Our Team

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.


Dr. Colleen Thouez is Senior Research and Training Advisor at UNITAR.  She is also adjunct faculty at American University's School of International Service.  Among current UNITAR projects, she oversees the Human Mobility Project including the Learning Platform on Human Mobility, a global learning platform for local and regional government.  She also chairs the capacity development work for the World Bank KNOMAD Project, and the Global Migration Group’s Capacity Development Task Force (with IOM).  
Prior to this appointment, she headed UNITAR’s Office at the UN in New York, where for six years she was responsible for training thousands of government delegates annually on all aspects of international law and on the UN system and its functioning.  During this time, she negotiated major education-driven partnerships with governments, and the philanthropic and private sectors.  
Dr. Thouez began her career as a legal expert at UNHCR, which published her doctoral findings. From 2001-2004, she served as Senior Programme Officer with the inter-agency International Migration Policy Programme, training government officials on migration and refugee policy in most world regions.  In parallel, she served on the OSCE Stability Pact Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings. In 2004, she was appointed Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Commission on International Migration.  
She has lectured, and is the author of book chapters, published articles and research papers on: human mobility; international relations; and education.  She holds a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, political science degrees from McGill University, and was awarded the Terry Sanford Civil Society Fellowship at Duke University.  
Dr. Colleen Thouez is Senior Research and Training Advisor at UNITAR.  She is also adjunct faculty at American University's School of International Service.  Among current UNITAR projects, she oversees the Human Mobility Project including the Learning Platform on Human Mobility, a global learning platform for local and regional government.  She also chairs the capacity development work for the World Bank KNOMAD Project, and the Global Migration Group’s Capacity Development Task Force (with IOM).  
Prior to this appointment, she headed UNITAR’s Office at the UN in New York, where for six years she was responsible for training thousands of government delegates annually on all aspects of international law and on the UN system and its functioning.  During this time, she negotiated major education-driven partnerships with governments, and the philanthropic and private sectors.  
Dr. Thouez began her career as a legal expert at UNHCR, which published her doctoral findings. From 2001-2004, she served as Senior Programme Officer with the inter-agency International Migration Policy Programme, training government officials on migration and refugee policy in most world regions.  In parallel, she served on the OSCE Stability Pact Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings. In 2004, she was appointed Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Commission on International Migration.  
She has lectured, and is the author of book chapters, published articles and research papers on: human mobility; international relations; and education.  She holds a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, political science degrees from McGill University, and was awarded the Terry Sanford Civil Society Fellowship at Duke University.  
Dr. Colleen Thouez is Senior Research and Training Advisor at UNITAR. She is also adjunct faculty at American University's School of International Service. Among current UNITAR projects, she oversees the Human Mobility Project including the Learning Platform on Human Mobility, a global learning platform for local and regional government. She also chairs the capacity development work for the World Bank KNOMAD Project, and the Global Migration Group’s Capacity Development Task Force (with IOM).
Dr. Colleen Thouez is Senior Research and Training Advisor at UNITAR.  She is also adjunct faculty at American University's School of International Service.  Among current UNITAR projects, she oversees the Human Mobility Project including the Learning Platform on Human Mobility, a global learning platform for local and regional government.  She also chairs the capacity development work for the World Bank KNOMAD Project, and the Global Migration Group’s Capacity Development Task Force (with IOM).  
Prior to this appointment, she headed UNITAR’s Office at the UN in New York, where for six years she was responsible for training thousands of government delegates annually on all aspects of international law and on the UN system and its functioning.  During this time, she negotiated major education-driven partnerships with governments, and the philanthropic and private sectors.  
Dr. Thouez began her career as a legal expert at UNHCR, which published her doctoral findings. From 2001-2004, she served as Senior Programme Officer with the inter-agency International Migration Policy Programme, training government officials on migration and refugee policy in most world regions.  In parallel, she served on the OSCE Stability Pact Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings. In 2004, she was appointed Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Commission on International Migration.  
She has lectured, and is the author of book chapters, published articles and research papers on: human mobility; international relations; and education.  She holds a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, political science degrees from McGill University, and was awarded the Terry Sanford Civil Society Fellowship at Duke University.  
 
Prior to this appointment, she headed UNITAR’s Office at the UN in New York, where for six years she was responsible for training thousands of government delegates annually on all aspects of international law and on the UN system and its functioning.  During this time, she negotiated major education-driven partnerships with governments, and the philanthropic and private sectors.  
Dr. Thouez began her career as a legal expert at UNHCR, which published her doctoral findings. From 2001-2004, she served as Senior Programme Officer with the inter-agency International Migration Policy Programme, training government officials on migration and refugee policy in most world regions.  In parallel, she served on the OSCE Stability Pact Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings. In 2004, she was appointed Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Commission on International Migration.  
She has lectured, and is the author of book chapters, published articles and research papers on: human mobility; international relations; and education.  She holds a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, political science degrees from McGill University, and was awarded the Terry Sanford Civil Society Fellowship at Duke University.  
Prior to this appointment, she headed UNITAR’s Office at the UN in New York, where for six years she was responsible for training thousands of government delegates annually on all aspects of international law and on the UN system and its functioning.  During this time, she negotiated major education-driven partnerships with governments, and the philanthropic and private sectors.  
Dr. Thouez began her career as a legal expert at UNHCR, which published her doctoral findings. From 2001-2004, she served as Senior Programme Officer with the inter-agency International Migration Policy Programme, training government officials on migration and refugee policy in most world regions.  In parallel, she served on the OSCE Stability Pact Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings. In 2004, she was appointed Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Commission on International Migration.  
She has lectured, and is the author of book chapters, published articles and research papers on: human mobility; international relations; and education.  She holds a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, political science degrees from McGill University, and was awarded the Terry Sanford Civil Society Fellowship at Duke University.  
Prior to this appointment, she headed UNITAR’s Office at the UN in New York, where for six years she was responsible for training thousands of government delegates annually on all aspects of international law and on the UN system and its functioning. During this time, she negotiated major education-driven partnerships with governments, and the philanthropic and private sectors. Dr. Thouez began her career as a legal expert at UNHCR, which published her doctoral findings. From 2001-2004, she served as Senior Programme Officer with the inter-agency International Migration Policy Programme, training government officials on migration and refugee policy in most world regions. In parallel, she served on the OSCE Stability Pact Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings. In 2004, she was appointed Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Commission on International Migration. 
 
She has lectured, and is the author of book chapters, published articles and research papers on: human mobility; international relations; and education.  She holds a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, political science degrees from McGill University, and was awarded the Terry Sanford Civil Society Fellowship at Duke University.

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.


Estrella Merlos joined UNITAR in May 2013 and is responsible for supporting and coordinating the CIFAL Global Network. Additionally, she supports UNITAR’s DCP by designing and implementing capacity building programs. 

Previously, Estrella served as President of CIFAL Atlanta leading the development and implementation of CIFAL Atlanta’s programs and working together with strategic partners and donors. 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 developing socio-economic policy proposals for government administrations and representing the  private sector during the US-DR-CAFTA negotiations, specializing on the labor and environmental chapters of the free trade agreement. Her experience also includes humanitarian supplies management and mobilization of national and international aid following major disaster strikes.

A native of El Salvador, Estrella graduated with a B.A. 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.


Maria Fernanda Betancourt joined UNITAR’s Decentralized Cooperation Programme in February 2013. Maria Fernanda coordinates various e-learning courses, assists in the organization of capacity building events and is involved in strengthening the programme’s communication strategy. 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.


Juan Salgado joined the Decentralized Cooperation Programme of UNITAR in September 2013 as an individual contractor. Juan has a background in international relations and finance, including prior professional experience with a diplomatic mission in Paris, and as an independent financial advisor. Juan holds a Master’s degree in Leadership and a Graduate Certificate in International Relations from Boston University, as well as another Master’s degree in Finance from Baruch College-City University of New York. Even though he is part of the Decentralized Cooperation Programme, Juan dedicates most of his time to support our Resource Mobilization Senior Adviser, Mr. Mohand Cherifi, a very strategic task within UNITAR activities.


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.