Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Fellow Digs in with Cultivate KC

Posted on May 28, 2024 by Alicia Alferman

Cultivate KC recently hosted Isis Giorgina Cumarin (Gigi) through the U.S. State Department’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) in partnership with local program facilitator, Global Ties KC. For four weeks, Gigi, an emerging young leader from Venezuela, worked with Cultivate KC, collaborating on a plan to foster deeper relationships between our agricultural training programs and the Latino community. While here, Gigi also worked to create an Entrepreneurial Leadership Action Plan (E-LAP) that she will undertake upon her return to Venezuela.  

In Venezuela, Gigi runs a business called Estar Vivo, which focuses on education about urban gardening and sells locally produced honey. Her background is in urban planning and working with nonprofit organizations in community engagement focused on violence prevention and food security. Through the YLAI fellowship, Gigi both contributed her skills and knowledge to Cultivate KC and had opportunities to meet learning goals for her business.  

While in Kansas City, Gigi connected with many Latino-led or focused organizations and programs throughout the community and is supporting the Cultivate KC and New Roots team develop a plan for continued engagement with the Spanish-speaking community in Kansas City. She invited partners to attend Cultivate KC’s Healthy Soil Field Day last month, which included a tour co-led by Rubi Hernandez, the first farmer in the New Roots farmer training program from Mexico.  

Ami Freeberg, Cultivate KC’s Assistant Director of Strategy and Partnerships, worked closely with Gigi throughout her fellowship. “Gigi brought an incredible skillset and unique perspectives to our organization and community, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work and learn alongside her. We are committed to building upon Gigi’s work and continuing to stay connected with her and her work with Estar Vivo,” said Ami. 

“Having the leadership of Ami and Cultivate KC staff, their organizational skills, openness and well-done work, made everything easy to achieve during my 4 weeks working with them,” said Gigi. “I will always be grateful to Cultivate KC for helping me expand my experience towards what Estar Vivo can become in Venezuela, and I am excited to continue nurturing our relationship.”

About YLAI and Global Ties KC

Launched in 2015, YLAI empowers emerging entrepreneurs from the Western Hemisphere to enable the full economic potential of the region’s citizens. This year’s YLAI fellowship program launched in October 2023, bringing together 280 young leaders from 37 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada. In March 2024, Fellows convened in Houston, Texas for an Opening Orientation and then traveled to 19 cities across the United States for four-week professional placements with U.S. businesses and organizations. They collaborated with their peers to address shared business challenges, as well as engage in virtual and in-person events and cross-cultural activities. The program concluded with a Closing Forum in Washington, D.C. in April. Fellows return to their ventures with new skills, resources, ongoing support from U.S. partners, and a broader network, strengthening business ties between the U.S. and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.  

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX 

Global Ties KC has served as the premier connection point and bridge between the Heartland and the world for 70 years by activating citizen diplomacy and relationship building through exchange. Professional exchanges and local student programs provide an avenue for everyone to access the cultural, professional, and financial opportunities that are present through person-to-person global engagement. Global Ties KC as the program facilitator in Kansas City. They act as the bridge between the U.S. Department of State and IREX to smoothly implement the program locally and connect fellows with local businesses and organizations.