María Laura González, PMP and Fundación Educación Vial
Number of Hours Pledged: 250
SDGs Supported: #3 Good Health and Well-Being, #4 Quality Education, #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
Summary: Osiris Gratacós was 19 years old when another car slammed into hers, killing a close friend and leaving her with serious injuries. As she healed, Gratacós found her mission: to make the roads safer in Panama City. And in 2011, she launched Fundación Educación Vial, a nonprofit devoted to reducing the frequency of car accidents and cutting the fatality rate.
Since then, Gratacós’ passion as a safety advocate has drawn others to support the foundation’s cause, including María Laura González, PMP, Latin American community coordinator for Project Managers Without Borders (PMWB). “Some would be bitter, but Osiris chose to make a difference—to help people avoid what she went through,” says González.
Yet when she met Gratacós in 2020, González could see that the crusader was running on empty from doing everything on her own: marketing, fundraising, speaking at schools and calling on the government to change traffic laws. “She was a one-person team,” González says. “But you can run on passion alone for only so long.”
Gratacós was also taking on a deeply complex problem caused by multiple intertwining factors: speeding, poorly built cars, narrow roads, slow medical response and government disinterest. And she was trying to do it with no real strategic roadmap.
Moved by Gratacós and her mission, González pledged volunteer time through the PMI Hours for Impact program. It was a first, but she saw it as a natural extension of her experience as a project manager and civil engineer for a road safety consultancy in Panama.
“Time is the most valuable asset a person can give, and what better way to expend it than by generating value for organizations that improve the world?” she says.
Hours for Impact has helped her in two key ways, González says: She’s added value to Gratacós’ mission through her professional experience—and she’s broadened her professional areas of expertise by focusing on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The two worked together to develop a business plan for Fundación Educación Vial, including determining schedules, resources and processes to help the nonprofit become sustainable.
The partnership has empowered Gratacós to take a long-term view as a leader and inspire other agents of change. “She recognizes the value of her time, and she’s achieving so much more by delegating tasks,” González says. “Now she can focus on deeper things that will have bigger impacts on her goals, like being in on conversations about how laws can be written to see improvements.”
And, like Gratacós, González has become an evangelist for the Fundación Educación Vial mission—and her Hours for Impact volunteer work: “Once I start talking about road safety, I can’t stop,” she says. “I’m so passionate about the lives we can save. And it’s amazing to get to know people like Osiris. It restores my faith in humanity.”