Notre Dame to host 10 new Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) fellows

Author: Luis Ruuska

YLAI 2017

The University of Notre Dame will welcome 10 business and social entrepreneurs from across Latin America and the Caribbean beginning Monday, Oct. 9, for the 2017 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) program.


The YLAI program aims to empower business and social entrepreneurs to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere.


As part of the four-week program, the YLAI fellows will each shadow one business or nonprofit organization in the Michiana region for four days each week during regular business hours. By working alongside these host organizations, the fellows will learn to accelerate their commercial and social ventures’ success and develop specific action plans to carry out upon return to their home countries. Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, both a part of the new Keough School of Global Affairs, will supplement the fellows’ experience through an entrepreneurship institute on campus and through various networking, leadership and cultural events.


The 2017 class of YLAI fellows, four men and six women, hail from 10 countries:


  • Bruno Felipe Domingues Correa from Brazil is the founder of Bruno’s School of English, a tutoring company that offers low-cost English lessons to students.
  • Eva Herbert from Venezuela is the founder and CEO of Beauty Value, an organization committed to providing women with greater self-acceptance to counteract bullying, eating disorders and gender-based violence.
  • Erik Huamanchumo from Peru is the co-founder of Acritel, a company that produces custom-made acrylic displays to create more jobs in the community and serve as an alternative to large companies.
  • Kiddist McCoy from Jamaica is the co-founder of Good Deeds Foundation Jamaica, which addresses the high level of youth unemployment in Jamaica by hosting empowerment sessions and career expos for youth.
  • Kawish Misier from Aruba is the co-founder and treasurer of the Young Entrepreneurs Stitching of Aruba (YES Aruba), a nonprofit organization aimed at inspiring and encouraging the sustainable growth of new small businesses and entrepreneurs in Aruba.
  • Freddy Poma from Bolivia is the founder and CEO of Buena Fuente (“Good Source”), an organization dedicated to helping university students develop journalistic skills.
  • Jennifer Reimert from Colombia is the co-founder of Melisfera SAS, a natural honey and hive product provider with an emphasis on environmental and social sustainability.
  • Damaris Ortiz Rodriguez from Mexico is the founder of Abba’s House, a company that sells handcrafted coffee, tea and products made from amaranth.
  • Susana Soriano from El Salvador is the founder of Business Consulting Services, where leaders of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises learn how to develop their companies.
  • Marysela Zamora from Costa Rica is the founder of Fábrica de Historias (“Stories Factory”), a production company that empowers women in the arts.


Notre Dame is among an elite group of 24 universities and city hubs chosen by the U.S. Department of State and its implementing partner, Meridian International Center, to host these 10 YLAI fellows, who are part of a nationwide cohort of 250 in total.


Since the program’s establishment in 2016, NDIGD and the Kellogg Institute have partnered to facilitate the program at Notre Dame.


In mid-November, the fellows will travel to Washington, D.C., for a multi-day conference and networking event with top U.S. government officials, as well as global public, private and nonprofit leaders.


For more information about the YLAI program at Notre Dame, visit


Contact: Luis Ruuska, communications specialist, Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development,