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Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative - A Professional Fellow Visits Seattle

Abdiel Chiu, fellowship program recipient (front and center), with BergerABAM team members (from left to right), Huy Le, mentor Jilma Jiménez, Jourden Makinen, April Ryckman, Hunter Brown, Duffy McColloch, Ruben Vasquez Guzman, Luqman Munir, and Jose Suazo.

In April of 2015, former President Obama launched the Youth Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) to strengthen the entrepreneurial and management skills of young business and civil society leaders from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs provides YLAI with 250 fellowships each year to enable professionals to come to the United States and get experience in their field of expertise. Alumni of past YLAI Professional Fellows Programs maintain a cohesive network across Latin America and the Caribbean to support each other’s efforts to improve their own ventures, share best practices, collaborate to reduce the opportunity gap, and contribute to economic prosperity in their communities.

This past week, as part of his Fellowship program, BergerABAM proudly hosted Abdiel Chiu, the founder of CHT Engineering, a company from the Clayton neighborhood of Panama City. He received his bachelor's in civil engineering and geomatics engineering at the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá and his master’s in energy at Engie/GDF Suez. YLAI brought Abdiel on his first extended trip to the United States, to Seattle, Washington, to gain exposure to professional contacts, cultural insights, and goal-setting advice, which will help him build the networks, linkages, and lasting partnerships needed to attract investments and economic support for his entrepreneurial ventures.

Abdiel described his professional gains from the YLAI program and his gratitude towards the educational experience: “The weather in Seattle is much different that I am used to in Panama, but I know the city as a technology and music center so I was very happy to come here. I have had great hosts and have learned so much about my field of civil engineering. I am lucky to have a Panamanian mentor in Jilma Jiménez, BergerABAM vice president. She served graciously as a teacher, role model, and friend. She gave me access to regular staff meetings, communications and public relations meetings, discussions on fundraising and finance, and with networking opportunities working as part of a team.”

Abdiel is committed to providing affordable housing through the use of sustainable development technologies. After receiving his professional fellowship at the YLAI closing ceremonies in Washington, DC on 20 October, he returned to Panama to embark on building its first affordable housing community in the city of Chepo. With the help of the managerial skills gained through the fellows program, Abdiel will be an effective force in promoting Panama's economy.