Earlier this year, citizens of Botogá elected Claudia López as their first female and openly LGBTQ mayor. Mayor López is, in turn, increasing LGBTI representation in her office, naming Deysi Johana Olarte Navarro as her Deputy Director of LGBTI Affairs and Blanca Durán as her Director of the Institute of Recreation and Sports. Both Navarro and Durán attended Victory Institute’s 4th LGBTI Political Leaders in the Americas Conference.

In 2013, both of these leaders joined Victory Institute and Colombian local partner Caribe Afirmativo for training sessions where they studied conflict resolution, advocacy campaigns, and promotion of human rights mechanisms, among many other topics. Localized international trainings Victory Institute collaborates on, like those in Colombia, enable leaders to increase LGBTI representation in their governments and communities. Victory Institute develops leaders’ skills necessary for political and advocacy success, enabling them to work for LGBTI rights and equality throughout the world.

Navarro’s dedication to LGBTI activism both brought her to Victory Institute and prepared her for her new position. Before her appointment in Mayor López’s office, Navarro worked to bring LGBTI public policy into the mainstream and coordinated the Center for Comprehensive Attention to Sexual and Gender Diversity’s Central Zone. She has since represented the local transgender community in political and advocacy spaces in Botogá. As Director of LGBTI Affairs, Navarro will continue advocating for the rights and equality of Botogá’s LGBTQ community.

Durán shares a similar powerful political history. From 2008 to 2012, she served as the mayor of Chapinero, a district within Botogá. During her time as mayor, Durán worked on over 200 development projects, including initiatives for women and LGBTQ entrepreneurs. After leaving office, she acted as a manager, director, and adviser in various local government departments. She currently advises Public Space Control and Police Code in the Mayor’s Office of Ibagué, capital of the Tolima department in Colombia. Durán, as Director of the District Institute of Recreation and Sports, will incorporate defense of LGBTI rights while promoting the participation of women in sports. She will aim to fight against gender-based violence and to make the sports industry a point of economic strength for the nation’s capital.

Appointees, Current Events, International