June 1, 2004

Cecilia Mejia ’77

Hail, Columbia

When Cecilia Mejia '77 looks at established nonprofit organizations in the United States, she sees the future of Colombian charities. As cofounder of the Colombian-American Community Foundation, she travels back and forth between New York and Colombia, matching resources donated in the United States with organizations operating on a shoestring in her native Colombia.

The nonprofit foundation, which allows Colombian-Americans to support charities and other worthwhile institutions in Colombia, is a product of the bond Mejia retains with her homeland. She invokes the notion of diaspora philosophy — traditionally used to refer to Jews who live outside Israel — to explain the feeling she shares with two million Colombian-Americans embracing a new life in the United States: "It means no matter where you go, you are at heart always Colombian."

Mejia, who first arrived in the States to attend boarding school and has "kept a foot in both places" ever since, also lends investment advice. "One of the advantages of being in two countries," she says, "is having the opportunity to observe how similar situations are handled in each area for the purpose of making improvements."

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