Celebrating the Life of John Sanbrailo, 1943-2019


Washington, D.C. (April 22, 2019) – Former Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) Executive Director John Sanbrailo passed away peacefully in his home in Vienna, VA on Saturday, April 20. Throughout his astounding career, John inspired his friends and colleagues, and he will be remembered affectionately for his unwavering commitment to peace and progress in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We are mourning the loss of such a steadfast supporter of Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Kristan Beck, Chief Operating Officer at PADF, “but we are celebrating John’s incredible life. His dedication to improving lives was evident not only in his extensive career accomplishments but in his daily interactions with those around him.”

Before passing, John wrote that his colleagues from the Peace Corps, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and PADF along with his compassionate friends, neighbors and Our Lady of Good Counsel Church were a great inspiration to him. 

In 1999, PADF’s Board of Trustees recruited John as its new Chief Executive Officer. He dedicated 18 years to rebuilding and growing PADF as a more effective instrument for supporting Inter-American solidarity, raising the incomes and living standards of those in Latin America and the Caribbean. His work mobilized and expended almost $1.0 billion while strengthening local non-governmental organizations and municipalities. Due to health conditions, John retired from PADF on September 30, 2017. During John’s last years, the Foundation grew to record numbers, reaching over 10 million people in 2018. 

John graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in economics and international relations. After graduating, he joined the Peace Corps in Venezuela, thereby beginning his life-long career in international development. Later, John attended San Francisco State University and obtained a master’s degree in economic development and international relations, where he was then recruited by USAID for assignment in Quito, Ecuador. There, he met his wife Cecilia and married in 1974. 

From 1976-1979, John served as USAID’s Assistant Director for Project Development and Director for Programming, Planning, Budgeting and Evaluation in the Latin American Bureau, where he established a strategy for reforming struggling economies. He then served as USAID Mission Director in Ecuador, Peru, Honduras and El Salvador, respectively, over a span of fourteen consecutive years. His work focused on improving democratic governance, rural development and access to public health, among others. John worked closely with influential politicians like Ecuadorian Presidents Jaime Roldós and Osvaldo Hurtado, and the National Government and Honduran Congress, who provided him one of the country’s highest honors for his service to their respective countries. He also received a Presidential Award in 1993 for his work in Honduras. John also served as a consultant to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Ecuadorian government.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the “USAID Alumni Association.”

Sunday, April 28th, 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Money & King Funeral Home
171 West Maple Avenue
Vienna, VA 22180

Monday, April 29th, 10:00am
Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church
8601 Wolftrap Road, SE
Vienna, VA 22182
Luncheon to follow at the church