Mariana Atencio is a Peabody Award,Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and Gracie Award-winning journalist, TED speaker, and news personality who covers domestic and international issues, doing breaking news and special reports MSNBC and NBC News. Known for combining in-studio work and high-profile interviews (Pope Francis, etc) with tenacious field reporting all over the world, Atencio continuously takes on important issues head-on and at ground zero. Whether it’s speaking with families separated at the border, reporting from the migrant caravan, or meeting with hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico,Atencio is always at the heart of breaking news.
Atencio was part of the team at NBC News thathelped break and drive the coverage of the migrant caravan of thousands of migrants seeking refuge in the US and the family separation crisis that ensued, when the Trump Administration separated kids from their parents in the summer of 2018. She spent weeks along the border, constantly traveling to Mexico and back. Her live translations literally giving a voice to the refugeesbecame a staple at the networks.
Her overall reporting for NBC and MSNBC encompasses a wide range of stories, from the Women’s March and the women inspired to run for office to the power crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Her work covering the recovery efforts on the island landed her a job as host of Ricky Martin and Eva Longoria’s Global Gift Gala “All in For Puerto Rico“. During the 2018 Hurricane seasons she was on the ground covering Hurricane Florence and Michael, and during the2017 Atlantic hurricane season she reported from Mexico, Miami, and Texas for the TODAY SHOW and MSNBC. Most recently, Atencio focused on the role and growing importance of Latino voters during the 2018 Midterms and the 2016 presidential campaign, reporting from all over the country and interviewing Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine in both English and Spanish. Earlier this year, she opened the We Are Unidosconference in Washington about the need for US Hispanics to unite. In 2017, she gave aTEDxTalk about humanity and inclusiveness, which has been translated in 8 languages and seen more than 8 million times.. She followed up with a TEDxTalk on helping to make people care. She has also spoken before the United Nations on the future of Latin America.
The Huffington Post has called her a “breaking news sensation” and “our Latina Christiane Amanpour,” while her former Univision colleague Jorge Ramos called Mariana “the next-gen voice for Latinos breaking all barriers.” She was also named one of OK! Magazine’s“Most Successful People of 2017”
Born in Caracas,Venezuela and fluent in Spanish and English, Atencio uses her platforms in the United States to shed light on her native country. She’s covered every presidential election and major event from the ground in Venezuela. Her multicultural upbringing has allowed her to become an advocate for diversity and tolerance. After graduating as her high school’s valedictorian, Mariana took a gap year to study at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, returning to Venezuela for college afterwards where she again graduated top of her class. In college she was part of a student movement that emerged after Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez shut down Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), the oldest television station in the country, an experience that inspired her to become a journalist. She marched and was tear-gassed with her fellow students in defense of freedom of speech. Mariana left Venezuela when she was awarded the Castagno full-merit scholarship from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2008.
Prior to joining NBC in 2016, she worked as an anchor/correspondent for Univision and Fusion Networks, the joint venture between ABC and Univision,where she anchored ‘The Morning Show’ on Fusion and co-hosted the Democratic Primary Debate broadcast by Univision/CNN. In 2015, Atencio reported on the ground for ABC’s “Pope Francis and the People” for ABC’s 20/20’s Virtual Audience with Pope Francis. . She also reported in studio for ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Weekend. Atencio’s coverage of the student protests in Venezuela aired on ABC’s World News.During her tenure at Univision/Fusion, Atencio co-wrote and anchored three documentaries: “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” on the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson; #SOSVenezuela on the crisis in Venezuela and “PRESSured” on Freedom of the Press in Latin America, which she presented from Newseum in Washington and earned her a Gracie Award. In 2013 Atencio was awarded a Peabody Award and an Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Award for her work as a reporter on “Fast and Furious: Arming the Enemy”, a one-hour documentary on the gun-walking scandal known as “Operation Fast and Furious”. After Univision aired the investigation, Congress pressed the U.S. Justice Department for more information and uncovered weapons that hadn’t been found. One U.S. Congressman called “Rápido y Furioso” the “Holy Grail” that broke the case. Prior to joining Univision, Atencio worked as news anchor/reporter for Vme-TV, the first national Spanish-language public service station.
Most important than any of her reporting is her activism work. In 2014, her only sister suffered a devastating car crash that almost left her paralyzed. After years of surgeries, she was able to walk again. Mariana went public with her sister’s story on Univision’s morning show and has since contributed to Fundación Teleton, an NGO helping children with disabilities. As the crisis in Venezuela worsened, Mariana kept reporting on what was happening and in 2018 the story hit home. Her beloved father Alvaro Atencio, died due to health crisis and shortage of medicine there. Mariana wrote a powerful op-ed about it for NBC News and went back to deliver medicine to malnourished children in a public hospital to honor her dad. Ever since, she’s led several efforts to bring aid to her home country, including hosting the annual Fe y Alegría Gala for the children of Venezuela in New York City.
When Mariana is not on the road breaking a story, she splits her time with her husband in NYC and Miami.