Technological Frontiers Initiative: a commitment to empowering higher education in Latin America

On July 10, 2019, at the Harvard Faculty Club, Angélica Natera, Executive Director of Laspau, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Harvard University, and Luciano Braverman, Director of Education at Microsoft Latin America, signed an agreement to establish the Technological Frontiers Initiative (TFI), a comprehensive strategy to accelerate the adoption of technology in higher education institutions to transform education and research in Latin America, driving a critical shift in the learning experience, and to empower institutions, researchers, and professors, that will ultimately propel the economic development of the region.

Technological progress in the marketplace has altered the structure of jobs, careers, and the institutions that create knowledge and train the workforce. The World Bank reports that by 2017 more than 20 million students were enrolled in 10 thousand higher education institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean. The expected trend is that the number continues to grow as economies experience an increasing demand for well-prepared graduates. The World Economic Forum reports that the need for technology to meet these market demands is at a critical stage.

To that end, the TFI will promote accelerated use of the most advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, metadata, and biodata in research; advanced design and manufacturing in engineering; virtual reality and other state-of-the-art technologies for the classroom; and cloud-based technology and new administrative tools for university management. Through this new Initiative developed by Laspau and Microsoft, Latin American universities will have a unique opportunity to successfully face these digital challenges, take advantage of future opportunities, and become agents of change.


Angélica Natera, Laspau’s Executive Director and Luciano Braverman, Director of Education at Microsoft Latin America signing the agreement to establish the Technological Frontiers Initiative.


The TFI will be launched in two phases:

  1. A Technological Frontiers Summit will initially bring together representatives from selected Latin American universities, Microsoft, and Laspau to articulate the collaboration among all partners involved.
  2. The introduction of four program tracks, focused on developing leaders through research visits, graduate programs, short-term academic and research visits, and the student digital leadership program. This program aims to award: 250 research fellowships over five years; 48 administrator fellowships over four years; 120 student participants in digital leadership workshops; and 100 degree-seeking students for a total of 518 participants in the first phase of the Initiative. Following the completion of their programs, Fellows will be eligible to attend an annual Digitalization Forum, conducted by leading thinkers and researchers in these fields.

“At our core, both Laspau and Microsoft are convinced that everyone should have the opportunity to experience and grow with the benefits that technology is bringing to the world, and thus participate in the creation of the new digital economy​, especially in our region. That’s why we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Laspau towards the same goal,” stated Luciano Braverman, Director of Education at Microsoft Latin America

“Technological Frontiers represents a shared vision of Laspau and Microsoft for a comprehensive strategy to expand the use of advance technology to transform research, teaching and university management in the digital age in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We are excited about the potential to combine the power of advanced technologies and the development of human capital to strengthen universities,” stated Angélica Natera, Executive Director of Laspau.

About Laspau

Laspau is a nonprofit organization affiliated with Harvard University that enhances higher educational quality, opportunity and impact throughout the Americas. For over fifty years we have been building a human network, connecting individuals and institutions with opportunities, through admissions testing, scholarship management, university development and alliance building. Through a thriving network, Laspau drives innovation and amplifies impact, bridging high-quality institutions and advancing effective faculty who instruct an ever-growing number of students. This widespread impact works to achieve the vision of fostering knowledge-based, inclusive societies throughout the Western Hemisphere.





About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person in every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information on Microsoft in Education, visit:


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For information about Technological Frontiers contact:

Ana Paola Cueva

Program and Development Manager




Laspau staff member Aline Santos named Harvard Hero

CAMBRIDGE, MA, April 3, 2019 – Laspau is pleased to announce that Aline Santos, our Operations and Systems Coordinator, has been named a 2019 Harvard Hero for her outstanding contributions. Her work has been integral to Laspau’s effective adoption of new technologies and streamlining of our operations and systems.

Harvard Heroes is an annual program held each spring to celebrate high-performing staff from across every School and the Central Administration with both local and University-wide recognition. Being named a Harvard Hero is an honor of great distinction – only about 60 Heroes, or ½ of 1% of eligible staff, are named each year, with selection based on 11 important criteria. These staff members are nominated and/or selected by their peers and departments for their leadership, teamwork, adaptability, innovation and exceptional contributions. (For more information about Harvard Heroes, see the program website.)

Laspau looks forward to celebrating this achievement with Aline and the other Harvard Heroes at a university-wide event in June. 



Laspau Announces New Leadership for Board of Trustees

Laspau is pleased to announce the election of new leadership to its Board of Trustees.  At the annual meeting, held last November in Cartagena, Colombia to coincide with the Higher Education Summit of the Americas, Laspau elected Christine Scott Nelson as the new Chair of the Board, Ned Strong and Mauricio Lopez Obregón as Vice Chairs and Clark Bernard as Treasurer. Former Chair of the Board Jeff Coburn ended his term after serving on the Board since 2010, and serving as Chair since 2012. Treasurer John Knutson also ended his term as Treasurer, which he served in since 2014.

Board Chair Christine Scott Nelson

Newly-elected Board Chair Christine Scott Nelson has been a member of Laspau’s Board of Trustees since 2015 and is a Founder of Cornerstone Research, a consulting firm that provides expert testimony, economic, and financial analysis to attorneys in all phases of commercial litigation and regulatory proceedings. She received a bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College, a master’s degree from Boston University, and a master’s degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. She has also studied in Spain, Argentina, and Germany. In addition to serving on Laspau’s board, Ms. Nelson serves on the board of Cornerstone Research; the board of Second Nature, the supporting organization of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment; and the board of De Novo, a legal services and counseling provider. She also serves as a Trustee of Allegheny College, co-chairing the college’s current capital campaign.

Laspau to hold inaugural Higher Education Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia

Laspau has announced that it will hold the inaugural Higher Education Summit of the Americas on November 16th and 17th, 2018 in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Summit will convene 100 leaders from government, business, and higher education to re-envision the role of the university in Latin America and the Caribbean to advance its relevance and impact in 21st-century society. These leaders include university presidents and vice presidents, government ministers and secretaries and business leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Through this milestone event, Laspau aims to harness the collective knowledge of leaders, bridge collaboration across government, business and higher education sectors, and articulate shared priorities for transforming higher education in the region. Over the course of two days, leaders will discuss societal challenges in relation to academic research, international trends, and system-wide practices for cultivating innovation ecosystems and knowledge-based societies.

The summit will include sessions on Reinventing the Role of the University in Latin America, The University as a Driver of Economic Growth, Innovating Education to Educate Innovators, Utilizing Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to Scale Innovation in Higher Education.

One of the Summit’s keynote speakers, Dr. Julio Frenk, the President of the University of Miami, sees the Summit as an opportunity for “sharing our strategy to become a hemispheric university by engaging with other institutions of higher learning form the region to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Over the past 50 years, Laspau has collaborated closely with governments, foundations, nonprofits and educational institutions across the Americas. The organization currently manages several longstanding scholarship programs for partners such as the Fulbright Program of the U.S. Department of State, the Organization of American States, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among others. Additionally, over the past ten years, Laspau has helped hundreds of universities across the region to improve their quality and effectiveness by connecting them with the latest knowledge and pioneering faculty in the field through programs to strengthen teaching and learning, enhance the quality and impact of education, and promote innovation and academic leadership. The Higher Education Summit of the Americas represents the nexus of these areas of work and seeks to further strengthen and promote meaningful collaboration across higher education, business, and governments throughout the Americas.

At the conclusion of the Summit a compilation of innovative ideas, practical actions, and proposals obtained from the various sessions will be published for the good of the entire region.

Confirmed keynote speakers include:

  • Alberto Bustamante, Director of Education Industry for Latin America and the Caribbean, Microsoft
  • Edward Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering, MIT
  • María Marta Ferreyra, Senior Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, World Bank
  • Julio Frenk, President, University of Miami (View Welcome Video)
  • Harry Lewis, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University
  • Eric Mazur, Dean of Applied Physics, Harvard University
  • Richard K. Miller, President of Olin College
  • Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of Practice in International Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education (View Welcome Video)
  • Jamil Salmi, Tertiary Education Expert
  • Cecilia María Vélez, President of Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano

This event is by invitation only. Additional information can be found on the event website at

Fulbright Scholar Dr. Jacques Clerville Is Applying Epidemiology To Improve Haiti’s Public Health System

Dr. Jacques Clerville is a former Fulbright scholar and Haitian primary care physician, with a master of public health in epidemiology from University of South Carolina, Arnold School. Today, Dr. Clerville is Haiti’s chief assistant of infectious diseases epidemiologic surveillance within the Ministry of Health and Population.

While Jacques Clerville was writing a medical prescription for a patient in the town of Les Cayes, he felt his work environment tremble for a few seconds. It was the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010. Although Les Cayes was spared, thousands of people in Port-au-Prince lost their lives or were completely homeless. And that was not all, the aftermath of the earthquake led to a major consequence: an outbreak of cholera devastated the island almost 10 months later causing many deaths. As a physician facing these unprecedented challenges, Dr. Clerville began to see the need to deepen his knowledge in epidemic diseases.

In seeking to more effectively help the population, Clerville joined Doctors Without Borders, which established a cholera treatment center in Les Cayes. “This experience completely changed my perspective on health care and public health. I realized that I was limited with my skills and clinical knowledge,” he says.

It was then that Clerville applied and was later selected among the ten best candidates to attend a year-long intensive training program in Infectious Diseases and HIV, funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) and in a partnership with the Université Notre Dame d’Haiti.

“Since then, I have seen epidemiology as a means to provide evidence-based information to improve medical and public health practice, particularly in Haiti where there is a lack of scientific literature.”

Born in Les Cayes, Dr. Cleville moved to Port-au-Prince, Haiti where he earned a medical degree from the Université Notre-Dame d’Haiti. After he completed his seven-year program with one year of social work, he started working in his hometown as a practicing primary care physician.

After the earthquake, he applied for a Fulbright scholarship through the U.S. Embassy in Haiti to pursue a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology. “The Fulbright scholarship allowed me to pursue one of my dreams, which is to study in the United States.” Accepted at three universities in the United States, Clerville chose the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina (USC), because he knew it was one of the best public health programs in the country. At USC, he studied in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, participated in global health conferences and adapted his course with a focus on public health surveillance systems.

Clerville completed his degree, returned to Haiti and, most importantly he has been able to apply what he learned in the work field. “The Fulbright scholarship program is the stepping stone that helped me get a leadership position at the Ministry of Health and Population in Haiti.”, he says. Recently, Clerville has been involved in monitoring and evaluation, conducting site visits and overseeing the Epidemiological Surveillance Officers. He also has been attending project management-related workshops to increase capacity and success in health-related projects.

With the knowledge and skills he has acquired, Clerville dreams higher: he wants to teach Epidemiology at the university level. Indeed, he carries a lifelong mantra that he is fully committed to helping the Haitian people and making a difference into their lives by improving the health system.

Dr. Clerville is lecturing on how to analyze and display epidemiological surveillance data to Epidemiological Surveillance Officers (OSE) at the Ministry of Health and Population in Haiti.