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Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces Selection Committee for the 2016 Mayors Challenge in Latin America and the Caribbean

Global Competition with 290 Latin American and Caribbean Cities Generating Bold Solutions to Address Urban Challenges and Improve City Life

Expert Panel Will Help Award $9 Million USD in Innovation Funds to Cities to Implement Winning Ideas that Leverage Resources, Talent, and Local Creativity

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the selection committee for the 2016 Mayors Challenge in Latin America and the Caribbean – a competition to inspire cities to develop bold new ideas that solve major problems and improve city life. The innovation and urban policy experts, largely from Latin America and the Caribbean, will help select 20 finalists and eventual prize winners based on their idea’s vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities.

“We have pulled together an extraordinary group of experts from across the region and world to help us find the very best ideas from Latin America and Caribbean cities through the 2016 Mayors Challenge,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.

Selection committee members include:

  • Carolina Avalos Burgos, Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, has nearly 20 years of experience as an economist and social policy advisor. Burgos was the former president of the Social Investment Fund for Local Development and policy advisor to the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency in El Salvador.
  • Ilona Szabó de Carvalho, Founder and Executive Director of the Igarapé Institute, is a public security and drug policy expert. She is also the head of the Latin American office of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and organized one of the world´s largest disarmament campaigns and a national referendum to ban the sale of handguns to Brazilian citizens in the mid-2000’s.
  • Jose Castillo, Principal at arquitectura 911sc, is an architect whose award-winning projects include the Elena Garro Cultural Center, the García Terres Library and the Ara Iztacalco housing project in Mexico. Castillo is a visiting professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and sits on the advisory board of The London School of Economics Urban Age program.
  • Marta Cruz, Founding Partner and COO of NXTP Labs, has been ranked among Latin America’s high-impact female entrepreneurs. Her company is the most active early-stage technology investor in Latin America and has invested in more than 170 internet, mobile, and technology companies to date.
  • Manny Diaz, Former Mayor of the City of Miami, Florida, and former President of The United States Conference of Mayors, Diaz was recognized for completely transforming Miami and for launching nationally innovative programs in areas of urban design, sustainability, education, and more. He is on the Board of Directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
  • Catalina Escobar, Founder and President of the Juan Felipe Gómez Escobar Foundation, is one of Colombia’s leading social entrepreneurs and was awarded the 2011 National Merit Order Award by the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for her work with adolescent mothers and infants living in extreme poverty. Escobar is currently an Ashoka and Schwab Foundation Fellow and was awarded The World of Children Humanitarian Award in 2015.
  • Sascha Haselmayer, Co-founder and CEO of Citymart, which works to improve the lives of millions of citizens by helping cities across the globe, including in Latin America, transform the way they solve problems. An architect by training, he is a social entrepreneur and also founded Living Labs Global, a non-profit promoting service innovation, and Interlace-Invent, an international service and strategy consultancy advising cities, regional and national governments.
  • Mauricio Hernández-Ávila, Director General of the National Public Health Institute and Dean of the School of Public Health of Mexico, is the President of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes. His more than 450 scientific publications have influenced important multi-sectoral policies including obesity control and the Law for Tobacco Control.
  • Ellis J. Juan, General Coordinator of the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative at the Inter-American Development Bank, has over 20 years of experience in infrastructure financing through the World Bank, Santander Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. He is currently assisting cities across the region to confront challenges associated with rapid urban growth.
  • Fuad Khoury, Former Comptroller General of the Republic of Peru, helped transform the Peruvian Government into a leading institution in the region fighting corruption and improving efficiency. He has over 30 years of experience in governance including auditing, strategic planning, and management control in major companies.
  • Juan Felipe López Egaña, Executive Director of Laboratorio de Gobierno (LabGob) Chile – a government innovation lab set up by the Chilean Government in 2014. He is an expert on public sector innovation, and under his leadership, LabGob has been established as a cross-disciplinary group with a goal to “put citizens at the core of the Chilean government policies.”
  • Beth Simone Noveck, The Jerry M. Hultin Global Network Professor at New York University and director of the University’s The Governance Lab. Beth is an expert on the impact of technology on public institutions and solving public problems. Noveck served as the first United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative from 2009-2011. Her most recent book is “Smart Citizens, Smarter State: The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Governing” (Harvard University Press).
  • Tiago Peixoto, Team Lead for the Digital Engagement Unit at the World Bank, is an expert on the intersection of technology, citizen-engagement and governance, and has consulted with the European Commission, OECD, United Nations, and the Brazilian and United Kingdom governments. Peixoto was featured in TechCrunch as one of the “20 Most Innovative People in Democracy.”

The Mayors Challenge is designed to surface bold new solutions, enable cities to test the best of these ideas, and help those ideas that work spread. City ideas must address a major social or economic issue in the local area; improve customer service for citizens or businesses; create government efficiencies; and/or improve citizen engagement in local government.

In April 2016, 290 cities who represent 19 countries and 171 million citizens across the region, applied to the Mayors Challenge. The selection committee will help identify roughly 20 finalists that will move into the next stage of the competition. The committee will also help select the five winning cities, one of which will receive a $5 million USD grand prize, and four that will receive $1 million USD each.

To learn more about the Mayors Challenge and to track the progress of the competition, visit and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, InstagramSnapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

Media Contact
Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rebecca Carriero, (212) 205-0182,