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Colombia Exchange Program Participant Bios

Amaury Garcia

Born in Barranquilla, Amaury Garcia has a degree in social science and philosophy from the University of Simon Bolivar. Currently heworks as a social studies teacher at the “Aprendo Foundation”. He specializes in his work with special needs children. He also serves as the leader for the activities and projects, creating strategies to generate sustainable social programs. Before joining the “Aprendo Foundation”, Amaury Garcia had worked in several institutions of secondary education as a teacher in the area of social studies and gained experience in youth and community work, and training of young social entrepreneurs. Currently, Amaury Garcia, using the platform provided by the “Aprendo Foundation”, works in the formation of new leaders with awareness and social competence.

Cindy Altamiranda

Social Communicator and Journalist from the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla Colombia. Currently she serves as the Director for the department of
communications and public relations for the Federation of Non-Profit Organization of the Caribbean Coast (FEDECARIBE). She specializes in expert diagnostics of civic culture, social work, research fields, external communication,and coordination of accountability with national and international organizations.

Diana Lorena Bruno Camacho

Diana Bruno holds a degree in Finance, Government and International Relations from the Universidad Externado and has completed a Specialization in International Cooperation and Development Project Management.She worked at the Department of National Planning as Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Director of Credit. Before that, she was a Consultant at the Department of Administrative Planning of the Municipality of Neiva. Currently, she works in the Cooperation and Agreements Office, at the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), where she designs and manages International Cooperation projects, mainly with inter-governmental, bilateral, multi-lateral, and international organizations. Throughout her professional experience she has acquired expertise in the formulation, design, management, monitoring, coordination and evaluation of programs and projects, especially in social development. Furthermore, she has extensive experience in fundraising, mobilization and coordination of South-South Cooperation, and securing and managing resources.

Diana Patricia Sarasty Narvaez

Diana Sarasty has worked as psychologist at the National Service of Learning SENA– and is currently employed at the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare-ICBF– in the region of Nariño. Her current work is with the group for technical assistance. She develops and organizesprojects in the area of prevention, such as the Housing Program for the ICBF, the Youth Club program, and Pre-Strategies ofparticipation. Her passion is developing programs to promote young women empowerment through strategies of eradication of child labor, agreements with SENA, National Navy and National Army throughout the eight municipalities of Nariño.

Yisbeth Valecilla Yepez

Yisbeth Vallecilla Yépez is a recent graduate from the Universidad Nacional with a degree in Chemical Engineering. In 2006 she won the Martin Luther King Jr.scholarship. She has directed tutoring groups for special admissions students from poor municipalities throughout Colombia. In 2009 she began working in Agua Blanca with women in the processes of production, conservation and marketing specialty products. She currently serves the role as Legal Representative and is a co-director of programs at the Harriet Tubman Foundation. Her current work focus is on leadership training for Afro descendants through activities such as teaching English,leadership workshops for university students with the Harriet Tubman Foundation.

Marcela Aragon Valencia

She’s a Social Communicator and Journalist from Tumaco. Studied at the Western Autonomous University and at the Central University of Bogota.Has worked with the Mutual Association for Integral Development and Entrepreneurship (AMDAE) where she coordinated communication, programs and projects. She currently works with "Equilibrium Foundation" as an assistant for research and communication programs designed for ethnic groups. Her work supports the design, organization and systematization of events and workshops with communities and institutions.

Jose Alberto Rodriguez Pineda

Born in Tulua, Valle del Cauca. He currently studies at the Central University of Valle del Cauca within the Faculty of Law. He currently serves as president of the board of directors for the ONG La Red. La Red develops projects with public and private companies in the region to generate inclusive participation for girls, children, adolescents, and youth. He previously served as the director at the comprehensive training center for women and youth in the municipality of Tulua.

Katherine Cuellar

Katherine Cuellar is a nurseat the Public Health Ministry. She has previously worked in private health institutions, but herpassion to provide healthcare to underserved and vulnerable women has motivated her to start her to work in the public sector. She currently works in the small towns of Montebello and Altos del Rosario, developing strategies for teenage pregnancies prevention. She also volunteers with small organizations throughout Cali to promote women and LGBT rights.

Maria Ximena Abello Hurtado

Maria Ximena Abello is a social worker and graduate of the Universidad del Valle. As a student she was an active member of the Afro Colombian Group. She has participated in research linking gerontology and intercultural issues. Previously she worked as the Coordinator of the program “video forums” for Afro-Colombians, has performed research about the effects of multiple discrimination of afro descendant women, and served as Tutor of the program "CuidArte" sponsored by the Colombian Ministry of Education, aimed at women victims of forced displacement in Buenaventura. She currently works as Advisor of early childhood programs and programs with ICBF (Colombian Family Welfare Institute) . The work is focused on eliminating challenges faced by afro descendant women.

Marianita Montilla

Marianita Montilla has a degree as a Legal Facilitator specializing in education, culture, and human rights. Her strong leadership and commitment to the assisting displaced individuals has given her the opportunity to work on a variety of human rights programs throughout the Pacific Coast. Currently she is the vice president of the board of the Regional Association of Black Communities (ASORCON). She manages the operational and administrative processes to support the projects for legal rights for displaced people.

Narda Leonor Berardinelly Caicedo

Born in Quibdó (Choco) in 1989, she took part in the “Juntos construyendo futuro” (Building the Future together) program in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). She is a graduate of the University Tecnologica of Choco with a degree in law. She earned the Martin Luther King scholarship developed by the “Colombo Americano” of Medellin and the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. For the past two years she has been doing community work in coordination with the Organization “La Red Departamental de Mujeres” (Regional Network for Women), working with the community providing talks, workshops and counseling theory and practice, to local women who need it.

Ricardo Ramirez

Ricardo is an economist and has a postgraduate degree in Public Management and Social Project Assessment. He began his career in 2000 by volunteering for Colombia Option Corporation. In 2004 he directed the project at the School of Public Administration ESAP Colombia, starting his work in the Special Administrative Unit Soldarías Organizations (DANSOCIAL). In 2009 he served as a volunteer coordinator of the Caribbean region and the national territory, he is now Director of Development of the entity.


Jennifer Bowie

Jeniffer Bowie currently works with both the National Parks of Providence Island and also volunteers her time with the

Mariluz Alvarez is a project management specialist with knowledge of Food Engineering and Technology in food quality control. Her technical experience gave her the opportunity to be employed with SENA. She uses her technical skills to review and update the economic and social projects of students. She currently dedicates her time to Ricuras Mario Alvarez, as a successful example to her students of how businesses can create opportunities for her community.

Melissa Saavedra Gil

Melissa Saavedra Gil dedicates herself to community building in the area of sexual and reproductive health. She is the sociologist on the professional rural health implementation team with the Public Health Department of the Municipality of Cali. Her work in community action extends beyond her job as she also volunteers throughout the community in women’s empowerment organizations. She is a graduate of the Universidad de Valle and has received numerous awards for her dedication to the community including the Ibero-American Leadership Program Scholarship.

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