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Sat, 11.11.1978

Paula Marcela Moreno Zapata, Engineer, and Public Policy Advocate born

Paula Marcela Moreno Zapata

*Paula Marcela Moreno Zapata was born on this date in 1978.  She is an Afro Colombian engineer, professor, and public policy advocate.  

Born in Bogata, Paula Marcela Moreno Zapatais, the daughter of Armando Moreno, a retired civil servant of the Bogotá Aqueducts, and María Zényde Zapata, a lawyer.   In 1998, Moreno graduated with an Italian Language and Culture degree from Istituto Italiano di Cultura.  2001, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the Autonomous University of Colombia. 2003, she obtained her Master of Philosophy in Management Studies from the University of Cambridge thanks to a COLFUTURO Fellowship.

2010, she was awarded a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow Fellowship in the Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In 2014, Moreno was selected as one of the sixteen global leaders to be a Yale World Fellow.  

She is the President of Manos Visibles, a Colombian NGO. She is also a board member at the Ford Foundation, the Inter-American Dialogue, and the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora ASWAD.   She had previously worked in the academic and development fields before being appointed Minister of Culture.

She was a national coordinator, project manager, and consultant of several development agencies, such as UNESCO, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), community organizations, and the Ministry of Interior in Colombia. At the same time, she was a researcher at the Center of Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge, an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Department at the Autonomous University, and a Consultant for the Management Studies Department at the University of the Andes.  

In 2007, Moreno became the 8th Minister of Culture of Colombia, the first Afro Colombian woman ever to hold a cabinet and the youngest person to do so, and the fourth person of Afro Colombian descent to be a cabinet minister in the country's history.  During her time in office, her most important and visible work centered around three new laws approved by Congress for heritage, the national system of libraries, and the protection of native languages. Additionally, the advancement in national cultural policies by two new state policies for historical centers and cultural industries and the first compendium of cultural policies. She started new national plans, such as the National Plan for Dance and the National Audiovisual Plan; more than 20 new plans and programs were created in this period.  

In 2014, Moreno participated in a four-month leadership development program at Yale University focused on peace and order and social problems in Colombia. President Uribe has awarded Moreno Colombia’s Order of St. Charles, the Order of the Aztec Eagle by Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, and the Unita Blackwell Award from the National Conference of Black Mayors in the United States.   

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