Class 6 (2007-2009)
Ruben Gonzalez Flores, Panama
Duke University – Master in International Development Policy
Ruben Gonzalez is a Panamanian sociologist and activist who has devoted a large part of his life working for environmental and indigenous rights. Most of his experience has been spent in the field, working directly with communities to develop sustainable projects based on the needs of local peoples. Upon completing his university degree, Ruben worked in Panama to develop and implement health programs for rural communities, and later in Mexico on a project that examined mobile populations and AIDS in Central America and Mexico. Ruben has recently focused on training and supporting indigenous communities to interact and negotiate with the government and private companies on issues such as hydroelectric projects, land disputes, and human rights. He has also headed multiple research projects on land tenure, marine resources, and forest management in indigenous communities. Ruben is a founding member of The Alliance for Conservation and Development (ACD), a Panamanian NGO that works to promote sustainable development, community based projects, and the protection of the environment and indigenous rights. Upon completion of the Rotary World Peace Program, Ruben would like to return to Panamá with new skills for helping marginalized people, grass root organizations, and governments come together in the pursuit of integral development for the majority of the people.