Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Completed her degree in Marine Affairs with a minor in Biology and Anthropology at the University of Miami. After graduating from the United States in 2012, Manuela returned to her native country giving priority to the protection of its high biodiversity and rich cultural heritage, and to the promotion of its sustainable development. She worked for a year at Fundación Herencia Ambiental Caribe, an environmental NGO based in Santa Marta, Colombia that fosters environmental conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources, especially water sources and wetlands, as a means of improving economic and social conditions for the local Caribbean communities. In 2013, Manuela moved to Cartagena, Colombia and founded the NGO Fundación Pez León to lead a project with the objective of reducing the invasive lionfish population by promoting its consumption, commercialization and fishing practices. She then moved back to Santa Marta in 2015 to replicate and escalate the impact of this project. Concerned with the unsustainable land use and degradation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Manuela joined the Environomica team, a European NGO that supports partnerships for people and planet with expertise on sustainable agroforestry and natural resource management. She is currently working as the Colombian Local Coordinator for Environomica Colombia on the implementation of conservation and sustainable development projects in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía del Cocuy.