Anabell Iglesias

Certificate in Latin American Studies (LAS) Alumna, 2010

Anabell Iglesias


May 17, 2019 | Image: Presentation at Kimberly-Clark Corporation

Anabell Iglesias is the Communications Chief for the Inter-American Development Bank. In her position, she leads communications at the Knowledge, Innovation, and Communications sector in support of the Bank’s vision of improving lives. In 2010, Anabell received her MA in Mass Communications from the UF College of Journalism and Communications along with a Certificate in Latin American Studies (LAS) from the Center for Latin American Studies. Currently, Anabell also serves as part of the Center for Latin American Studies Alumni Board.

Can you tell us about your current position and how it relates to your Latin American Studies certificate?

I lead Communications at the Inter-American Development Bank and came on board earlier this year. While a shift from my usual corporate world, I'm quite enjoying how I am able to bring together threads from studies and past experiences in new ways. I am part of the Knowledge, Innovations, and Communications sector, which does storytelling and manages reputation on the Bank's programming and engages in scaling knowledge and innovation solutions for development. I worked on my LAS certificate together with my master's in communications, so my current position is the perfect expression of what I thought a career could look like when I was a student.

What motivated you to pursue a certificate in Latin American Studies?

Anabell Iglesias image

Since the beginning of my career, I knew I wanted to combine my interest in it being global with my purpose to have an impact in Latin America. Both my career and academic decisions have reflected this duality.

I came to UF as a Fulbright Fellow in the Fall of 2008 and was enrolled at the College of Journalism and Communications (CJC), where I pursued a Masters in Mass Communications within the international/intercultural track. I didn't know about the Center for Latin American Studies until some courses I was interested in were canceled and I became aware I could look for classes outside my college. Needless to say, I felt I had stumbled upon a gem when I found UF-LAS! Every week I looked forward to my "Latinos in the U.S." class with Prof. Efraín Barradas and took elements from it to inform in new ways what I was learning at CJC. For example, I would reflect on the effects of international broadcasting and new media in Latin America, the exchange between a country and its diaspora and how culture would travel, etc.

As I continued selecting my classes, I would focus my research on applications for Latin America, which placed me on track to complete the LAS Certificate. Even my internships (Discovery Networks Latin America/ U.S. Hispanic, World Partnerships/U.S. Department of State, and Kimberly-Clark Latin America) had a regional focus.

What aspect of your career have you enjoyed the most?

I'm a lifelong learner and I have been very fortunate to work in organizations that place capability building as one of their priorities. This means that coupled with corporate mandates of people development, my desire to learn and my constant curiosity have found fertile ground. Additionally, I have been able to truly work across borders which has allowed for enriching experiences. The world seems big at first when you start an international career. However, as you focus on people and delivering value, you begin to understand how we're very much the same at the core. My marketing and communications career has provided an avenue to truly explore this wonderful world we live in and offer solutions to challenges through my work - in a corporate setting and now in international development.

I also love that I have been able to be part of both Global and Regional teams. There's a special kind of energy when you sit at the table and can craft strategies with global peers, then be able to turn around and go deep within your own region and engage there as well.

How did your certificate and/or the Center help you prepare for your career?

When I came to UF, I thought I had the basics pretty much figured out on the cultural front and my studies would be largely shaped by new insights on communications and media. This was because it was my second masters, as I had already completed an MBA at the Thunderbird School of International Management, which has a strong focus on cultural dexterity.

What UF-LAS did was give me the gift of a whole new level of perspective in my own personal and cultural experiences that would ultimately result in being able to deliver a larger impact.

You see, I grew up in a bicultural environment (El Salvador/United States) in Latin America and called myself a "cultural translator". However, the class with Prof. Barradas opened my mind to a new set of cultural situations - including where I landed personally. It gave words and definitions to situations and past experiences. What Thunderbird had done to unleash my passion in international diversity, UF-LAS did to unleash a personal understanding and view on topics such as migration, hybrid cultures, diaspora impact, etc. As my career responsibilities grew and I became a leader who would participate in bigger conversations, I appreciated the fact I was able to pull from what I had learned at my schools. I think this was the most evident for me when I was part of steering committees for Diversity & Inclusion and for Sustainability at both the Latin America and Global levels.

What advice do you have for current students at the Center for Latin American Studies?

Reach across disciplines and colleges to make your future impact in Latin America stronger. Your regional understanding will give you relevance and empathy, and those additional skills will make your solutions stronger and sharper. And above all, never stop learning so we can all help build a brighter future for Latin America.

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