Gabriela has over 10 years of experience as a non-profit leader, specialising in the fields of community outreach, social impact, sustainable development, and field-based education. Her experience stems from establishing partnerships with over 30 communities in Panama and leading infrastructure, health, gender equality, and economic initiatives alongside local and international organisations.
For the past two years, Gabriela has been the managing director at Fundacion Calicanto, a Panamanian NGO focused on protecting at-risk female populations by observing the responsible conservation of their cultural and humane heritage as a way to reduce gender-based violence and economic insecurity in Panama City. Alongside her team, Gabriela is able to address urban inequality through problem-solving by empowering women through training, tools and development opportunities that they can use to achieve economic autonomy.
She also works as a Director of Social Engagement in a civic-led local initiative called Giro Urbano. There she advocates for several community-led projects that aim to educate communities and improve the connection between people and their cities through active participation and experimentation. Through this initiative, Gabriela architected and secured funding for a 3-month urban prototype project for 30 participants and 200 beneficiaries to analyse the possible long-term urban strategies of a local community in Panama City. More recently, Giro Urbano has been supporting the UNDP’s Accelerator Labs Program to map circular economy solutions for Panama's current and future urban farmer’s markets.
Driven by a commitment to solving local and global challenges, Gabriela started her development career at the international nonprofit organization Global Brigades. There she led the team in charge of assessing global health and holistic development projects for over 20 rural communities across Panama. Gabriela later worked as a consultant for several organisations seeking to design and develop on-the-ground learning and academic activities for a wide assortment of young students based on experiential learning initiatives focused on social innovation and entrepreneurship.
After completing her undergraduate degree in Architecture at the University of Panama, she became a Fulbright scholar and was able to conduct a Master’s in Architecture at the Ball State University.
In today's variant economies, my inspiration derives from all the variant capabilities and economic systems alternating to provide access to more people. I am also equally inspired by the self-determination, confidence, strength, resilience, and empowerment that inclusive and diverse processes deliver to those people and communities that are brought into the conversation and equally acknowledged. As a changemaker, I aspire to continue to have a seat at the table and be part of the processes that bring change and equitable access to more communities in Panama and Latin America.