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Navigating community leadership in Cali

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Navigating community leadership in Cali

With a vision rooted in social transformation, Carolina Ordóñez Cedeño emerges as a beacon of change in commune 17 of Cali.

His multifaceted profile, backed by training as an economist with a specialization in Finance, is combined with a deep vocation as a councilor.

This balance between technical knowledge and passion for community service defines Carolina’s uniqueness in the local landscape.

Over more than two decades, he has built a robust community network that reflects his tireless dedication.

Beginning her career as a volunteer in an NGO with national reach, she was able to forge solid links with various communities, consolidating her commitment to the empowerment of boys, girls, young people and families.

Her evolution from these first steps led her to lead sports and community projects, becoming a key reference for social improvement in commune 17.

A 20 year commitment

Ordóñez’s active participation in his neighborhood’s Community Action Board marked a significant milestone in his career, being the starting point for his commitment to the empowerment of boys, girls, youth and families.

It was in one of those meetings where the seed of the Civic Sports Committee germinated, a project that endures over time, reflecting the collective effort of the community to forge spaces of belonging and concern for the environment.

The path that led Carolina to occupy her position as councilor was traced by her deep connection with the community, since “social issues brought me to this popularly elected position,” she stated.

Her participation as a volunteer in an NGO led her to the heart of empowerment in Cali. This initial impulse was manifested in a meeting of the Community Action Board of her neighborhood, where the key lesson was the importance of not just complaining, but of contributing and collaborating to promote change.

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Despite the achievements made during four years as councilor, Ordóñez firmly expressed his decision not to run again.

“I think it is important to grow and not stay in a position, I have already learned everything I should in these almost four years,” he reflected. However, she assured that he will not stop working for the community, despite not being in a formal position.

During the social outbreak of 2021, he accompanied the community, managing resources to restore vandalized spaces.

The intervention in public areas and their restoration were carried out always respecting due process and regulations.

He also denounces the need to strengthen the channels of coexistence and security in the commune, for this we must work in close collaboration with the police and the various departments of the Mayor’s Office.

Their commitment extends to making expansion areas visible, such as Ciudad Meléndez and Las Vegas de Comfandi.

Despite logistical difficulties, he worked to integrate these territories into participatory processes, seeking recognition and resources for communities that are often forgotten.

Union make force

The community leader highlights the importance of working together with the community: “it has always been about accompanying the community, guaranteeing citizen participation.

Commune 17 is not only the Community Action Boards, but also community leaders and organizations. “We are all part of this community and we must work together,” he assured.

Ordóñez emphasizes her role as a facilitator and bridge between the community and institutions, addressing lighting requirements, mobility and occupation of public space.

His philosophy of listening to and accompanying the community has been fundamental to achieving significant progress.

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“It’s all thanks to the community, which are the eyes and ears in the territories. It is not just about being a bridge, sometimes we are also articulators in those processes,” she commented.

Carolina does not seek to have individual credits, but rather to recognize that successful initiatives are community-based. “The role of a leader is to listen, guide and manage. We work hand in hand with the community, because we owe it to them. “They choose us, support us and inform us of the needs and inconveniences they face,” he emphasized.

A future of opportunities

Carolina Ordóñez Cedeño’s success in Comuna 17 is not only due to her dedication, but also to the support of her colleagues, mayoral officials and the National Police.

The government, through Recreavalle, has also contributed, providing support to entrepreneurs and strengthening initiatives after the pandemic and social outbreak.

It also emphasizes the importance of giving opportunity to new leadership and highlights the creation of security fronts, clarifying that these are initiated by the police.

Its focus is to provide support and bring the community closer to take the initiative to confirm these fronts, thus reinforcing security in the commune.


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