III Leadership for the Americas Awards Gala



The Leadership for the Americas Awards honor individuals who have dedicated their life-long service to the Dialogue’s core mission – advancing democratic governance, social equity, and prosperity in our hemisphere.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Former President of Brazil and Chair Emeritus, Inter-American Dialogue

Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award

A founding member and chair emeritus of the Dialogue, President Cardoso will receive the award for his lifetime commitment to promote social equity and democracy in the region. A sociologist by training, he is a world-renowned statesman and among Latin America’s most respected and influential public intellectuals. Cardoso was one of  Brazil’s leading figures in its democratic struggle and has been a champion for social justice and inclusion in his country and globally.

Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank

Distinguished Leadership Award for Social Equity

President Moreno will be recognized with the Distinguished Leadership Award for Social Equity for his outstanding leadership as President of the IDB. During his tenure, the IDB has been transformed into an institution that is closer to its member countries, while expanding its financing and technical assistance capacity.  The Bank today is recognized as providing cutting-edge research and sector expertise for Latin American and Caribbean countries.  More recently, Moreno led the consolidation and capitalization of the IDB’s private sector windows into the Inter-American Investment Corporation.  Under his leadership, the organization has undergone profound changes with a record increase of women in leadership positions along with a reinforcement of transparency and accountability systems.

Roberto Murray Meza, Chairman of Grupo AGRISAL and Founding President of FUNDEMAS

Distinguished Leadership Award for Civic Engagement

Murray Meza will be recognized with the Distinguished Leadership Award for Civic Engagement for his efforts to promote corporate social responsibility in Central America. As president of FUNDEMAS (Fundación Empresarial para la Acción Social) he has fostered corporate social responsibility and responsible competitiveness in Central America by integrating commercial, ethical and environmental values into the private sector.  In addition, through his work as president of FEDISAL (Fundación para la Educación Integral Salvadoreña), and the Fundación Rafael Meza Ayau, Murray Meza has promoted social equity in El Salvador through their education and health programs.  In a country ravaged by a civil war and facing an uncertain future today, Murray Meza has stood for unity and ethical leadership as the path forward.

Luis von Ahn, Co-Founder & CEO of reCAPTCHA & Duolingo and Computer Science Professor at Carnegie Mellon University

Distinguished Leadership Award for Innovation and Social Impact 

Luis will receive the award for Innovation and Social Impact for his extraordinary work in computer sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, building systems that combine humans and computers to solve large-scale problems that neither can tackle alone. Luis is considered a pioneer of crowdsourcing and is known for co-inventing CAPTCHA and creating and co-founding Duolingo, a language learning platform that brings free language education to the world. With over 200 million users, Duolingo is now the most popular language-learning platform and the most downloaded education app worldwide. His upbringing in Guatemala inspired him to create an application that would bring language learning to those with limited access to high-quality education opportunities. Luis has been named one of the Top Young Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review and one of the 50 Best Brains in Science by Discover.

Lydia Cacho, Journalist, Writer and Human Rights Activist

Distinguished Leadership Award for the Defense of Human Rights 

Lydia will receive the award for the Defense of Human Rights for her work against sexual violence and human trafficking and in support of press freedom in Mexico; issues that are an essential part of the core mission of the Dialogue’s Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program. Lydia has shown, in the innovative high-security shelter she founded in Cancun, how victims of sexual violence and human trafficking can effectively employ creative writing, narrative listening, art, support groups and skills workshops as tools for recovery. Lydia has published more than a dozen books that have been translated into over 10 languages.