our mission

Our mission is to promote sustainable economic development and strengthen democratic governance in Latin America by developing and connecting a new generation of principled and socially innovative leaders.

Latin america suffers due to the lack of quality leaders...

In government, in business, and in civil society, many of our leaders have turned out to be corrupt, ill-prepared, and ill-informed. It is no surprise that most countries score a “failing grade” in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and the World Economic Forum states we have the world’s most unequal income distribution. Our people suffer, and we lose trust and hope in our institutions.

...and the root cause is the broken pipeline.

As education, opportunities and power accrue to a minority, they grow disconnected from the masses and are unlikely to change the status quo they benefit from. And as the majority of Latin Americans go through our dismal education system (we are positioned at the bottom of the PISA international ranking!), every year we lose countless potential leaders who could transform the region.


LALA identifies young leaders from across the continent with demonstrated leadership potential, a passion for Latin America, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a track record of community service. LALA continues to empower these leaders by connecting them to The Ecosystem: a network of changemakers composed by academy alumni, bootcamp alumni, national hub members, corporate and educational partners. Through our EduLab, we lead the change of higher education in Latin America by sharing the best evidence-based education practices and contributing to the development of more leaders across the region.


We believe that empowering Latin America's most promising young leaders to create the change they want to see is the most scalable and sustainable way to transform the region.

lala aims to solve this problem.

OUR values

LALA is a movement that is united by our common sense of purpose and our values. These values, which we share with African Leadership Academy, will be the standard we all live up to.


We are people of our word, with the courage to do what is right


We challenge the status quo and take the initiative to pursue new ideas


We are thankful for opportunities and are aware of our limitations


We empathize with and care for those around us.


We respect all people and believe that difference should be celebrated


We set high standards for our own achievement and celebrate the achievements of others

My name is Diego Ontaneda Benavides, Co-Founder and CEO of Latin American Leadership Academy. Let me tell you how we got here, and where we’re going.​

LALA is a dream that was conceived, improbably, in South Africa. I left Peru when I was 19 to study at Williams College (I would’ve struggled to pay for a Peruvian university but, thankfully, Williams offered need-based financial aid). After graduating, I worked at McKinsey & Company in San Francisco. Although it was a conventionally ‘successful’ position, I was restless. I felt drawn to work on a cause that would allow me to pay forward all my good fortune and privileges.


But I didn’t know what to do. How does one choose between all the important causes in the world? I looked around for ideas, until I stumbled upon African Leadership Academy (ALA): a young institution in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a vision to develop the next generation of socially-minded entrepreneurial leaders for Africa. It all clicked for me—instead of choosing one issue to tackle, I could help empower young leaders to solve the problems in their own communities. That struck me as the most authentic, scalable, and sustainable way to change the world.


Fast forward three years. Despite feeling truly happy at ALA, I thought of home. Latin America has equally talented and passionate young leaders, but there was no ALA to find them. The vastness of the lost potential was too much to bear and I knew I had to come back.


Over the next two years I developed the foundation for this new Latin American institution at Stanford Graduate School of Business . I found David Baptista, the single best educator I’ve ever met, and an incredible network of global advisors and volunteers. Together, we want to bring young Latin American leaders together in a continental network and empower them to bring change to the region.


If you are one of those leaders, you may feel lonely because people around you don’t share your sense of purpose. I’ve been there. You may feel disheartened by your leaders, because it seems they will always be corrupt. I’ve been there too. You may fear you’ll have to give up your dreams to have a financially secure and “successful” life. I’ve feared this, too. But we believe change is possible, and we are building LALA for you.


Let’s create a continental force for good like the world has never seen. And let’s change how education is done in Latin America.


Our dream is to transform our continent and change the world together—shall we?

Diego Ontaneda Benavides

Founder & CEO

from our ceo

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