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Meet 5 YLAI Fellows Traveling as Youth Delegates to the Summit of the Americas
June 2, 2022

By Jewelle Saunders

The United States will host the Ninth Summit of the Americas from June 6 to 10 in Los Angeles, California. The theme for this summit is “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future,” which responds to the hemisphere’s most pressing issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, threats to democracy, the climate crisis, and a lack of equitable access to opportunities. 

The Summit of the Americas brings together leaders from governments, the private sector, and civil society (including youth leaders) to discuss these issues and mobilize action. This year, some of the youth leaders traveling to the Summit are Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) fellows and alumni! The U.S. Department of State is supporting five outstanding 2022 YLAI fellows to travel as youth delegates to the Summit of the Americas, where they will serve as a voice for the YLAI fellowship program, their communities, and youth across the region. Get to know them here, and keep up with them during their time at the summit! 

Bevon Charles, Grenada, CEO and founder of Akata Farms, a company that builds sustainable farms. This farming  business, which employs smart climate management that targets the challenges of climate change and agriculture methods, raises poultry and produces crops and value-added products for wide customer segments: hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, and households across Grenada. Bevon and Akata Farms intend to expand these farms across the Caribbean.


Facundo Cajén, Argentina, CEO and founder of Proponas. With over 10 years’ experience in the technology industry and over four years working in politics and combating corruption, Facundo has combined these passions to create the online petition platform Proponas. Proponas’ client base consists of two types of users — conventional citizens trying to generate a positive change in the world and the decision-makers. Facundo’s online platform connects the users and enables a diverse collection of voices to be shared and heard. Proponas initiates and promotes communication through its petitions to avoid becoming yet another one-way communication tool. 

Georgia Barbosa, Brazil, cofounder of Afroricas. Georgia is the strategic leader of an educational enterprise that stands for the social mobility of Afro-descendant women. Afroricas creates content on finance management, social networking, careers, and leadership to support black women in their personal and professional development. The company provides services based on social justice and income distribution through developing training and mentorships for young professionals from minorities focusing on career and entrepreneurship matters. Afroricas also promotes diversity-friendly brands on social media and at events across the country. 

Gerardo Perez, Dominican Republic, CEO of Luxia Labs. A professional architect with a background in entrepreneurship, Gerardo runs one of the fastest-growing architecture firms in the Dominican Republic, specializing in real estate development. Luxia Labs offers services in architectural and technical design to real estate developers. The company’s architectural designs incorporate an understanding for the business of real estate development with a consideration for the effect it has on the families living within its projects. Gerardo prides the uniqueness of Luxia Labs on the combination of a strong design philosophy — to better the lives of the people living in its projects — with a solid understanding of how the business of real estate works. 

Luis Villatoro Villaherrera, El Salvador, founder of Gobdata/TRACODA, the first organization in El Salvador using data analysis to create transparency. Gobdata was the first app in Central America to have an impact on transparency and ethics issues in the government, finding possible cases of corruption. Some of the major users of the app include the mass media, virtual media, independent researchers, and other NGOs. Another large user group includes members of the general population following these issues. GobData provides the only app to include salaries and public purchases. This information enables users to cross-reference and verify data and thus have a more comprehensive overall vision. At this time GobData is being reshaped because of recent events in El Salvador.


The YLAI Fellowship Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented in 2022 by IREX.  Follow the 2022 YLAI Fellowship Program on social media at #YLAI2022.  For press inquiries, please contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at ECA-Press@state.gov.  For more information on joining the free YLAI network or how to apply for the upcoming YLAI fellowship program, please visit https://ylai.state.gov/.


Stay up to date with our Fellows’ participation at the summit and find timely resources via @YLAINetwork social channels and via the Summit of the Americas LinkedIn page! You can also follow the Department of State’s Summit of the Americas page for links to live-streamed events.