Project Lead: Together for H2OPE
Bondita Acharya is the Director of Purva Bharati Educational Trust and a human rights activist in Northeast India. She has vast grassroots experience working on issues of women’s leadership, climate change, gender, women’s security and human rights. She was part of several fact finding missions to document cases of sexual violence, human rights violations, witch hunting, and conflict situation in the Assam region of India. Bondita has been engaging with UN mechanisms since 2010 in Geneva, New York and Bangkok, and has been part of various international reviews, sessions, and bodies throughout her career. She was also a fellow at the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) at the University of York under their Human Rights Defenders at Risk program from September to December 2015. Bondita is a member of the Steering Committee of Women in Governance (WinG)-India, a Women Human Rights Defenders network, the Coordinating Committee of Asia-Pacific Women Alliance on Peace and Security (APWAPS), and is an advisor to Urgent Action Fund for South Asia.
Crystal is a passionate advocate of gender equality and sustainable development, especially in developing economies. After several years of working in the private sector in a project management and financial management capacity, she obtained her Master’s at the London School of Economics to focus on international development. She worked as an English teacher in Chile, then interned with WaterAid UK and Kiva.org, then helped incorporate climate-resilient measures into an irrigation scheme in Malawi. She then went on to work with Room to Read’s Research, Monitoring and Evaluation team in San Francisco. She loves to explore and you can often find her traveling abroad, hiking around San Francisco or trying something new (like pottery!).
Amira joined Melinda as WEA’s Co-Director in 2007 to expand WEA’s programs, build the WEA team and create a community of support for its work. Active within the NGO community for over 20 years, she has worked for community health, environmental and food justice, LGBTQ, and women’s rights, directing organizations like Julia Butterfly Hill’s Circle of Life and Democracy Matters. She graduated from Colgate University with a degree in Women’s Studies, studied Women and Development at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, and attended Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley. She holds certification as a Holistic Health Counselor and brings a holistic approach to all aspects of WEA’s organizational design. Amira’s deepest inspiration comes from her two young sons, and her family of musicians, artists and dedicated community organizers. In her spare time she plays the violin and directs the Social Prophet Choir.
Project Lead: Mexican Women for Mother Earth
Laura is the Executive Director of Semillas, the only women’s fund in Mexico. She received a Masters Degree in International Peace and Security at King’s College, London and graduated from the Colegio de México with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations. Before working at Semillas, Laura was a human rights advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. She has collaborated with various civil society organizations on projects which focused on human rights, transitional justice and Latin American drug policies. In 2006, she took part in the presidential campaign of Patricia Mercado, with whom she then worked at the Alternative Voice Foundation (Fundación Voz Alternativa). The following year, she worked at the International Criminal Court in The Hague on the first case in its history. Over the years, Laura has taught international relations at the Tecnológico de Monterrey and has taken part in various workshops and talks about international conflict resolution, human rights and justice procedures in Latin America. She forms part of the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders, is a Board Member of Women’s Funding Network (WFN), and serves as advisor to the Gender Advisory Council at the Levi Strauss Foundation and recently at the Global Fund for Women.
Erin Marie Konsmo
Erin Marie Konsmo is the Media Arts Justice & Projects Coordinator for the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. She is Métis from Onoway/Lac St. Anne, Alberta. She is a self-taught community-engaged visual and multi-media Indigenous artist, supporting community to create their own art and expressions around sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice. Her art practice is based in community spaces, culture, and Indigenous led media and arts initiatives. Erin is currently serving as one of the North American focal points for the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Calgary and a Master of Environmental Studies from York University, with a concentration in environmental and reproductive health.
Founder, Executive Director
Melinda’s inspiration for WEA rose up from the heart of communities, networks and movements that she worked alongside around the world. Founding WEA was not as much an intellectual pursuit as it was a heart pursuit. Melinda was moved into action by witnessing solutions that women created in the face of immeasurable odds. She felt the groundspring of energy that would be available if women could strategically unite around their knowledge and solutions. Before founding WEA, Melinda worked with organizations pursuing environmental justice, sustainable local economies and indigenous rights. After attending Washington University and the University of Nairobi, Melinda worked for CARE Kenya in East Africa. She later worked in China, the Russian Far East, and Alaska nurturing the emergence of grassroots environmental movements with Pacific Environment. Melinda also worked with the Natural Capital Institute team to develop WiserEarth.org, the online organizing tool for social and environmental causes. A mother of 2 young boys, Melinda is a trained facilitator and speaks Swahili, Spanish, and some Mandarin.
Arielle is an international agricultural development professional and entrepreneur. Previously based in Africa and then in Asia, she has designed and managed agricultural and small enterprise development projects with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) since 2008. Now from her home base in Northern California, Arielle works with triple bottom line food companies to build resilient producer relationships and is a CRS Regional Technical Advisor for Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia. Arielle began collaborating with WEA in 2009 and was instrumental in launching WEA’s India Women and Food Sovereignty Initiative. Arielle co-founded Hands of Mothers, an NGO building women’s micro-enterprises globally and is co-owner of the raw juice company Earthjuice. Arielle is a founding Advisory Board Member of Ag Innovation Development Group, a Development Impact Lab (DIL) Practitioner in Residence at UC Berkeley, Kiva Zip Agriculture Ambassador, and a 2014 Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. Arielle earned her M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics and an M.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis.
Project Lead: WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project
Olanike is an award-winning conservationist and women’s empowerment advocate. Inspired by her care for nature and deep sense of equity, she took a journey into the world of social activism when she founded the Environmental Management and Protection Network (EMPRONET) in 2004. In response to the realities on the ground which revealed that grassroots women’s rights, roles, responsibilities and efforts are overlooked in the drive for environmental sustainability, she founded Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE). In addition to her work with WISE, Olanike’s online journal WEST- Women, Environment and Society Think-tank on World Pulse, is dedicated to raising awareness and spurring action about environmental and other societal issues that touch on women’s lives. She sits on the board of a number of organizations and companies in Nigeria including Green Environment Foundation (GEF) and Girl-child Right Awareness Initiative in Africa. In September 2014, Olanike was named one of the top three women among the Voice of Future Correspondents at World Pulse and was given the opportunity to participate in the World Pulse 2014 Live Tour in the United States, Social Good Summit in NYC, the Clinton Global Initiative in NY, Emerging Women Conference NY; at the World Trade Center, the City Club, and at KBOO Radio in Portland; and at Twitter, Intel and Water Mark in San Francisco. Olanike’s core areas of expertise include Environmental and Gender Development Issues.
Program + Operations Manager
Born and raised in Hawai’i, Kahea is passionate about Indigenous peoples rights and a sustainable future for our planet. After graduating from law school with a focus on human rights and Federal Indian law, Kahea joined WEA as a legal research intern, then Coordinator for WEA’s Advocacy Network, before moving on to manage WEA’s programs and operations. She’s a systems girl, and gets nerdy about our design and branding. Kahea’s a huge fan of roadtrips, her dog, and seeing folks do more of what lights them (and the world) up.
Project Lead: Seeds of Resilience
Sunita Rao is an ecologist by training and lives in the Malnad region of Karnataka in India. Her work interests include: Ethnoecology of forest home gardens in the Western Ghats; Designing Learning for Life modules in formal and non-formal education landscapes; Viability of nano scale, sustainable livelihoods & enterprises; Conservation and community mobilization in gendered spaces. Sunita has worked in Delhi, Pune, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. She was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2009 where she worked on agroecological issues. She has been living and working on a forest farm near Sirsi since 2002. Sunita is the founder trustee of Vanastree – a women farmers’ seed saving collective based in Sirsi.
We give thanks to the members of our team through the years– whose vision, tenacity, and brilliance are at the heart of WEA.
Maame Afon, Celia Alario, Nikila Badua, Stephanie Bernstein, Zach Behar, Ethan Boehme, Cath Brozena, Gemma Bulos, Heather Burbeau, Annie Burke, Jennifer Carter-Scott, Rucha Chitnis, Orli Cotel, Temra Costa, Angela Mooney D’Arcy, Nitin Das, Kath Delaney, Malia Everette, Sophie Fried, Stacey Frost, Maeanna Glenn, Nell Greenberg, Lisa Gurwitch, Eileen Harrington, Jan Hartsough, Paul Hawken, Sandra Hay, Nick Heldfond, Julia Butterfly Hill, Rachel Humphrey, Susan Kamprath, Arshinder Kaur, Rachael Sydney Knight, John Knox, Shannon Laliberte, Leah Lamb, Scott Leonard, Susan Ma, Angela Mason, Catriona MacGregor, Brittany McCormick, AJ Pell, Dave Phillips, Erica Priggen, Heidi Quante, Carole Roberts, Beth Robertson, Gaya Roshan, Ben Schick, Karly Sherwood, Caitlin Sislin, Reetu Sogani, Pandora Thomas, Joshua Vogelstein, Janet Wallace, Karri Winn, Earth Island Institute, WEA’s founding mothers, and all our devoted fellows, global peers, exchange participants, interns, and volunteers: WEA was built in your loving hands.