Judges 2017

Paula Palacio

Director of the Cultural Center of Spain.

She holds a degree in Art History from the University of Oviedo (2007) and begins her career as cultural manager at the Cultural Office of the Spanish Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia. Years later (2012), she works in the implementation of the Cultural Center of Spain in La Paz, belonging to the network of cultural centers of the Spanish Agency for Cooperation and Development (AECID), in which she has continued to work since then. After four years in Bolivia, she moved to San José (Costa Rica) where she worked as program coordinator in El Farolito – Cultural Center of Spain in Costa Rica, applying several programs, such as the promotion of experimentation in creative processes, mediation in contemporary cultural practices, and the reactivation of “The Cannibal House”; a space aimed for the experimentation and collective creation. Since October 2016, she works as Coordinator of the Cultural Center of Spain in Panama – Casa del Soldado.

Liza Kovacs


Liza Kovacs was born in Montreal (Canada) and studied at the National Ballet School in Toronto. After her graduation, she danced with the National Ballet of Canada and later continued her dance career working with some of the most talented contemporary dance choreographers in her native country, including Edouard Lock, Jose Navas, Benoit Lachambre and Dominique Porte. Her perpetual curiosity about the body and movement led her to deepen her training, completing numerous studies in Montreal, London and New York. Currently Liza is dedicated to convey that holistic knowledge of dance, acquired after a lifetime dedicated to it.

Leila Nilipour


Leila Nilipour likes stories. The ones that she listens, watches, the ones that she dreams of. It has always been like this. She is an alumni of the University of Texas at Austin and Tufts University in the areas of nutrition and public health.

Half Persian and half Penonomeña (from Penonomé, Panamá), she worked in the United States for three years. But something was missing. Therefore, she moved to Iran in 2014 to redefine the next step in her life. Meanwhile, she studied language, literature, dance and Persian music.
Curiosity and that desire to tell stories reappeared and returned to Panama to give herself a chance as a journalist.

In 2015, she began working in the cultural section of the newspaper La Estrella de Panamá. It was period of learning and growth, and that got her two awards and a mention for her articles. In December 2016, she finished her time at the newspaper. Now she works in the Direction of Culture of the Municipality of Panama and explores new ways of storytelling.

Carlos Arauz


Carlos Araúz García is executive vice president and General Manager of AllBank in Panama, part of the third private capital financial conglomerate of Venezuela with a presence in five countries and has an outstanding track record in the regional financial environment. Araúz is a columnist and author of articles published in print media such as Capital Financiero, La Prensa newspaper and Portada magazine. He was named on two occasions (2004 and 2008) by the weekly Capital Financiero as one of the most influential business people in Panama under 40 years old and has worked for renowned multinational banks, living in Mexico, El Salvador, Canada and the Dominican Republic. Born in Calidonia, Panama City, Araúz earned an academic scholarship for a high education program in Tennessee, USA, where he received a double degree in Economics and Finance with a sub-degree in Mathematics (Summa Cum Laude) and has a Masters in Business from Nova Southeastern University (St. Petersburg, Florida). Araúz is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute and CALI (Central American Leadership Initiative), a partner of APEDE and AllBank representative to the Banking Association of Panama. Araúz has been vice-president of the Calicanto Foundation since 2009, where he has actively participated in the expansion of the CAPTA (Training for Work) program and, in particular, has supported the Enlaces program run by the Foundation Espacio Creativo (FEC), which has changed young people lives and their families through dance. Araúz lives in Panama and has two children, Julián and Valeria.

Donna Colon

Visual Artist

Donna Colon is a visual artist. She lives and works in Panama since 1994. Her work focuses on the idiosyncrasies of the human being and the contradictions inherent in our contemporary lifestyle. In 1991 she earned a Master’s Degree in Biology from the University of Kansas and a Master’s Degree in sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore). Colon participated in the 51st Venice Biennial in 2005. Other exhibitions include the PROA Foundation, Buenos Aires (2015); Museum of the City, Cuernavaca, Mexico (2013); Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2013); Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California (2011); The Neighborhood Museum, New York (2011); Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico, D.F. (2008); The Prague Contemporary Art Festival, Prague (2008); Oi Futuro, Rio de Janeiro (2007); The 3rd Auckland Triennial, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland (2007); Istanbul Modern Museum, Istanbul (2006) and Shedhalle, Zurich (2006). In 2007, she received a grant for emerging Latin American artists from the Cisneros Fontanals Foundation (CIFO). Her works remain in well-known collections such as the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Art Foundation (Miami) and the Daros Latinamerica Collection (Zurich).