Alex Mejia was appointed as the Manager of UNITAR’s Decentralized Cooperation Programme (DCP) in October 2012 after serving three years as the head of UNITAR’s Hiroshima Office in Japan and after working for four years as the Executive Director of UNITAR’s CIFAL training centre in Atlanta. In his capacity as DCP Manager he leads the CIFAL Global Network and is responsible for several other programmes within DCP, including the PHPO office in Nigeria, the ITCCO center in Belgium and the Human Mobility Programme managed out of New York.
Mr. Mejia is a citizen of Ecuador and his career spans two decades in private and public organizations. After obtaining his fist master’s degree in 1992, he worked in corporate banking in Latin America for six years until 1998 when he joined the foreign service of his country as a diplomat appointed as a Counsellor at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2001, he became Vice Minister of Economy for the Republic of Ecuador. During this period, he also served as Alternate Governor to the International Monetary Fund, to the World Bank, to the Inter-American Development Bank, and as a member of the Board of Directors of Ecuador’s Central Bank. From 2003 until 2005 Mr. Mejia worked in Washington, DC as the director of the Inter-American Council’s Andean Program, an entity chartered by the Organization of America States.
Alex Mejia holds a Masters degree in Foreign Affairs from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and a Masters degree in Business Administration from INCAE University in Costa Rica. He also holds a Diploma in Political Leadership from Harvard University.
Ambassador Luis Gallegos is a Senior Advisor at UNITAR supporting DCP’s training activities as a Senior Fellow. He also serves as Chairman of the United Nations Partnership for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies and as Chair of the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict). He has also been serving on the Special Olympics’ International Board of Directors since April 2012. He holds a Juris Doctor Degree and Master’s degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University.
Dr. Gallegos is a career Ambassador that served as the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations Office in Geneva until August 2014. His previous career with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spans more than three decades. Among many Foreign Service posts he has been Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Ambassador to the United States of America, to El Salvador and to Australia. He has also served in the past as Vice President and Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2013, Vice-President of the 57th Session of the UN General Assembly, President of the Political Committee of the Non Aligned Movement, Vice-President of the Executive Board of UNICEF; Vice-President of the Assembly of the Member States of WIPO, and, Vice-President of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council Reform.
Estrella Merlos joined UNITAR in May 2013 and is responsible for overseeing, coordinating and supporting the CIFAL Global Network comprised of 10 training centres. Additionally, she supports and oversees UNITAR’s affiliated International Training Centre for Corporate Opportunities (ITCCO) based in Belgium. Estrella is also charged with designing and developing capacity building programs for local authorities.
Previously, Estrella served as President of UNITAR’s training centre in the United States, CIFAL Atlanta- working together with strategic partners, various UN agencies and donors, and leading the development and implementation of training programs. In November 2012, Estrella was appointed by UN Assistant Secretary-General Sally Fegan-Wyles as UNITAR Associated Fellow.
Prior to joining CIFAL, Estrella worked as Chief Economist at the National Association of the Private Sector (ANEP) in El Salvador where she developed socio-economic policy proposals for government administrations. She was also member of the private sector negotiating team during the US-DR-CAFTA (United States-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement) negotiations, specializing on the labor and environmental chapters of the agreement.
Her experience also includes humanitarian supplies management and mobilization of national and international aid following major disaster strikes such as the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador.
A native of El Salvador, Estrella graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the Central American University José Simeón Cañas, and a Master in Public Administration (MPA) from Georgia State University. She was a Fulbright Scholar in the United States studying public policy, urban planning and economic development.
Nicolas Plouviez has been working with the Decentralized Cooperation Programme of UNITAR since 2008. He has first been in charge, under the guidance of the Knowledge Systems Innovation section, of accompanying the development and set up of UNITAR Virtual Learning Environment. Nicolas works on the development of learning materials and training projects on local development themes through e-learning courses, face to face trainings and projects in city to city cooperation for knowledge transfer. He holds a Master degree in European Law from the University of Rennes 1 (France) and a Master degree in International Law/Public Administration from the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas (France).
Ima Ebong joined the Decentralized Cooperation Programme in 2011. A native of Nigeria, at UNITAR she develops capacity building programmes for post-conflict countries, and currently oversees a customized Master’s degree initiative in Development Policies and Practices specially created for senior-level employees from the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan. Prior to joining UNITAR, Ms. Ebong served as communications consultant for the Capacity Development Group in the Bureau of Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme in New York and the United Nations South South Cooperation Unit. Her research interests include local content development policy and youth employment in Africa. She received her MA in history of art and architecture from Brown University in Rhode Island, USA.
Maria Fernanda Betancourt joined UNITAR’s Decentralized Cooperation Programme in February 2013. Maria Fernanda contributes to support and coordinate the CIFAL Global Network as well as works on the development and implementation of e-learning courses and other capacity building initiatives. Prior to UNITAR, she worked at the global association for social entrepreneurs Ashoka in Argentina and at the NGO Thirdway Human Rights and Development in the Netherlands.
As a Chevening Scholar, she obtained a Master degree in Global Politics and Civil Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the UK.
Kato Van Broeckhoven joined UNITAR in April 2013. Within the Decentralized Cooperation Programme, she works for the Human Mobility Programme and assists in coordinating the Learning Platform on Human Mobility (LPHM). She is also involved in UNITAR’s role as focal point on capacity development within the Global Migration Group (GMG) and the World Bank’s KNOMAD project.
Kato holds a Master in Multilingual Professional Communication from the University of Antwerp and is finishing an Advanced Master in Conflict and Development at Ghent University.