Maria Gabriela Urbaneja
Water and Energy Director for West Africa.
Location: Sierra Leone
Fresh from graduation in 1994, Maria started her public service at the Corporation of the Municipality Services of Caracas, Venezuela, her home country. From then on, and with a gap of five years in the UK doing postgrad studies, Maria has been working as a public servant in her Venezuela in different roles, from managing the operation of the electricity high voltage grid, running as president a couple of public electricity companies and deputy minister of energy twice, from 2006 to 2010 and then again from 2010 to 2012. She was the first woman to hold such posts in her country.
During her tenure as deputy minister of energy, she had the opportunity to participate in quite a few of the energy-related cooperation projects and activities in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean promoted by the ALBA mechanism and engage in negotiations with public-private partners, and communities. She acquired extensive knowledge in public policy follow-up and control from her post as Public Policy Follow Up General Director from the Executive Vice-Presidency of her country.
In short, her life has been public service all the way, and her faith is all about serving others and applying all she has learned through nearly 30 years of experience as an engineer, manager, and community leader to empower people–especially women–and build high-performance teams to solve community problems and improve the lives of people in need, which in turn improves her own life greatly every day as well.