In 2009, Ms. Balling founded Fundación ECCO, a Colombian-registered nonprofit organization that promoted democracy and youth leadership in areas of conflict. She executed projects in areas where the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) insurgency operated, working with the Colombian Army, Air Force and the National Police. She received grants from USAID, U.S. Special Operations Command South, the International Organization for Migration and Spirit of America.
From 2013 to 2014, Ms. Balling served as a Subject Matter Expert to the U.S. Special Operations South commander and partnered with U.S. Army Civil Affairs teams downrange in Colombia. In this role, she interviewed numerous female demobilized FARC and ELN (National Liberation Army) fighters and worked with the Colombian military’s demobilization group to create the first tactical guide on individual demobilization. In 2015, Ms. Balling was pinned by the Colombian Minister of Defense with the Colombian Armed Forces’ “Medal of Distinguished Service.”
In 2016 and 2017, Ms. Balling organized and led two solo expeditions to Iraqi Kurdistan to deliver humanitarian aid and embed with a company of female Yazidi peshmerga soldiers who survived the 2014 genocide by ISIS.
From 2015 to 2020, Ms. Balling was the Senior Fellow for Latin American Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council. She has published articles in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, the Small Wars Journal and Thehill.com. She has lectured at the Escuela Superior de Guerra in Bogotá, the National Defense University’s William J. Perry Center, the Institute of World Politics and Harvard Summer School. In 2019, Ms. Balling testified as an expert witness at a Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee hearing on U.S./Colombia relations.
Ms. Balling received her B.A.in English Literature at Barnard College, Columbia University and earned an Executive M.A. in National Security Affairs at the Institute of World Politics. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Universidad El Bosque in Bogotá, Colombia and is a 2020 recipient of the Phillips Academy Andover Alumni Award of Distinction.