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October 27, 2023

ILG 2023 - Celebrating 10 Years of Impact in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Innovation and Leadership in Government Program (ILG) celebrated its 10th anniversary this year with a showcase of incredible projects across ten thematic areas and fifteen countries, including, for the first time,  Jamaica. This tenth edition, which counted on the renewed support of USAID, welcomed 31 leaders from the public, social, and international cooperation sectors across the region, helping the ILG Alumni network surpass 260 members spanning 19 countries.

ILG 2023 cohort in front of Healy
ILG 2023 cohort in front of Healy

By: Ana Gomez Garces (B'25)

Georgetown University's Latin America Leadership Program (LALP) hosted the 10th annual edition and 2nd hybrid edition of its Innovation and Leadership in Government (ILG) Program, which consisted of six weeks of lectures, peer-to-peer learning activities, visits, meetings with mentors, and project development sessions. This year, LALP saw an over 40% increase in applications, and ultimately selected 31 diverse leaders spanning 15 countries. This year, the program added Jamaica to its country list, demonstrating LALP’s continued commitment to expanding academic offerings to other countries in the region. LALP renewed its partnership with USAID for a second consecutive year, bringing four participants from USAID to the program. 

The most distinguishing feature of the ILG Program is the applied project, through which participants apply the knowledge they gain from the program to their work. With the support of  alumni mentors, the participants propose precise recommendations and implementation strategies to solve a clearly defined problem facing the LAC region. The program culminates in a showcase of participants’ presentations during the final week of the program. The central themes of this cohort’s projects were Agriculture and Rural Development; Economic Development, Tourism, and Entrepreneurship; Education and Civic Participation; Gender, Inclusion, and Diversity; Governance and Rule of Law; Health and Social Assistance; Security, Justice Sustainability and Environment; Technology and Innovation and; Transportation, Infrastructure, and Urban Development. 

ILG Projects:

Agriculture and Rural Development

  • Catalina Ceballos, Ecopetrol – “Community Energy Projects in Colombia” seeks to promote the territorial value of energetic communities

  • Gerson Morales, USAID Guatemala – “Agricultural Insurance Policy” aims to provide financial coverage to small-scale agricultural producers whose crops are affected by heavy rainfall or prolonged drought

Economic Development, Tourism, and Entrepreneurship

  • Abdi Aguirre, USAID El Salvador – “Digital Financial Inclusion for Remittance Recipients in El Salvador” seeks to increase the financial inclusion rates through the promotion of digital solutions to enhance the role of remittances in asset creation

Education, Culture, and Civic Engagement: 

  • Cora Steinberg, UNICEF – “Transforming Secondary Education in the 21st Century in High Social and Educational Inequality Contexts in Argentina” based on the recent impact assessment of the PLANEA program

  • Jorge Angel Avila, Municipality of Rosario – “Proyecto Siempre Casco” is a comprehensive and inclusive road safety project supported by control, education and civic participation in Rosario, Argentina

  • Carlos Mario Estrada Molina, Manpower – “Employment and Citizenship Education in the Third Decade of the 21st Century” focuses on the competencies needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Antioquia, Colombia

  • Ernesto León, Fundación Mentes Brillantes – "Creating Public Policies for Inclusion and Technological Equity” formulates public policies that guarantee access to internet connectivity of official schools in Panama

Gender, Inclusion, and Diversity:

  • Oscar Peñuela Pinto, Barranquilla City Hall – “Economic Inclusion as a Solution for Migrants/Returnees and Host Populations in Barranquilla” enhances institutional capacities for employment and strengthens individual skills and competencies

  • Lisbet Brizuela, Disability Rights International – “Promoting the Right of Women with Disabilities to Make Decisions About Their Bodies and Eliminating National Standards for Sterilization Based on Disability in Mexico”

  • Ana Sirani Romero Mata, Mexico’s Ministry of Finance and Public Credit – “The National Care System: A Path to Equal Opportunities and Social Justice” in Mexico to ensure comprehensive well-being of individuals

  • Mildred Samboy, United Nations Office in the Dominican Republic – “National Care Policy: Toward a Caring Society” seeks to generate equal opportunities and social justice in Azua and east Santo Domingo with the potential to expand nationwide

Governance and Rule of Law:

  • Luis Xavier Falconi Tello, Autonomous Decentralized Government of the Province of Chimborazo – “Si C Gobernar Latam” provides a digital knowledge exchange system to guide governance in Ecuador and the region

  • Spencer Milian, USAID –”Smart and Safe Cities” addresses crime, violence and urban development by embracing innovation, forging partnerships, ensuring transparency and empowering local decision-making in key municipalities of Guatemala 

Health and Social Care:

  • Alejandro Diaz, USAID – “Strengthening the Health System for Sustainable Inclusion in Migrant Communities in Colombia” provides access to health services like vaccination and promotes long-term inclusion in 11 cities impacted by migration 

  • Vicente Andrés Taiano González, Ecotec University – "Dar Identidad " seeks to guarantee the principle of legal identity for the exercise of human rights, granting the right to identity to people in vulnerable conditions in Guayas, Ecuador

Citizen Security and Justice

  • Alberto Urzúa Toledo, Administrative Corporation of the Judicial Branch in Chile – Improvements in the quality of judicial information to promote sentencing control systems to change criminal behavior and reduce recidivism in Latin America

  • Marcela Ortiz Bonilla, International Consultancy for International Organizations – “Regional Strategy to Prevent Transnational Organized Crime”  develops a regional strategy which shares common objectives of prevention, containment and repression

  • Paula Isturiz, UNESCO – “Youth for Peace” promotes a constructive and positive vision of young people, as well as highlighting the role of youth participation in peacebuilding and conflict resolution in Jamaica

  • Ana Fátima López Iturríos, Abogadas Violeta – “Analysis of women's access to justice in Mexico” is a network of lawyers committed to support women victims of violence given the poor design of public policies to address the issue in the country

  • Edwin Eusebio Feliz Brito, Office for the Reorganization of Transportation (OPRET) – “Citizen Tele-Patrolling” provides citizens with a patrol system that allows for better effectiveness of action and movement than the traditional one in Santo Domingo

Sustainability and the Environment

  • Karla Silva Coser, Vitória City Council – Strengthening associations of recyclable material collectors as a strategy to overcome extreme poverty in Vitória and promoting environmental protection to build a more humane and sustainable city

  • Francisco Santiago Sellares, Ministry of Transportation of Argentina – “National Sustainable Transportation Plan” promotes the transition towards the use of natural gas in transportation, with the aim of diversifying the energy matrix, improving efficiency and reducing emissions

Technology and Innovation

  • Juan Ignacio Gowland, País Abierto y Digital – “Digital talent: A policy for converting digital jobs” seeks to accelerate labor reconversion through joint work between the public and private sectors in Argentina

  • Ledénika Mackensie Méndez González, Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation – “Smart Villages” is a digital inclusion model to promote digital access in public spaces associated with a productive project chosen by each rural community in Mexico

  • Eloy Fisher, International Monetary Fund –  “Centro Latinoamericano de Innovación de Políticas Públicas (CLIPP)” is a non-profit organization that seeks to innovate in the formulation of public policies at the national level in Panama

  • Maricarmen Sequera, TEDIC – “Strengthen decision-makers in the region on technology and digital rights” so public institutions assume control of their own digital transformation processes and their impact on the democratic system in LatAm

  • Olga Caballero Bernal, Alma Cívica – “Innovation & Public Policy Laboratory” accompanies and trains local leadership in Paraguay in the process of designing and developing efficient and relevant district public policies for the population

  • Jorge Eduardo Mori Valenzuela, Center for the Analysis of Public Policies of Higher Education (CAPPES) –  “Digital Innovation Centers (CDI) in Public Universities of Peru” has the objective of promoting the adoption of new technologies, developing digital capabilities in teachers and students, and promoting innovation initiatives 

  • Julissa Cruz, Dominican Institute of Telecommunications – “Connectivity for digital transformation” will invest in building and operating fiber optic networks in areas without internet coverage through fixed networks in the south of Dominican Republic

  • Tomás Teijeiro, Uruguay’s Ministry of Labor and Social Security – “MiDerecho” seeks to strengthen innovation as a tool that ensures the enjoyment of rights in the country

Transportation, Infrastructure and Urban Development:

  • María Fernanda Rivera Flores, Ministry of Mobility, Government of Mexico City – Transformation of Public Transportation in Mexico City seeks to transform and modernize public transport, yielding a change in the operating scheme and the improvement of contracting conditions for operators

"I firmly believe that our region has the talent, capacity, resources, and necessary leaders to drive a new agenda of positive transformations in each of our countries.” - Francisco Sellares, ILG 2023, Argentina

ILG 2023 cohort attending a lecture during their in-person week
ILG 2023 cohort attending a lecture during their in-person week

The ILG 2023 program was held from September 18 through October 27. During the first four virtual synchronous weeks, the LALP team and faculty guided the cohort through a comprehensive curriculum that combined its flagship core courses on leadership and innovation with new modules to respond to the most urgent challenges facing the region and the interests of the current cohort. Some new courses included Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, Digital Government, and Education and Public Policy, among others. This years’ modules were facilitated by world-class professors and lecturers, with diverse backgrounds and expertise. The curriculum featured Georgetown University professors from different schools such as Ricardo Ernst (McDonough School of Business), José Guerrero (McDonough School of Business), Alvaro Santos (Georgetown Law), Hector Schamis (School of Foreign Service), Micheal Shifter (School of Foreign Service), Matthew Carnes (School of Foreign Service), and Juan Luis Manfredi (School of Foreign Service). Other speakers included external experts, practitioners, and researchers from a variety of regional institutions, including Pilar Jericó (BeUp), Adriana Arreaza (CAF), Diane Garza (CEO of iCatalyze), Esther García (#IAmRemarkable, Google), Miguel Porrúa (IDB), Professor Gemma Galdon Clavell (Eticas Research and Consulting), Mileydi Guilarte (USAID), Silverio Zebral (OEA), Alberto Rodriguez-Alvarez (New America), Jennifer O’Donoghue (Brookings Institution). In addition, various LALP alumni taught sessions on regional case studies and innovative methodologies, alumni lecturers included Monica Banegas (ILG 2021, Ecuador), Patricia Rincon (ILG 2017, Colombia), Lucas Peverelli (ILG 2015, Argentina), and Lorena Rios (GCL 2022, Paraguay). Furthermore, ILG alumni served as project mentors throughout the six weeks of the program, whose eagerness to support the next generation of ILG alumni reflects a remarkable commitment to the region and to the university. This year’s mentors were Miguel Antonio Molina Picazo (ILG 2021, Spain), Misraim de Jesús Macías Cervantes (ILG 2020, Mexico), Sergio Paixao Pardo (ILG 2021, Costa Rica), Desirée Viteri Almeida (ILG 2022, Ecuador), Sonia Arza Fernández (ILG 2021, Paraguay), Oscar Rivas (ILG 2015, Mexico), Santiago García (ILG 2020, Paraguay), Pedro Buttazzoni (ILG 2017, Argentina), Andrés Vázquez (ILG 2014, Paraguay), Angel Lopez Pivaral (ILG 2020, Guatemala), Ana Romina Sarmiento (ILG 2019, Argentina), Monica Eulalia Banegas Cedillo (ILG 2021, Ecuador), Hector Virgilio Esau Jaramillo Rojas (ILG 2019, Mexico), Edgar César Casas Casas (ILG 2020, Peru), Adolfo Argüello Vives (ILG 2016, Mexico), Ana Isabel Fiafilio Rodríguez (ILG 2020, Peru), and Paula Andrea Ramirez Barbosa (ILG 2021, Colombia). LALP thanks these dedicated mentors for their service to the program. 

During the on-campus residency in the  last week of the program, the cohort took advantage of DC’s location to engage with regional and international institutions. When visiting the World Bank, they discussed a range of topics, including education and economic development, with  Jaime Saavedra (Director of Human Development for Latin America and the Caribbean), Carlos Felipe Jaramillo (Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean), and Oscar Calvo Gonzalez (former Director of the Human Development and Economic Management Department of IEG). The cohort visited  Microsoft, where they met with Pedro Fuentes (Director, Azure Sales), who led an interactive overview of  the world of AI, its forecasted development and Microsoft’s efforts and projects to harness this new technology. Finally, the cohort stopped at the Organization of American States, where Adriana Gutierrez (Democracy Specialist) led a conversation about the state of democracy in the Americas and how the organization is facing the current challenges that are arising. In addition to these visits, participants were able to engage with representatives of other institutions throughout their time in the program, including USAID, CAF, IDB, Brookings and the Georgetown Americas Institute. 

On October 27, the cohort presented their final project deliverables, shared their vision for public innovation, and expressed their hope that, together, they can bring about positive transformation in the region.

"Vicente with 'Dar Identidad' made me cry, Fátima with 'Las Abogadas Violetas' made me believe even more in the strength of women, Fernanda made me believe in urban and human mobility, Paula showed me that youth is the way, Olga made my eyes shine. And all of you, in some way, made me believe that it's us, and it's now when these transformations are going to happen." - Karla Silva Coser, ILG 2023, Brazil

The graduation ceremony featured remarks by Borja Medina, a professor at Barna Management School, a writer, and a political consultant from the Dominican Republic. Borja shared his most recently published book, “Camino a la Democracia”' and discussed the state of democracy in Latin America, including recent developments and challenges. Sebastian Palacios (ILG 2019), who serves as the Ecuadorian Minister of Sports, was officially presented with the 2023 ILG Impact Award, which recognizes the extraordinary impact of ILG alumni through public and social innovation initiatives in the Latin American region. With an extensive trajectory in public service and international affairs and an unmistakable passion for sports, Palacios has generated tremendous traction through his project Hincha de Mi Barrio (“Fan of My Neighborhood”), which promotes sports as a vehicle of social and economic change for vulnerable youth. Ricardo Ernst shared some final remarks, reminding each and every one of the participants of the huge responsibility they have in their region, in their communities and in the world to make use of  their capabilities and achieve the multiplier effect they are already developing. 

"I return home incredibly happy, with greater commitment and responsibility, eager to redouble efforts to strengthen our democracies, work for the common good, fortify state institutions, and promote international cooperation." - Jorge Avila, ILG 2023, Argentina

Upon the culmination of the program, ILG 2023 participants joined the broader LALP alumni network, which now encompasses 868 GCL and ILG graduates spanning 23 countries who collaborate for the common good, promoting best practices and interregional initiatives across different generations, sectors, and countries.

"Beyond the beauty of the Capitol and the greatness this city represents, or even the theoretical classes, the most valuable aspect is the people with whom we form this community. We build connections, find similarities, and respect our differences without them being fundamental. It's in this space where we shape our vision of a society based on democratic values and community." - Olga Bernal, ILG 2023, Paraguay

At LALP, we remain dedicated to the region and the leaders who aspire to enhance their skills, leadership, and the connections they foster within our program. This cohort, much like its predecessors, has demonstrated that Latin America possesses abundant talent, capable leaders, and, most importantly, individuals eager to institute change. LALP looks forward to shining a light on these leaders, their projects, and their initiatives and seeing the immense impact that our alumni will accomplish in the future.