The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Verónica Lara

I am Verónica, a Mexican woman living in crazy and beautiful Mexico City.

I completed my master’s degree in Social Development Practice in 2015. The programme equipped me with a solid grounding of social analysis skills and perspectives, rooted in social theory around identity, inequality, and social change processes. The two optional modules I chose (Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management; and Gender in Policy and Planning) helped me understand the importance of collective agency, focusing on community-led processes.

What I enjoyed the most about studying at DPU was the people whom I met and the practical component of the master’s degree programme, where I was able to carry out fieldwork in London and Kenya. In both research projects, various qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed, such as in-depth interviews, policy review, stakeholder analysis, and focus groups. Both participatory action research projects allowed me to strengthen my capacity to translate analytical work into policy advice and operational actionable recommendations. It also gave me a complete understanding of public consultations and public hearings in London as well as in Kisumu.

Immediately after returning from London, I held a position as Senior Associate at a private consultancy firm developing social development programmes for the government and analysing and evaluating social policy. Specifically, I was appointed Coordinator of a Project to support and assess the Ministry of Public Education in the improvement of the planning, organization, and generation of institutional indicators; providing the necessary support to strengthen internal control and social comptrollership regarding the Education Reform.

After two years, I sought professional growth as well as new challenging professional experience, and decided to change the sector I had been working for (the government). I was hired as a Monitor and Evaluation Specialist at Social Impact. There, I work on a USAID financed Program, strengthening the capacities of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in aspects of strategic planning, monitoring and institutional and project evaluation. As well as developing monitoring and evaluation systems for projects whose objectives seek to reduce crime and violence in communities in a sustainable way and increase respect for human rights. 

In parallel, also, I was lucky to be able to work with a couple of incredible and talented women whom I have met at DPU.  The project aimed to design and facilitate a collaborative and participatory process for the elaboration of the Comprehensive Mobility Program 2020 - 2024 of Mexico City in conjunction with the Mobility Secretariat of Mexico City (SEMOVI). There we were able to define strategic actions to achieve integrated, inclusive mobility and guarantee a dignified travel experience for all people.

Currently I hold a position as Knowledge Management Specialist at International Business & Technical Consultants (IBTCI), also a USAID financed Program. I develop innovative knowledge management processes and organizational systems to facilitate information sharing for USAID.  Also, I am team leader of USAID Rule of Law (ROL) monitoring activity, collecting and analysing indicators that show results regarding the criminal justice system, citizen trust in institutions, due process, and access to justice.