Carolina Duarte Bradpiece ’86

2012 Catharine Lealtad
Service to Society Award

View all Catharine Lealtad Service to Society Award recipients

When you come to college at 17, a recent immigrant fleeing a splintering country, that college truly becomes your home. So it was for Carolina Duarte ’86, who arrived at Mac in the fall of 1982, just five months after she’d abruptly left El Salvador following a kidnapping attempt on her brother.

Moving to escape El Salvador’s escalating civil war, Carolina and her family landed with an aunt in St. Paul. Soon afterwards, Carolina met at Macalester’s International Center with Jimm Crowder, who shepherded her through her lastminute application.

Not long after graduating, Carolina moved to New York to teach organizational development and leadership at Buffalo State College’s Center for Development of Human Services. Soon her work was recognized by the Girl Scouts of America’s national office, which hired her to work with the leadership of 60 councils nationwide in planning, program development, membership, and governance.

A few years later she was recruited by Big Brothers Big Sisters to become president and CEO of the Los Angeles affiliate. There she merged three branches, doubled the budget and number of children served, and started an endowment that has provided college scholarships to hundreds of girls.

Ultimately, however, she knew L.A. wasn’t the place she wanted to raise her children. Her heart, along with her family and her beloved alma mater, was back in Minnesota’s 55105 zip code.

After moving back in 2006, Carolina spent several years as director of community giving with the St. Paul Foundation. Then, seeking another big-picture job, she became president and CEO of the Community Action Partnership Agency of Scott, Carver, and Dakota counties, a $20 million, 200-employee organization serving 50,000 people annually.

But don’t expect that to be the last stop for Carolina. With her love of challenge, she’s bound to keep moving on. One thing doesn’t change for her, though: “Mac was the cradle that allowed me to find out what matters to me,” she says. “It’s where I grew up.”