Lorena Ibarra is the Colombia country coordinator for the Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s (GHAI’s) Obesity Prevention Program.

What has been the most rewarding part of your work on GHAI’s Obesity Prevention Program?

Working as the in-country coordinator has allowed me to promote policies that address some of the most pressing social determinants of health. It has also given me the ability to strengthen my coalition-building skills. I work closely with partners on a shared advocacy strategy to achieve policy change that is creating healthier environments.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Building partnerships among independent and strong organizations to achieve a common policy and advocacy goal is the most rewarding part of my job. It can also be the most challenging. Once the partnerships are in place, the challenge shifts to working together to develop and implement an advocacy strategy in the face of corporate opposition.

What is the biggest success you’ve experienced during your time with GHAI?

My biggest success has been helping local partners build their capacity to conduct advocacy and overcome obstacles.  Through teamwork, we’ve also pushed forward a policy agenda—healthy food policy—that is now shaping the national public conversation.

What is something you like about working with local partner organizations?

I have had the honor of experiencing the power of partnerships when expertise, knowledge, conviction and collaboration come together.  Each of our eight Colombian partners brings strengths and weaknesses that complement each other in a battle that will always be a David vs. Goliath fight against a well-funded industry.  We’ve all recognized that cooperation and strategic teamwork advances social and policy change.

What has made this partnership effective?

Working with multiple local partners has required recognizing the value each of them brings to the advocacy strategy, and determining how their individual strengths can complete the puzzle of achieving policy change. We have established common objectives and goals that allow us to identify and assess critical moments and coordinate our response throughout the process of policy development and implementation.

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