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about us


Genesis Foundation seeks to create a more inclusive society for Colombian children by improving the quality of their education. We enhance programs that provide children in vulnerable life situations with better opportunities to develop and succeed.


Our vision is to empower children who have the skills to pursue their dream.

Genesis Foundation was founded in the United States bya group of Colombian business leaders who believed in giving back to the communities where they have lived and worked. It stated its investment history with one donation of $10,000 focusing on projects in Colombia and with Hispanic communities in the United States, that favored education and health.


Genesis Foundation was founded in the United States by  a group of Colombian business leaders who believed in giving back to the communities where they have lived and worked. It stated its investment history with one donation of US $10,000 focusing on projects in Colombia and Hispanic communities in the United States, that favored education and health.

Genesis’ grant making role expanded in 2005 with the opening an office in Bogotá, Colombia and by becoming actively involved with its grantees. Thus besides providing economic resources Genesis began to assist the organizations with much needed technical support with the purpose of strengthening their functioning and their project results. In 2009 it was legally constituted in Colombia to facilitate local fundraising activities and the creation of alliances with the public and private sectors in the country. Following this, Genesis began to focus solely in quality education projects investing only in Colombia.

In 2010 we built a portfolio of educational programs and partnered with trustworthy local organizations to replicate these models nationwide. We support the operating organizations by giving technical assistance, providing funds, monitoring the investments and evaluating results. Our funds come from the support of our founders and donors that believe in our work. We have developed strong alliances with both the public and private sectors to leverage resources and increase the impact of all of our investments


Jaime Bermudez - Chair of the Board

Jaime Bermudez was counselor to the Office of the President of Colombia (1991-1993) and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (1993-1994). During this last term, he was coordinator for both the Bilateral Commission with Venezuela and for the publishing of the book “Colombia-Venezuela, a new bilateral scheme”. He was United Nations observer for the presidential elections in South Africa and appointed Executive Director of CIMA (marketing research company for Latin America). After finishing his Ph.D., he became partner of Dattis, a private consultancy firm in communication strategies public affairs, and crisis management. From 1999, he was the Communications Advisor for the presidential campaign of Alvaro Uribe Vélez (2002), and was later appointed as Communication Counselor to the Office of the President. He was member of the Proexport Board, in charge of promoting exports and investment in Colombia, as well as a member of the Board for the Colombian Branding Campaign project, “Colombia is Passion”. He served as Colombian Ambassador to Argentina (2006-2008) and was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2008 until August 2010. Bermúdez is currently the President of MBA-Lazard, an investment bank in Colombia. He is member of the board of Suramericana de Inversiones, Tecnoquimicas and Universidad de los Andes. He has a Law Degree from Universidad de los Andes (Colombia) and PH.D. in Politics from Oxford University (England), specialized in public opinion.

Susan Mayer, Treasurer

Susan Mayer is native from Colombia and has a wide range of experience managing operational and financial processes for businesses that range from resort communities to private investors. In addition, she has a background working with international organizations that include the Colombian government. Mayer currently lives in New York City and acts as an independent consultant in diverse areas to both individuals and companies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bio Chemistry from Northwestern University and an MBA in Finance and Management of Operations from Columbia University.


Herbert Selzer, Secretary

Herbert Selzer is an Attorney with vast experience in Corporate, International Estate Planning, Tax, Trust and Estates and Wealth Management Law.  Selzer represents foreign based multi-national corporations in connection with EXIM bank financing, license agreements, sales and acquisitions of jet aircraft, sale, and leaseback financing. In addition, Selzer serves as a trustee of numerous non-U.S. and U.S. trusts, provides counseling to Swiss-based private banks and directs the Bermuda-based hedge fund and fund of funds. Selzer holds a B.S in Economics from Brooklyn College, a J.D from George Washington University National Law Center, where he graduated with honors, and an L.L.M. from NYU School of Law. 


Carolina Esquenazi-Shaio

Carolina Esquenazi-Shaio is a principal at Compass Global Investments, a family office with business and financial interests worldwide. She directs financial investments and oversees various industrial and real estate ventures. Between 2001 and 2008, Esquenazi was the Executive Director and President of the Genesis Foundation, Inc. The foundation was established as a 501(c)3 organization in 2001 under Esquenazi’s leadership. She started her career as a print journalist in Colombia, covering foreign affairs and reporting mainly from Venezuela and the Middle East. Upon moving to New York, she continued her career in journalism, expanding it to radio broadcasting. She also worked in various Middle Eastern policy initiatives at the Council on Foreign Relations. Esquenazi has a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Sociology and Government; Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Affairs from Columbia University, and an MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business. 


Juan Carlos Garcia Cañizares

Mr. García is an investment banker with a track record of executing in excess of US$18 billion in M&A and acquisition financing.  García is based in New York, and is member of the Board of Directors of Bavaria, S.A., Valorem, S.A., (Colombia), Backus and Johnson S.A. (Peru), Genesis Foundation and attends the Board of BTG Pactual (Brazil). Prior to his responsibilities in Quadrant Capital, García was Vice President, Planning for Bavaria and before Senior Partner and Co-founder of Estrategias Corporativas, S.A., a leading Latin American-based strategic and M&A advisory firm. Garcia holds a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from Universidad Javeriana in Colombia and an MBA jointly granted by NYU Stern School of Business, London School of Economics and HEC Paris.


Andrea Lawson Gertsacov

Andrea Lawson started her career as a Management Consultant and provided strategic advice to nonprofits and businesses in Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and the U.S. She served as Chief of Staff of the Mayor of Bogotá, directed the United Nations Project for the city of Bogotá, and upon moving to NY, was a senior consultant at the Whelan Group, where she advised non-profits on financial and fundraising issues.. Lawson joined Genesis Foundation in 2006 as the Development Director and two years later became the Executive Director of the Foundation in the U.S. She is currently a Board Member of Genesis Foundation and lives in Bogotá, Colombia.  Lawson holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. 

Cristina Gutierrez de Piñeres

As Genesis Foundation’s Executive Director, Cristina is responsible for general management, program execution, Board relations and day-to-day operations. Cristina opened the office in Colombia in 2005, and since then has remained committed to supporting the foundation’s successful growth. Before Genesis, she worked as a clinical psychologist in Colombia and New York City, working specifically with vulnerable children and their families. Cristina has also worked with UNICEF in Colombia as a Program Assistant for the Humanitarian Action Department, overseeing programs for displaced and demobilized children. Cristina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.



Edmundo Esquenazi (RIP)

Edmundo Esquenazi is a leading Colombian industrialist, international investor and philanthropist. Esquenazi was a pioneer in the plastics and petrochemicals industry in Colombia, having founded Inversiones Sanford, and its precursor companies Pavco, Petroquímica and others.  In addition, Esquenazi has been active in the financial markets for over 30 years. He has devoted much time and resources to philanthropic causes, particularly focused on the health and education arenas. He is a founder of Genesis Foundation. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Fundación Neumológica Colombiana and on various Boards of industrial companies.  Esquenazi obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), graduating Valedictorian of his class.


Jimmy Mayer

For over 30 years, Jimmy Mayer has been a leading Colombian manufacturing entrepreneur, breaking ground particularly in the industries of plastics and petrochemicals. In one of his first ventures, he and partners launched Pavco S.A., which manufactured vinyl flooring and other related products. Additionally, together with Edmundo Esquenazi, Mayer founded a holding company, Inversiones Sanford S.A., which grew to have controlling interest in 16 different manufacturing enterprises. After seeing Inversiones Sanford S.A. through this growth, he left the company to take on new ventures. He remains involved with the company as a member both of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. He continues to hold a personal interest in the organization, while also actively investing in other ventures. He also serves as a Board Member in a wide range of manufacturing companies. From 1996 to 2003 Mayer served on the Board of Directors of Instituto de Fomento Industrial (IFI) as a direct representative of the President of Colombia. Mayer is also engaged in many philanthropic causes and is especially dedicated to education, science, and health efforts. In 1958 Mayer received his BSc degree in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


Antonio Puerto

Antonio Puerto is a leading business leader in Colombia and a philanthropist. Puerto’s experience as a Member of Board of Director includes companies such as, Sanford S.A, the fourth Largest Industrial Conglomerate in Colombia; Publicaciones Semana, the largest National Political & Economic Magazine; Bavaria, the largest Colombian Brewery Company; Banco de Colombia, one of Colombia´s principal commercial Banks and Banco de la República, the Federal Reserve Bank of Colombia. In addition, Puerto is the Chairman and President of Automundial S.A and Hosa Group. He is also the Chairman of Fundación Antonio Puerto, a family private foundation, Chairman of Board of Trustees of Fundación Cardio Infantil, a children’s heart hospital, and Vice President of the Board of Fundación Natura, among other Foundations. Furthermore, Puerto was the first Ambassador of Colombia to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. Antonio Puerto holds a B.S in Economics from University of Virginia.

Our team

Cristina Gutiérrez de Piñeres - Executive Director

As the Foundation’s Executive Director, Cristina is responsible for general management, program execution, Board relations and day-to-day operations in Colombia. Cristina opened the office in Colombia in 2005, and since then has remained committed to supporting the foundation’s successful growth. Before Genesis, she worked as a clinical psychologist in Colombia and New York City, working specifically with vulnerable children and their families. Cristina has also worked with UNICEF in Colombia as a Program Assistant for the Humanitarian Action Department, overseeing programs for displaced and demobilized children. Cristina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University as well as a Master Degree in  "Necesidades, Derechos y Cooperación al Desarrollo en Infancia” from the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid.


Phone: (+1) 212-421 1149 /   (+571) 542-9171

Claudia Giardinella - Director of Development & Fundraising

Claudia is in charge of developing and maintaining all donor relationships and fundraising activities, both in Colombia and the United States. She works to develop fundraising and communications strategies to attract financial contributions, talent and other resources from individuals, the media, charitable foundations and the government.  Claudia received a degree in Broadcast Journalism and International Studies at University of Miami.  She first became involved with the Genesis Foundation while being the Director of the fundraising initiative BeLive.  Claudia joined Genesis full time in 2011 as the Director of Development & Fundraising.


Phone: (+1) 786-423 6770


 Natalia Henao - Project Manager

Natalia is Project Manager at Genesis. She is responsible for the evaluation and monitoring of projects, as well as for creating partnerships with both public and private organizations. She has led education initiatives for the past 6 years both with the private and public sectors. Natalia worked with the Ministry of Education in the implementation of a system that aims at improving the quality of education in all the certified Secretaries of Education in Colombia. She also coordinated a new bilingual project called “Medellín City”, an initiative to improve education of the city. With the private sector, Natalia worked with Corpoeducación and Fundación Forjando Futuros helping them with the implementation of projects, proposals, presentations and communications in general. She has a Master´s degree in Latin American Studies from Salamanca University, Spain; and a double Specialization in Cooperation and Project Management from Universidad Externado de Bogotá in partnership with Columbia University in New York. 


Phone: (+571) 542- 9171


 Karin Kramer - Project Manager

As a Project manager, Karin is responsible of monitoring and evaluating foundation´s portfolio of projects. She also works to help manage relationships and networks among donors, grantees and partners, and provides general assistance to the daily operation of the Foundation in Colombia. Karin holds a Masters Degree on International Cooperation for Development from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, and 8 years of professional experience in this area. Karin has worked in Proyect coordination area with the German Agency for international Cooperation (GIZ), the Servei Civil Internacional de Catalunya (SCI) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). She has also worked with Colombian Public Sector, managing relationship with United Nations from the Presidencial Agency for International Cooperation (APC-Colombia). Karin holds a bachelor degree in International affairs from Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá.


 Phone: (+571) 542- 9171


Carolina Uribe - Project Manager

Carolina has been working for more than ten years in different areas of education. As a teacher, in different stages, exploring alternative ways of teaching and learning of language, thinking processes and literary creativity. And more recently in the implementation of educational programs. In Fundación Compartir, where she was part of the team of Premio Compartir al Maestro y al Rector, which selects significant experiences all around the country that are successful in the way children learn and in the search of principals that have excellent results in their institutions. Then she worked for the Ministry of Education in constructing one of the most ambitious programs of this administration: the full time schedule. She has a masters degree in Journalism, in English Literature and in Pedagogy all of them in the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She holds a Bacherlor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Literature from Universidad del los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.


Phone: (+571) 542- 9171

Phone: (+571) 542- 9171


Patricia Trujillo - Administrative Manager (Colombia)

Patricia Trujillo Rivera, currently is the Administrative and Finance Coordinator in Genesis Foundation, where she is responsible of the follow up and execution of the financial part of the projects and the foundation, everything with the goal to contribute with her knowledge and professional abilities to the achievement of corporate objectives. She has worked over the last ten years in public and private sectors. From the National Education Minister in the Early Age Program, the pilot project of Education for the Exercise of Human Rights and the Bilingual Program, spaces where she was the responsible of managing the budget and reservations of the project, monitor the tracking of the activities' indicator of the SSP of the Project Server and other applications of the entity and accompany in the development of local routes of articulation with National Education Administrations. She also was the Inventory Administrator Assistant for the CERLALC - network of Public Libraries in Bogotá.  


Phone: (+571) 542- 9171

Jennifer Gerbereux - Administrative Manager (USA)

Based in New York, Jennifer is in charge of the bookkeeping department at Genesis Foundation.  Since 2008, Jennifer has maintained the books for Genesis with duties including general ledger maintenance, production of monthly financial statements, budgeting, account reconciliations, and payroll services. She also works closely with the Genesis accountants, assisting in the production of audited financial statements and tax returns.  Jennifer has worked in the accounting field for 10+ years. Having begun her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Jennifer transitioned into the private sector, utilizing her expertise in the accounting department of several companies before joining the Genesis team.  Jennifer earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting from Monmouth University.

Email: <>

Phone: (+1) 212-421 1933


Events & awards


2007-2012: BeLive Colombia

Genesis Foundation along with Give to Colombia, Formula Smiles and ArtNexus Foundation hosted one of the most recognized fundraising events in South Florida to raise funds to support Education, Health and Economic Development in Colombia. BeLive raised over $4 million dollars in donations with the support of over 100 corporate sponsors, 3,000 attendees and the support of international media outlets.

 2010-2014 ING Miami Marathon - Colombian Team

 For four consecutive years a group of supporters ran the Miami Marathon to raise funds for Genesis Projects. Genesis Foundation was the only Colombian Charity participating in the marathon during those years.


 Genesis Foundation and Dar por Colombia joined efforts to host a Poker Tournament in Bogotá to raise funds for both organizations.

 2013- Toca Colombia

 Genesis Foundation supported the first concert of the Colombian Youth Philharmonic that took place in the magnificent New Word Center in Miami Beach. Over 700 guest enjoyed a fabulous concert of some of the most talented young musicians of Colombia.


 Genesis Foundation got an honor award by Fundación Alejandro Ángel Escobar in Colombia.

 2014 & 2015 Walking for Water Bogotá 

As part of the international initiative lead by the United Nations to commemorate World Water Day, Genesis Foundation and the Council of International Schools in Bogotá have hosted, for two consecutive years, Walking for Water. Hundreds of private school students have walked carrying water in honor of millions of children worldwide from vulnerable rural communities that walk daily in order to have access to clean water. This walk raised funds to support Genesis programs. 


Genesis Foundation was invited by the Qatar Foundation to share its experience on early childhood education and participate in the debate: How Do We Best Prepare the Youngest Ones For School and Life? at the WORLD INNOVATION SUMMIT FOR EDUCATION (WISE) that took place in Doha.