Paula Porras Reyes is a senior program officer with the youth, peace & security team in USIP’s Center for Thematic Excellence. She leads the Institute's youth portfolio, which aims to elevate the experience and voices of youth in conflict-affected communities so they are seen as crucial contributors to the field of peacebuilding globally and in their communities.  

Reyes manages the Generation Change Fellows Program, a core program of the youth portfolio, where she started as a fellow in 2017. She also serves as a trainer for the program, which strengthens youth leaders’ peacebuilding skills and brings them together in a community to help them achieve social change.

Prior to joining USIP in 2020, Reyes worked for eight years in the peacebuilding field and spent three years as director of the nonprofit organization Somos CaPAZes, which aims to educate and innovate for peace. There, she conducted conflict management trainings and lead the design of educational curriculums and online courses on peacebuilding and leadership. She also was a co-founder of Educacionenpaz—a virtual platform for promoting peace education and reconciliation in Colombia and Latin America—and was an innovation advisor at The National Department of Science, Technology, and Innovation in Colombia.  

Reyes holds degrees in industrial engineering and business administration from the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. 

Publications By Paula

Amid Sudan’s Chaos, Youth Groups Work for Peace

Amid Sudan’s Chaos, Youth Groups Work for Peace

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

By: Rachel Palermo;   Paula Porras Reyes

Amid Sudan’s battle between security forces loyal to rival generals, young civil society leaders are working to stem the violence. These leaders are part of grassroots youth networks that have been central to Sudan’s five-year-old citizens’ movement for a transition from military rule to democratic civilian governance. Against the current violence, youth-led efforts are combating misinformation, providing humanitarian aid and organizing crowdfunding to secure food and medicine. As the international community presses combatants to end the conflict and safeguard civilians, it is crucial that they also support the youth-led civil society initiatives to stop the violence and address its causes.

Type: Analysis and Commentary


Youth Leadership in Peacebuilding: A Catalyst for Advancing U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 16

Youth Leadership in Peacebuilding: A Catalyst for Advancing U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 16

Thursday, February 10, 2022

By: Gbenga Oni;   Paula Porras Reyes

When U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) was adopted in 2015, it was envisioned as a framework for countries experiencing unrest to build peace and promote justice through strong institutions. Efforts have been made at different levels to make this goal a reality, but the outlook is not encouraging. The latest report from the U.N. found over 80 million people had fled war, persecution and conflict in 2020, the highest ever recorded. And every day, 100 people — including women and children — are killed in armed conflicts. With these grim figures and the end-of-decade deadline for SDG16 rapidly approaching, there should be a concerted effort to engage with youth leadership to help get SDG 16 back on track. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

YouthConflict Analysis & Prevention

COVID Menaces Venezuela, Medical Students Respond

COVID Menaces Venezuela, Medical Students Respond

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

By: Paula Porras Reyes;  Maria Antonia Montes

For years, Venezuela’s political and economic collapse has been the Americas’ greatest single humanitarian crisis. Five million people have fled as refugees or migrants, and 59 percent of those who remain cannot afford the food their families need. Even before the COVID pandemic, the health care system mirrored this collapse. An estimated 80 percent of hospitals lack adequate medical staff and 60 percent are without running water or consistent electricity. Into this breach has stepped a courageous corps of young medical students who already had become first responders to those injured in the country’s widespread and often violent protests.

Type: Blog

Global HealthYouth

View All