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February 15, 2022

Official Announcement of the VI Young Americas Forum

The IX Summit of the Americas and the participation of young people

Given the current context, the IX Summit of the Americas, to be held in the summer of 2022 in Los Angeles, California, represents a mechanism for the promotion of cooperation, dialogue, and inclusion of diverse groups in the advancement of the priorities and needs of the continent. With this session we seek to explain the importance of the process of the Summits of the Americas, as well as the activities towards the VI Young Americas Forum.


Welcoming Remarks
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.

Opening Remarks
Kevin O'Reilly
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Andean Affairs, Brazil and the Southern Cone, and the Office of Economic Policy and Summit Coordination, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Kevin Michael O’Reilly became Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs after having served as Director of the Office of Brazil and Southern Cone Affairs. He previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Panama City, Panama, from July 2014 to July 2017, and as the embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires from June 2015 to February 2016.

A career member of the United States Senior Foreign Service, Mr. O’Reilly has held other senior-level positions, including Director of the Office of Mexican Affairs and Senior Director for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the United States Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

As Director for Mexican Affairs, he helped develop and implement the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue, an initiative to promote economic growth and job creation, as well as the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research to expand educational and economic opportunities for citizens of both countries. He served in Baghdad from 2011 to 2012, during the period in which U.S. military forces left Iraq, participating in an effort to help Iraq train its law enforcement personnel.

Mr. O’Reilly served as the White House’s National Security Council Director for North American Affairs from 2009 to 2011. While there, he helped develop the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border partnership, an effort to improve public security and economic competitiveness.

From 2007 to 2008, he served as Director for Latin American Affairs in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of International Affairs. He has also served as a Pearson Fellow in the Office of Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois; and in the Pentagon as an Action Officer in the Western Europe and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Division, Strategic Policy and Plans (J-5), of the Joint Staff.

During his career as a Foreign Service Officer, Mr. O’Reilly has served abroad at U.S. embassies in Mexico City, Mexico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Jakarta, Indonesia. He was born in Evanston, Illinois and holds Masters of Arts degrees from the U.S. Naval War College and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University Chicago.

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.

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.

About the Summit of the Americas

A Policy Lab Session 

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.

Barbara Adair
Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State

Barbara Adair is the Assistant Summit Coordinator for Development Issues, including: women, youth, education, health, labor, workforce development, and economic inclusion, and advises on these and other development related issues for the Summit of the Americas in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Prior to joining the State Department, Barbara spent five years in management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton, working on national security and other federal issues. Barbara was also an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellow with the Department of Health and Human Services, working on their climate change and environmental health strategies. Previously worked at the State Department as Alternate Representative and Chief of Staff to the Ambassador in the U.S. Mission to the Organization of the American States from 2009-2015. In the past, Barbara also worked as a Staff Assistant for the United States Senate. Barbara has an M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University and a B.A. in Government and Hispanic Studies from Hamilton College.

  • Featuring live questions from #YouthInTheSummit campaign participants
VI Young Americas Forum Presentation
Cecilia Vilchis
Young Americas Forum Coordinator, 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.

  • Video presentation – Voices of the Americas
Closing Remarks
Sr. Luis Niño
Chair, Board of Directors, Young Americas Business Trust

Mr. Luis Niño is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT). He is a former Career Diplomat from Venezuela with an extensive international career. He has served in Geneva, New York, Mexico and Washington D.C., and has been an international civil servant at the Organization of American States (OAS) as a Director of the Department for Conferences and Meetings Management. He has also contributed with the conference logistics of the Summits of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia and Panama.

As Business Advisor at ARM Communications, takes care of the governmental, small business and woman-owned business certifications. He is the one in front of ARM’s corporate affairs and assists in federal contracts. He is also a skilled bilingual writer and is a regular columnist of the “El Tiempo Latino”, Spanish version of the Washington Post.

Mr. Niño holds an International Relations Degree from the Central University of Venezuela, and Master of Arts in International Affairs from Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA. Also, International Negotiations Certificate from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Institute of Advanced International Studies (IHEI), Geneva, Switzerland. He also completed the Emerging Leaders Program, an Executive Certificate in Business Administration sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA). He is Professor of International Negotiations at different Diplomatic Academies and Universities within the Americas.

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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