Cecilia Vaca Jones
Strategic consultant in social policies, Former Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation & EdHeroes Advisory Board
Twitter | @CecyVacaJones
Twitter | @EdHeroesNetwork
Cecilia Vaca Jones has over 25 years of experience managing social development policies and programmes.
Cecilia was the Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation until June 2022. Before she joined the Foundation, Cecilia was the Coordinating Minister of Social Development of Ecuador from 2013 to 2016. She was responsible for policies in health, education, housing, sports and social welfare.
Over the years, she also held policy-making roles in various other Ecuadorian ministries – including the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Social Inclusion and the Ministry of Education – where she championed policies to improve the conditions of children, women and indigenous populations.
Beyond government, Cecilia has worked for civil society organisations such as CESTAS and Fundación Esquel, international organisations such as the Organization of American States and UNDP, and in academia: she was a part-time professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador in Quito, and a Fellow Language Scholar at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Cecilia holds an Executive Master in cities from the London School of Economics. She also holds a Master in Social Policies for Sustainable Development from the University of Bologna, Italy, and a BA in International Relations from the Pontifical Catholic University in Ecuador. A native Spanish speaker, Cecilia is fluent in English, Italian and French, and speaks basic Kichwa. Since 2002 she has been a volunteer for Ayuda Directa, an Italian NGO that develops sustainable projects for rural communities in Chimborazo and Cotopaxi provinces.
Cecilia is a passionate sportswoman. She has competed in events such as marathons and Ironman 70.3, founded a women’s cycling club, and scaled the highest peaks in Ecuador and Italy.