Venegas aims to use the skills he gains at Harris to help develop public policies that reduce inequality in Mexico.
Headshot of Mario Venegas
Mario Venegas

“My first concrete awareness of the inequalities in Mexico probably came when I was about 10 years old,” said Mario Venegas, MPP Class of 2025. “My family took a road trip to the southern part of Mexico, and while we were driving, I saw a lot of people, especially children, begging for food. I remember being really shocked and not understanding why they were in that situation.”

Driven by that firmly rooted memory, Venegas now aims to use the skills he gains from his Harris Master of Public Policy to help develop public policies that reduce inequalities in Mexico. However, he began charting his path well before joining the Harris community.

While studying economics at Universidad Iberoamericana, Venegas served as a research assistant for Instituto de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo con Equidad (EQUIDE), a research center that designs and evaluates policies related to inequality in Mexico. “I designed and managed databases on income distribution among Mexican households to perform national-level statistical and econometric analyses," he said.

After graduation, Venegas began an internship—which developed into his most recent role as a Public Policy Senior Analyst—with Fundación IDEA, a think tank focused on designing and implementing policies and programs to encourage economic development and poverty reduction in Latin America. “Within Fundación IDEA, I also worked with C230 Consultores, an affiliate consulting firm, where we focused on projects that promote evidence-based strategies to achieve social, economic, and political objectives.”

In this role, Venegas worked closely with the Mexican Attorney General’s Office on a project for the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). There, he helped develop and implement a program to promote the adoption of institution-strengthening processes. “That work was embellished by previous work for the INL, which involved implementing a tool to identify opportunity areas in how state prosecutors conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions under the criminal justice system in Mexico,” said Venegas.

“That work was rewarding because I like helping institutions strengthen processes and capabilities to achieve better results. Unfortunately, many institutions are in a vicious cycle where they don't have the incentives to provide necessary public services, which I consider a first step towards reducing inequality in Mexico. Without providing the sufficient needs for people to develop themselves in the future, you will hardly achieve development and equality.”

Venegas’s work as a policy analyst also compelled him to explore a master’s degree—as did his supervisor. “My supervisor, Carolina Agurto Salazar, earned her MPP from Harris in 2016. She told me about Harris' focus on evidence and quantitative methods to analyze data and build public policy based on the findings, and that completely aligned with my personal interests. Then, when reading the course description for Policy Analysis, I thought, This is exactly what I want to learn. Courses like this will provide key tools to carry out the work I want to do to strengthen institutions.”

The diversity of the Harris community also appealed to Venegas. “The diversity at Harris—not only the student body but also the staff, the professors, everything—will provide perspectives and experiences I simply wouldn’t be able to access as easily otherwise. At the same time, I like that Harris has a big Latin American community. Working with people that have lived and worked in a similar context can help us find solutions to the unique challenges of Latin American institutions.”

After Harris, Venegas sees himself continuing to work in Mexico. “I hope to develop methodologies or tools to strengthen public service delivery. I want to do something that will eventually serve someone else.”