The Person of the Year Fellowship recognizes graduate students who demonstrate academic excellence and represent a new generation of leaders within the Brazilian-American community. Throughout their careers, Fellows are expected to continue to engage in projects that bring about meaningful social impacts in their communities, under the assumption that the development of our societies will further improve the relationship between nations in a global context. Fellows pledge to a Social Responsibility Commitment to make a contribution, in cash or in kind, in an amount equal or greater than the value of their fellowship, to a philanthropic initiative – and to uphold the highest standards of ethics, transparency, and accountability in their pursuit of excellence.

Beatriz Vasconcellos de Araújo

Beatriz Vasconcellos de Araújo spent the first year of her master’s studies focusing on macro and microdata and international development.  She has served as an organizer of Harvard and MIT’s Brazil Conference, where she coordinated the start-up competition HackBrazil.  Beatriz was a Harvard Kennedy School research assistant and facilitated connections for digital transformations at the state level in Brazil with Harvard University’s research team.  She was elected Vice President of Academic Affairs of the Kennedy School Student Government, a role in which she negotiated better conditions for students during the pandemic, including a one-semester extension of studies at no additional cost.

Beatriz volunteered on two initiatives in Brazil related to COVID – she conducted research for Brazilian NGO DoeBem on how to transfer funds to the most vulnerable population, and she interviewed over 40 mayors to help Brazilian NGO Impulso develop products to help municipalities manage the crisis.

Looking forward, Beatriz is shifting her focus to her community.  She is strengthening Brazil-US collaboration through a partnership between Harvard’s Growth Lab and the Secretary of Economic Development of the City of Rio de Janeiro.  She will serve, in the 2021 Brazil Conference, as Vice President of Communities and Diversity.  In this role, she will connect local project leaders in Brazilian neighborhoods with the Harvard / MIT network to help them develop their projects, and will also focus on racial, gender, and socioeconomic diversity.

Julia Macedo de Lamare

After earning her Master in Laws in Environmental Law and Policy from Stanford University, Julia Macedo de Lamare dedicated herself to climate and sustainability matters, with the goal of becoming a policymaker and playing an integral role in environmental decision making in Brazil.

Julia works for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an American non-profit advocacy organization, with the Climate and Clean Energy Program, conducting policy work in proceedings that involve California’s decarbonization goals, affordable consumer-sited renewable generation, and low-income communities.  She is dedicated to the experience largely for the expertise and skills she will acquire and bring back to Brazil.

Concurrently, Julia has partnered with Felipe Neves (2018 POY Fellow), and Zora Lyra (2019 POY Fellow) on a project focusing on ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance).  Together, they aim to impart what they have learned about sustainability, inclusion, corporate governance, and other subjects upon Brazilian stakeholders who don’t have the opportunity to study in the United States to build a better Brazil.

Elisa de Rooij Mansur

Elisa de Rooij Mansur earned her MBA from MIT Sloan in 2019 and completed her studies at Harvard Kennedy School in May 2020, as a Cheng Fellow and with a Child Protection Certificate.  Upon her return to Brazil, her non-profits doebem and doesuafesta (which have supported over 4,000 individuals in Brazil and Africa) partnered with other organizations to support 200 families in the COVID-19 pandemic.  Elisa is also committed to her start-up Carinos, a support system for parents and caregivers who care for children up to six years old, through which she was able to support thousands of families in Brazil.  Elisa’s dedication to early childhood education was highlighted by Estadão.

Felipe Neves

While pursuing his master’s degree at Stanford University, Felipe Neves created Civics Educação, a platform for affordable and practical legal courses, which are sold to finance scholarships for low-income public-school students. By buying into these courses, Civics students contribute directly to the financing of scholarships for low-income public-school students and to the production of new courses – which are then sold to finance new scholarships and courses – creating one of the largest legal education platforms in Brazil.

Civics already has 20 courses available online, including Business Law, Civil Procedure, Digital Law, Law and Startups, Arbitration, Contract Law, Real Estate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions, Sports Law, and Constitutional Law – while dozens of other courses are being produced. The lawyers who teach these courses represent the most well-known law offices in Brazil, including Pinheiro Neto, Machado Meyer, Demarest, Lobo de Rizzo, Baptista Luz, and Trench Rossi & Watanabe, among others. In addition, Civics offers free courses for public school teachers and students, such as Constitutional Law in the Classroom, Access to Justice, and Curriculum Preparation.

The democratization of law and education is not something new to Felipe. He is also Founder & President of the NGO Project Constitutional Law in School (Projeto Constituição na Escola), one of the largest civic education NGOs in Brazil, which promotes face-to-face classes on Constitutional Law for thousands public-school students. In this role, he is credited for raising R$250,000 for the purchase of more than 1,000 tablets and laptops for low-income public-school students in São Paulo to facilitate the continuation of their studies amidst the COVID-19 pandemic (covered by TV Globo). He is also responsible for having raised R$375,000 (in cash and scholarships) to fund 15 prep-school scholarships for low-income public-school students in São Paulo and creating a mentorship program for these students, in partnership with Stanford Law School’s Alumni Association.

Felipe was elected as one of the most influential people by Forbes 30 Under 30 (2018), selected as a Person of the Year Fellow by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce (2018), chosen as one of the 11 young Brazilian leaders by the Obama Foundation (2017), and named Young Leader of America by the United States Government (2016). He is still the youngest lawyer to have received the Innovare Award from the Brazilian Ministry of Justice (2017). Felipe is dedicated to the democratization of law and making quality legal education accessible and affordable.

João Paulo Alcántara

While pursuing his master’s degree at Harvard University, João Paulo Alcántara conducted in-depth research on the inefficiency of international donations seeking to preserve the Amazon rainforest and how those funds may have been better spent on other preservation initiatives.  He also researched the electoral consequences of Brazil-China trade, demonstrating how trade flow impacted Brazil’s 2018 presidential elections.  He found that voters in regions experiencing greater competition from industrialized Chinese goods – where wages were lower for less skilled Brazilians – voted more often for candidates at extreme ends of the political spectrum, shedding light on the importance of national trade and industrial and economic policy.

In October 2020, João Paulo commenced his doctoral degree in Economics at the University of Oxford.  Wanting to establish himself in both the academic and government spheres, he is conducting economic research to improve public policy in Brazil.  He also assists with interviewing candidates at Instituto Ling and acts as a mentor at BrazilLab and Vetor Brasil.

Upon completion of his Ph.D., João Paulo will dedicate the majority of his time to working for the Brazilian government, while also teaching economics to undergraduate students and helping to inspire future young leaders.


Lucas Sancassani has been working in financial markets for 13 years with experience at Itaú, Itaú BBA, Goldman Sachs, and Stone, where he currently leads the financial and credit products. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Universidade de São Paulo, completed a specialization in Administration at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, and earned his MBA from Columbia University, where he was a Dean’s List student. He is a POY Fellow of the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, and a recipient of Itaú’s MBA Fellowship (prestigious “Programa A) and Goldman Sachs’ MBA Fellowship.

While pursuing his MBA at Columbia Business School from 2012-14, Lucas was inspired by the importance of endowment funds in maximizing students’ experiences at US universities. Motivated by the concept of giving back, he took on the role as Volunteer President of Amigos da Poli, the largest endowment fund among Latin American universities created to support undergraduate studies. From 2016-20, he managed BRL 35MM in AuM and a team of 160 volunteers, and since 2020, has served on the organization’s Board of Directors, playing an active role in activities such as strategy and fundraising.

To date, Amigos da Poli has impacted more than 5,000 students by funding more than 150 projects in areas such as innovation, leadership, teamwork, management, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. Additionally, the NGO founded its Career Center, connecting students with companies and providing application support and career mentoring. A pioneer in its field, Amigos da Poli has provided support to over 100 other institutions in the development of endowments and has supported lawmakers to create an endowment bill.

In addition to his active role at Amigos da Poli, Lucas volunteers for Projeto Recicla, an NGO that is transforming recycling in Brazil with the help of data and reverse logistics.

Finally, Lucas has sought ways to stay connected to Columbia University and its community. He has been a club leader at Columbia Business School’s Alumni Club of São Paulo and an ambassador of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee, representing undergraduate admissions in Brazil.

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