Mariana Atencio

Mariana Atencio

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Peabody Award-Winning Journalist, Bestselling Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspiring Storyteller

Navigating change and uncertainty in life is hard. It’s even harder when you’re not confident about who you are. Coming to America from Venezuela as a young girl, Mariana Atencio felt self-conscious about being different. She recounted her struggles to fit in and adapt to her new life in a TED talk that captured the hearts of tens of millions. Mariana’s message: What makes you different is what makes you special – unleash your potential by embracing your authenticity.

Mariana took that lesson into her journalism career as a national news anchor and network reporter. A born storyteller, Mariana worked to build bridges and understanding – reporting with her unique perspective from all over the globe, earning accolades and a prestigious Peabody Award along the way. Mariana’s bestselling book, Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real, inspires people to leverage their personal and professional authenticity to supercharge their relationships, careers, workplace cultures, and happiness.

Mariana continues to pursue stories that capture her curiosity as head of her own media production company. She also elevates the impact of events through her powerful keynotes and skillful moderating, and hosting.

But to start at the beginning,

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Mariana graduated from Merici High School and received a journalism degree from Universidad Católica.

When the government of Hugo Chávez shut down independent media outlets in her home country, she participated in student protests for democracy. After being assaulted in an armed robbery, Mariana left for the United States when she received a full- merit scholarship to Columbia University’s Journalism School and received her master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

Mariana got her big break anchoring and reporting at Univision, where she also filed stories for the Documentaries and Investigative Unit. She won a Peabody Award and an Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Award for her work uncovering illegal weapons sold across the border in Mexico. She also won a Gracie Award for directing, writing, and reporting PRESSionados, a documentary about press freedom in Latin America.

She then went on to host The Morning Show on Fusion, the Disney and Univision joint venture, and co-anchored the 2016 Democratic Presidential debate. Mariana made the crossover from Spanish to English-speaking television as a national correspondent for NBC News where she was known for her boots-on-the-ground, engaging, and empathic field work. Her investigative work on Latin America, the Latino community, cartel violence, women’s and migrants’ rights earned her three Emmy nominations, a Hillman Prize, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Presidential Award.

In the course of her broadcast career, Mariana has reported from places like Haiti, the Syrian border, and China, underscoring the common threads in our humanity and that we are all more alike than different. She has interviewed dozens of notable figures, including Pope Francis, President Joe Biden, King Felipe VI of Spain, Nancy Pelosi, chef and humanitarian José Andrés, author Yuval Noah Harari, and director Francis Ford Coppola.

Mariana’s journey is featured on the award-winning HBO series Habla, and People magazine called her storytelling platform “a media empire.” Ten years after she arrived in the United States, Mariana won Columbia’s First Decade Award for her impressive career as a journalist.

Mariana is a 2021 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and spokesperson for the American Latino Museum in D.C. In 2022 she launched the hit true crime podcast series Lost in Panama, an investigation into the disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, shedding light on the issue of missing women and girls in the region. Lost in Panama made Apple Podcasts’ top 10 list, and Mariana headlined Foreign Policy magazine’s HerPower summit on tackling gender inequality in the Americas.

Mariana’s TEDx talk “What Makes YOU Special?” is one of the top ten most-watched videos on YouTube. Doubling down on her message, she wrote her bestselling memoir, Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real.

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Speaking topics

The Power Of Being Perfectly You

It’s a fact: People are at their best – at work and in life – when they feel like they can be themselves. They’re more confident in the face of change and uncertainty, more engaged and resilient, and have a greater sense of purpose and well-being. But fear can sometimes keep us from being real. In this presentation, Mariana Atencio brings her energy, humor, and skillful storytelling to inspire people to embrace their authenticity and unleash the power that comes with being themselves. Being “Perfectly You” builds trust and connection – it attracts people like a magnet because authenticity stands out in a world of algorithms and A.I. content. Mariana’s unique personal story and infectious optimism energizes people with the courage to fully engage, adapt to constant change, and reach new levels of fulfillment at work and in life.

Key takeaways:

  • Unlock the secret of being our real selves, especially at work.
  • How to discover and harness the traits that make you “Perfectly You.”
  • Navigate change confidently. Increase your personal fulfillment and sense of purpose.
  • Why being vulnerable and leading with empathy inspires others, builds trust, and creates more meaningful relationships.
  • 5 steps authentic leaders use to cultivate transformation and innovation and enhance resilience in the face of change.
  • Help leaders create a culture of authenticity that spurs engagement, connection, collaboration, and performance.


With experience as a national network news anchor and reporter, Mariana brings warmth and intelligence to each hosting, moderating, and interviewing assignment. Mariana’s curiosity and poise help her get the most out of those on stage with her.

The breadth of Mariana’s experience speaks to her versatility. She’s moderated conversations on embracing a mindset for change at Microsoft, on the rights of women in Iran, on gender inequality at Foreign Policy magazine’s HERPower summit, on media representation at the Paley Center for Media, on financial literacy at Nasdaq, on building a personal and professional brand at Columbia University, a panel on geopolitics and economics at Citi Private Bank’s autumn dialogues with three heads of state from Latin America, a session at the United Nations General Assembly meeting on global healthcare inequity, plus the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, PepsiCo, JP Morgan, Accenture, Spotify, Google, YouTube, Clorox, AT&T, Spectrum, and more.

Video clips

Mariana Atencio - Speaking Demo

Mariana Atencio - Be authentic stop covering

Mariana Atencio - Being human unites us

Speaker testimonials

Absolutely blown away by Mariana’s captivating energy and unparalleled ability to engage the audience. Her speech not only hit the mark but soared beyond expectations, leaving everyone inspired and eager for more! She is a force to be reckoned with.

Manager, Ford Motor Company

I am thrilled to share my highest praise for Mariana, who hosted our company’s 2023 Convention. Mariana’s performance as the event’s host exceeded all expectations, and her contributions were invaluable. Throughout the event, Mariana showcased her exceptional talent for engaging and captivating our audience. Her energy and enthusiasm were boundless, creating an electric atmosphere that resonated with everyone in attendance. Most importantly, she was able to think on her feet, listen, and absorb the right takeaways to weave one keynote with the next, creating the perfect throughline for our summit.

CEO, Outreach

Mariana’s participation in our sales conference was without a doubt a highlight in our meetings; she raised and addressed relevant topics in a strong but yet lighthearted way, leaving the teams extremely energized!

Vice President, Marketing Americas, Swiss luxury watchmaker

Mariana’s words resonated deeply with everyone in attendance, and her wisdom will continue to inspire us on our paths toward authenticity and self-discovery. We are immensely grateful for her time, expertise, and the positive energy she brought to our event.

Logistics Excellence Lead, Clorox

Not many speakers can connect and engage with an audience like Mariana Atencio can. Her keynote, ‘The Power of Authenticity’ impacted our members on a very personal level and left them feeling empowered! Ms. Atencio’s message set the tone for the rest of the conference and left our attendees wanting more. For example, during our closing celebration two of our volunteer leaders referenced their ‘What makes you perfectly you?’ cards during their onstage remarks. Book Mariana – it will be the smartest decision you make for your conference or event.

Executive Vice President, Florida Apartment Association

Mariana’s keynote was a profound journey into the essence of authenticity. One of the most powerful takeaways from Mariana’s talk was the idea that our differences are our strengths and they can help us shine in every aspect of our lives. Thank you, Mariana, for your inspiring vulnerability and for guiding each of us to better embrace our roots. Your words have resonated deeply with our colleagues, sparking conversations about authenticity, identity and cultural heritage.

VP, Wealth Planning Analytics, Edelman Financial Engines

Mariana Atencio brought such energy and honesty to our company-wide event. Mariana’s authenticity allows her to connect with others almost immediately. Thank you for providing us with the tools to be resilient and proud of what makes us Perfectly Unique!

Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Rapid7

For the last two years, Mariana has been the host of AT&T’s annual Hispanic Heritage Month events, celebrating employees’ authenticity and contributions toward the customers and communities we proudly serve. Mariana brings employees’ stories to life through her unique engagement and connection with our teams while creating a welcoming, energetic, and memorable atmosphere. Her dynamic stage presence, storytelling, and facilitation skills have positively impacted our events and attendees. We appreciate her commitment to amplifying our brand’s values as well as her partnership and collaboration in delivering unique experiences that support our mission of connecting people to greater possibilities!

Chief Strategy and Development Officer, AT&T Inc.

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