Aurora Izquierdo was one of the first women of her generation to leave the indigenous Arhuaco community of Santa Marta in pursuit of a higher education.
While studying agricultural engineering at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Aurora considered how to turn coffee into a source of value for the indigenous farming communities of La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Serranía del Perijá. Her goals were to address cultural recognition, food scarcity, a poor education system and indigenous and rural economic crises—while also considering the preservation of forests, rivers and fauna.
After graduating, she returned to her community and created a sustainable agriculture program that has since dramatically improved the quality of life in the area. Today, as director of the Association of Indigenous Agroecology Producers (ANEI), she has earned an award from the governor of the department of Cesar for leadership, service, management and commitment to the most vulnerable communities, and she has been recognized by the United Nations World Food Programme for empowering women in indigenous communities.