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Mariana Atencio Featured Peabody Award-winning Journalist, Bestselling Author, Entrepreneur, Inspiring Storyteller, and Host/Moderator

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  • 2019 Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real

Navigating change and uncertainty in life is hard. It’s even harder when you’re not confident about who you are. Coming to America from Venezuela as a young girl, Mariana Atencio felt self-conscious about being different. She recounted her struggles to fit in and adapt to her new life in a TED talk that captured the hearts of tens of millions. Mariana’s message: What makes you different is what makes you special – unleash your potential by embracing your authenticity.

Mariana took that lesson into her journalism career as a national news anchor and network reporter. A born storyteller, Mariana worked to build bridges and understanding – reporting with her unique perspective from all over the globe, earning accolades and a prestigious Peabody Award along the way. Mariana’s bestselling book, Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real, inspires people to leverage their personal and professional authenticity to supercharge their relationships, careers, workplace cultures, and happiness. Mariana continues to pursue stories that capture her curiosity as head of her own media production company. She also elevates the impact of events through her powerful keynotes and skillful moderating, and hosting.

But to start at the beginning,

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Mariana graduated from Merici High School and received a journalism degree from Universidad Católica.

When the government of Hugo Chávez shut down independent media outlets in her home country, she participated in student protests for democracy. After being assaulted in an armed robbery, Mariana left for the United States when she received a full-merit scholarship to Columbia University’s Journalism School and received her master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

Mariana got her big break anchoring and reporting at Univision, where she also filed stories for the Documentaries and Investigative Unit. She won a Peabody Award and an Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Award for her work uncovering illegal weapons sold across the border in Mexico. She also won a Gracie Award for directing, writing, and reporting PRESSionados, a documentary about press freedom in Latin America.

She then went on to host The Morning Show on Fusion, the Disney and Univision joint venture, and co-anchored the 2016 Democratic Presidential debate.

Mariana made the crossover from Spanish to English-speaking television as a national correspondent for NBC News where she was known for her boots-on-the-ground, engaging, and empathic field work. Her investigative work on Latin America, the Latino community, cartel violence, women’s and migrants’ rights earned her three Emmy nominations, a Hillman Prize, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Presidential Award.

In the course of her broadcast career, Mariana has reported from places like Haiti, the Syrian border, and China, underscoring the common threads in our humanity and that we are all more alike than different. She has interviewed dozens of notable figures, including Pope Francis, President Joe Biden, King Felipe VI of Spain, Nancy Pelosi, chef and humanitarian José Andrés, author Yuval Noah Harari, and director Francis Ford Coppola.

Mariana’s journey is featured on the award-winning HBO series Habla, and People magazine called her storytelling platform “a media empire.” Ten years after she arrived in the United States, Mariana won Columbia’s First Decade Award for her impressive career as a journalist.

Mariana is a 2021 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and spokesperson for the American Latino Museum in D.C. In 2022 she launched the hit true crime podcast series Lost in Panama, an investigation into the disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, shedding light on the issue of missing women and girls in the region. Lost in Panama made Apple Podcasts’ top #10 list, and Mariana headlined Foreign Policy magazine’s HerPower summit on tackling gender inequality in the Americas.

Mariana’s TEDx talk “What Makes YOU Special?” is one of the top ten most-watched videos on YouTube. Doubling down on her message, she wrote her bestselling memoir, Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real.

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