Meet our speakers 2023

Speakers Youth program

Sebasitan Cruz


Afro-Colombian youth leader with eleven years of experience working for quality education, youth empowerment, and peacebuilding. A graduate in Social Communication and Journalism from the University of Valle. Former grantee and current coordinator of the Youth Ambassadors Program with YMCA Colombia and Friends of the Americas, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Sebastian has led multiple educational programs for children, youth, and educators with the collaboration of the YMCA, the Ministry of Education, and the U.S. Embassy. He is a Certified Positive Peace Multiplicator by Partners Global, Rotary International, and the Institute for Economics and Peace. Co-facilitated LALA (Latin American Leadership Academy), reaching hundreds of young people across Latin America. Currently, he is coordinating the binational project “Ubuntu: Intercultural Dialogues for Racial Reconciliation” with YMCAs in Colombia and the U.S. Selected in 2021 from among 800 applicants as one of the 130 young leaders who are transforming Colombia in the Laboratory of Adaptive Social Innovation (LISA) by USAID, ACDI/VOCA, Colombia Joven, and the EAN University.

Speakers seniors program

Jerome Sanabria


Jerome is a 17-year-old female political leader. She has been part of the political and social movement PIONEROS since she was 10 years old, where she has been involved in leadership training processes. At 15, she was elected as a Youth Councillor by popular vote and currently serves in that capacity. She is a student of Jurisprudence and History at the University of Rosario, where she also serves as a Student Representative.

She attended school up to the seventh grade at George Williams School of the ACJ. Furthermore, she was a Peace Builder and Student Ombudsman in her new school, receiving recognition for her political and student leadership. She is a woman passionate about politics, soccer, and music. Her dream, which she has
been working towards since she was 10 years old, is becoming Colombia's President.

Daniela Maturana


Political scientist and specialist in political communication from EAFIT University, with diploma studies in Gender Focus, Business Management, Public Relations for Modern Organizations, and Women's Leadership on Boards. An activist, speaker, and consultant in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

She has served as an Executive for Promotion and Event Acquisition at the Greater Medellín Convention & Visitors Bureau. She was a councilwoman in Medellín for the 2016-2019 term and was elected president of this Corporation in 2016.

In 2019, she was awarded the Order of Barlovento in the Grand Knight Degree by the Assembly of Atlántico for being the first Afro-descendant woman to preside over the
Medellín Council. As well as for her contribution to the development of the Afro-descendant population in the country.

She has worked as Deputy Director of Technical Management for Adolescence and Youth at the Colombian Institute of Wellbeing and as Deputy Minister of Sports in the previous government. She worked as a consultant and Director of Inclusive Communication and Pedagogy for the USAID-ACDI/VOCA Ethnic Gathering Program and as Executive Director of the Visible Hands Corporation.

Juanita Bogoya


Juanita, 19 years old, is a feminist and a student in her eighth semester of Law at the University of Los Andes, with a focus on political science, gender, and sexuality. She is a member of the research group in Public Administrative Law at the university, where she has written articles and participated in national and international conferences. She is also a co-author of the article “Women as Builders of Peace: A Struggle for Memory and Dignity.”

She has been a member of the political party Polo Democrático Alternativo since the age of 14, taking on various roles in local and national representation, including being the party coordinator in her locality. Likewise, she has also been the National Coordinator of Polo Joven, (the youth wing of the party) and is now serving on the national board of the party while leading the youth in Bogotá.

Juanita was also part of the transition team for the current president, reviewing processes involving young people carried out by institutions in the country.

In her earlier years, she attended George Williams School and was involved in
volunteering activities with the YMCA.

Panelists general program

Loizza Aquino


Loizza Aquino received her Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Health Sciences from the University of Toronto, with a double major in International Development and Mental Health, a minor in Media Studies and a certificate in Global Development, Environment & Health.

She is an advocate for youth mental health and is dedicated to destigmatizing conversation surrounding mental illness and suicide, especially within marginalized communities. At 15 years old, Loizza founded a non-profit organization to create a safe space for young people to share personal experiences with their mental health. At 18, Loizza became one of the youngest recipients of the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award, and at 19 she received the YMCA Peace Medal in Toronto. This was the beginning of her journey with the YMCA as she later delivered a Keynote at YMCA175 and at YMCAs across Canada and the United States. Throughout the pandemic, Loizza hosted the virtual YMCA Youth-Led Solutions Summit, and delivered Keynotes/workshops to YMCA youth in North America, South America, and Africa. Last year, Loizza delivered a presentation at the 2022 Youth Assembly in New York to talk about how youth have been changing the world using technology. Most recently, Loizza delivered professional development sessions at the YMCA USA General Assembly, and also interviewed the United States Surgeon General.

Carlos Sanvee


Carlos SANVEE (Togo) is Secretary General of the World Alliance of YMCAs. He took up the role in January 2019, having been elected during the 19th YMCA World Council in Chiang Mai, Thailand in July 2018. He is the first African Secretary General of World YMCA.

In his current role, he led the response to the Covid crisis from early 2020 by launching YMCA-wide efforts for Movements to share and help each other, notably launching the YMCA Covid Solidarity Fund. Putting young people at the centre of initiating and leading change, he created the vision for the Youth Led Solutions Initiative, a series of Summits and projects launched in 2021 to empower young people with knowledge, networks and resources to lead change in their communities. He has been at the forefront of developing new partnerships with the public, private and ‘third’ (civil society) sectors, especially with the ‘Big 6’ youth empowerment organisations and the WHO and UN, in launching the Global Youth Mobilization in 2020-2022. Building on the three-part Covid response strategy of ‘Resilience, Recovery and Reimagination’, he spearheaded a Movement-wide process of conversation and consultation which led to the adoption of YMCA Vision 2030 at the 20th YMCA World Council in Aarhus, Denmark in July 2022. The vision puts young people at the centre of the YMCA’s mission, a direction he had promoted across his different roles since 2010.

His priority in his second term of office – from 2022 to 2026 – is to see Vision 2030 implemented across the Movement, addressing the 12 Strategic Goals of the four ‘Pillars of Impact’: Community Wellbeing, Meaningful Work, Sustainable Planet, and Just World. World YMCA’s first duty is to add value to its members.

Carlos Sanvee has been with the YMCA Movement for 50 years.

He joined YMCA Togo as a teenage volunteer in 1973, and became a staff member in 1987 as a youth worker and community organiser. He ultimately became the deputy National General Secretary.

He first joined World YMCA in January 1999 as Executive for Finance & Administration, a position he held until 2007. During this time he was secretary of the-then Youth Committee within the Executive Committee, and strove to integrate young people at all levels of the Committee, and not in separate committees.

He then worked as General Secretary of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs from 2007 until 2018, when he led the African YMCA Movements in articulating their collective identity with a shared vision around the ‘African Renaissance’. In this period he developed the Africa-wide YMCA ‘From Subject to Citizen’ programme.

From 2011 to 2018, he was also acting as a part-time Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the World YMCAs.

He holds a first degree in Physics and Chemistry from Université du Bénin in Togo, and a “Diplôme des Hautes études de pratiques sociales (DHEPS)” from Université Lyon Lumière II, France.

Josué Estrada


Josué Estrada is a leader in strategic operations, social impact, and technology. He currently serves as chief operating officer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, where he manages central operations for the organization while serving as a chief strategic advisor to the co-CEOs and leadership team. He believes technology and philanthropy can partner to more effectively engage communities and bring forward opportunities and resources to those who need it the most.

Previously, Josué served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at, where he oversaw the overall strategy of the organization, go-to-market and sales master plans, enablement programs, corporate development and enterprise projects, as well as partner and alliances success. While at Salesforce, he was the executive sponsor of the Latinx employee resource group, Latinoforce. Josué has held executive roles at a variety of companies, including Gap Inc., DHL, and Procter & Gamble, and has extensive international business experience in Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

Josué holds an MBA in marketing and strategy and speaks five languages. He sits on the Board of Directors of the YMCA of San Francisco and he Chairs the Diversity, Inclusion and Global Engagement Committee. In his free time, he enjoys running, cycling, and exploring his adopted town of San Francisco with his wife and children.

Suzanne McCormick


Suzanne McCormick has served as President and CEO of YMCA of the USA (Y-USA)—the national resource for 2,600 YMCAs across the country—since September 2021. She is the 15th person and first woman to lead Y-USA. Suzanne has 30 years of experience as a local and national executive leader in the nonprofit sector. She served for three years as U.S. President of United Way Worldwide and a member of the organization’s global management team. She also was executive sponsor of United Way’s Women United Global Leadership Council.

She previously spent five years as President and CEO of United Way Suncoast in Tampa, Florida, and 13 years at United Way of Greater Portland in Maine, including four as President and CEO. Suzanne also was CEO for both the American Red Cross of Southern Maine and the People’s Regional Opportunity Program in Maine.

Forbes named Suzanne to its 50 Over 50 list in the Impact category in 2023. The NonProfit Times recognized Suzanne in the Power & Influence Top 50, its annual celebration of the nonprofit sector’s top leaders, in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

She serves on the boards of directors of the National Fitness Foundation and Independent Sector. Suzanne holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Duke University and is an alumna of the Peace Corps.

Eliana Castillo


With a solid experience of 2 years and 7 months in the field of technical consulting for youth reconnection and engagement, and an extensive background in the formulation and monitoring of youth public policies, she is a passionate advocate for the rights and opportunities of young people in Bogotá, Capital District, Colombia. Currently, she leads the youth engagement strategy and coordinates the social inclusion pilot for the employability of youth from the System of Criminal Responsibility for Adolescents in GOYN Bogotá. Her previous experience includes public policy consulting at ACDI/VOCA COLOMBIA and a 5 years and 2 months engagement with the District Secretariat of Social Integration, where she provided technical assistance for the implementation and monitoring of the 2019-2030 Youth Public Policy. Her skills range from drafting strategic documents to project management and public policy analysis. With a deep passion for youth engagement and a track record of leadership in this field, this panelist looks forward to contributing to the enriching panel discussion.

Paola Paternina


Coordinator of the 4th Marketplace of the Industrial Revolution at GOYN Bogota / Corona Foundation. MSc in public policy and administration at LSE with experience in program management and collaborations in the skills and employment sector. I have experience in design and implementation of
programs in the fields of education, labor and sustainable economic development, both in the public and private sector, working in programs of USAID and ACDIVOCA, the Organization of American States, the United Nations and the Colombian Development Bank. I am also a member of the Global Shaper Community, the World Economic Forum’s network of young leaders.

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Event organized by YMCA United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

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