OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Carolina Esquenazi-Shaio, President
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, Ms. Esquenazi was the Executive Director and President of the Genesis Foundation, Inc. The foundation was established as a 501©3 organization in 2001 under Ms. Esquenazi’s leadership. Ms. Esquenazi 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. Ms. 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.
Susan Mayer, Treasurer
Ms. 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. Ms. Mayer currently lives in New York City and acts as an independent consultant in diverse areas to both individuals and companies. Susie Mayer 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
Mr. Selzer is an Attorney with vast experience in Corporate, International Estate Planning, Tax, Trust and Estates and Wealth Management Law. Mr. 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, Mr. 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. Mr. 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.
Juan Carlos Garcia Cañizares
Mr. Garcia is an investment banker with a track record of executing in excess of US$18 billion in M&A and acquisition financing. Mr. Garcia is based in New York, and is member of the Board of Directors of Bavaria, S.A., Valorem, S.A., (Colombia), Backus and Jonhson S.A. (Peru), Genesis Foundation and attends the Board of BTG Pactual (Brazil). Prior to his responsibilities in Quadrant Capital, Mr. Garcia 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. Mr. 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
Ms. 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. Ms. 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. Ms. Lawson is currently a Board Member of Genesis Foundation and lives in Bogotá, Colombia. Ms. 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.
Mr. 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, and 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.
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 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.
Edmundo Esquenazi is a leading Colombian industrialist, international investor and philanthropist. Mr. 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, Mr. 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. Mr Esquenazi obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), graduating Valedictorian of his class.
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 Mr. Edmundo Esquenazi, Mr. 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 Mr. Mayer served on the Board of Directors of Instituto de Fomento Industrial (IFI) as a direct representative of the President of Colombia. Mr. Mayer is also engaged in many philanthropic causes and is especially dedicated to education, science, and health efforts. In 1958 Mr. Mayer received his BSc degree in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr. Antonio Puerto is a leading business leader in Colombia and a philantropist. Mr. Puerto’s experience as a Member or 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 Colombian largest Brewery Company; Banco de Colombia, one of Colombia´s principal commercial Banks and Banco de la Republica, the Federal Reserve Bank of Colombia. In addition, Mr. Puerto is the Chairman and President of Automundial S.A and Hosa Group. Mr. Puerto 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, Mr. Puerto was the first Ambassador of Colombia to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. Mr. Antonio Puerto holds a B.S in Economics from University of Virginia.