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Women Around the World Who Inspire Us

In honor of International Women’s Day we are celebrating extraordinary women all week long. Through our travels, we have been lucky to encounter and learn about so many women who are breaking boundaries and empowering others in their own communities and across the globe. From a Namibia-based conservationist to the founder of a women’s artisan collective, these female pioneers are working tirelessly to make a difference and enact change for future generations and their unique projects are creating intercultural dialogues. We hope their stories will inspire you as much as they have inspired us.

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Dr. Laurie Marker

What She Does: Laurie founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), a research center in Namibia, in 1990 and is renowned as the Jane Goodall of cheetahs. She began her career at Oregon Wildlife Safari, where she created a cheetah breeding program and spearheaded research on whether captive cheetahs could be successfully released into the wild. She traveled to Namibia and witnessed conflict between wild cheetahs and farmers, which inspired her to create a center in Namibia that focuses on protecting Namibia’s native cheetah population. The CCF works on initiatives such as relocation of endangered cheetahs, controlling cheetah gene mutations and educating the Namibian people about cheetah survival. Awarded the 2010 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and with a doctorate from Oxford University, Laurie has worked with the National Zoo, the National Cancer Institute and the Centre for New Opportunities in Animal Health Sciences in an effort to protect and sustain Namibia’s native cheetahs, the largest population in the world. Today, Laurie is based in Namibia where she continues to research and focus on new scientific developments related to cheetahs.

How She Inspires Us: Dr. Marker’s work with cheetahs and their unique genetic makeup has made her an extraordinary advocate for these rare and beautiful creatures. She tells us that CCF’s mission is “to be the internationally recognized center of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems. We work with all stakeholders to develop best practices in research, education and land use to benefit all species, including people. Our goal is to see a world in which cheetahs live and flourish in coexistence with people, within a sustainable system that is protective of the environment, socially responsible and economically viable.” Her relentless research and field work are an excellent model for animal conservation and education in African countries and around the world.

Related: Just Back From…Namibia

Kamilla Seidler

What She Does: Named Latin America’s best female chef, Danish-born Kamilla Seidler teamed up with Danish chef Claus Meyer, whose Copenhagen restaurant Noma was named the best in the world, to open Gustu restaurant in La Paz, Bolivia. After Claus Meyer founded the Melting Pot Foundation in 2011 in Denmark, Kamilla joined the team shortly thereafter to expand the foundation’s efforts to Bolivia. Now, the foundation has 14 schools in South America and a community center in Brooklyn. Today, Kamilla is back in Copenhagen working at the just-reopened Noma.

How She Inspires Us: Seidler and Meyer started the Melting Pot Foundation to “fight poverty through deliciousness,” which now has educated more than 2,000 students. Kamilla explains that their mission was based upon the belief that “the world can be changed through food, and by introducing gastronomy in developing countries, we could help to enhance local pride and tourism, improve the lives of farmers and expand educational opportunities for low-income families.” The foundation has spawned innovative new restaurants in La Paz like Ona and Ali Pacha, but also a culinary social movement in other cities including New York. In the summer of 2017, the Melting Pot Foundation opened a community center in Brownsville, Brooklyn with a culinary training program and an eatery that provides healthy meals to Brownsville residents.

Related: The People We Meet Along the Way: Bolivia

– Kira Reinke on March 6, 2018

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