Maria Paula Zapata

Associate Director, Education Programs

Maria Paula is never really sure about what to say when people ask her how long she’s been working for Conexión Américas. She started as a volunteer and intern before officially joining the team in 2015 as the Family Engagement Manager.  As the Associate Director of Education Programs, Maria Paula now oversees the implementation and success of our programs supporting school success, from helping parents navigate the school system to middle school and high school education and college access programs, Maria Paula holds the team together to make sure we are setting Latino and immigrant students up for success all the way through their secondary education and career path.

Born in Colombia, Maria moved to New Jersey in 1999 and then to Nashville in 2014 to pursue her Masters of Education in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies.

Her role at Conexión Américas means justice to Maria Paula. She feels like she is coming full circle and giving back for all the sacrifices her own parents made when they immigrated to give her educational opportunities.

Her parents offered endless support as best as they could, without knowing the school system. Helping other parents as they do that for their children feels very fulfilling to Maria Paula.

She loves that at Conexión Américas she has found a place that values her culture, language and passion for educating and encouraging Latino parents to empower themselves, their children, and their community.

At home, Maria Paula is able to eat a super-human amount of her mom’s empanadas, who makes them extra-small so that she can eat up to 15 at a time.