Office Address

YABT office
1889 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.,USA

Phone Number

+1 202 370 4723

Email Address

December 09, 2021

Policy Lab - Meaningful youth participation

This Policy Lab aims to facilitate the exchange of experiences and lessons learned on the impact on public policies, with a special focus on youth. Hosting the IX Summit of the Americas, the White House announced that this high-level meeting will take place in the summer of 2022, and recently shared with OAS Member States the proposed theme “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future”

The VI Young Americas Forum is being held as part of the youth participation in the IX Summit of the Americas, and consists of a series of hybrid events, with youth dialogues, virtual consultations, policy labs, among other activities; as well as a strong program of support and innovation competencies for young entrepreneurs.


Edgar Maestre
Latin America Program Director, Young Americas Business Trust

Mr. Maestre has international experience in managing programs and initiatives in the field of youth entrepreneurship, business development, international cooperation and public-private partnerships. Edgar holds a BA in Business Administration with minor in Marketing from Universidad Latina de Panama, and Master candidate in International Relations from Universidad de Panama.

Opening Remarks
S.E. Nestor Méndez
Assistant Secretary General, Organization of American States

Ambassador Nestor Mendez, the ninth Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) assumed office on July 13, 2015 and on March 20, 2020 was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly to serve a second five-year term. His professional experience spans a trajectory of over twenty years as a public servant and career diplomat, including high level representation in international and regional forums, having served as the Ambassador of Belize to the United States of America, Permanent Representative to the OAS, and non-resident High Commissioner to Canada. He also held diplomatic posts at the High Commission of Belize in the United Kingdom, and at the Embassy of Belize in Guatemala. Ambassador Mendez holds a Master’s Degree in International Policy and Practice from George Washington University, a Graduate Level Certificate in Diplomatic Studies from Oxford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University College of Belize.

Luis Viguria
CEO, Young Americas Business Trust

Luis Viguria is the Chief Executive Officer of the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) an affiliated nonprofit corporation to the Organization of American States with the objective of supporting the social and economic development of young people in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.

With more than 20 years of experience on youth development at the international level in areas such as sustainable development, innovation, competitiveness, entrepreneurship, citizen participation among other priorities of the region. Among his responsibilities are the strategic planning of the organization, the development of alliances and the definition of priorities to be addressed through the different programs and activities developed by YABT.

Luis Viguria firmly believes in the role of youth as partners for development and the importance of creating spaces for their effective participation in the decision-making process at all levels. His experience has allowed him to work and coordinate programs in all the OAS Member States, working directly with governments, private sector and civil society organizations and international development agencies and organizations, always connectingyouth and sustainable development. Through programs such as the Eco Challenge, the Talent and Innovation Competitions of the Americas (TIC Americas), the Business Labs or the Young Americas Forum, he supported thousands of young people in the Americas in their professional and personal development.

Luis Viguria has been a speaker at global and hemispheric forums organized by organizations such as the European Union, The United Nations, The World Bank, The Inter-American Development Bank, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Organization of American States among others, where he presented not only his vision on development, entrepreneurship, and youth, but also shared his perspective as young entrepreneur and Latin American professional in the international arena.

Luis studied economics at Pontificia Universidad Cattolica del Perú, obtained a certification on Business Administration at Georgetown University and a master’s degree in international development at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He currently lives and works in Washington, D.C, together with his wife and two kids.

Main Presentation
Valerie Lorena
Executive Director, Young Americas Business Trust

Valerie is responsible for design, implementation and expansion of youth entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation programs involving multiple sectors and international stakeholders. Prior to joining YABT in 2005, Valerie worked in the International Relations department of the UCO University in Queretaro, Mexico where she was responsible for the international mobility of students and global institutional agreements. She has been invited as judge and mentor for global initiatives to promote youth entrepreneurship such as the UNESCO and the Startup Weekends of the Inter-American Development Bank. Valerie holds a trilateral masters degree in Business from the following universities: Western Illinois University of the United States, Université de Moncton in Canada and from the Autonomous Querétaro University in Mexico.
She also contributes as a judge, mentor and advisor of the Goi Peace Foundation Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition, UNDP’s Youth-IN, Demand Solutions and Corporate, the World Bank’s Young Entrepreneurs as Drivers of Sustainable Growth Flagship Event and Campaign, among others.
Valerie actively serves as spokesperson for the organization; displaying strong initiative, communication and teamwork skills as a speaker and representative of the youth strata at high-level events such as the Summits of the Americas and OAS General Assemblies.

Gisselle Burbano
Responsable del Sector de Ciencias Sociales y Humanas; y Punto Focal de Género para América Central, UNESCO

De nacionalidad ecuatoriana, A. Gisselle Burbano F. es desde el 2019 Jefa del Sector de Ciencias Sociales y Humanas y Punto Focal de Género para Centroamérica con sede en San José, Costa Rica. Se incorporó a la UNESCO en 2006 y desde entonces ha desarrollado programas y acciones trabajando para la Oficina Regional de Ciencias para América Latina y el Caribe en Montevideo, en la Sede de la UNESCO en París y en la Oficina Multipaís de la UNESCO para el Caribe con sede en Kingston. Tiene un máster en Estudios Comparados en Desarrollo por la Escuela de Altos Estudios en Ciencias Sociales de París (Francia). Además de su formación académica y su amplia experiencia en la UNESCO y el sistema de las Naciones Unidas, su trabajo en ciencias sociales y humanas se centra en las juventudes, la equidad de género, las transformaciones sociales y la construcción de la paz. Su lengua materna es el español y domina el inglés, el francés y el alemán.

Questions and Answers
Cecilia Vilchis
Program Manager, Young Americas Business Trust

Cecilia Vilchis is a Mexican professional who holds the position of Program Manager and Coordinator of the Americas Young Americas Forum at the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT).
Cecilia is leading a series of activities aimed at encouraging youth participation in decision making processes around the hemisphere. Her professional experience includes serving as a member of the Youth Council of Plan International, a humanitarian and development organization that promotes children’s rights and gender equality. Throughout her career, she has helped to bring together a diversity of voices to broaden youth representation in regional public policy matters. Cecilia holds a bachelor’s degree in International Economic Relations from the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.

Closing Remarks
Maria Celina Conte
Director, Summits of the Americas Secretariat, Organization of American States

Manages and directs the Summits of the Americas Secretariat of the OAS since September 2017. The Summits Secretariat is the Technical Secretariat and institutional memory of the Summits of the Americas Process. Before joining the Summits Secretariat, Mrs. Conte served as Senior Specialist at the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS for almost nine years. Previously, for fourteen years she served as Specialist in the OAS Department of Science, Technology, and Innovation. In her 25-year career at the OAS in Washington, D.C., she has managed and implemented hemispheric, institutional, and regional technical cooperation programs involving governments, international multilateral organizations, the productive sector, civil society, and social actors. Mrs. Conte holds two Master’s Degrees, one in International Public Policy (MIPP) from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Master’s Degree in International Trade and Policy from George Mason University. She also has a degree in Business Administration from the Universidad del Pacífico from her native country, Peru.

The Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), is a nonprofit international organization that works in cooperation with the Organization of American States (OAS), to promote social and economic development of young people around the world.


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