Benjamin LessingBenjamin Lessing,  Director and Associate Professor in Political Science

Professor Benjamin Lessing leads the Center in coordinating University interests in research and teaching on Latin America. He studies "criminal conflict"—organized violence involving armed groups that do not seek formal state power, such as drug cartels, prison gangs, and paramilitaries. His first book, Making Peace In Drug Wars: Crackdowns and Cartels in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, Studies in Comparative Politics Series, 2017), examines armed conflict between drug trafficking organizations and the state in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.

TBD, Associate Director

The Associate Director manages the operations of the Center and fosters linkages with academic units on campus, community organizations, and professional associations. They are responsible for the Center's program planning and design, policy-making, budget, and supervision of administrative staff. They are also responsible for managing the Center's external grants and fellowships, including the Tinker Visiting Professorship and the Tinker Field Research Grant.

Diana Schwartz FranciscoDiana Schwartz Francisco, Assistant Instructional Professor

Diana Schwartz Francisco serves as program adviser for the LACS BA degree and graduate certificate programs; teaches the required BA Colloquium, as well as courses of her own design;  and develops experiential learning opportunities for students. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Chicago (2016). Her work integrates economic development, Indigenous politics, and environmental issues.