Colleen Lowe Morna began her career as a journalist specialising in gender and development. Among positions she held were co-ordinator of the Africa office of Inter Press Service in Harare; correspondent for South Magazine and Africa Editor of the New Delhi-based Women's Feature Service. She joined the Commonwealth Secretariat as a senior researcher on the Africa desk in 1991, and later served as Chief Programme Officer of the Commonwealth Observer Mission to South Africa.
Following South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994, Colleen became an advisor on gender and institutional development to the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Assistance special programme of assistance to South Africa. She subsequently served as founding CEO of the South African Commission on Gender Equality. She holds an MA in Communications from Columbia University; BA in International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations, Princeton University; and a certificate in executive management from the London Business School.