfing the Internet.   

While waiting for a flight at a Toronto airport in 2012, Mercedes perused the OkCupid online dating site and viewed Justin’s profile. Justin later sent a message to Mercedes and the two agreed to a first date at a wine bar in Old Pasadena.  Within a couple of weeks they had moved in together and within nine months they were engaged. 

Justin, a longtime contributor to the Pasadena Weekly, formally proposed to Mercedes while they visited Hangzhou, China, a lush lake garden city with which the two instantly fell in love. Handed a gold pouch adorned with Chinese symbols, Mercedes opened it to find a box containing Justin’s grandmother’s ring. Justin bent down on one knee to propose, and despite some complaints that the ring didn’t fit and that she should have worn a better shirt, Mercedes said yes.

Mercedes and Justin married at the Zorthian Ranch in Altadena on Sept. 19, 2015, with Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek officiating. The wedding theme was “Embrace Your Inner Creature.” Mercedes, friends and family members made the hand-drawn invitations, the papier-mache animal centerpieces, masks for the photo booth, and other decorations. The couple’s Chihuahua-mix dogs, Nico and Fiona, served as ring bearers.  


Wedding Venue: Zorthian Ranch, 3990 Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena; (626) 797-3359,

Reception Venue: Zorthian Ranch

Photographer: Siouxzen Kang; (323) 301-3893,

Videographer: Jaq Schmidt;

Catering: Gourmet a Go Go; (818) 249-9034,

Entertainment: Stoop Steady 6; (626) 710-7575,; Music Mania, (661) 619-6455,

Officiant: Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek; (626) 744-4111, 

Khalilzad: America Needs a Policy of "Congagement" with Iran

MAY 12, 2016
By: Justin Chapman, Pacific Council

The United States should continue to resist Iran’s push for regional hegemony even while finding ways to work together, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told Pacific Council members during an event on May 9.

Ambassador Khalilzad was the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations (2007-2009), U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (2005-2007), and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (2003-2005). He referred to this policy as “congagement”: containment and engagement.

“You have to use all tools: pressure, engagement, and talking,” Khalilzad explained. “Why not have flights between New York and Tehran? Why not have [Secretary of State John] Kerry visit Tehran, and have [Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad] Zarif come to Washington?”

Khalilzad emphasized that the three major regional powers – Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – need to come to an understanding and establish rules for engagement, given Washington's desire not to be extensively involved in Middle East affairs.

“As we engage Iran, we also need to reassure a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Khalilzad is the author of a new book, The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World. In the book, Khalilzad details his experiences under three presidential administrations. He argues that America needs an intelligent, effective foreign policy informed by long-term thinking and supported by bipartisan commitment.

Khalilzad argued the United States should continue to support the Afghanistan government and expressed his concern that the United States might prematurely abandon the region.

“We should sustain a level of support for the Afghan armed services, encourage diplomacy between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and continue to do counter-terror operations [in the region],” he told the group.

Khalilzad is also the founder and president of Gryphon Partners, a global advisory firm focused on frontier markets.

"We need to do what we can to preserve a society where different cultures contribute to America."

When asked why he joined presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s foreign policy team, Khalilzad denied the claim.

“I didn’t join his foreign policy team or endorse him, I just introduced him before he gave a foreign policy speech,” he said. “Have things gotten so bad in this country that you can’t even introduce someone? I introduced him to show that someone with a Muslim background could be trusted. We need to do what we can to preserve a society where different cultures contribute to America.”


Justin Chapman is the Communications Associate at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.