Rodrigo Canales does research at the intersection of organizational theory and institutional theory, with a special interest in the role of institutions for economic development. Rodrigo studies how individuals can purposefully change complex organizations or systems. Rodrigo’s work explores how individuals’ backgrounds, professional identities, and organizational positions affect how they relate to existing structures and the strategies they pursue to change them. His work contributes to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that allow institutions to operate and change. Rodrigo has done work in entrepreneurial finance and microfinance, as well as in the institutional implications of the Mexican war on drugs. His current research is divided into three streams. The first focuses on the structural determinants of the quality of startup employment. The second explores the conditions under which development policies and practices integrate  rigorous evidence. The third, with generous support from the Merida Initiative, explores how to build effective, resilient, and trusted police organizations in Mexico.

Rodrigo teaches the Innovator Perspective at Yale SOM; he sits in the advisory board of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT; he spent the 2014-2015 academic year advising the Mexican government on the US-Mexico bilateral relationship; and sits in the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy.

Vanessa Cardenas- Senior Strategist and Public Affairs Consultant, Cardenas Strategies Inc.

Vanessa Cárdenas is a seasoned political strategist and policy expert on issues related to political disinformation, climate change, immigration, political communication, and women’s political empowerment. She is currently Deputy Director at America’s Voice. 

Vanessa has worked with some of the most renowned progressive organizations in the country. She was the National Coalitions Director at the Biden for President campaign during the 2020 primary where she oversaw its constituency work. Prior to this, she held various roles at EMILY’s List, a political action committee (PAC) that helps elect pro-choice Democratic women. She also led “Climático” at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) where she supported efforts towards a global climate agreement. Vanessa also served in a myriad of roles at the Center for American Progress (CAP) including Director for Ethnic Media and later Vice President for Progress 2050, a project focused on the implications of demographic change. Vanessa’s first job in DC was with the National Immigration Forum where she joined local and national allies in the struggle for a fair and just immigration system.

Alberto Fierro Garza – Consul General of Mexico in Boston

A Mexican career diplomat since 1993, Alberto Fierro previously was the head of the Cultural Institute of the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C.  He was the Consul of Mexico in Orlando, FL and in St. Paul, MN. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as Director General for Educational and Cultural Cooperation and as Deputy Director General for North America.

Alberto was Director General for International Affairs at the National Council for Culture and the Arts of Mexico. He also served as Director of the Social Promotion Department at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from that university and a Masters in Latin-American History from Georgetown University. He lives with his husband David, his companion for more than 26 years.