Tulane board welcomes new member Marcela Villareal de Panetta


Courtesy of Tulane Public Relations

Marcela Villareal de Panetta will join Tulane’s Board of Administrators with experience in public health and community service.

Marcela Villareal de Panetta has joined the Board of Tulane University with a background in public health and community service.

Panetta has been familiar with Tulane’s campus since her own collegiate years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Newcomb College then began her work with Mexico and the United States by serving on the boards of many companies such as Coca-Cola and Drovil Enterprises.

Panetta’s work extends beyond the corporate level. The Tulane University mission statement says the University works “to pursue [its] mission … by fostering community-building initiatives.” Pierre Buekens, dean of Tulane’s School Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said Panetta will bring to campus a stronger focus on this core value.

“I believe that she will be an example of community engagement and that she will encourage the board to develop community-based activities,” Buekens said.

Currently living in Juarez, Mexico, Panetta has formed the fund Fondo Guadalupano in Juarez to help Mexican students fund their educations at Tulane’s SPHTM. She built a high school within the Yermo Parres Multicultural Center, allowing children to receive an education in one of the poorest parts of Juarez. Because of the violence and oppression caused by drug cartels in the city, many children have often not been able to receive adequate educations.

Panetta has volunteered for the Sisters of Charity, an organization that works with disabled children. She was also given an award for exceptional achievement by the Tulane Alumni Association in May 2017.  President Michael Fitts said she is “an inspiration to all of us.”

Tulane’s Board of Administrators provides guidance to the executive authorities on campus, and Panetta has advocated for strong connections between the U.S. and Mexico. 

“I think that it’s extremely important that we have a Mexican alumni on the board. It will really illustrate the strengths with our links with Mexico and Latin America,” Buekens said.

As for her effect on Tulane students, Buekens said Panetta will not only set a positive example for community engagement, but will also increase awareness on issues involving the U.S., Mexico and Latin America. 

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