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US Embassy Announces the 2021 Cohort of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Program
December 29, 2020

Image of 5 people and YLAI logo

The U.S. Embassy is proud to announce the 2021 cohort from Trinidad and Tobago for the U.S. Department of State’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Program. This program will begin in January 2021 and close in April 2021, bringing together 263 young leaders from 37 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada for a virtual fellowship. This year we are pleased to announce that five young leaders from Trinidad and Tobago have been accepted out of over 2,300 applicants.   

The 2021 YLAI Fellowship Program, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, includes a three-month virtual fellowship between January and April 2021. During this time, Fellows will complete the YLAI Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum and will work with a U.S. host organization for four weeks. They will also be paired with a designated mentor and will collaborate with other fellows to address shared foreign policy challenges throughout the exchange. Additionally, they will engage in live events and cross-cultural activities. The program is a collaborative, enriching experience that combines technical entrepreneurship training with leadership development and networking opportunities. 

YLAI bios:

Jaysen James Justin Francis, Civic Engagement, 2021

As a President and Founder for The League of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs (LXE), Jaysen Francis has experience in entrepreneurship, creating an NGO, teaching and lecturing, advocacy, and social work. His NGO addresses the specific educational needs of young entrepreneurs and promotes their success in the Caribbean. During the fellowship, Jaysen aims to learn how to develop entrepreneurial skills and startups in an international market that is driven by tech and innovation. Upon returning to Trinidad and Tobago, Jaysen plans to develop and market conferences, seminars and workshops in Trinidad and Tobago to promote innovative entrepreneurship among young people. The focus will be to discuss issues related to technology and global warming and to work together to create social change.

Jenelle Lavern Hills, Business, 2021

As the Founder of Life Blooms, Jenelle Hills has experience in all aspects of business, from sales to marketing, managing staff, and efficiently prioritizing and accomplishing many tasks throughout her day. During the fellowship, she hopes to increase her leadership and public speaking skills and learn more about business operations and strategic planning. This will help her refine the systems and processes at Life Blooms and equip her to give practical help and support to other small businesses in her community. Keenly aware that most female farmers in her community of Moruga have little education, upon returning to Trinidad and Tobago, Jenelle plans to employ more female farmers in her community, train them in entrepreneurship, and share the knowledge and insights she has gained from this program.

Shawn Melville, Economic Innovation & Growth, 2021

As the Managing Director of Ipsum Technologies Ltd., Shawn Melville has experience with business development, strategic networking, and social entrepreneurship. During the fellowship, Shawn aims to learn about corporate governance, entrepreneurial finance, and international business development. Upon returning to Trinidad and Tobago, Shawn plans to partner with local disability support organizations to facilitate digital accessibility workshops, targeting public and private sector companies. In addition, he intends to highlight the key issues that hinder the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities by participating in ICT forums that foster open communication among stakeholders involved in government, education, and industry.

Triscilla Joseph-Myers, Business, 2021

As the Owner of TJM Designs, Triscilla Joseph has experience in designing and sewing bags and accessories. During the fellowship, Triscilla aims to learn about hiring the right team to move the business forward; technique for large scale marketing production and supply as well as general knowledge of smoother business process to maximize efficiency. Upon returning to Tobago, Triscilla plans to open a studio that can host students who want to learn to sew bags and accessories of a high quality.


Mark Joel Gill, Business, 2021

As the Co-Founder and Market Analyst for Natho’s Burger Grill, Mark Gill has experience in company start-ups, product management, monitoring and managing business trends, and employee management. During the fellowship, Mark aims to learn about financial management (cash flow and business pitch), strategic integration of CSR, and the dynamics of business profitability. Upon returning to Trinidad & Tobago, Mark plans to improve business operations at Natho’s Burger Grill, expand Natho’s to include three new locations within the next three to five years, and lead an entrepreneurship workshop for youth from 15 to 25 years of age.

The YLAI Fellowship Program will begin on January 11 at the virtual Opening Orientation hosted by IREX, followed by the four-week  fellowship. The program concludes with a virtual Closing Forum in April. Fellows return to their ventures with new skills, resources, ongoing support from U.S. counterparts, and a broader network, strengthening business ties between the U.S. and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada. 

The https://ylai.state.gov/ website includes information about the YLAI Professional Fellowship Program and the YLAI Network. 

For further information, please contact Naureen Nalia, ptspas@state.gov Follow the fellowship on social media using #YLAI2021Innovators.