Alejandra Leal Vallejo is 2023 recipient of Hertie School’s Alumni Achievement Award

The Master of Public Policy graduate is recognised for her work to create safer roads and sustainable mobility in Mexico.

Alejandra Leal Vallejo is this year’s Hertie School Alumni Achievement Award winner. The award recognises her outstanding advocacy work in the field of safe mobility in Mexico, especially for pedestrians and cyclists.

A 2012 graduate of the Master of Public Policy (MPP), Leal is the National Coordinator of the Safe Mobility Coalition, an alliance encompassing 95 civil society organisations that advocate for increased mobility safety in Mexico. She took on this position in her capacity as Co-Director of Céntrico, a non-profit organisation that implements sustainable mobility projects in Mexico and Latin America. “Annually, 15,000 people die in road crashes in Mexico, most of whom are pedestrians, who pose the least risk to other road users. Working for safe mobility is working for social justice,” Leal says. “However, the advantages of safe and sustainable mobility are not yet present in everyone’s minds, and drunk driving and disregard of speed limits are common,” she adds.

A game changer: Mexico's first Mobility and Road Safety Law

Thanks to the Safe Mobility Coalition’s advocacy work, Leal celebrated her greatest professional success to date: in 2020, Mexico changed its constitution to recognise the human right to safe and sustainable mobility. Two years later, Mexico enacted its first national Mobility and Road Safety Law – a real game changer, says the alumna. “Due to our persistent mobilising of civil society, including the families of victims of road crashes, Mexico introduced a speed limit of 30km/h on secondary and 50km/h on primary streets, prohibited driving with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.25mg/L, made safe vehicles compulsory, and mandated helmets for motorcyclists and the use of child restraint systems in cars,” the Alumni Achievement Award winner explains. Thanks to her coordination of the Coalition, and the work of those who are part of it, the national road safety agenda continues to advance so that no one else dies on the streets due to a preventable crash.

Congratulations from Hertie School President Cornelia Woll

Commenting on this year’s alumni achievement award winner, Hertie School President Cornelia Woll says “Alejandra Leal Vallejo’s leadership in mobilizing and inspiring civil society organizations and multiple stakeholders to work towards a common goal and bring about important societal change is remarkable. With her positive impact on road safety in Mexico, her achievements are a great testament to our motto – understand today, shape tomorrow.”

Looking into the future, Leal paints a hopeful picture: “The objective is to sustain the collaborative efforts between all sectors - government, civil society, private sector, and academia - towards developing, implementing, and monitoring safe mobility public policies and to guarantee the right to mobility. The law has initiated the process of updating local regulatory frameworks and publishing a National Strategy, and transforming the reality on the streets can only be achieved through a governance approach.”


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