2011-12 Fellows

Alejandro Alfaro Aco

Metisgaia–Red MG, Peru

Alejandro Alfaro AcoA native of Puebla, Mexico, Alejandro graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a double major in Government and Economics and a minor in Sociology. As an undergraduate, Alejandro was a research fellow at the Franklin and Marshall Local Economic Center and an impact assessment intern at Community First Fund, a local community development financial institution. In his junior year, he had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua and work as an intern for Community Enterprise Solutions, an NGO that trains and equips emerging social entrepreneurs in developing countries. Alejandro has also been involved in numerous volunteer activities including the 2004 BUAP Literacy Campaign, where he spent three months in rural Mexico teaching how to read and write to the elderly. Alejandro is grateful for the opportunity to return to Latin America as a PiLA fellow, and he is very excited to spend the year working with Metis Gaia on corporate social responsibility issues relating to the Peruvian mining industry.

Benjamin Bell

Endeavor–Puerto Varas, Chile

Benjamin Bell Connecticutian in ancestry, Ben is a 2011 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with majors in Economics and Philosophy. Ben's interest in economic development began while researching microfinance trends for the Social Impact Consulting Group at Penn, however, it was through his internship with One Laptop Per Child in the small pueblo of Sangayaico in the Peruvian Andes that this passion solidified as he witnessed the effects of rural poverty first hand and realized that great impacts could be made through relatively minor structural changes. In the summer of 2010, Ben developed his business acumen through a summer internship at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman and is excited to apply these newfound skills in aiding the soon-to-be high impact entrepreneurs of southern Chile as one of the Endeavor PiLAs this coming year.

Hila Calev

Mexican Institute for Family and Population Research, Mexico

Hila Calev Hila attended Princeton University, where she majored in psychology and received a certificate in Spanish language and culture. In the summer of 2009, she spent two months in La Paz, Bolivia, doing an internship program through which she was exposed to parts of the Bolivian healthcare system. The experience prompted her to volunteer as a Spanish interpreter at the Princeton Medical Center upon her return to Princeton. Hila is fascinated by psychology and deeply interested in public service work, and she is thrilled to continue her adventures at the Instituto Mexicano de Investigación de Familia y Población in Mexico City.

Cara Buchanan

Amazon Conservation Association, Peru

Cara Buchanan Cara Buchanan is a recent graduate of Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Human Rights with a focus on Health. She currently works for the United States Congress in Washington D.C. on issues of domestic health policy in the House of Representatives. For her PiLA placement, she will be working in Villa Carmen, Peru with the Amazon Conservation Association to research local impacts of the environment. After returning from South America, Cara plans to apply her knowledge and experience in pursuit of a career in medicine. She is passionately committed to her dream of becoming a primary care/family medicine doctor to focus on cross-cultural competency and communication in her practice. Cara can't wait to begin her PiLA experience!

Emily Hedin

Arias Foundation For Peace and Human Progress, Costa Rica

Emily Hedin Emily Hedin graduated from Macalester College (Saint Paul, MN) in 2007 with degrees in Political Science and International Studies. Following her graduation, she spent three months in Lima, Peru as a recipient of the Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellowship. In 2008 she co-founded Building Dignity, non-profit organization committed to empowering local leaders, providing community education, and supporting community-led development in marginalized areas. In 2009 Building Dignity opened a community center in Lima, Peru that houses Building Dignity's programs. Emily recently graduated from Oxford University with a master's degree in international development. She is excited to broaden her experiences through a fellowship with the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress (San Jose, Costa Rica). After completing her fellowship, Emily plans to return full time to Building Dignity and expand its activities to other Latin American cities.

Liz Iannuzzi

Mujeres Empresarias, Chile

Liz IannuzziOriginally from Massachusetts, Liz graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in 2011, majoring in International Politics and completing a Certificate in International Development. During college, Liz spent a summer teaching English in Costa Rica and a semester studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Additionally, she interned for Partners of the Americas, an NGO in Washington that connects individuals, volunteers, institutions, businesses, and communities through a network of partnerships between the United States and Latin America.Liz also played for the Georgetown Women's Rugby team and played with a local women's team while studying in Buenos Aires. Through her experiences in college, Liz has developed a keen interest in Latin America in general, and development, in particular.During her fellowship year, Liz will be working at MujeresEmpresarias in PuertaVaras, Chile. She is eager to work with aspiring female entrepreneurs in southern Chile as well as immerse herself in a new culture. After her year in Chile, Liz hopes to pursue a master's degree in development management and policy.

Julia Kaplan

Endeavor-Mexico, Mexico

Julia KaplanJulia, a native of New Jersey, recently graduated from Princeton with a degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and certificates in Latin American Studies and Spanish. She first became interested in Latin America during an internship at The Resource Foundation, which provides capacity building services for small NGOs in the region. That experience was followed up with a summer in Buenos Aires working at the Citizens Audit Program, a federal government initiative to promote democratic practices in Argentina's most marginalized communities. After an incredible semester at the Universidad de La Habana in Cuba and an internship in the Global Economy & Development program at Brookings, Julia was determined to spend her first year outside the Princeton bubble doing development work in Latin America. Therefore, she is very excited to be joining Endeavor Mexico where she will help them to identify and support high-impact entrepreneurs. Julia looks forward to learning more about business in emerging markets and to enjoying the fabulous food and culture of Mexico City!

Lauren Kapsalakis

Fundación Minera Escondida, Chile

Lauren KapsalakisLauren Kapsalakis is a 2011 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her masters and bachelors degrees in Anthropology. She was the editor-in-chief of the In Situ: The Undergraduate Journal of Anthropology that published independent student research. She also co-curated a permanent exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of student-produced ethnographic photography from around the world. After her sophomore year, she conducted six months of in depth ethnographic research on contraception usage in an peri-urban indigenous community in Argentina, the Toba of Barrio Nam Qom. After realizing that tensions were building in the community over economic stratification, she returned the next year to the same community to conduct research on the unintended consequences of pension programs, political clientelism, and their relation to indigenous identity. In Argentina, she also learned the extremely important skills of how to properly carry a baby, how to weave a beautiful basket, and most importantly, how to make delicious torta frita. Lauren is looking forward to her partnership with Fundación Minera Escondida where she will be working on a project integrating indigenous businessmen into the tourism industry in Antofagasta, Chile and San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. She also hopes that that the Chileans will refrain from making fun of her Argentinean accent.

Cindy Kroll

Valle de los Pinos School/Manos Abiertas, Guatemala

Cindy KrollAt Princeton, Cindy Kroll concentrated in Spanish and Portuguese, and earned certificates in Environmental, Latin American, and Latino Studies. She developed an interest in Latin America through academic work in her first two undergraduate years, and became passionate about the region through her experiences volunteering in pediatric hospitals and a home for street children in La Paz, Bolivia. Upon returning to Princeton, she became a volunteer translator for Spanish speaking patients at the University Medical Center at Princeton, and a co-coordinator of Pa'delante, an English tutoring program for local Spanish speakers. Cindy focused much of her academic work at Princeton on the local Guatemalan population. She is looking forward to integrating herself into Guatemalan society by teaching English, math, and science in the Valley of the Pines School in Parramos, as well as volunteering at the maternal/infant health clinic and midwifery, Manos Abiertas. Following her PiLA Fellowship, she plans to matriculate in medical school and ultimately to be a doctor for medically underserved patients.

Joseph Lerman

ProWorld Peru, Peru

Joseph LermanHailing from Deerfield, Illinois, Joe is a 2011 graduate of Brown University. At Brown, Joe majored in Political Science and was also a Pre-Med Student. During college, Joe worked for a political finance firm, was an intern in the Executive Office of President Clinton, sang in an acapella group, and also worked as a social service case manager to low-income families in Rhode Island. Joe first experienced Latin America as a volunteer in Nicaragua during the summer of 2006, and is so excited to return to Latin America next year. Joe will be working for ProWorld in Urubamba, Peru where he will be helping coordinate volunteers and manage service projects that encompass public health, education, the environment, and much more.

Alice Maclean

Fundación Juventas, Colombia

Alice MacleanAlice graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington with a degree in Politics and a minor in Latin American Studies. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Ecuador, where she spent a month working with and interviewing Colombian refugees. This experience sparked an interest that inspired her senior thesis, about US media portrayals of Colombia and foreign policy, and drew her to Fundación Juventas, an organization that works with displaced youth in Tunja, Colombia. While at Whitman, Alice received a Davis Projects for Peace grant to improve access to legal services for Latino immigrants in Eastern Washington State; assistant taught in a local high school Spanish class; and learned how to play lockdown corner in intramural flag football. A proud native of Seattle, Washington, Alice was delighted to learn that Tunja holds the title of the coldest and wettest department capital of Colombia. She loves baked goods, soccer, and has a secret weakness for reggaeton, all of which she hopes will be of some use while in Colombia.

Ariana Markowitz

Asociación Pro Arte y Cultura, Bolivia

Ariana MarkowitzDespite a longstanding interest in Latin America, this is the first time Ariana will be in the region in a professional capacity, having been enticed first by the Middle East and then West Africa. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a degree in Middle East Studies and Political Science—including a semester abroad in Beirut, Lebanon—Ariana moved to Washington, DC to take a job in national security. Heading the Arabic-language team on a counter-explosives project was meaningful work that made for interesting conversation, but Ariana ultimately realized that her passion lay more in the social, political, and economic causes of instability, not its violent symptoms. After three years, she left Washington and moved to Accra, Ghana to consult for TechnoServe, an NGO that combats poverty through private sector development. There, as well as in Cote d'Ivoire and Benin, she evaluated the ongoing impact of the African Cashew Initiative, a multinational project aiming to develop and nurture the cashew-processing industry in West Africa and Mozambique. Working at the Asociación Pro Arte y Cultura this year will expose Ariana to cultural development, a sector of particular interest to her as an active musician. Ariana is thrilled to have an opportunity to return to Latin America and fuse her personal and professional interests!

Laura Marrin

Endeavor, Chile

Laura MarrinOriginally from Rhode Island, Laura graduated from Wellesley College, where she majored in International Relations-Political Science and minored in Women's and Gender Studies with a concentration in gender and human rights issues. During the fall of her junior year, Laura studied abroad at University College London's School of Public Policy, and spent the following summer working as a research assistant at the Albright Stonebridge Group, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's global strategy consulting firm in Washington D.C. Based on her experience at Albright Stonebridge, Laura developed a passion for understanding how entrepreneurship and business can effectively create sustainable economic growth and development. During college, Laura conducted research for a variety of organizations, such as the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights, the Pell Center for International Relations & Public Policy, and the U.S. Naval War College. While at Wellesley, Laura was also an inaugural fellow at the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs and received the Michael P. Metcalf Award, which allowed her to explore South America by volunteering with an international NGO in Villa El Salvador, Peru. In terms of community service, Laura founded and directed Camp Eureka, a free week-long summer camp in Rhode Island for children impacted by domestic violence. Based on her passion for traveling, development economics, and exploring new cultures, Laura is looking forward to spending her fellowship year in Santiago, Chile working for Endeavor and learning first-hand about international development and entrepreneurial work in emerging markets.

Meixi Ng

Convivencia Educativa, Mexico

Meixi Ng Meixi is from the sunny island of Singapore but fell in love with Latin America after building a community center in Perú with Claudio the llama and dancing in ESL class in Chicago. Her drive to work in schools began in the slums of India at 11 and at 19, Meixi co-founded The Amber Initiative to work with young people in education. On a Circumnavigators scholarship, Meixi researched and wrote about school-community partnerships for social justice education in Perú, Guatemala and 4 other countries. Working with Conviviencia Educativa this year is a perfect opportunity for Meixi to continue to explore how schools can create social change in communities from the inside out and multiply that change by understanding educational policy. She is so pumped to be in Mexico this year to travel to schools, dance her heart out and eat so many burritos.

Zoe Schlag

Gente Nueva, Argentina

Zoe SchlagOriginally from Boulder, Colorado, Zoe graduated from Tufts University in 2011 with a degree in International Relations. During her time at Tufts, she interned with several organizations that focused on childhood education, homelessness, refugee resettlement, and women's literacy. Zoe has long been interested in sustainable development, which led her to Guatemala in 2009, where she conducted independent research and worked at a fair trade coffee cooperative. Following this, she spent the summer filming and producing an ethnographic documentary in Bolivia, and then a semester abroad in Valparaíso, Chile, where she conducted research on resource networks in squatter settlements. Aside from her studies, Zoe has a passion for running, languages, mountains and sandwiches. She is incredibly excited to spend the year working with Fundación Gente Nueva in Bariloche, Argentina, where she will focus on career development and microfinance.

Claudia Solís-Román

EndeavorMontevideo, Uruguay

Claudia Solís-RománClaudia is the Search & Selection Analyst and Entrepreneurship Services Executive for the Uruguay Office. Born and raised in the USA, she has worked, researched, and traveled in the countries that make up her heritage: Chile, Brazil and Costa Rica. She graduated from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and completed certificates in Latin American Studies and Environmental Studies. She has studied behavioral economics at George Mason ICES, comparative law and policy in Amsterdam, London and Geneva through Syracuse University, and international systems at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, Sciences Po. She became interested in Endeavor's high impact entrepreneurship model of economic development after directing the Princeton in Washington program and writing on angel investment networks in Latin America and Europe for New Vantage Group. Before PiLA she worked at a Project Management firm in Rio de Janeiro, Marquand Library of Art and Archeology in Princeton, and the Center of Marine Biotechnology in Baltimore. She loves art, music, and adventure sports. She is excited to move to Uruguay, a country she's never been to, and work for an NGO in the service of entrepreneurs.

Hank Song

Saude Crianca, Brazil

Hank SongHank hails from Los Angeles, California, and graduated in 2011 from Princeton with a degree in chemistry with a certificate in engineering biology. While at school, he traveled to Peru several times with Engineers Without Borders to construct water systems and biomass stoves and to help initiate a community development project. He is excited to spend a year in Brazil working with Saude Crianca, living in an entirely new culture and learning Portuguese. After his fellowship with PiLA, he hopes to continue to work in healthcare and plans to eventually enter medical school.

Julia Steege

Fundación Chile, Chile

Julia SteegeOriginally from Wisconsin, Julia graduated from Northwestern University with a major in anthropology and minor in environmental policy. During college, she studied abroad in Bolivia, lived for two summers in a remote Inupiat Eskimo village in Alaska, and wrote a senior honors ethnography about a high school in Wisconsin. Since college, Julia has worked as a Bilingual Teacher and Bilingual Resource Specialist for two middle schools in Madison, Wisconsin and a recruiter for an educational program aimed at migrant farm workers. She has also taken graduate level classes in ESL/Bilingual Education at Edgewood College. Julia is thrilled to move to Santiago, Chile to work for the think tank Fundacion Chile, where she will help coordinate and research entrepreneurship education in Chile's technical high schools. She will be joined by her husband Kristopher.

Lucy McDonald Stewart

Human Rights Watch/CELE, Argentina

Lucy McDonald StewartOriginally from San Francisco, California, Lucy graduated with a double major in Latin American Studies and Spanish from Smith College. During her studies, she spent two semesters abroad directly enrolled in classes at Chilean universities while writing for the Santiago Times online newspaper in Santiago, Chile and a summer interning at an indigenous rights organization in Salvador, Brazil. At Smith and abroad, Lucy developed a particular interest in human rights and women's rights in Latin America and focused her research opportunities on women's roles in conflict situations in Latin America. Upon graduation from Smith, she returned to San Francisco to explore her passion for women's rights in Latin America at an internship with the Global Fund for Women. She has enjoyed living in Bogotá, Colombia for the past six months, working as a freelance translator for the International Organization for Migration and at a vacation rentals company. Lucy is excited to focus on her passion for the defense of human rights in Latin America at her dream fellowship with Human Rights Watch and CELE in Buenos Aires.

Melissa Tran

Endeavor–Bogotá, Colombia

Melissa TranBorn and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Melissa will be spending her fellowship year in Bogotá with Endeavor Colombia. Melissa graduated from Harvard College in 2010 with a major in Sociology, a certificate in Latin American Studies, and a minor in Government. While at Harvard, she was involved with immigrant rights advocacy and was a Strong Women, Strong Girls mentor for girls in Boston's underserved neighborhoods. Melissa also had the chance to study abroad in Southern Spain, intern at an Argentine NGO in Buenos Aires, and work at a securities company in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Her travels also took her to Jalisco, Mexico and Chicago, Illinois, where she conducted research for her senior thesis on the transnational ties that exist between the migrant communities in both locations. Since graduation, Melissa has been working with New York City's diverse migrant populations at the Immigration Legal Services program of the Lutheran Social Services of New York. She can't wait to return to South America this year to help Endeavor Colombia search, select, and support local entrepreneurs.

Sara Vogel

Convivencia Educativa, Mexico

Sara VogelA New York City native, Sara Vogel taught in English and Spanish at a public middle school in East Harlem for two years before becoming a Princeton in Latin America fellow. Catapulted into education reform via her position as a Teach for America corps member, Vogel hopes to nuance her perspective about how to catalyze student achievement by joining the team at Convivencia Educativa (CEAC), a Mexican non-profit that aims to reform the public school system from the bottom up. She completed her undergraduate degree at Columbia University where she majored in urban studies and concentrated in anthropology. She holds a Master's degree in education from Hunter College. A former managing editor for the Columbia Political Review and deputy city editor of the Columbia Daily Spectator, Vogel previously held internships in New York State and U.S. Senate offices, local New York City news outlets, and non-profits in New York and San Francisco that advocate for tenants' rights and smart urban development, respectively. Vogel also hopes her experience in politics and journalism will serve her as she helps CEAC spread the word about the important work they do.

Elizabeth Washburn

Endeavor, Argentina

Elizabeth WashburnOriginally from New Jersey, Elizabeth pursued a Spanish major and Latin American Studies certificate at Princeton. During college she volunteered as a medical Spanish translator, worked for Princeton Annual Giving and diligently sought out school-related opportunities to travel. Her ventures abroad include teaching in Guatemala, working as a translator in Paris, and researching the role of coffee in Puerto Rican culture for her senior thesis. Since 2008 Elizabeth has worked for strategy consulting firm Bain & Company in San Francisco, Madrid and London. Her work has included projects in technology, consumer goods, private equity and the non-profit sector. In her spare time she enjoys exploring Bay Area nature, savoring San Francisco cuisine and volunteering at the local animal shelter. Elizabeth looks forward to working with local entrepreneurs at Endeavor Buenos Aires. She plans to attend business school in the fall of 2012.