A gala event to honour remarkable Colombians in the UK

The Nominees: ‘Colombian Changemakers Awards 2024’

This year, we’re honouring remarkable Colombians living in the UK at our ‘Colombian Changemakers’ Awards. The gala event is a tribute to the exceptional commitment of those who continue to make a profound impact on their home country from abroad. 

We are pleased to announce the nominees for the six categories of the awards. Each nominee has been carefully chosen in recognition of the impact they have had in both their field and the Colombian community.

Find out more about our ‘changemakers’ below!

Cultural Changemakers

Celebrating a standout figure in the arts who has enhanced the cultural dialogue between the United Kingdom and Colombia. 

Julieth Lozano


Julieth is a remarkable soprano who has represented Colombia on the world stage. She has been recognised with prestigious awards, including the Prix Thierry Mermod and the President's Award from The Prince of Wales. In 2019, she appeared in the BBC documentary “Queen Victoria: My Musical Britain” and was also Young Artist at the National Opera Studio in London. Her debut with the Welsh National Opera at the Dubai Expo 2020 and her performances in Colombia highlight Julieth’s global impact. In 2023, she represented Colombia in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Julieth is committed to supporting cultural projects in Colombia, and has continuously engaged with her country through workshops and guidance for other artists. By opening doors in the classical music world, she has inspired others and sparked interest in Colombia’s talent, showing that representation can empower and ignite talent.

Diana Bermúdez


Diana is a theatre, screen, and voice actor of Indigenous descent. She gained widespread recognition for her role as Yatzil in Marvel’s "Moon Knight," making her the first Colombian actress in a Marvel show. Born in Cali, Diana moved to the UK at the age of three and went on to study at the prestigious Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, which propelled her into a diverse and exciting acting career, including roles in "Silo" on Apple TV,  "Rambo V: Last Blood" with Lionsgate, and the BBC’s "Silent Witness."

Despite growing up in the UK, Diana has maintained a strong connection to her Colombian culture.  She is deeply committed to diversity and representation in the film and TV industry and uses her platform to address important issues in Colombia. She is also dedicated to highlighting the challenges Indigenous people face and educating others about the rich cultural history of their communities.

Jennifer Droguett


Jennifer is a Colombian designer dedicated to sustainable luxury fashion. Her notable achievements include her participation in the 2024 London Fashion Week Show and her 2022 exhibition "El Viaje," commissioned by the Colombian Embassy in London. Her sustainability practices include ethical sourcing, production, waste management and community-led showcases. Her work is inspired by surrealism and explores the mix of Colombian and Chilean folklore, British tailoring, memories and migration. 

Through her brand Anciela, she celebrates South American culture and experimental tailoring. She has played an important role in showcasing POC and Colombian creatives in London, supporting. Jennifer aims to challenge the norm and start a conversation by empowering and inspiring everyone who participates in Anciela’s projects, offering mentoring and support to create a beautiful supportive creative community.

Academic Changemakers

In celebration of those who have forged intellectual and cultural connections between Colombia and the UK.

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera


Oscar is a distinguished philosopher, author and academic recognised for his influential publications on Latin America. He is a Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London, where he teaches Law, Political Philosophy, and Human Rights, and is a Fellow of the RSA. Oscar won the Frantz Fanon Award for his book "What If Latin America Ruled the World?" and was shortlisted for the 2014 Bread & Roses Award. His recent works include "In Defence of Armed/Art Struggle", "A Future for the Philosophy of Liberation", and the poem "Night of the World". His contributions also extend to film and media.

After being forced to leave Colombia during a period of intense conflict, Oscar established his second home in the UK, where he has significantly influenced the representation of Colombians through initiatives like ‘Colombiage’, appearances on BBC World, participation in the Hay Festival and co-founding the podcast ‘Beyond Borders.

Blanca Huertas


Dr Blanca Huertas is the Principal Curator of Butterflies at the Natural History Museum London, responsible for the world's biggest collection of Butterflies since 2005. Blanca also served as Trustee and former vice President of the Linnean Society.

Her work actively contributes to naming species, studying climate change and conservation of Butterflies through various international initiatives and over 100 published scientific research papers and books. Her work has been featured in TV, press and international media documentaries. 

In 2022, Blanca was honoured as an ambassador of the Country Brand Colombia by ProColombia at the WTM, the main tourism fair in the United Kingdom. Aside from her scientific career, Blanca is an advocate for women and girls, and for the inclusion of diverse communities in Science.

Andrei Gómez Suárez


A writer, scholar, and peace practitioner, Andrei specialises in conflict resolution, peace negotiations and transitional justice. He is the co-founder and non-director of the peacebuilding organisation Rodeemos el Diálogo, is Honorary Research Associate at the University of Bristol and Senior Consultant at Positive Negatives. He is the author of “Genocide, Geopolitics and Transnational Networks” and “El Triunfo del No”. He previously was associate researcher at the University of Oxford, the University of Sussex, and the Conflict Analysis Resource Centre in Bogotá.

Andrei brings attention to Colombia’s silent problems and strives to promote peace amidst the conflict that affects the country. He wrote and produced the graphic short story Jessica: coca-growing, development and stigmatisation, and Colombia's broken peace and co-produced La Confianza (2018), a song for rebuilding trust in Colombia. 

Leadership Changemakers

Recognising a leader who has used their influence to strengthen ties and contribute significantly to Colombia’s development. 

David Gereda


David is the Director of Development and Ambassador at One Young World, participating in the Nobel Peace Summit, the Leading by Example Program, and the Youth Declaration. With the organisation, he works to empower young leaders globally for a better future for all. In 2010, he was awarded the Social Responsibility Distinction by Universidad de Los Andes. 

In 2014 he co-founded ID SOCIAL, a Colombian social enterprise that develops and implements solutions for social and environmental problems in Colombia and Latin America. In 2016, he was selected to the distinction of the ten young leaders of Colombia by JCI Colombia, and in 2017 as Leader from Colombia in the program The Leading by Example Program of Nobel Peace Summit.

Fabian Cardozo


Fabian has supported the Rebel Schoolin the UK and globally since 2021, an initiative that seeks to help people build their businesses and make money doing what they love. He is motivated by the principle of equal opportunity in fields often reserved for a selected few, such as business and entrepreneurship. He works with communities in Colombia and the UK to provide applied knowledge to contribute to their businesses.

In Colombia, Fabian’s Rebel School has benefited over 850 entrepreneurs, with their courses  in different cities such as Medellin, Bogota,  Cartagena, Bucaramnaga, Cali, Santa Marta.  He sees a resourcefulness and resilience in Colombians which has driven his company to focus strongly on Latin-American talent. His international experience with the company allows him to help Colombians wanting to start their businesses and give them the confidence to take the first steps.

Laura Riascos


Laura Is a visionary entrepreneur and co-founder of La Hechicera, the ultra-premium rum brand she established in 2012 with her brother Miguel Riascos. She moved to London 20 years ago, with a motivation to highlight the beauty of Colombia in the international sphere. Ten years later, La Hechicera has grown into a global brand. She is committed to creating meaningful change, focusing on equal opportunities for children.

Laura has been instrumental in capturing and sharing the spirit of Colombia with the world. Under her leadership, La Hechicera has embraced sustainable practices, sourcing all ingredients locally. Her dedication to quality and sustainability, along with her passion for telling Colombia's story, has made her a notable figure in the industry. She also co-founded the Oro Molido Foundation, which has launched several initiatives to support education in Colombia’s coffee regions.

Entrepreneurship Changemakers

Honouring a business leader for their entrepreneurial success and economic connections between the two countries.

Eduardo Florez


Eduardo grew up in a home in Colombia where violence was a daily fact. He later realised that this does not have to be the case, and so embarked on a journey to further his education in the UK 25 years ago. After working in London for the ethical fashion brand Bottletop, Eduardo founded The Colombian Coffee Company, where he is in charge of business strategy and marketing. 

His vision for his company is to connect coffee farmers who are victims of the conflict in Colombia to gourmet coffee drinkers in the UK. Currently, Eduardo is liaising with coffee-growers and displaced communities in Colombia to help them build resilience and enact social and environmental impact in the region. He also promotes the fair trade of coffee and treatment of Colombian farmers, as he believes these are important steps to ensure peace in these communities.

Alejandra Sacipa


Alejandra is a seasoned property professional with 17 years of experience in the Colombian property market and has led Casa En Casa to international prominence. Under her direction, the agency boasts a network of independent agents across the UK, Australia, Chile, the US, and South America, dedicated to providing Colombian expats with comprehensive support and assistance for investing back home. She is motivated by the opportunity to manage property sales that foster vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive communities.

Alejandra also engages in personal investments and co-manages a private equity venture catering to non-Colombian high-net-worth investors interested in Colombian real estate and properties. This venture also includes property management services. Her company plays a crucial role in the economy as has the ability to contribute to economic growth and job creation in Colombia.

Carlos Bulla


In 2014, Juan established Juan Choconat, a responsible company which brings a better quality of life to the small Colombian farmers. Amidst an industry completely focused on aromas and flavours, origin and genetics, his business was the first to display the faces and stories of the farmers in all their products. Juan Choconat developed the concept of ‘responsible chocolate', encompassing 5 key actions to help farmers out of poverty. In 2018, they were awarded the silver prize in the international Chocolate Awards in New York, crowning them the second-best chocolate in America. Since 2021 they have been a UK registered company.

They have established key actions to promote social impact in Colombia: to pay above market price at point of purchase, to educate and motivate the farmers and their families, to produce 100% organic cacao, to protect and expand criollo cacao genetics, and to produce healthy and functional products. 

British Changemakers

Celebrating a British individual who has played a pivotal role in building bridges between the UK and Colombia.

Jenny Pearce


Jenny is a political scientist who specialises in Latin America. She works with anthropological and participatory research methodologies on social change, violence, security, power and participation in the region and beyond. She considers herself a peace scholar, committed to theoretical development of the field of peace, power and violence as well as empirical study.

Her current research focuses on the role of elites and violence in Latin America. She is working with young researchers in Colombia led by Juan David Velasco (Lecturer, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana) on elites and the Peace Accord. Together they are designing a database to better define and differentiate elites. This tool is also to enable further research on elites, violence, and state formation in Latin America. The research is funded by the Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz.

Simon Terrington


In 2009, Simon moved to Colombia to live and work. During his 12 years there, he co-founded a company to support Colombian students with the application process to UK universities. This was a brand new initiative which created a useful service for the local community. He then launched a new initiative to allow international universities to achieve their student recruitment and engagement aims in Latin America. His organisation offers regional representation alongside 17 partners, with team members based in Colombia and other LATAM countries supporting these international universities and students.

Through his company, Simon has inspired many Colombians to apply for UK universities. Additionally, Simon’s organisation has a branch in Colombia that offers mentorship, training and development to ensure their staff grow personally and professionally.

Alex Yew


Born and raised in Malaysia and educated in Singapore, Alex has spent the last 20 years living in the UK, working as an infrastructure investor. He served as the Managing Director for Strategy and Partnerships at John Laing for nine years, where he led the firm’s investment in Colombia’s infrastructure programme and opening of the company’s Latin American headquarters in Bogota. These projects have had a significant impact on the lives of many Colombians and the local community.

During the years Alex was leading these projects, he visited Colombia over 50 times, immersing himself into Colombian culture. Alex has said that Colombia has touched his life in an unforgettable way, which is why he has continued to do whatever he can to contribute to Colombia. He is a consistent supporter of CCC, supports education grants for local Colombians, and is a member of the board of the British Colombia Chamber of Commerce.

Lifetime of achievement Award

Honouring a Colombian who has lived in the UK for decades and has shown an exceptional level of commitment to their homeland.

María Teresa Soliman


María Teresa is a pioneering entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded Soliman Travel, an independent, family-owned tour operator specialising in bespoke travel services across Latin America and the Middle East. Despite the challenges posed by digital disruption in the travel industry, her company continues to thrive, with operations in Bogotá, Colombia, and Cairo, Egypt. 

For over 20 years, María Teresa has been a devoted supporter of the Colombian community in the UK and an advocate for social causes. Her commitment to philanthropy is reflected in Soliman Travel's support for charitable projects that promote social change and sustainable development in the regions where they work. The company collaborates closely with local communities in London, Bogotá, and Cairo. Soliman Travel proudly supports organisations like Children Change Colombia, The Magdi Yacoub Institute, and FOCSA. 

Juan Carlos Bejarano


Juan Carlos is a distinguished correspondent with the RCN and NTN24 networks, and one of the most recognised Latin American reporters in the UK. His media career began at the young age of 16 in his native Palmira, where he hosted his own radio show. At 24, he transitioned to television in London,  becoming the official Spanish voice for acclaimed sports programs. As an independent reporter, producer, and writer, Juan Carlos has worked with major channels in the UK, Spain, and France. He has covered significant international events such as the G8 and G20 summits and the funeral of Nelson Mandela, and the London 2012 Olympics.

Beyond his reporting, Juan Carlos has authored numerous articles on politics, sports, and the lives of Latino immigrants in Europe. His active involvement in the Colombian community in the UK has been motivated by informing Colombians around the world about world news and events.

Gloria Grajales


 Gloria Grajales is a remarkable Colombian expatriate whose selfless dedication to helping others has made a significant impact on her community in the United Kingdom. Gloria quickly became an advocate for the vulnerable and disadvantaged through her tireless work with the Latin American Catholic Church in the UK. Gloria visits Latin American prisoners, offering them support, prayer, and a glimmer of hope during their darkest times. She also assists elderly individuals in need of repatriation to Colombia, ensuring they are not alone during challenging periods.

Her unwavering commitment to social causes and her compassionate spirit exemplify the profound difference one individual can make. Gloria has believed, from a very young age,  that helping those who need it the most is the best way to feel like you are making a difference in the world.

The jury

In collaboration with the Anglo Colombian Society and the Colombian Consulate, Children Change Colombia (CCC) conducted a thorough search for outstanding Colombians in the United Kingdom across various fields. With the support of other organisations and friends from the Colombian Embassy and alumni societies of Colombian Universities we discovered remarkable individuals. These fields became the categories for the Colombian Changemakers Awards 2024.

The Jury, which joins us in celebrating the talent, dedication, and impact of the Colombians nominated for these Awards, considered three evaluation criteria to select the winners in each category. First, the overall impact of each person through their project. Second, their commitment to Colombia. And third, their potential for inspirational leadership.

The jury was composed of Carolina Giraldo, Chair of the Board of Trustees of CCC; Felipe Alviar-Baquero and Richard McColl, also members of the CCC Board of Trustees; and Yvonne Velásquez, Co-Chair of the Anglo Colombian Society.

The experience of selecting just a few among such an inspiring group of Colombians, whose stories and projects continue to positively transform Colombia, has allowed us to appreciate and value the great work they do every day. 

Want to know more about the event?

Visit our events page to find out more details about our Colombian Changemakers Awards!

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