Sofia Potes, MPP’22, leads the Research and Public Policy Department at the U.S.-Mexico Foundation in Washington, DC.
Headshot of Sofia Potes
Sofia Potes

Sofia Potes, MPP’22, heads the Research and Public Policy Department at the U.S.-Mexico Foundation. “My work is intrinsically linked to the analytical and professional skills I gained at Harris. For example, while you need clean data and sound analysis to formulate a policy, you must also consider the audience impacted by the policy and be able to present the policy clearly. At the US-Mexico Foundation, we’re very particular about synthesizing information punctually and deliberately in our communications. By ensuring we understand the given audience being addressed, we can be much more confident in our communications."

Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Potes’ professional experience began while earning her bachelor’s in international relations from Tec de Monterrey. “I had several internships addressing human rights issues, and those formative experiences led me to join the Secretary for Social Development in Mexico, where we focused on reducing poverty in the country.” Potes then applied her academic and professional experience to a position at the United Nations Development Programme, where she served as a Project Specialist of Economic Inclusion and Youth Business, spearheading the Empoderate initiative, which nurtures young entrepreneurs. 

However, over time, Potes came to realize there was a need to level the economic playing field.  “Inequality cannot be solved by asking vulnerable groups to ‘work harder.’ To have a greater impact takes good public policy, not just goodwill.”

This conviction influenced Potes’s decision to attend Harris. “I needed to strengthen my quantitative analysis skills to make smarter decisions with an evidence-based approach, so I looked for a program that offered that and had a large international student community. I had already started building relationships with the Harris alumni community in Mexico after meeting my husband, Oliver Arroyo Ramon (MPP’17), and I appreciated their willingness to connect. Whenever I reached out to an alum, they were willing to answer my questions.”

In addition to the academics at Harris, Potes said the Leadership Studio program, a Harris initiative, was pivotal in her growth. “This program helped develop my leadership and problem-solving skills. I worked with Will Gossin during my second year at Harris, and connecting with someone with entrepreneurship and leadership experience was a great resource. The experience provided me with technical knowledge and helped me solve issues that arose throughout the year related to Latin American Matter(s), the HSO I was head of and Incubadora Miticas, the NGO I co-founded.”

As an alumnus, Potes said her continued engagement with the Harris community and alumni remains central to her professional narrative. “When I moved to Washington, DC, I connected with the Harris alumni chapter. Since there are many alumni in the city, I can collaborate with alumni on different projects.” 

Potes offered this advice on job searching as an international student: “Harness the power of networking. For many international students, the concept of networking is very foreign, but we need to learn to feel comfortable at it. While at Harris, I attended a networking workshop that focused on how to act while on a coffee chat, and when I learned that people love to talk about themselves, it changed my perspective. Asking questions to get to know people helps establish a relationship, and this approach can be transferred to a job interview because you can learn more about the company—and areas of opportunity—if you ask questions.”