Meet the Fellows-ICFJ Professional Fellows from Latin America, Spring 2017

Name: Ximena Cordon

Country: Nicaragua
Organization and Position: Communications Director, Madre Consulting - I’m in charge of directing and developing integrated online and offline communications strategies for local and international clients.

Favorite digital tool: Simple, yet essential: Google Docs. I love it because of the ease of collaboration it provides when it comes to content creation.
Project Proposal:To guide and educate the growing tourism and expat community of Nicaragua in the country’s culinary and cultural offerings.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: Growing a client’s (Joya de Nicaragua) traffic and social media presence by 30% purely by publishing organic content because of the limitations of the industry.
Twitter handle: @ximenacordon


Name: Darling Molina Alvarez

Country: Nicaragua
Organization and Position: Digital Communications Officer at Casa Pellas Group: I am in charge of the coordination and planning of digital media strategy for brands of the group and proper execution of digital marketing campaigns online and on social media channels.
Favorite digital tool and why: Facebook. Has no rival to engage, and it gives us the power of segmentation and delivers hard data for digital marketing.
Project Proposal: Create an online community on Facebook and Youtube, this will be a space to promote good practices of digital communication for social change, spread digital culture and citizenship, because we can all can be agents of change with one click at a time, from a human rights perspective and with gender equity.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: I’m proud to be part of one the best places to work in Nicaragua and in the region, Grupo Casa Pellas. And very happy to be awarded as the most innovative collaborator in 2015 and 2016 for providing ideas to improve business.
Twitter handle: @dmolina505


Name: Ana Siu

Country: Nicaragua
Organization and Position: I'm currently working on digital advertising strategies for different brands at Boombit Studio. I'm also doing inbound marketing and creating specialized content offers, as well as running the company’s blog.
Favorite digital tool and why: My favorite digital tool is Wordpress, because it allows you to personalize your web design without prior knowledge of web programming and it also lets you optimize your content. It’s a very accessible and easy to use tool that allows you to achieve complex goals in the digital world.
Project Proposal: Create a new digital media organization that brings a fresh approach to topics not typically covered in a young oriented manner, such as gender, public policy and lifestyle.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: My proudest professional accomplishment was being able to get into the advertising world coming from a journalism background, and being capable to stand out in the field with only 2 years of experience. Because of this, I have traveled to different countries and learned from talented professionals in the field, which caused me to win my first advertising prize.
Twitter handle and/or online portfolio: @anagsiu


Name: Carlos Fontecha

Country: Honduras
Organization and Position: Acklen Avenue; Product Owner; I help build websites, mobile, and desktop applications through software product management.
Favorite digital tool and why: Trello. It helps me organize my personal and professional life in a very easy way.
Project Proposal: Create a website that works as a multimedia archive on which you can find information about unknown/non-popular tourism destinations in Honduras (photos, videos, maps, etc.).
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: I won 12th place for Honduras Startup 2016 (out of 500 projects that competed) with mobile app called Marco Polo (
Twitter handle: @cfontecha_


Name: Andrea Paola Alvarez Ordoñez

Country: Honduras
Organization and Position: Community Manager and Public Relations of the Chamber of Commerce. I update websites for my organization as well as social media: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and others social media platforms.
Favorite digital tool and why: Cellphone. I do everything from it.
Project Proposal: Bring hope for those entrepreneural woman who depend on their every day work at their homes and with little resources.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: Exclusive interviews and generating millions of views via audience engagement at the newspaper where I used to work.
Twitter handle: @Apaol


Name: Francisco Rubén Rodríguez de León

Country: Guatemala
Organization and Position: I'm part of the investigative team at elPeriódico, we focus on corruption cases from present and the last goverment administration.
Favorite digital tool: X-mind, great tool to make maps for an investigation.
Project Proposal: Implement a rentable business model of journalism based in well told stories and non-harassing advertising, to finance investigative journalistic reports and long term chronicles.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: Winner of the first place of the National Journalism Award in the investigation category (2014).
Twitter handle: @franciscordl


Name: Rudy Giron

Country: Guatemala
Organization: I am the photographer, editor and publisher of a blog about Antigua, Guatemala and the country of Guatemala. With nearly 4,000 webpages of multimedia content in English, this website is the largest resource in English about Guatemala. Since May 1, 2006 is updated daily with photo notes, videos and slide shows. Additionally, I am the publisher and editor for the blogs and Furthermore, I also own and update one of the oldest personal blogs in Guatemala.
Favorite digital tool: My favourite digital tool is Wordpress because is robust and flexible enough to allow the deployment of websites in a short time. The power to use photography, video and text to tell stories in an economical and efficient way through the platform of Wordpress is incredible.
Project Proposal: I would like to launch a digital news media enterprise focused on positive little known travel and touristic projects developed by cooperatives and social organizations in Guatemala and Central America. This digital media entrepreneurial project must be larger than anything I have done until now, with writers and photographers hired to promote the hidden treasures and little known travel destinations of Guatemala and the Central America. Inspired by the concept of the 36 Hours section of the NYTimes. Sort of what to do when you’ve got 36 hours [a weekend] to get to know a destination. At the same time, through this website, I wish to cast a spotlight on interesting community projects by little known associations/destinations such a Rio Negro in Chixoy, Guatemala.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: I feel most proud to have turned my passion for photography and teaching in to the second most popular activity to do in Antigua, Guatemala in less than a year. I feel extremely proud to have had the opportunity to influence and teach photography to over 4,000 photography enthusiasts and photographers from all over the world. Lastly, I feel quite proud about my photo gallery about street portraits of strangers at
Twitter handle and/or online portfolio: @rudygiron, @antiguadp and


Name: Priscila Brito Marcelino

Country: Brazil
Organization and Position: I am the co-founder and editor-in-chief at Festivalando. I am responsble for content strategy development, business and technical management and writing. Favorite digital tool: Wordpress. It is a powerful tool that enables anyone to become a publisher and can be tailored accordingly to your needs and interests thanks to millions of plugins.
Project Proposal: Build a resource and learning guide for Brazilian journalists who want to fund and grow sustainable digital media businesses on their own. The project aims at developing the entrepreneurial mindset in Brazilian journalists and becoming a relevant educational source for digital media business.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: Starting up my own media project from zero, in partnership with my former college mate, now a business partner. Festivalando, an entertainment website about music tourism and music festivals, a pioneer for its niche in Brazil. In our first two years, we partnered with relevant players in music industry, such as Spotify, Lollapalooza and MTV.
Twitter handle and/or online portfolio:


Name: Paula Soprana

Country: Brazil
Organization and Position: I am a tech journalist from ÉPOCA Magazine, a media organization focused on politics and economy.
Favorite digital tool: I am a Twitter fan because I can separate the information by different lists of interests and it is the major platform I use to be informed.
Project Proposal: To create a database with "terms of use" of popular applications. These documents are usually extensive and use legal vocabulary. My idea is to translate these texts into something easier for tech news coverage and maybe in the future turn into a popular application (like a "privacy app" where users have the possibility to know how big companies are using their personal data).
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: I am proud of some articles I've written related to digital rights and their positive effects. I also enjoy to be challenged to write about issues that I am not used to covering and to interview people that I admire (like Philippe Petit, the man who walked between the World Trade Center, and Ben Wizner, Edward Snowden’s lawyer).
Twitter handle: @paulasoprana


Name: Daniela Abella Afanador

Country: Colombia
Organization and Position: I am an investigative journalist and editor of “Project Bureaucrats” at Xue Colombia. My job as an investigative journalist and editor consists in developing a research methodologies to capture information involving public money. As a researcher and journalist, together with my team our task is to find a way to track a government data and visualize it. In addition we are community managers, therefore we design the media plans for Twitter and generate content for social networks.
Favorite digital tool: In terms of data cleaning and visualization, my preferences are Excel and Tableu Public. I use Excel to track my changes, apply filters and make basic graphics and analysis. To make a highly informed decision about a dataset, Tableu Public is a great tool for exploring and visualization. It helps you improve the ability to find information hiding in data. I think this combined approach allows you to have a visual basic script of the data and look for a story.
Project Proposal: The purpose of ‘Project Bureaucrats’ is to establish an analysis of a budget cycle in which it is possible to trace the behavior of the execution of resources at national and territorial level in Colombia. We will do this through civic technology to pursue our aim of improving citizen participation in a democratic system. The tool we want to develop involves three steps, first a database with budget information; second, a research methodology, to capture, collect and systematize data; and third, create dynamic visualizations with the collected information so we can tell a great story.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: I have several notable accomplishments in both my education and my work experience. Probably the most notable accomplishment was interviewing Natalia Ponce de León during my internship this past summer at Semana Magazine. Natalia is a Colombian acid attack victim who had her face burned off by an obsessive stalker. Thanks to her work and personal experience she managed to successfully fight for a law, targeting perpetrators of this kind of crime. The new law was named after her and resembles the power of resilience and the type of stories readers can relate and invest emotionally.
Full story here:
Twitter handle: @abelladani


Name: Juan Pablo Marín Díaz

Country: Colombia
Organization and Position: Random Monkey - Founder and Data Scientist. I create data driven applications and tools for journalists using data science. We also create custom applications for decision making in different industries.
Favorite digital tool: R programming language. I love it because it is very versatile. One can work in the whole spectrum of extracting knowledge from data. From scrappers to beautiful visualizations.
Project Proposal: My project is Datasketch, a Data driven news site for Latin America featuring tools for Data Journalists to improve their workflow. The aim of the news site is to contrast realities with data so readers can have an informed opinion of different topics, additionally Datasketch features access to open data, open visualization tools for non-coders, a visualization recommendation engine, and a search engine to get inspiration on data stories by topic and information about related newsrooms and journalists.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: I am very proud of quitting corporate life and becoming an entrepreneur. I am very proud of failing (twice already) while trying to start and consolidate businesses in Colombia, Chile and Brazil. I am very proud of moving forward without giving up on my quest to complement human intuition with data driven tools to make smarter decisions.
Twitter handle: @jpmarindiaz


Name: Dánae Vílchez

Country: Nicaragua
Organization and Position: I have worked in Confidencial and Esta Semana for almost 4 years. I usually cover human rights issues, social movements and cultural topics. I write and produce video content for the Esta Semana TV show as well.
Favorite digital tool: Wordpress. I like how easy it is to create a story, using different formats like video and images. I also like that it’s accessible for everyone, not only for web developers.
Project Proposal: I want to learn how to create multimedia stories, and use this knowledge to report news on human rights issues.
Proudest Professional Accomplishment: I have done several stories which I believe have had a relevant impact on the Nicaraguan public opinion (judging by the social media feed and public reactions). One my stories that I am particularly proud of is the one regarding the Haitian and African immigrants on the Nicaragua/Costa Rican border.
Twitter handle and/or online portfolio: @danaevilchez

This is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government, administered by ICFJ.