As a former scholarship recipient of a U.S. Agency for International Development Guatemala leadership scholarship program, Carla Aguilar began her professional career working with displaced populations in Guatemala during the Civil War. For the last 25 years, she has worked with governmental and nongovernmental institutions, including the Organization of American States, where she was the Guatemalan alternate representative. She has worked on U.S. Agency for International Development-related activities for almost 17 years—in Guatemala, Bangladesh, South Sudan, Honduras, and now Colombia, where she leads the Responsive Governance Activity, working with local actors to promote the improvement of service delivery and compliance with peace accords.

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