Alejandra Colom leads the Population Council’s activities in Guatemala. She focuses on improving the lives of rural, indigenous adolescent girls through Abriendo Oportunidades, a program that provides the most vulnerable indigenous Mayan girls and young women with personal and professional development skills, mentorship, and leadership opportunities. Her work includes addressing barriers to secondary education among rural adolescent girls. She is also collecting data on lifestyle changes that indigenous populations in Guatemala are making in response to climate change. She coordinates ethnographic fieldwork on these topics with students from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, where she also teaches applied and environmental anthropology.
Before joining the Council in 2010, Colom was associate director of the Rainforest Alliance’s forestry program in Guatemala. She also worked as a consultant in Central Africa for the World Wildlife Fund, Agreco, and other national and international organizations dedicated to conservation, livelihoods, forestry, and sustainable development.
Colom has conducted research in Guatemala, Belize, Benin, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, East Timor, the United States, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was a Fulbright Scholar and holds a BA in cultural anthropology from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, a master’s degree in applied anthropology from the University of Maryland, and a PhD in socio cultural anthropology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.