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February 17, 2023

Andrea Burt Wins 2023 GCL Impact Award

Andrea Burt, GCL 2012 from Paraguay, has been awarded the GCL Impact Award 2023. This award is in recognition of her long-standing impact with Sonidos de la Tierra, Techo, Donate your Bicycle, and the expansion of B Corps in Paraguay and across Latin America. In addition, throughout the decade after she participated in GCL, Andrea has demonstrated the multiplier effect of the program by leveraging the GCL network and collaborating in various projects across the region with alumni and current students spanning the different LALP generations. This includes Soledad Nuñez and Daniel Artaza (from Paraguay), Juan Pablo Rios y Valles (from Mexico), and Manuel Laredo (from Bolivia), among many others.

Andrea Burt, GCL 2012, Paraguay
Andrea Burt, GCL 2012, Paraguay

By Ana Gomez Garces (B'25)

Andrea's social impact journey started at a young age. Conversations about social and economic development were a constant theme at her family's dinner table. These ideas and her participation in volunteer activities since she was 12 years old allowed her to be very aware of the country's reality.  All of these sparked her curiosity about the work of social entrepreneurs, leading her to study their work and especially the Skoll Foundation’s social entrepreneurs. The idea of helping others was ingrained in her family’s values, and this is how “Donate your Bicycle'' started. The family had a couple of unused bicycles and her dad enjoyed fixing things, so why not help other children that had to walk various kilometers to get to their school if they had the chance? This vision and attitude have allowed her to generate impact through different projects.

"My career encompasses a wide variety of initiatives, but I give my everything wherever I am. I find organizations, I find passion and I give it my all."- Andrea Burt, GCL 2012

However, it was in 2008 when this pillar of her life became her purpose. While she was an undergraduate student at Connecticut College, her uncle needed a heart transplant. As she was waiting in the hospital for the procedure to occur, she learned about a law in the country that promoted organ donation. But, even if this law existed, no one knew about it. Why didn’t the system work? She applied for and won a Kathryn Wasserman Davies Foundation’s 100 Projects for Peace grant, which gave her the responsibility of executing a successful organ donation campaign. With this campaign, she registered more organ donors in 3 months than what the government had achieved in the past decade.

Andrea Burt with Sistema B volunteers
Andrea Burt with Sistema B volunteers

After returning home from college, Andrea was flooded with a feeling of disconnection. The struggle to find a support system where she was understood drove her to pursue new horizons and become the first Paraguayan to participate in the Global Leadership Program (GCL) in 2012. One of her friends who worked at Fundación Paraguaya informed her about the open call for GCL participants, however, at the time Andrea was too young and didn’t fulfill the age requirement. Nonetheless, she strongly believed that this program was meant for her, so she waited a year with this goal in mind. At GCL, she met young regional changemakers like her who were driven and passionate about helping their communities and their countries. The program gave her the confidence and inspiration she was seeking to pursue a life of service and create an impact in Paraguay and Latin America.

“When your [GCL] colleagues are creating tremendous impact around you, you empower yourself and you realize that you are part of something big.”- Andrea Burt, GCL 2012

At GCL she worked on scaling Sonidos de la Tierra, a social change organization she had just joined, created by the famous orchestra director Luis Szarán, inspired by the idea that youth education through art can promote good citizens. Lost on how and where to start her GCL project, one of her mentors suggested keeping it simple. This is how her GCL project came about, a celebration of the organization's 10 years anniversary, which consisted of a concert, a raffle, and engaging rural communities. During her time at Sonidos de la Tierra, she contributed to additional projects, including H2O Orchestra, a program that produces recycled instruments intending to promote the good use of water. The orchestra performed at the red carpet pre-show of the 2021 American Music Awards in Los Angeles and for world leaders such as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and international artists like and Jack Johnson. She realized that Paraguay faced a lot of challenges and that the country needed an excuse to unite its population, which is what led her and Sonidos de la Tierra to pursue and win a Guinness World Record for the largest harp ensemble with 420 harpists playing at the same time. This Guinness Record was a channel to not only fulfill organizational objectives but also to unite the country and promote the harp, a cultural musical symbol of Paraguay that was losing popularity. Later on, Andrea also led Sounds of Freedom, a social reintegration project that uses music in the correctional facilities of the country. They produced the first CD written and recorded entirely within Paraguayan prisons. Although Andrea is not a musician, she has learned a lot through these projects and has shown the world the power the arts, including music, can have in education and development projects.

Furthermore, she was also an active volunteer at TECHO for three years, building emergency houses in urban settlements. After her master’s degree, she worked as an advisor to the Vice Minister of Poverty Reduction at the Secretaría Técnica de Planificación before serving as Executive Director of Sistema B Paraguay for 4.5 years. She’s also co-founder of Asuncion+B, a city-wide initiative that seeks to amplify the impact of those who live in the capital by transforming them into change makers. This has resulted in Nivea Paraguay selecting her as one of the 10 “Paraguayas que Inspiran” 2021. Now, she has made a jump in her career within the B Corporation Movement, working at a regional level for Sistema B Internacional, as Director of B Corps and Communications.

Since her time at the B Corporation Movement, the initiative has seen exponential growth in Paraguay. Andrea has worked against the odds to show corporations and the world why being sustainable companies matter. Some of the challenges she has faced include the companies' resistance to change and having to disprove assumptions about her capabilities often accompanied by comments about her age or her gender. This did not stop Andrea from fighting for B Corps' theory of change which consists of establishing high standards, changing culture, and working with public policy to accelerate sustainable companies. She continues to position and strengthen the B corporations movement at a regional level, with a vision of what Latin America has potential for in mind. She works towards…

“A united Latin America, with no barriers, with no inequalities. Prosper, regenerative, but above all, full of love.”- Andrea Burt, GCL 2012

Andrea exemplifies GCL’s multiplier effect as her long-standing impact through different projects and organizations is helping shape a better Paraguay, a better Latin America, and a better world. Her collaboration with different LALP alumni and current students shows her active participation in this network. 

Andrea, Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story with us, which will deeply inspire former and future LALP generations!

Andrea Burt is a Social Development Practitioner from Asuncion, Paraguay. She’s a proactive social intrapreneur, with a high vocation for service, and more than 10 years of experience in social development. She graduated as Valedictorian and Best Citizen of the American School of Asuncion and received a full scholarship to attend Connecticut College. She received a BA in Government and a self-designed ‘Development as Empowerment’ and was a scholar of the college’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. She holds an MSc in Social Development Practice from the University College of London, where she attended as a Chevening Scholar.