Always proactive and passionate about challenges, our Senior Director of Strategic Engagement shares her insights into the impact of Concordia’s upcoming events in Colombia, along with highlights of her journey at the organization so far.
Your professional career went through a significant transition when you joined Concordia. How has your background as Advisor to the Chief of Staff of former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez helped you confront daily challenges at Concordia?
I wouldn’t say my career went through a significant transition; when I worked for President Uribe, I was actually involved in a number of different projects between the public and private sectors, so I gained a lot of cross-sector experience. The Chief of Staff’s office, where I worked, didn’t merely manage the daily agenda of the President, but it was also responsible for a number of special projects. So, in order for you to really plan a President’s agenda, you have to understand not only the commitments the President has, but also what the private sector needs from the government. And that’s why my experience was instrumental for my work at Concordia. At the same time, the relationships I managed during my time at the President’s office were extremely beneficial for my current role as Senior Director of Strategic Engagement, acting as the liaison between the organization and its Leadership Council Members.
What has been your proudest moment since joining Concordia, and why?
I think I’ve had a number, but a stand-out moment for me was our summit in Miami–the first-ever Concordia Summit that we held outside of New York. It was focused on the Americas, and it was a turning point for our organization, because not only did we produce a high-level event outside of New York, but we also tested a completely new format for the first time: strategic dialogues. We were used to the plenary and breakout sessions, but we had never worked with the strategic dialogue format, and it has been, since 2016, one of the main drivers of our action-oriented programming. Strategic dialogues also served as one of the drivers of our new Partnership Development Department, because we can really build partnerships for social impact from this style of convening.
What lies ahead for the Strategic Engagement Department?
The Strategic Engagement Department has evolved quite substantially over the last year or so. Just last year we doubled our Patron Members and tripled our Sponsors. We also held our first-ever international convening in Colombia, which was fully run by the Strategic Engagement Department, and fully funded by Colombian companies. So, the team has grown organically as the organization has evolved, which is a testament to the importance of the existence of this department. We are now preparing for our second event in Colombia, which is again being run by this department. At the same time, we are in the early stages of an Africa project that is also being led by our team. There are therefore a number of things coming up for the Strategic Engagement Department, not only on the development side, but also with these special projects.
All these new projects make me feel extremely excited. I love challenges, I love new ideas, and I love seeing ideas become reality. I’m very proud of the department and I’m very proud of what Concordia has done over the last few years. So yes, I’m ready for more challenges!
With Colombia facing presidential elections over the coming months, what do you envisage the role and impact of the Concordia Americas Summit to be?
That’s a very relevant question because we’re not just going to Colombia to host a presidential debate or a one-off event. The reason we went to Colombia last year was because we built an Americas presence through our convenings in New York and with the help of our Leadership Council Members. So, instead of thinking “We need to come back to Colombia in 2018”, we focused on being conscious of our impact, asking “How do we return to Colombia in a relevant and meaningful way, particularly knowing that 2018 is an election year?”
That’s why we created the Americas Initiative, a four-stage concept composed of roundtables and virtual convenings around issue areas relevant for the country. We are going to be talking to experts on these subjects to prepare for the presidential debate, and this will be a process that is curated and extremely inclusive–a main priority of Concordia’s. We are including students, leaders from the nonprofit sector, and people from rural communities as well as from the indigenous population. After the presidential debate, we will bring together a panel of experts to analyze what happened at the debate. We will be collating our findings into an in-depth document, including the recommendations from the expert panel, which we will then pass onto the candidates. In addition, after the elections we will host a Concordia Americas Summit in Bogotá with the new administration.
What is your favorite word, and why?
Proactiveness. I get frustrated when people expect me to tell them what to do…and vice versa! I always like to be proactive. I think we should all be proactive and share our ideas.