Silvia was raised between Colombia and the US by a journalist father, an artist mother and a collection of wonderful characters that gave her a multidimensional and critical perspective on the world. Most of her childhood was spent sheltered from the overwhelming violence that erupted in the late eighties in Colombia. Living at the rim of this conflict, her natural curiosity and love for people led her to develop interviewing skills and a special rapport that would shape her personal and professional life.
In 2004 Silvia joined Profamilia, a health nonprofit working in the marginal neighborhoods of Bogotá, where she was exposed to hundreds of families displaced by the armed conflict and learned about the economic, class, gender and racial barriers that they faced. A year later, she went to New York to study Photography and Cultural & Media Studies with a focus on Documentary Film. For her senior thesis she conducted field research in Ghana, studying people’s needs, happiness, their ability to pursue their dreams, how they were influenced by exposure to the West, and produced a body of portraits to accompany their stories. Upon her return to New York, she brought the project full circle by capturing the perspective of Ghanaians who had achieved the highest dream: Living in America. Her work was at the intersection of research, art and storytelling, which resulted in a natural transition to documentary film-making.
After college Silvia spent years traveling and interviewing people, making documentary films and photography. Starting from 2007, Silvia worked with highly talented journalists and filmmakers in Colombia including Margarita Martinez, Pamela Yates and Antonio Von Hildebrand, and media organizations in New York like Condé Nast Traveler, 4thRow Films and JV8INC. In 2013, she directed a section of a TV series about teenage pregnancy, HIV, sexual violence and abortion, commissioned by the UNFPA and the Colombian government, broadcasted by several public TV stations.
At the end of this project she traveled to Indonesia, where she witnessed the positive impacts of sustainable tourism and founded a startup to support communities affected by the conflict in rural Colombia. Nomada Camp was a glamping hotel that traveled around the country, training communities in remote rural areas, serving locally sourced food with traditional recipes, leaving minimal environmental footprint and positive social impact. The market research showed very positive results but implementation was delayed given the uncertain political climate during the peace process. Silvia’s experience in the field resulted in an aspiration to understand and contribute on a higher level, leading her to join the UC Berkeley Masters of Development Practice (MDP) in 2015.
The Berkeley MDP focuses on participatory processes and sustainability, giving development practitioners research, analysis and management tools that are applied in various consultancy projects during the program. Silvia designed a sustainable tourism monitoring and evaluation tool for logging communities in the Brazilian Amazon, made recommendations on truancy for Central American migrant students in Oakland and designed a VR sustainability campaign for Patagonia, among other projects. She became well versed in Systems Thinking and Human Centered Design, which became fundamental in her approach to innovation for sustainable development.
Silvia’s background in media and her experience at Berkeley, coupled with her creativity and passion, make her a great candidate for program design, user experience, product development or project management. She is especially interested in innovation for education, sustainable tourism, and Amazon conservation.