Ely Cossio is a lawyer specializing in human rights, international humanitarian law, and transitional justice. With over five years of professional experience, she has developed extensive expertise in human rights advocacy, fact-finding, research, litigation, capacity-building, and community engagement. Her work primarily focuses on ethnic rights, territorial rights, transitional justice and reconciliation, and international criminal justice. Ely received her Master’s Degree from Duke University, where she was awarded the Duke Law Pro Bono recognition for her social engagement and community service. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Transitional Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Currently, she supports the research work of the Transitional Justice Team of the UN-OHCHR.
Lina Valencia GarcíaColombia
Lina Valencia has four years of experience working to empower young leaders and advance the rights and living conditions of vulnerable communities. Currently, Lina works for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, one of the leading international organizations in climate change adaptation and mitigation practices, on initiatives to promote the scaling of climate-smart agriculture alternatives. Her work helps developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America improve food security and the implementation of sustainable practices. Previously, through her work at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), Lina helped to facilitate the coordination between other UN agencies and local organizations to deliver humanitarian aid to vulnerable populations. As a young leader committed to social change, she co-founded a microcredit training program to improve low-income population access to basic goods and services in rural areas of Colombia. The program provided financial management training to communities impacted by high levels of violence and forced displacement. Lina has also volunteered with international nonprofits, such as AISEC and America Solidaria, to empower young leaders and promote meaningful social change in Latin America. Lina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a major in International Relations, from the ICESI University in Cali in Colombia. Through her studies and experience, she has acquired in-depth knowledge of the different social, political, economic, and cultural dynamics of several countries, particularly in Latin American and the Caribbean.
Laura Milena Torres VillamilColombia (Host: Atlas Corps)
Communication Specialist with more than ten years of work experience, five in the governmental sector and non-profit. Her job is to support innovative projects and knowledge sharing activities about the effective and appropriate use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in different contexts to strengthen learning and knowledge management processes that ensure organizations to achieve their objectives; It includes, strategies development; teacher training and support; capacity building; educational content; distance learning; digital literacy and skills development; and research and development (R&D) activities.
She has developed strong experience in knowledge management, innovation, and organizational learning. While working as an ICT advisor in the Colombian Education Ministry, she supported the implementation of strategies to strengthen institutional knowledge management while also building the Corporate School, formulating strategies to promote the use of ICT tools to the Knowledge Management System.
Professionally, her skills also include building communication strategies and graphic design for social change. Developing and leading these communication strategies, she has worked with local and international organizations that address social issues such as education, poverty, and violence against women.
Laura has actively participated in leadership programs, as well as in international volunteer opportunities leading several projects. While volunteering in Chile with America Solidaria Foundation, she headed the project “Voices that create opportunities”, working with women in a situation of social vulnerability doing workshops and training them in communications and marketing, with the purpose to help them to get access to better jobs.
Laura has developed a strong sense of ownership, motivation, creativity, talent, and passion to create a positive social impact to be keen to drive ethical social change anywhere in the world.
Social issues: Communication for social change; Social Enterprise / Entrepreneurship; Empowerment of women; Social impact Storytelling; Education through technology.
Host Organization: Atlas Corps
Role at Host Organization: Laura will manage the Atlas Corps social media strategy and enhance the “storytelling” component of external events to better showcase the achievements of Fellows and Host Organizations. She will also help to expand the Atlas Corps external presence as included in our communications and public relations strategy.
Lina del Pilar Bocanegra ValeroColombia (Host: Latin American Youth Center)
Lina has two and a half years of experience in the nonprofit sector, and earned a Bachelor´s degree in Business Administration from the University of Los Andes in Colombia. While working as Social and Environmental Promoter in the Aqueduct of Bogota, she has helped to formulate projects about educating people and enterprises on how to handle their solid wastes. In 2013, Lina was chosen to be a fellow of Balloon Chile, where she gave classes on entrepreneurship and innovation to local entrepreneurs of Lonquimay and Malalcahuello, Araucanía, South of Chile. Previously, she worked in a Marketing Research Agency, coordinating quantitative and qualitative projects for different industries. Lina has volunteered in Asociacion Somos CaPAZes where she gave classes to kids about how to handle conflicts, and coordinated an environmental project. Through these experiences, she developed project formulation, and coordination, marketing research, and teaching skills. Lina enjoys focusing on the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation, and development of projects.
Host Organization: Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)
Role at Host Organization: Lina will be working with Academic support and tutoring, Community Peace Building, and Arts & Media programming within the Teen Center. She will be responsible for working with Teen Center staff to facilitate recruitment and registration of middle/high school youth and evaluating student progress in the programs.
Andrea Calderon LealColombia (Host: ThinkImpact)
Andrea studied architecture in Los Andes University, with a minor in Asian Studies and Language and Italian Culture. Then she did complementary courses in Project Management and Finances in the same university. Andrea worked as a fellow with Atlas Service Corps in 2008 and worked in Washington DC in an organization called Think Impact, as International Development Officer. In 2009 she coordinated the Global Development Ambassadors program in South Africa. In 2010 Andrea came back to Colombia and she founded Heart for Change, a nonprofit organization that designs and implements social impact projects through volunteerism and citizen participation in Colombia and Latin America .
HFC has since mobilized more than 2.000 volunteers to Colombia and has partnerships with the Ministry of Education (MEN), the Ministry of Commerce and Tourism (MINCIT), The International Cooperation Agency from the Presidency (APC), The National Training Service (SENA), PNUD, Embassy of Sweden, Purpose, among others. Andrea has worked as a representative in Colombia and a consultant for Partners of the Americas, ITDP and Ventures, and she was selected in 2015 for Gerente Magazine as one of the 100 most influential leaders in the Colombian society, in the category of nonprofits and social activists. She loves animals and reading.
Host Organization: Student Movement for Real Change / ThinkImpact
Laura LozadaColombia (Host: CentroNia)
Laura has worked in both the public and private sectors for over three years and has extensive experience working in educational programs for childhood and youth. In 2006, she co-founded Sueño Mi País, and implemented the Educando Soñadores program that promotes civic education for children in rural areas. She also worked for the Universidad del Rosario, in the Escuela de Control Social, where she facilitated the validation of games to promote civic participation for preschool and high school aged children in 60 schools from different areas of Bogotá. In 2004, Laura assisted the human resources department of the National Ministry of Treasury in building an interactive network of the Treasury Sector and redesigned staff evaluation and permission formats to make them more efficient and easy to understand. During her internship at the OAS General Secretariat in the summer of 2006, Laura wrote an investigative research paper on the land tenancy situation in Latin America and the Caribbean for the Department of Sustainable Development of the OAS. Laura’s latest work was with HL Consultoria Organizacional, where she contributed to the salary structure definition project of the Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular and the development of its human resources strategic policies. Laura has a B.A. in political science and government from the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá.
Host Organization: CentroNia
Paola ParraColombia (Host: CentroNia)
Paola has four years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Her previous experience includes working with AIESEC, an international organization that promotes leadership in young people with the goal to create change agents for a positive impact on society, and in the field of corporate social responsibility. Her experience also includes working with the tannery industry of Bogotá and the social and environmental problems related to the sector. Paola has also worked in Mexico as a marketing assistant at McGraw Hill Companies where she conducted online research, created presentations, and worked to promote the leadership of women in the company. Most recently, as the junior marketing coordinator and studies advisor for International House Bogotá, a network of language schools throughout the Bogotá area, Paola recruited students, organized social and cultural activities, and created advertising proposals to increase the number of students and promote activities. She is also starting a project with the Minci Foundation which will benefit young entrepreneurs from high school who want to create their own companies. Paola earned her B.A. in business administration from La Salle University in Bogotá.
Host Organization: CentroNia
Carolina EscobarColombia (Host: Partners of the Americas)
Carolina has over six years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She studied Systems Administration at the National University of Colombia where she focused on management development negotiation tools based on the Harvard Negotiation Method. Since 2006, Carolina has been a volunteer with Partners of the Americas, where she has worked in the business training program for young entrepreneurs of Colombia and led projects to develop competitiveness and leadership in the region. Through this work, Carolina has trained hundreds of young people in entrepreneurship, business creation, and business strategy. She believes that entrepreneurship is an essential instrument in the fight against unemployment and socioeconomic and gender inequality. Carolina has more than six years of work experience promoting ParqueSoft, a nonprofit organization that supports implementation of business acceleration models through its board and committee of entrepreneurship. ParqueSoft has been responsible for the birth of 32 companies led by 100 city youth, including Carolina’s own company, SIES Soluciones. Carolina has also served as a spokeswoman for Colombia at the Forum of the OAS Civil Society.
Host Organization: Partners of the Americas
Andrés Martinez GarciaColombia (Host: IPSI)
Andrés has four years of experience working with nonprofit social organizations. He holds a Postgraduate Degree in Conflict Resolution from Javeriana University and a Master of Arts in Gender and Peacebuilding from the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. Andrés has participated extensively in movements advocating international disarmament, disability rights, and nonviolent action and peacebuilding. In particular, his work addresses the differential needs and circumstances of women, men, girls and boys during conflict, war, and humanitarian crises. Andrés is a certified psychologist and has provided psycho-social rehabilitation services for over 400 landmine survivors and other victims of violence. Additionally, he has worked in victim assistance for internally displaced persons and facilitated conflict resolution workshops for the reintegration of ex-combatants. Andres is particularly interested in conflict resolution, landmine removal, internal displacement, and the prevention of gender-based violence.
Host Organization: International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI)
Lina OchoaColombia (Host: Grameen Foundation)
Lina is an economist with a working knowledge of nonprofit initiatives in Colombia, assessment and advocacy of public policies, as well as the promotion of entrepreneurship in rural communities. Previously, she worked for the Fundación Manantial de Talentos in Bogotá, which deals with community and economic development for marginalized groups. Lina also has experience managing conferences with 20 international speakers and more than 100 attendees, organizing rural sector initiatives, and translating crucial meeting and conference documents for the Fundación Agenda Colombia. Last year, Lina was a volunteer and translator for Atlas Service Corps during the launch of the Bogotá office in Colombia. Awarded the Colfuturo Loan-Scholarship for postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom, Lina has built a strong academic foundation by pursuing a MSc in development management at the London School of Economics after graduating from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia with a B.A. in economics and a M.A. in economic sciences. She is the recipient of the London School of Economics’ Graduate Support Scheme Award. Lina hopes to master all main aspects of work in a social organization, in order to return to Colombia to work with civil organizations, grassroots organizations, research centers, and the like as a liaison between the different groups. She credits her volunteer experience as a factor in her success: “To me, social, nonprofit organizations give young professionals numerous opportunities to learn and share ideas and build up a broad range of useful skills, while working in specific areas (economic projects, political awareness, advocacy, and gender issues, among others).”
Host Organization: Grameen Foundation
Maria Alejandra TapiaColombia (Host: Bert Corona Leadership Institute)
Alejandra has four years experience working in government, public policy and human rights. Currently a government consultant, Alejandra assists in the creation, execution, evaluation, and implementation of investigative projects relating to public policy. Previously, she worked in the Arauca Governor’s Office where she developed a diagnostic study about citizen security and culture (2006). Alejandra’s interest in human rights began in 2002 when she was a student at the National University of Colombia where she studied the history of the National Institute of Prisons and Penitentiaries of Colombia. In 2004, she worked for the Office of the Mayor of Jamundi where she developed a study and made recommendations about building a maximum security prison. Also that year, Alejandra was part of an investigative project about public space policies in Bogotá with the political science department at the National University. Alejandra continued her study of Colombian prisoners in 2005 at the Department of Follow-up, Monitoring, and General Evaluation of Public Policies in the Ombudsman’s Office in Bogotá. While there, she conducted a project and evaluation system that established human rights and protection mechanisms for prisoners in Colombia. Alejandra holds a B.S. in political science with a minor in public administration and public policy from the National University of Colombia in Bogotá.
Host Organization: Bert Corona Leadership Institute
Maria DuenasColombia (Host: TechnoServe)
Maria has over five years of experience in the public and private sectors. In 2005, Maria co-founded Corporación Educando, a Colombian NGO that works to promote the development of urban and rural communities by implementing fundamental rights-based education. As co-founder and research director, she is responsible for fundraising strategies, marketing research, and designing and implementing academic programs for community leaders and entrepreneurs in her home city of Bucaramanga. She also leads research efforts in social issues such as innovative education systems, microfinance, and community-based social security systems. Previously, Maria worked for the National Department of Statistics, a Colombian institution that produces statistical information for the economic and social development of Colombia. From 2002-03, she worked in business development for Patia International, where she established marketing strategies, conducted international market research, and developed the company business plan. From 2001-02, Maria was in charge of human resource management for Seguridad Cordova Ltda. Maria earned her M.S. in economics and social protection financing from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands and her MBA from the University of Leicester in the UK. She received her B.A. in business administration from Pontifica Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá.
Host Organization: TechnoServe