Diego Ontaneda Benavides

Diego Ontaneda Benavides

Founder of Latin American Leadership Academy

2018 Global Fellow

Latin American Leadership Academy (LALA) seeks to promote sustainable economic development and strengthen democratic governance in Latin America by developing a new generation of leaders. LALA creates international and socioeconomically diverse cohorts of the most promising graduating high school students who have demonstrated an unshakeable commitment to social change. These students then attend LALA’s eighteen-month program blending entrepreneurial leadership, a liberal arts education, and social and emotional learning. The program also connects them to mentors, resources, and opportunities. LALA envisions a diverse continental ecosystem that collaborates across differences to bring shared prosperity to Latin America.


Diego Ontaneda Benavides is co-founder and CEO of the Latin American Leadership Academy (LALA). Diego’s passion for social and economic development took him from McKinsey & Company to the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in Johannesburg. At ALA, he was inspired by the vast potential he saw in empowering the region’s most promising young leaders to solve their own communities’ problems. After running two pilots in Latin America with co-founder David Baptista, he and David founded LALA in 2018. Diego graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in political economy from Williams College. He is an IDIF Fellow at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he is MBA Class of 2018.