The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a community of innovators from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Search current members and alumni by year awarded, sector or region.

Maria Nelly Rivas

Vice-President, Government Relations, Latin America, Cargill Incorporated, Costa Rica

Maria Nelly Rivas is Cargill's Government Relations Vice President in Latina America. Former Assistant Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Previously she was the Central American coordinator for the United Nations World Tourism Organization. In the past she was a partner at Crea Comunicaciones. Prior to Crea, she was Minister of Tourism of Nicaragua. As Minister, she was in charge of promoting, developing and expanding tourism in Nicaragua. Under her leadership, tourism became the top revenue generator for the country. Previously, she was associate director of PRONicaragua, Nicaragua's investment promotion agency. Before joining PRONicaragua, Maria served as senior strategic media planner at multi-national advertising agency McCann-Erickson in New York City and Buenos Aires. While at McCann-Erickson, she managed accounts such as Coca-Cola and Starmedia. In New York, she was responsible for overseeing the agency's network in Latin America while managing quality standards and service for its international clientele. During her post in Buenos Aires, she was responsible for more than US$40 million in media investment. She holds a BA in communications from Queens College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She was born in Granada, Nicaragua and resides in Managua with her family. She is a Fellow of the second class of the Central America Leadership Initiative and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Alvaro Rodriguez Arregui

Managing Partner, MA2 Asociados, Mexico

Alvaro Rodriguez Arregui is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of IGNIA, a venture capital fund in Mexico investing in businesses that serve the emerging middle class. In 2019, together with Michael Bloomberg, he was awarded the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Gentera (Compartamos Banco), the largest microfinance institution in the Americas. Also former Chairman of the Board of ACCION International, Chief Financial Officer of Vitro, Chief Executive Officer of Farmacias Benavides and Chief Financial Officer of Grupo Elektra. Rodriguez Arregui is a Board Member of Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard Business School Latin America Advisory Board, the Social Progress Index, Oxford University Saïd Business School Global Leadership Council and Duke University's Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship. In 2005 Alvaro was named Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Forbes named Alvaro as one of the 30 Top Social Entrepreneurs of the world. In 2012 the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) awarded Alvaro with the SEN Sustainability Award on Economic Justice/Community Impact. In 2014, the President of Mexico honored him with the National Entrepreneurship Award. In 2015 YPO’s Real Leaders magazine, named Alvaro as one of the 100 visionary leaders leading us toward a better world. He holds a BS in Economics from ITAM and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. During 2020 he will serve as Visiting Entrepreneur/Executive at Harvard Business School.

Guillermo Romo

President and Chief Executive Officer, Grupo Mega, Mexico

Guillermo Romo entered the business world at the age of 17 and has since achieved several business successes, including the sale of Tequila Herradura, his family's original business, to Brown-Forman Corporation - a transaction valued US$ 876 million. In 2003, Romo created Grupo Mega, a holding company that integrates financial services, with assets over US$ 750 million.
Grupo Mega is ranked as the 2nd largest independent leasing & equipment finance company in Mexico and has an investment rating by Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings. Other investments include Agricultural & food-Bloomfarms-(agave, blueberries & avocados) bio compostable disposables & packaging, security and real estate, RFO Family Office and private equity.
Romo is Executive Chairman of the Board at Grupo Mega and has seats on different boards. He is active in social and environmental responsibility projects such as Teleton and Endeavor, reforestation US-Mexico Foundation. He’s also a VP of COMCE, the foreign trade chamber of commerce in Mexico. As well as honorary consul of the kingdom of Thailand in Mexico.

Sandro Salsano

Chairman and President, Salsano Group, Panama

Self made businessman and philanthropist, dubbed by Forbes the Warren Buffett of Central America in its march 2019 cover. President, Salsano Group - a private conglomerate investing in real estate, private equity and technology globally. Chairman, Salsano Family Office. Chairman and Trustee, Salsano Shahani Foundation. Chairman for Panama, Global Dignity. Academy of Global Teacher Prize. Shareholder and board member of several companies. Angel and Venture capitalist. Steering Committee 1640society. Milken Young Global. Former basketball player. Ypo. Young Global Leader. Graduate Bocconi University, Italy; MBA Exchange program University of San Diego, California; Also studied at Harvard Business School, Incae, Princeton and Oxford University.

Leo Schlesinger

Chief Executive Officer, Aliat Universidades, Mexico

Leo Schlesinger has an MBA from London Business School and additional courses at LBS, Yale, Harvard and Michigan University. He began his professional career in 1992 at Sun Chemical in New York and then joined Citigroup´s Global Leadership Program which took him to Santiago, Sao Paulo and London where he stayed until 2002 when he moved to Cigna International Europe and then Cigna USA. In 2005 he joined Gruponueva, a USD 1.4BN Swiss Private Equity fund as Corporate Vice President and he sat at the boards of the controlled companies (Masisa, Amanco, Plycem) where he restructured, merged and sold several of them. In 2007 Leo moved to Mexico as the CEO of Masisa.

In 2015 he became the CEO of Aliat Universidades (a PE company from Tresalia Capital); one of the major higher education private-for profit groups with presence in 15 Mexican states, +50 campus and 54,000 students. Aliat it’s the fastest growing Private for profit University group in Mexico and it includes 16 higher education institutions/ brands that teach from High School, Bachelors, Master and post graduate degrees both in traditional classrooms and online.

Leo in 2010 he was recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, also he has been awarded the Global SEN award as the CEO of the year by the Young Presidents Organization, was named Chairman of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Natural Capital, and currently is the president of the Young Presidents Organization Mexico City Chapter.
He also is a board member of KIO Networks, Subastas Ventura, a mentor at Endeavor and Ashoka and the Vice President of the Board of Trustees at the American School Foundation. He is the writer of “Mi mejor yo” (“my best self”) published by Pearson which has sold over 40,000 copies.

Claudia Sender Ramirez

Board Member, EMBRAER, Brazil


Nicolás Shea

Founder and Executive Chairman, Cumplo Chile S.A., Chile

Chilean entrepreneur. Founder of Start-Up Chile, eClass & Cumplo. Founding president of the Chilean Association of Entrepreneurs (ASECH), Socialab & TODOS. Former advisor of entrepreneurship & innovation to the Chilean Ministry of Economy. M.Sc. Management from Stanford, M.Sc. Education from Columbia, B.A. in business and economics from the Catholic University of Chile. Married, 5 children, 1 dog.

Otto Sonnenholzner

Vice-President of Ecuador (2018-2020), Ecuador

Otto Sonnenholzner was elected to be the vice president of Ecuador in December 2018. For 12 years, he was a radio personality with his own talk show. Sonnenholzner also served as the president of the Ecuadorian Association of Broadcasters and is a champion for freedom of speech. He was part of the faculty at Universidad Católica de Guayaquil and is a successful entreprenuer in the broadcasting, telecommunications, construction, commerce and agriculture industries.

Ilona Szabó de Carvalho

President, Igarape Institute, Brazil

Ilona Szabó de Carvalho is the co-founder and president of the Igarapé Institute – an independent think-and-do tank focused on citizen, digital and climate security, working at the intersection of research, new technologies, communication and public policy. She is a civic entrepreneur and a globally recognized thought leader on issues of violence prevention, and civic and climate action.

Ilona serves on several boards, including the UNSG High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism, Fernando Henrique Cardoso Foundation (FFHC), and the Brazilian Center of International Relations (CEBRI).

She was previously the Executive-Secretary of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, and of a national gun control campaign in Brazil. Before that, she worked for 5 years in investment banks in Rio de Janeiro. She earned a Master’s Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Uppsala in Sweden, is an affiliate scholar at the Princeton University Brazil Lab, and was a public policy fellow at Columbia University in NY.

She is also a columnist at Folha de São Paulo, a podcast and TV anchor and commentator, a TED speaker, and the author of 3 books. Ilona was nominated as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in 2015 and in 2020 as one of the world's top 50 thinkers for the Covid-19 age by Prospect Magazine.

Joice Toyota

Executive Director and Founder, Vetor Brasil, Brazil

Joice Toyota is a rising entrepreneur whose pioneering work in social innovation is helping boost civic engagement among Brazil's youth. As the founder of Vetor Brasil, she has helped select and develop hundreds of young public management leaders across Brazil's 27 states. Her organization has received numerous awards and attracted attention from nationwide media as one of the most promising and scalable initiatives to support the consolidation of Brazilian public institutions.

Mariana Vasconcelos

Chief Executive Officer, Agrosmart, Brazil

Mariana Vasconcelos is the Chief Executive Officer of Agrosmart, a technology pioneer alumni of the World Economic Forum and serves as an advisory board member at Thought For Food, Fundação Espaço ECO (BASF) and Instituto Interamericano de Cooperação para a Agricultura (IICA). She is a climate activist and an expert in digital agriculture, considered one of the most influential people in Latin America by Bloomberg Linea. An advocate for gender equality, she was recognized by Globant with a "Women That Build" award in the game-changer category. With a business background and degrees from UNIFEI, LSE and Singularity University, she was also recognized as an Innovator under 35 by MIT Technology Review, Forbes 30 Under 30 Brasil and Fast Company world's 100 Most Creative in Business.

Elisa Vegas

Artistic Director, Fundación Orquesta Sinfónica Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, Venezuela

Elisa Vegas founded the first orchestra aimed at improving quality of life of Venezuelans through music and cultural change. She is a living example of how the arts unify people of very different backgrounds and beliefs.