By Joey Amato
Conexión Américas announced today that Juliana Ospina Cano will lead the organization as its new executive director beginning July 8, 2019. Ospina Cano succeeds Renata Soto, who co-founded Conexión Américas 17 years ago and is stepping down at the end of May.
“Juliana is the ideal leader for Conexión Américas’ next chapter,” said Board President Terry Maroney. “She brings with her a sharp mind honed by her doctoral studies, an empathetic heart grounded in her own immigrant experience, and deep knowledge of Nashville, the state and Conexión Américas. Her combination of vision, skill, work ethic and history with this organization will be invaluable resources for our community.”
A former staff member, Ospina Cano was part of Conexión Américas’ highly successful family engagement program, which empowers parents to reclaim their role as their children’s most important teacher. While in Nashville, Ospina Cano also worked at Metropolitan Nashville Public School’s Office of English Learners and served as STEM Preparatory Academy’s founding director of family and community engagement.
“It is with great excitement that I come home to Nashville,” said Ospina Cano. “I look forward to re-joining an organization that views economic, civic and social integration as the vehicle to equip, inspire and mobilize immigrant families to fulfill their potential while celebrating their roots. My commitment to these values has been the compass guiding my professional and personal journey. I look forward to honoring Renata’s unparalleled legacy and serving the Tennessee community alongside Conexión Américas’ team, Board of Directors and partners.”
She returns to Nashville after working the last five years in Washington, D.C. as the Associate Director of Education for UnidosUS, the largest Latino advocacy and civil rights organization in the U.S., of which Conexión Américas is an affiliate. There, she spearheaded national programs and influenced policies that championed the needs of Latino youth.
“I’m thrilled with the Board of Directors’ choice to bring Juliana back to Nashville — and to Conexión Américas,” said Renata Soto, co-founder and outgoing executive director. “I distinctly remember the day I met her when she volunteered at one of our Saturday family events at Glencliff High School. Her enthusiasm, passion and intellect left an indelible mark not only on me, but also on our family engagement program. Having moved to the U.S. from Colombia with her parents at the age of 15, Juliana’s own story embodies the promise of the American dream. I cannot think of a more inspiring and qualified leader to lead my beloved Conexión Américas and our community forward.”
Ospina Cano holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from Kennesaw State University, and a Master of Science in Urban Education from Johns Hopkins University, where she is also finishing a Doctorate in Education. Her dissertation focuses on the academic outcomes and socioemotional development of immigrant youth.