2017 LAEF Conference Speakers

Silvia Montoya

Director – UNESCO Institute of Statistics

Dr Silvia Montoya became the UIS Director in 2015, bringing the Institute extensive experience in a wide range of national and international initiatives to improve the quality, management and use of education statistics, with a specific focus on learning assessments.

Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she has taken a leadership role within the international education community by helping to build consensus around the standards, methodologies and indicators needed to measure progress towards Education 2030.
This work entails a complete review of existing sources of information, as well as an evaluation of statistical capacity-building services needed to help Member States produce and use the resulting data. She has also launched the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning and serves as the Co-Chair of the Technical Cooperation Group on SDG 4–Education 2030.

Prior to joining the UIS, Ms Montoya was the Director-General of Assessment and Evaluation of Education Quality at the Ministry of Education, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Among her many responsibilities, she oversaw the creation of the first comprehensive education quality index produced in Argentina. During the course of her career at the Ministry, she introduced a series of institutional changes and capacity-building initiatives to strengthen independence and objectivity in the production of education statistics and the measurement of learning outcomes.

Emiliana Vegas
Chief of Education Division – Inter-American Development Bank

Since September 2012, Emiliana Vegas is the Chief of the Education Division at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC. In this capacity, she leads a team of 30-40 professionals working in the Bank’s lending operations and analytical activities to support education systems throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Between September 2001 and August 2012, Ms. Vegas worked at The World Bank in Washington, DC, where she held various positions in the Human Development Network, her latest being Lead Economist and Human Development Sector Leader for Central America, and Lead Economist in the Education Unit of the Human Development Department. She has managed lending operations and applied research on regional and global education policy issues, including early childhood development, teacher policies and school finance systems and is the author of several articles in peer-reviewed journals and institutional reports.

Ms. Vegas has a doctorate in education from Harvard University with a concentration in economics of education, a master’s degree in public policy studies from Duke University, and a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in journalism from Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas, Venezuela.

Gina Parody
Former Minister of Education of Colombia

Gina Parody was the Minister of Education of Colombia, appointed to the position in 2014 by President Juan Manuel Santos. As minister she led important structural reforms in the sector including the introduction of a multidimensional quality index to monitor and evaluate school performance, the transformation of the teacher evaluation process at the primary and secondary level, the redesign of the regulatory requisites for teacher training schools and programs, as well as the inclusion of the Derechos Básicos de Aprendizaje to provide curriculum standards at the national level.

During her time in office, programs from previous administrations aimed to transform low performing schools such as Todos a Aprender 2.0 continued to be implemented and new programs like Ser Pilo Paga were introduced to improve the educational opportunities of Colombian students. Ser Pilo Paga has benefited over 30,000 high achieving students from low income backgrounds, allowing them to pursue postsecondary education degrees at some of the best universities in the country through a scheme of condonable credits.

Before being Minister of Education of Colombia, Gina Parody served as the Director of the National Learning Service (SENA), Senator, and House Representative. She holds a law degree from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, were she also did an specialization in conflict resolution. She has a Master’s degree in Management of 21st Century Cities from the Universidad Abierta de Cataluña, and an M.P.A degree from Harvard University.

Harvey Spencer Sánchez Restrepo
Executive Director – National Institute for the Evaluation of Education (INEVAL) of Ecuador

Harvey is actuary and Master in Complexity Sciences. He did his doctoral studies in the Institute of Geography of UNAM, where he also developed graduate studies in Psychology. He was Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at UNAM and Director of National Graduate Exams and Coordinator of Statistical Analysis at CENEVAL. He has been part of research projects at UNDP, UNAM, CENEVAL, Social Security Research Fund and the Secretaries of Health and Communications and Transportation.

Currently, he is technical advisor of INEE of Mexico, National Coordinator in the LLECE of UNESCO, member of the International Advisory Group of PISA-D and National project Manager for projects PISA-D and PIAAC of the OECD. He has received the “José María Morelos y Pavón” medal for his “Professional Trajectory” and the awards to “Educational Merit” and “Humanist Merit” of the Praiseworthy Society of Geography and Statistics.

Felipe Barrera-Osorio
Associate Professor of Education and Economics – Harvard Graduate School of Education

The aim of Felipe Barrera-Osorio’s research is to determine how different educational incentives impact the learning outcomes of primary- and secondary school-aged children in different contexts and levels of education development.

His research extends across countries on three continents: Africa, Asia and Latin America. Current projects include interventions that provide students and families incentives to encourage the students to attend and perform better in school and projects that aim to change the behavior of teachers and principals.

Barrera-Osorio is part of the policy committee of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and affiliated with the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard. Since 2007 he has been part of the executive committee of LACEA’s Impact Evaluation Network, which he helped to create. In 2008, Barrera-Osorio was awarded the Juan Luis Londoño Medal for research in education. The recognition is given every other year to a Colombian economist under the age of 40.

Catalina Martínez Coral
Regional Director for Latin America & the Caribbean – Center for Reproductive Rights

Catalina Martínez Coral is responsible of conducting general legal research on reproductive rights in the region and identifying opportunities for litigation before UN and Inter-American human rights bodies. Previously, Catalina worked at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as a human rights specialist, and as a field legal officer at the UNDP in Montes de María, Colombia, in the program on peace and reconciliation. Prior to that, Catalina worked as an intern for the International Federation for Human Rights in Paris and for the UNHCR in Colombia and Paris.

Leidy Cabrera
Regional Director – Teach for Mexico (Enseña por México)

Leidy Cabrera was born in the State of Mexico in 1987. She is the daughter of a family of immigrants who, in 1999, resolved to move to the United States in the hope of a better life. The time she spent away from Mexico enabled to reflect upon the reality of her homeland and made her sensitive to social issues.

In 2013, Teach for Mexico’s (Enseña por México) call for applications was opened and Leidy decided
to apply, as it would allow her to combine her studies and work in a setting that helped her understand one of the main challenges in Mexico: education. In August 2014, she was assigned to the Alpha Talents Training and Development Project, where she taught English to talented children coming from public middle schools in Monterrey.

After finishing the program, she decided to keep supporting the education sector in a more strategic role that allowed her to have an impact on the decision-making process that could further help all Mexican children. She was recently appointed Regional Director at Teach for Mexico, and her greatest challenge is to consolidate the organization in the region by creating a network of leader youths who are willing to devote two years of their lives to contribute to the improvement of education in the country.

Rita Almeida
Senior Economist in Global Education Practice- World Bank

Rita Almeida is a Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Education Global Practice where she is leading several country and regional analytical and lending operations in the education sector in the Latin American region. Since joining the World Bank in 2002, Ms. Almeida has led policy dialogue in Human Development Policies in diverse set of emerging countries in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Middle East and North Africa. Prior to the WBG, Rita worked in a private Investment Bank and lectured at the Portuguese Catholic University.

Her main areas of expertise cover education and skills policies, labor market analysis and regulations, activation and graduation policies, social protection for workers, firm productivity and innovation policies, public expenditure reviews and the evaluation of social programs. Over the years, Ms. Almeida has led and contributed to several World Bank reports and flagship publications across a wide spectrum of development topics. More recently, she coauthored the book, “The Right Skills for the Job? Rethinking Training Policies for Workers”, which examines the conditions for effective design and implementation of skills development policies in different country contexts.

Her academic work in has been published in a variety of top general-interest and specialized journals, including The Economic Journal, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Journal of International Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Labour Economics, Journal of Comparative Economics, Spatial Economic Analysis, World Development and Asia-Pacific Development Journal. A Portuguese national, Ms. Almeida holds a PhD in economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain. She has been a fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) since 2003.

Ned Strong
Executive Director – David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

Ned Strong is Executive Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, a cross-disciplinary center promoting research and study among the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean and Harvard University. He joined the Center in 2010 as the Program Director for the DRCLAS Regional Office in Chile where he developed collaborative research and educational programs in the physical and social sciences, humanities and the arts. Since 1983, he was part of the management team of LASPAU: Academic and Professional Programs for the Americas, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Harvard University. He served as Executive Director from 1997 to 2010 leading the organization’s efforts to address social, economic, and scientific needs in Latin America and the Caribbean through educational exchange programs sponsored by multilateral banks, U.S. and Latin American governments, and foundation and corporate donors to strengthen institutions in the Americas through scholarship programs leading to advanced degrees and through specialized professional training.

He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and received a bachelor’s of science degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Eleonora Villegas-Reimers
Associate Professor of Education and Chair Elementary and Special Education Department, Wheelock College

Eleonora Villegas-Reimers joined the faculty of Wheelock College in 1988, and is currently the Chair of the Department of Special and Elementary Education. Prior to this position, she served as the Dean of the School of Education and Child Life from 2006 to 2009 and as Acting Dean of the Child and Family Studies Division from 2004 until 2006, after having served as the Coordinator for the Child Development and Early Childhood Program, and the Child Development Studies Program since 1998. Her prior work includes experience as a high-school teacher, an assistant principal, and as acting director of the Office of International Education and as an international student advisor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Villegas-Reimers received the Wheelock College Cynthia Longfellow Teaching Recognition Award in 1990 and the Edward H. Ladd Award for Academic Excellence and Service in 2006.

Since joining Wheelock College, Dr. Villegas-Reimers has also served as consultant to a number of international organizations such as UNESCO, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Board on International Comparative Studies of the National Research Council, and the Academy for Educational Development on matters related to education, teacher preparation and development, education for democracy, values education, and multiculturalism.

Stephanie Majerowicz Nieto
PhD Candidate in Public Policy – Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Stephanie Majerowicz Nieto is a PhD Candidate in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her current research focuses on how to improve the quality of education in Latin America, including the delivery of preschool education, in-service teacher training, incentive pay and teacher career reforms. As part of her research she collaborates with various Ministries of Education in Latin America to evaluate the impact of educational policies on student learning outcomes.

Prior to starting her PhD, Majerowicz Nieto worked at the Center for Global Development (CGD), where she focused on natural resource revenue management, multilateral aid, and fiscal policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. At CGD, she co-authored a book on natural resource revenue management, Oil-to-Cash: Fighting the Resource Curse through Cash Transfers. Majerowicz Nieto has also worked as a consultant for the World Bank’s Global Poverty Practice, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Nana Queiroz
Director and Founder – AzMina

Nana Queiroz authored the books “Você já é feminista” (“You are already a feminist”) and “Presos que Menstruam” (“Prisoners who have periods”) and wrote the screenplay to the namesake movie that is currently in production. She is also the founder and director of AzMina Magazine, the largest feminist magazine targeted to adult audiences in Brazil, and creator of the protest “Eu Não Mereço Ser Estuprada” (“I Do Not Deserve to be Raped”). In 2014, she was featured in standout women lists at UOL, Brasil Post and the feminist think tank Think Olga. In 2016, she was a finalist of the Mulher Imprensa Trophy. As a journalist, she worked for the magazines Época, Galileu, Criativa and Veja, in addition to newspapers Correio Braziliense and Metro. In the activism field, she was media campaigner for Avaaz. Nana has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Universidade de São Paulo and is a Specialist in International Relations from Universidade de Brasília.

Gabi Oliveira
YouTuber – DePretas

Gabriela Oliveira has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Communication from Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, and recently has received recognition for her work on the YouTube channel DePretas por Gabi Oliveira. In her videos, in addition to black aesthetics, she covers topics related to ethnic-racial relations and the experience of black Brazilian women.

Dina Buchinder Auron
President and Founder – Education for Sharing

Dina Buchbinder Auron is a social entrepreneur that has introduced an innovative, action-oriented education model called Education for Sharing to education systems that have long struggled with passivity and rigidity.

Education for Sharing empowers teachers from a variety of school settings to foster social and environmental awareness about the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals while also teaching values, such as empathy, teamwork, and fair play.

Since its inception in 2007, Education for Sharing has reached more than 700,000 children, teachers, and families in Latin America. Dina is an Ashoka Fellow and a member of the board of directors of the International Youth Foundation. She is a Vital Voices Lead Fellow, and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. She is a Hubert Humphrey Fellow in Urban Planning at MIT, and holds a Master in Public Administration by the Harvard Kennedy School.

Miguel Lopez
President – Organization for Youth Empowerment – Honduras

Miguel Lopez has more than 20 years of experience working in different NGOs and private organizations related to international development, such as Care International, Plan Internacional, Child Fund, among others. He has been a manager and consultant for Centro América in education, childhood and youth; and a Professor and researcher for 18 years at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH) and Universidad Pedagógica Nacional (UPN).

He has a Licenciatura en Pedagogía with specialization in educational planning and administration from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, and a Masters in Cooperation for International Development with emphasis in Design and Evaluation of Projects from the Universidad de Castellón.

Carla Mayumi
Co-Founder and Director – Talk Inc.

Carla Mayumi is a researcher who found a social purpose for her profession. Since then she has been developing independent social research projects such as “Brazilian Dream”, “Brazilian Dream of Politics” and the book “Around the World in 13 Schools”.

She dedicates to the causes of civic education and youth political engagement and is currently involved with the development of “Game of Politics”.


And more coming soon!