Senior Editorial Manager at the Rainforest Alliance
"Put simply, I'm a storyteller for an international NGO dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainable livelihoods in the world's critically important ecosystems. Before my current gig, I was Editor of Amnesty International's human rights quarterly for nearly a decade."
WHAT SHE DOES FOR LOVE: "I'm fortunate in that what I do for money is something I also do for love. But doing this kind of work can take a toll on one's emotional health, so I make it a priority to nourish my spirit by surfing, cycling, cooking, reading, writing, holding space for spiritual communion, and dreaming and scheming with my brilliant and creative friends. Most recently, I've started working with two good friends on a beautiful image-based project about multicultural identity called Born in Translation, which is important to me because my children are of Korean, Nigerian and French-Corsican heritage. I'm also teaching myself electric bass."
HER STYLE: "I'm a bit of a tomboy in my everyday life, but when I need to glam it up I'll throw on a vintage dress from the 1970s."
HER 2015 GOAL: "Learn to improvise on the bass."
A LADY SHE ADMIRES: "My dear friend and mentor, Barbara Summers passed away in October. Her spirit is so alive that I am still seized with disbelief when I realize I can't meet her for brunch. In plain terms, Barbara was a writer, a mother, and a once-upon-a-time fashion model who broke boundaries as if they were cheap wine glasses. She lives on in my heart as a trailblazer, truth-teller, soul-seeker, and love-warrior who nurtured many, many people and held them accountable to their dreams."
NOMINATED BY: Amhalise Morgan
WHY SHE'S A LADY GUN: "My friend Jungwon Kim is an environmental and human rights advocate. She is a single mother and really keeps her girls aware of world issues and current events. Jungwon is constantly traveling for work, learning new languages and picking up hobbies. At age 40 she decided to take up surfing. She is such a wonderful example to her girls of what a woman can achieve when she puts her mind to it, without the need for a man."
HER INITIAL REACTION TO HER LADY GUNS NOMINATION: "I was honored (and tickled) by what Amhalise said about me. I really respect her as a professional and a mother, so it means a lot to hear these words coming from her."
ON CHALLENGES: "When my daughters were just 7 and 4, their father and I split up. That was the year my heart broke into a million pieces. But from the rubble we reconstructed ourselves and our family in a way that supports the long-term emotional health of each of us. The constructive co-parenting relationship I now have with my daughters' father—who holds it down half the week—has given me the headspace to pursue my professional and personal passions in a way that I couldn't have if I'd stayed in the marriage. I used to feel guilty about this freedom, but these days I embrace it; it's my responsibility as a mother to show my daughters what it looks like for a woman to commit to her liberation."
ON STAGNATION AND LEARNING: "I feel more alive and free in my mid-40s than ever before. One of the reasons for this is that when I turned 40, I made a conscious decision to do the things I'd always wanted to try but never did: meditation, surfing, Spanish lessons, and now bass. The joy of learning new things smack-dab in the middle of "middle age" has surpassed my grandest imaginings. Stagnation is my greatest fear, so it's crucial for me to continuously connect with 'Beginner's Mind,' a zen Buddhist term to describe an attitude of openness unfettered by preconceived notions about what is and isn't possible. One simple way of doing this is to commit to lifetime of learning and apply that fresh, humble, beginner's attitude to things you've been doing forever. New research shows that the human brain retains plasticity throughout life. If this is the case, then cultivating Beginner's Mind might be considered exercise for the brain, as well as for the spirit."
ON SUSTAINABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY: "Once you truly awaken to the interdependence of all life, it's easier to make responsible choices. I'd recommend taking some time to learn about the supply chain for the things you consume. Once you know about the horrors of coltan mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo or sweatshop labor in Cambodia, you won't feel so eager to purchase the newest iPhone or shop at a fast-fashion chain. The same goes for coffee, which can and should be grown in the shade to build climate resilience; my colleagues at the Rainforest Alliance do a lot of work with smallholder farmers around the world to train them in climate-smart farming methods.
With insight, changing your habits doesn't feel like sacrifice. This is why changing the culture of consumption is key. One of the simplest, most meaningful things a person can do is to reduce or eliminate your meat intake. As the very handy Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health explains, if all Americans skipped meat and dairy just once a week for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road. And according to this sobering piece about the California drought, the water it takes to produce 10 hamburgers = a year's worth of showers. If you've ever traveled in drought-stricken parts of the world, this "hamburger math" will hit you hard. Finally, here is my plea to us all: let's make a big effort to forego plastic, for the love of humanity and our fellow living beings."