President Fernández served as the Head of State of the Dominican Republic during three terms (1996 – 2000); (2004 – 2012). In 1996, he became the youngest democratically elected president of the Dominican Republic and the first of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) that he currently presides. His administrations focused on the modernization of the State, public services, economic and sustainable development, and expanded the scope of Dominican foreign policy and multilateral diplomacy. He is also president of the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (FUNGLODE) and the United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic (UNA-DR).

In addition to his local responsibilities, he is a member of various international institutions such as the Montevideo Circle, Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government, Inter-American Dialogue and Club of Madrid. Since the year 2000 he chairs the Executives Club USA-Caribbean organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Leonel Fernandez is vice-president of the Eminent Persons Group of ACP Countries and a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at Georgetown University.

President Fernandez holds 11 honorary degrees from universities for his contributions to political science, role as international mediator and leadership in global initiatives.