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Tomás Despouy

What are you leading?

I am CEO and co-founder of Panal, an NGO working across five countries in Latin America (Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru), which seeks to empower a movement of students from low income schools.

Panal executes an extracurricular program where students develop a growth mindset by leading initiatives to solve school problems, impacting their peers and community while transforming school culture over time.

Panal has trained more than 2,000 students from 13 to 17 years old across the region in more than 130 low income schools, where they have lead more than 300 school initiatives. Our students acknowledge that they increment their perception of growth mindset (+6%) and perseverance (+7%)

How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?

Whilst teaching, I felt that the current school curriculum was failing to equip students with the vital leadership and 21st skills which they need to flourish after school. In addition, the current model of schooling seemed to place the student at the side line, instead of in the centre, where they need to be to control their own learning.

Through the Enseña Chile program, I became familiar with the work of Carol Dweck, Angela Duckworth and the Human Centred Design approach to problem solving. Using these methodologies,  I created Panal’s leadership development program for students, to create a way to try to prepare students for the future, where they control their own learning and can be active agents of change within their schools and communities.

In 2011 with help of other 12 Enseña Chile teachers, we started with the first pilots which help us to create the extracurricular program for our students.

In 2012, I was invited to present Panal at a Teach For All network conference for alumni in Peru, where I met Agustina Faustin from Enseña por Argentina (Teach For Argentina) and she felt that student passiveness was also affecting students in their country and stopping change to happen. She implemented Panal first pilot abroad. In 2013, we were selected by Teach For All to join a one week social innovation program in London, England, where I met Elena Vázquez from Empieza por Educar (Teach For Spain) and later, she implemented a pilot back in her country and became cofounder of Panal Global, the international organization that aligns all other partners from the region.

From that date until today, we have participated in Teach For All instances such as roundtables (2016, Washington, US), Global Innovation Summit (2016, Puebla, Mexico) and Global Conference (2017, Bogota, Colombia)

What's next?


The next goals for Panal are:

  1. Have in our regional debate about education, our students point of view and their active role participation in schools and communities for the next time reforms in education of our countries.
  2. Run a social impact evaluation and a process evaluation by external organizations to certify our impact in our students lives
  3. For 2020, grow to 3 more countries or 6 more cities
  4. Design a structure of Panal that is sustainable and easy to replicate in each city and country of Latin America where Teach For All is present
  5. Start influencing on Education Policies in our countries with the experience of student leadership in their schools
  6. Become a strategic partner with Teach For All to collaborate in student leadership research and findings from there and our experience

Alumni info


Alumni Cohort


Current Home

Santiago, Chile

Subject(s) Taught


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Leadership Journey


Selected as Teacher in Enseña Chile program. We start with the first pilots of Panal in Chile while being teachers.


Tomás meets Elena Vázquez from Empieza por Educar (Teach For Spain) and she implements a pilot back in Spain and becomes cofounder of Panal Global


Panal – Chile is founded as NGO by Tomás Despouy, Felipe Merino, Elisa Ugarte, Camila Hevia, Manuela Garretón, Ignacia Bastias, all Enseña Chile alumni. Panal – Mexico starts by the leadership of Anayeli García, Enseña por México alumni. Tomás Despouy is selected as Ashoka Fellow, as fellow in Youth Action Network and one of 100 young leaders of Chile.


Panal – Colombia starts by the leadership of María Angélica Alzate, Enseña Colombia alumni. Panal – Perú starts by the leadership of Victor Ramírez, Enseña Perú alumni. First Panal International Meeting of team members


Panal – Ecuador starts by the leadership of David Vásquez, Enseña Ecuador alumni. Second Panal International Meeting of team members in Quito, Ecuador


Third Panal International Meeting of team members in Santiago, Chile



Invited by Teach For All to Synergies Latin America conference in Lima, Perú.


Invited by Teach For All to Social Innovation Week in London, England.


Invited to Global Innovation Conference by Enseña por Mexico. Invited to Teach For All Roundtables by Teach For All in Washington, United States.


Panal presents at Teach For All’s Global Conference in Bogota.


Invited by Teach For All to speak at the Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai.