Design For Change

Design For Change

Thursday, October 16, 2014

María Paula Torres Laverde - Colombia

Global Catalyst 

Story told by David Wygant

Change can be difficult, but not for Design for Change (DFC) Superheroes.  DFC Superheroes transform the world through the amazing and creative projects that they FEEL, IMAGINE, DO and SHARE.  DFC is about watching the kids learn that “they can” so that each can say I CAN, and in the end say WE DID.  These words mirror Maria’s words when she describes selecting winning projects in Colombia.  

“Every time we select the winning projects is an inspiring moment because each initiative is so amazing, creative and transformational.  They help us believe in the change.  For example, in 2012 our first year, the winning project was a project in which they recycled cooking oil from their school and turned it into handmade soap.”

Maria tells that what they have seen in Colombia, she is sure must be happening around the world.  During an eight month period of time she traveled around the world, and learned how inspiring it can be to discover and know other cultures, and how small the world really is.  

DFC offers many challenges and opportunities to grow.  She has new friends who share the same passions for helping Superheroes create a better world.  To gain all of these things, she has had to work hard.    

“Reaching out to many schools so that we can get a minimum number of projects has not been easy, but we have worked hard.  It has been a constant learning process.  “

I asked Maria about the rewards and specific learnings.

“In Colombia we are inspired learners now.  We are inspired by the children who are changing the world through DFC.  Every year we have learned something new.  There have been learnings about the projects, the calendar and timeline, and about our website and internet efforts.”

These days, Maria’s smile is a little brighter.  When asked about the future, she says, “I want to be a happy person, and do what makes me feel fulfilled professionally and personally.”  No doubt, both Maria and DFC can look forward to a bright future.


Maria currently resides in Bogota, Colombia, and was born there. She is a lawyer with a Master in Human Rights.  Her legal studies began at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.  Maria then studied  her Masters in Human Rights in Madrid, Spain, at the Carlos III University.  While in Madrid, Spain she traveled extensively in the area. 

Maria has broad international experience across several organizations including the International Organization for Migrations, the International Red Cross in Spain and the International Toledo Center for Peace.

This year’s conference, the 2014 Be the Change Conference was her first.