When Marcela Zuluaga was a kid living in a remote part of Colombia, no one told her about the gorillas and hippos, native to Africa, in the town 30 miles away.
They weren’t in a zoo.
They were brought there by Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug lord who kept them as pets at his infamous Hacienda Nápoles.
Somehow, Marcela reflects, her mother concealed the dangers of a burgeoning drug industry and she led a normal childhood. It even felt isolated as she attended an all-girls Catholic school with her twin sister, playing cymbals in the marching band and performing traditional dances like cumbia.
“Not physically isolating,” she says of the close-knit community of Puerto Boyacá, a “regular town in the middle” of Colombia. “But I didn’t see other religions, I didn’t see people from other countries.” And she wanted to.
When she moved with her family to Colombia’s largest city, Bogota, around high school age, she got her chance. A sprawling city the size of New York, it was intimidating to move there, she remembers, but ultimately it was a place to do what she’d always want to do: learn.
She explored photography, movies, studied French, swam. Away from the sweltering heat of her home, she finally got to experience cooler weather.
Staying in Bogota after high school to attend Universidad del Rosario, Marcela studied international affairs, spending a semester at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. On the side, she taught salsa and explored the city famous for its food.
So how, with a thirst for global experiences, did she end up in Portland, Maine, population 60,000?
Maine, she explains, is the second whitest state in the U.S. By median age, it’s the oldest. For a young Colombian hoping to learn English through immersion, it’s a chilly American paradise.
Marcela made her way to Trueline twice.
The first time was as an intern in 2015 while earning her MBA at Husson University. The second time was in 2018 to develop Trueline’s Latin American publications. Gradually, her role grew to managing a small team of content coordinators. Then, it grew again to managing advertising and customer service for that same group.
Now her role is evolving again.
“I’m really excited to be contributing to Trueline in so many ways. It’s also an incredible way to come full circle and put my MBA to use.”– Marcela Zuluaga
With the recent departure of our long-time bookkeeper, Marcela is responsible for managing payroll and certain employee benefits, with an assist from PJ Rose. That includes rolling out new tools to make payment smoother and more transparent for employees, contractors and vendors.
“I’m really excited to be contributing to Trueline in so many ways. It’s also an incredible way to come full circle and put my MBA to use,” Marcela says, though it’s intimidating, too, she said just three weeks into the process.
But any stress she puts aside on the weekends.
In the winter, she can be found shredding the powder, er, ice, on Maine’s ski slopes with Trueline CEO and soon-to-be husband, Haj Carr. Afraid of heights, Marcela says she likes the thrill of riding the ski lift and then bombing down the mountain, though she has yet to take a serious tumble.
But even if she did, it’s not as dangerous as the mountains back home, back when she was a kid.
There are no hippos or gorillas in these woods, just deer and moose.
Favorite activity: The thrill of avoiding trees as she shreds the powder … er ice … on Maine’s winter slopes.
Number of jeans she owns: Five.
What she does for Trueline: Everything from ad sales to payroll.
Something you don’t know: She would eat meat except the meat industry is awful. That’s why she’s vegan.