What is YLAI?
The World Affairs Council is pleased to announce that it will host emerging leaders for the 3rd consecutive year from the U.S. Department of State’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program in Seattle from September 22-October 20, 2018. As part of the fellowship, 16 young business and social entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean will travel to Seattle for month-long fellowships with local companies and organizations to strengthen their capacity to advance their ventures and contribute to the social and economic development of their communities.
The World Affairs Council is proud to work with grantee Meridian International Center, a premier nonprofit, global leadership organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. Visit ylai.state.gov for more information about the YLAI Professional Fellows Program.
2018's Seattle YLAI Fellows:
Bahamas - LaTravalia Williams is the owner and operator of a social impact restaurant and outreach organization based in the Bahamas. Wing Ding Restaurant and its partner charity organization, Do Something, offer cash stipends to community members to support the purchase of food, payment of bills, and provide educational supplies. LaTravalia’s professional background in customer service and sales serve her as she seeks to improve her business’s profitability and the solvency of her charitable organization.
Brazil - Gustavo Pugliese is an advocate for equity and social justice in Brazil’s public schools. He currently works as an educator for a non-profit organization that is making strides to close the achievement gap for minority students in STEM fields. A former University of Washington intern in the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, he is currently completing a PhD at the University of Sao Paolo in science education.
Brazil - Wellington Santos Silva is the CEO of Empreendescola, a social enterprise organization whose vision is to shrink social and economic opportunity gaps in Brazil by providing job and entrepreneurship training to teenagers in less populous areas. In 2017, Empreendescola trained more than 300 students and reached over 5,000 students in 16 different cities. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and has completed graduate studies in Human Resources and Social Project Management.
Colombia - Diego Armando founded De la Montaña Espresso Machines with the goal of serving Colombian coffeemakers in their work. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and has attended the Espresso Academy in Firenze, Italy. Although to date he has focused his efforts on the Colombian market, he has set his eyes on mobilizing De la Montaña’s products to reach a global audience.
Colombia - Daniela Zuluaga is the founder of Sentido Verde, an environmental consulting company. Sentido Verde advises companies and schools by measuring their carbon footprint and energy efficiency, then educating them and providing solutions to implement change. Before establishing Sentido Verde, Zuluaga monitored mine problems for the Colombian government. She has a master’s degree in organizational communications and a bachelor’s degree in government and international relations.
Ecuador - Paul Quiñonez is the co-founder and Vice President of Novilus, which provides mobile dental and health care for the rural working poor who lack quality access to healthcare. Paul started his professional career in the public sector as a legal advisor for the Superintendent of Banks and then for the Ecuadorian Congress, which reaffirmed his desire to work for Ecuadorians in need. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
El Salvador -Sofía González is an experienced hospitality industry professional who has dedicated her career to improving sustainable tourism in El Salvador. She has worked both for local hotels and Sheraton International in marketing and guest services, before embarking on her current role as the founder and CEO of Nativo Ecolodge. Nativo Ecolodge promotes the natural beauty of El Salvador through offering its guests a combination of eco-tourism and adventure travel options, authentic dining experiences, and through its commitment to local products and workers.
Guatemala - Cindy de León built her first social venture at the age of 21, after earning her MBA magna cum laude from Universidad Galileo. She is the co-founder of El Coctel Creativo, a marketing agency serving small start-ups in the food and beverage industry to advance entrepreneurship and economic mobility in her home of Guatemala. She has professional experience in marketing, commercial strategy, and public-private partnerships, all of which she brings to the table in her current work leading El Coctel Creativo.
Haiti - Jupille Facile is the CEO and founder of Bambou Facile. Bambou Facile promotes the use of bamboo as a sustainable and versatile construction material, promoting environmental protection, sustainability, and job growth in Haiti. He is a former fellow of the Architectural School of London, where he developed his expertise in bamboo modeling. He has extensive experience in the construction industry in engineering, budgeting, and planning.
Honduras - Pamela Matamoros is an educational psychologist celebrating a decade of experience as the director of her own clinic. She has a master’s degree in learning disabilities and a certification in speech therapy. Through her organization, Eduktiva Centro Psicopedagógico, she collaborates with public school teachers, administrators, and parents to offer diverse therapies and educational interventions to support the intellectual growth and curiosity of all children.
Mexico -Daniel Zermeño is the CEO and co-founder of Jelper Technologies. Jelper’s socially innovative business model provides extensive screening, training, and support for domestic workers in Mexico. Families seeking domestic help can easily connect with a Jelper worker through an online platform with confidence in the quality of their work. Before launching Jelper, Daniel worked extensively in financial management and investor relations, working with a debt portfolio of more than $750 million.
Nicaragua - Blanca Gonzálezis the owner and manager of Curvas Plus Size Boutiques. Curvas’s motto is “beauty has no size,” which speaks to Blanca’s commitment not only to offer options to a large and underserved sector of the retail market, but also to open up a cultural conversation in Nicaragua about body positivity. Prior to launching Curvas, Blanca worked in management roles in the private sector, demonstrating her abilities as a versatile and dynamic leader.
Panama - Abdiel Chiu is the founder of CHT Engineering, a company committed to providing affordable housing through the use of sustainable development technologies. This year, CHT will embark on building its first affordable housing community in the city of Chepo, Panama. In addition to his work as an innovative construction engineer and start-up founder, Abdiel is the National Point of Contact for Panama in the UN-led Space Generation Advisory Council, the global network for students and young professionals interested in the space industry.
Peru - María Gracia Farfán is the Managing Director of Pequeños Detalles Handmade Peru, which employs women artisans who create outstanding handmade, personalized goods for babies and children. Pequeños Detalles provides women artisans training and professional development opportunities, demonstrating its commitment both to the quality of its products and the economic empowerment of its employees. A working mom herself, Maria Gracia has numerous professional accomplishments in graphic design and message craft for a range of international marketing campaigns.
Trinidad and Tobago - Afiya Kelenne Dick is the founder of Evergreen Ridge Winery Ltd. The winery sources locally available fruits to create complex fruit wines, combining signature family recipes with Afiya’s modern sophisticated twist. Afiya combines her experience in environmental science and management with her passion for entrepreneurship to cultivate wines that are authentic to Trinidad and Tobago. Outside of the winery, she is the head of Environmental Compliance for Trinidad and Tobago’s national petroleum company.
Venezuela - Danny Ruiz Manrique is the President of RM Industriales CA, a company producing plastic water bottles to promote the health of rural and disenfranchised communities in Venezuela. He is a passionate innovator with degrees in Chemical Engineering and Business, and is the author of Yo, Emprendedor, an accessible guide to entrepreneurship directed toward a Latin American and Spanish-speaking audience.