Diego Ontaneda

Diego Ontaneda

President & Co-Founder

Diego Ontaneda Benavides is the co-founder and CEO of Latin American Leadership Academy (LALA). His passion for social and economic development took him from McKinsey & Company in San Francisco to African Leadership Academy (ALA) in Johannesburg. He was inspired by the vast potential he saw in empowering the region’s most promising youth to solve their countries’ biggest problems. 

Diego and co-founder David Baptista were named Echoing Green Fellows as two of the “leading emerging social entrepreneurs globally.” He has spoken about social entrepreneurship, youth leadership development, and education innovations at global conferences on three continents. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Political Economy from Williams College and holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Diego is originally from Lima, Peru, and lives in Medellín, Colombia.

As Co-Founder and CEO, Diego focuses on LALA’s strategy, on hiring and empowering the right people to do their best work, and on finding the resources they need to achieve the mission.

7 Facts About Diego Ontaneda


I cannot resist petting dogs.


I add limón and ají to most meals.


My mom lives in Argentina; my dad and sister in Peru.


I still love Age of Empires II... 22 years later.


I love playing 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-a-side fútbol.


I am a master teller of bad jokes (and worse puns).


I enjoy connecting amazing people who might not otherwise find each other.

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