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.

⬇️ Download Concept Note & Agenda (PDF)



  • 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

  • H.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 was born and raised in Peru and graduated in Social Sciences with a minor in Economics from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru and graduated from the Global Master of Arts Program in International Relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. He arrived at YABT more than 15 years ago, and he found in the organization not only his workplace but also his daily motivation to give the best out of him every day.

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.

Questions and Answers

Case Study: In their words

Youth representative - 49th OAS General Assembly, Medellín, Colombia

  • 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.

You also can visit:

Policy Lab/Summit Talks: Young Women Entrepreneurs and COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean

Policy Lab 1 Learn more ▶️