Adriana Quiñones is the strategic planning and coordination specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean at UN Women, the United Nations entity that supports the empowerment of women and girls.

From her office in Panama City, Panama, Adriana plans the use of resources, reports program results to donors, and ensures that resources go directly to the women who need them, ensuring that UN Women’s investments have significant impact on women’s everyday lives. She also coordinates UN Women’s work with other UN agencies, working to ensure women’s rights and voices are included when priorities are set. 

“Gender equality and women’s rights are at the center of our development model,” Adriana says. “Advancing women’s rights is an essential piece of world development, peace and security.”  

UN Women programs foster political participation, economic development, and human rights. For example, one initiative in Bolivia, which recently became law, focused on protecting female political candidates from violence. Another program, Adriana says, ensures women have access to credit.  

From 2008 to 2012, Adriana served as manager of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, where she oversaw a grants portfolio of more than $40 million in 76 countries. She also has worked as a technical advisor for the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean. At the IADB, she developed strategies for women’s economic, social, and political empowerment, focusing on addressing gender-based violence and supporting people living with HIV/AIDS.  

Before coming to Notre Dame, Adriana served as advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia, where she documented human rights violations and addressed the needs of displaced populations.  

Growing up in Colombia, Adriana was affected deeply by the country’s protracted armed conflict and widespread human rights violations, she says. This experience, led her to pursue a master's degree in international peace studies at Notre Dame. She also holds an M.A. degree in international relations from John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. 

“My classmates at Kroc  — from places like Egypt, Turkey, the Congo, and Nepal —had experiences very similar to mine,” she says. “I started to understand how many struggles were universal – and how many of the solutions might have universal components too.” 

Adriana will return to Notre Dame in April 2013 to receive the Kroc Institute’s Distinguished Alumni Award.  

– Renée LaReau, March 2013