McGeorge School of Law

Profile: Katharine Baragona

Katharine Baragona
Katharine Baragona

Class of 1990

Senior infrastructure finance specialist, The World Bank

The best career advice Katharine "Kate" Baragona, '90, received at McGeorge School of Law was from a friend, an Italian lawyer in the LLM Transnational Business Practice program. Don't submit your resume to California law firms, he told her. "'You won't be able to rationalize quitting to follow your dreams,'" he said. "'Leave yourself no option but to be international.'"

She took his words to heart, heading off to McGeorge's Salzburg program with no U.S.-based job awaiting her return. Her internship - a key feature of McGeorge's international programs - led to a full-time position, and eventually, she became one of the first five American lawyers to qualify as a UK solicitor.

Baragona worked at law firms in London and Brussels, advising on finance and energy law matters. She later worked at Citibank in Manhattan and London as an investment banker.

Since 2010, Baragona has been senior infrastructure finance specialist at The World Bank, in Washington, D.C., where she continues to advise governments, development institutions, lenders and project sponsors on the structure and financing of energy or transportation projects that draw on private- and public-sector funding.

Recent projects include a gas-to-power plant in Mauritania, which includes high-voltage transmission lines to Senegal and Mali; and the Nigeria power sector reform program, which includes two 500MW power plants. Nigeria's energy reform program, she says, is the most comprehensive ever undertaken in the world.

Baragona is proud that her work contributes to eradicating extreme poverty in emerging economies. She also enjoys her international colleagues, innovators who are leading their countries. "Sometimes I feel like I'm working with the John Adams and the Thomas Jeffersons of Mauritania, of Zambia, of Uganda, of Nigeria," she says. "Every day I am inspired."

Because of her experience, she was recently selected to join a handpicked team charged with developing the Global Infrastructure Facility, a platform The World Bank Group is establishing. It will prepare infrastructure projects in a way that makes them "attractive for institutional investors who bring long-term financing that matches the long life typical of infrastructure assets," she says. The first pilot projects will be announced at the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November.

The assignment taps three decades of experience as legal counsel, investment banker and finance specialist.

A member of McGeorge's International Board of Advisors, Baragona is grateful for the high quality law training she received at McGeorge and the school's international network of contacts and alumni.

"It was the first place where I was amongst people who had already accomplished what I was dreaming I might accomplish," she says.