Inside Nat Geo: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Senior Program Officer Dr. Luisa Arnedo
Hispanic Heritage Month honors and commemorates groundbreaking pioneers and innovators who identify as Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean and Central and South American. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at National Geographic, we are highlighting National Geographic Society Senior Program Officer of Wildlife and Wild Places, Dr. Luisa Arnedo.
Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Luisa is the only member of her family who currently lives in the United States. While she thoroughly enjoys helping National Geographic Society grantees bring their visions to life, she never forgets where she came from and the people who helped her clearly define her own vision of working in conservation to protect our planet.
For Luisa, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate every single cultural expression of one’s roots, including appreciation for the language. As a Spanish, Portuguese and English speaker, being trilingual has enhanced her work at National Geographic, given she supports several grantees across Latin America.
Being able to speak the same language can really help with the interaction and the bonding. I also think you really only understand the rich history of what happens in our countries when you’re from there. You understand the details, expectations and limitations.
After several years of working with grantees from all over the world, Luisa places the utmost importance on National Geographic’s efforts to diversify our grantees in order to build true global understanding. She has the distinct honor of managing the National Geographic Society/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation during the annual Explorers Festival. The 2017 awardees are Dr. Olivier Nsengimana, founder of the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, and Rosamira Guillen, executive director of Fundación Proyecto Tití, an organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of Colombia’s cotton-top tamarin. She’s immensely proud to support conservationists who deserve visibility and recognition for the hard work they are doing to safeguard our most treasured species.
Reflecting on some of the best advice she’s received over the years, Luisa shared words of wisdom from her Ph.D. advisor who taught her perseverance can take you long distances.
There are times when we may feel defeated and that there’s a minimal amount of good news, but we have to keep going. We have to keep doing our best, and we have to keep supporting people who can find solutions and make a difference in the world.
When working with grantees, she’s inspired by their commitment. And she is reminded that there is hope, and we have no choice but to keep going and to persevere. National Geographic is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month because our staff are an integral part of our DNA.
Learn more about the projects Luisa is working on at the National Geographic Society here.