Gabriela L.

Bachelor's DegreeCornell University

United States


I'm a 42 year old recent graduate of Cornell University where I studied international development and business. I have been interested in development and social change since age 22, where I read my first book on the subject. I grew up in an extremist religion, my parents died at a young age and I had to learn everything I wanted to know on my own. I also began working at age 13 to help feed the younger ones in my family. Because of my personal experience, when I work in countries where this is commonplace, I have an uncommon ability to connect and understand. I found that this ability to understand has helped me offer appropriate guidance to those starting small businesses and wanting to improve their situation. I am able to meet them exactly where they're at and give them solid, practical advice that they can actually employ. Besides this, I'm extremely good at coming up with solutions 'on the spot', particularly in chaotic and highly sensitive situations. I was captain of security in the historic caravan where the Zapatista commanders left their hiding place in the jungle of southern Mexico and headed to Mexico City with the intention of speaking at the National Congress. I was in a situation where all decisions where brought to me regarding things that emerged and I had to direct people on how to solve them, while calming people's fears and organizing crowds. Because of the international support, I also had to do this while switching back and forth between English and Spanish. The intense part of this experience lasted three weeks and my work was a great success. From that I transitioned to community organization where I did mundane work in a rebel camp in the jungle for 11 months. My decision making abilities fast-paced, stressful situations were very useful when managing the Pecan Street Festivals (arts & craft events with attendance of more than 200,000 people), and Manndible Cafe (an extremely popular cafe with large crowds of students and professors who didn't have time to wait in line). Again, my work in these locations was very successful. At this moment I am in Austin supporting my family through a crisis, working part time in a government organization and looking for an opportunity where I can put my skills and experience to good use for the world.


  • development
  • tertiary education
  • work
  • private sector development
  • youth
  • mexico
  • Sectors
  • Funders
  • Countries
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