Maria Catalina Colmenares, Program Director for Latin America, grew up in a newspaper family in Cúcuta, Colombia where she learned about the importance of independent journalism in the midst of Colombia’s internal conflict, as well as the challenges that media companies face in their operations. After working in academia (Universidad de Los Andes) carrying out research on management and organizational learning, she worked for the Colombian government helping coordinate a World Bank project to overhaul the sanitary and phytosanitary systems. In 2005, she was appointed to the Colombian Consulate in New York, where she led the Legal Affairs Department. In 2012, she reconnected with her media roots at MDIF, where she works with independent media companies in Latin America to seek larger impact and higher returns, while navigating political, economic and technological challenges. Maria Catalina has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Los Andes University in Bogotá (Colombia) and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University (New York). She is an executive board member of SembraMedia.