Celebrating Conservation Project Coordinator Kelly Julio Donado

Happy Birthday to Kelly Julio Donado, our Women for Conservation Project Coordinator in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta!

Kelly is the force who organizes and facilitates Women for Conservation’s community groups in multiple villages across the municipality of Santa Marta.  We are committed to listening to local women’s voices, and letting them decide which of our programs could best benefit their community.

“We believe women have power to bring positive change when they have opportunities to thrive, and Kelly is a great example. We imagine a world where rural women have the tools, resources and training to unleash their full potential and protect our environment by empowering everyone to be part of the solution.” – Sara Inés Lara

Kelly Julio Donado’s Story

Kelly was born in Fundacion, Magdalena, Colombia to compassionate and hard-working parents. Her family’s economic struggles meant she had to drop out of school in the 9th grade despite a deep desire to continue studying. She began working at the age of 13 years old in the homes of families, in order to financially support her family.

Her parents had to move to the city of Santa Marta for economic reasons, and Kelly had her first daughter at the age of 18. Kelly tells us this was a very difficult time for them, and when her daughter was only three years-old, her father was killed in the armed conflict in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Kelly is an inspiration to us, and has had to live through many adversities, including abuse and a pregnancy loss. In 2007, she met a person who changed her life for the better when she married her current husband who is a native of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

In 2010 Kelly and her new family began their adventure working in the Finca El Brillante de la Vereda Vista Nieves. When her youngest son was born with a disability, she began to see the difficulties of the region, especially the difficult access to the villages, lack of economic opportunities and lack of state services in the most remote villages of the city of Santa Marta. In 2013 Kelly began community organizing in rural villages of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to mitigate these obstacles.

Kelly joined Women for Conservation’s team in Colombia in 2017 after meeting Sara Inés Lara at a local women’s group meeting. Sara invited her to join our team after seeing her drive, passion, dedication, and love for community organizing.p

Kelly oversees coordination with Women for Conservation’s Sierra Nevada community groups and has collaboratively organized workshops on bird identification, english classes, cooking and hygiene certification, and artisanal craft making. Additionally, she teaches workshops in the local Vista Nieves school on the subjects of bird identification, waste management, and lessons on nature conservation. She has spearheaded and organized our family planning campaigns in the Sierra Nevada as well as in Zona Bananera.

Sara describes Kelly as having “a magnetism which attracts prosperity, charm, and brings smiles to all around her”. We are honored to have Kelly as part of our team, and look forward to continuing working hand in hand with her as we realize our dreams empowering local communities to protect and conserve one of the most biodiverse mountains in the world.

“Thank you, Kelly, for all you do, especially for being an inspiration to young women and being passionately committed to our beloved Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and its biodiversity.
We have the deepest gratitude to the Women for Conservation community who makes it possible for us to support incredible women like Kelly. Donor support ensures that Kelly can be a mentor to women in her communities and encourage even more women to be part of the web of likeminded people who care deeply for our planet and its future.” – Sara Inés Lara

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