Dagnija Krēsliņa (née Stemme) was a child born in exile. During the World War II, Dagnija’s father, Kārlis Stemme from the town of Jelgava was conscripted and served in the Latvian Legion. After the war, he lived in Darmstadt, Germany where he met Laimdota Zvirbule and married her. When their daughter Dagnija was born in 1947, the family moved to a refugee camp in Esslingen. In 1950, the family travelled to the United States and settled in Long Island, the State of New York. Dagnija and her brother Egīls grew among Latvians and, together with their parents, took part in the Latvian social life.

In 1969, Dagnija graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., were she had obtained a Bachelor’s degree in international relations and political science, majoring in the Russian and East-European politics. During her studies, Dagnija worked as an assistant in the office of American Latvians’ Association in Washington and was an active participant in the social life of Latvians in Washington.

Following in the footsteps of her aunt, dentist Elza Smiltene (née Zvirbule), Dagnija as a student was accepted in the Latvian female student corporation "Daugaviete".

After graduation, Dagnija worked as an administrative assistant in the US Republican National Committee in charge of the issues of ethnic groups in the Republican Party. In 1972, Dagnija was recruited as an assistant to the office of Dr. Michael P. Balzano in the White House. The office was in charge of communications with ethnic groups, the press and maintenance of relationship of the ethnic groups with US President and his administration.

From 1974 to 1984, Dagnija as an US diplomat worked in the U.S. Peace Corps and in 1984, Dagnija went to work for USAID – U.S. Agency for International Development, specialising in humanitarian aid activities for Africa, development projects and budget formulation. In September 1991, when the USA recognized the independence of Latvia and other Baltic countries, Dagnija started to work at the Agency’s European bureau as the first head of the Baltic States Mission. From 1991 to 1993, Dagnija reviewed projects in Latvia on USAID investments of more than USD 25 million in education, agriculture, electric energy, promotion of democracy, health care and business development. From 1993 to 1995, Dagnija lived in Riga and served as the Director of the U.S. Peace Corps in the Baltic countries.

From 1995 to 2000, Dagnija headed the Caucasus Mission of USAID. After retirement in 2002, Dagnija for 10 years continued to work as a consultant with USAID.

As Dagnija’s career has been closely tied with international relations and implementation of various aid programmes abroad and particularly in Latvia, the Krēsliņš family hope that in the coming seven years several young diplomats will appear who will do justice to Latvia.

In 1970, Dagnija married Kaspars Krēsliņš. Kaspars was born in Riga in the family of a pharmacist Arnolds Krēsliņš and Vallija Krēsliņa (née Lubaus) as the third son, following his eldest brothers Jānis and Ansis). Before the World War II, the father owned pharmacies in the towns of Mālpils, Rūjiena and in Riga. In the 1930s, the Arnolds Krēsliņš had been the mayor of Rūjiena. Just like thousands of other Latvians in 1944, the family joined the refugees and left for Austria and Germany. After four years spent in Esslingen’s displaced persons’ (DP) camp, in 1949, the family went to the USA and settled in the state of New Jersey. Kaspars grew up in the Latvian community and took an active part in several Latvian organizations – American Latvian Association (ALA), Latvian Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Washington, Latvian Organizations in Washington (LOV), and in student corporation "Lettgallia". Kaspars graduated from the Rider University with a Bachelor’s degree in business development and accountancy, and from the George Washington University with a Master’s degree in business management. His long-term position was as a government accountant at the US Office of Personnel Management.

There are two sons in the family – Kristaps and Laris. The Krēsliņš family often visit Latvia, where their elder son Kristaps with his family (wife Hanna and daughters Lulū and Līvija) has lived since 2008. Kristaps is the owner of a restaurant Enkurs ("Anchor") in the seaside town of Pāvilosta. The youngest son Laris is a marketing specialist and with his wife Irene and son Iggy resides in Philadelphia, USA.


Jointly with the foundation "Friends of the University of Latvia", the Krēsliņš family established the Diplomacy Scholarship for the students of the Master’s programme "Diplomacy", the UL Faculty of Social Sciences. This scholarship will be granted for seven years, from the 2019/2020 academic year.

In 2019, the patrons donated USD 35 000 to the scholarship fund.

We greatly appreciate the generous support to education and development!