The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Maria Huerta

Maria Huerta
For the past 8 months, I have been working as an independent social development consultant in Mexico. I have worked for several projects within SIA Development, a social development consultancy that specializes in advising governments, organisations, and companies on the design, implementation, and evaluation of people-centred projects that contribute to sustainable well-being. In collaboration with Anukie de la Parra, we have designed and implemented several evaluation projects with clients, such as the Catholic Relief Services, Notimia, the Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration at the University of Washington in St. Louis, the Mexico City government, among others. I am also consulting for ConJusticia, a USAID funded project that aims to strengthen the justice system in Mexico. 
These experiences have led me to develop new skills for my professional life and I am rewarded with the knowledge and learning that working with several clients has provided. I am very excited to share that, in a few weeks I will be joining, USAID’s Resilient Civil Society Activity as the Collaboration and Engagement Lead, where I will aim to strengthen the engagement and collaboration of civil society organizations with other key sectors in Mexico.

I believe that having the privilege of higher education and having had incredible opportunities for personal and professional growth has led me to become a social development practitioner that works to promote wellbeing through projects that aim to tackle the most pressing social challenges, such as inequality, gender and intersectionality, poverty reduction, infrastructure, climate emergency, migration, civil society, and democracy. I really enjoy doing this work because it opens up new perspectives and enables collaboration with people from all sorts of backgrounds. This type of work is not always easy, and I have had to learn some tough lessons, like how politics and personal interests have immense influence over grants and how social development public policy is designed and rolled out. But, as a Social development practitioner, one must learn to understand these systemic inconsistencies so that sustainable and valuable contributions can be made for development.

My professional development began when I co-founded a civil society organization in Mexico designed to tackle extreme poverty. This first experience influenced every personal and professional decision I made afterwards, including the decision to study a BA on International Relations and a MSc on Social Development Practice at the DPU in UCL. More recently, I got a certification on PMEAL at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS). I chose this academic path because I knew I needed the theoretical background to support the design and implementation of practical work that could actually signify a contribution for social development in Mexico. SDP provided me with the skills, an analytical and objective perspective, and opened important opportunities for continuous collaboration amongst alumni.