Melinda Kramer is a passionate advocate for social justice, the environment and women’s rights. An environmentalist by training, with a cultural anthropology background, Melinda has lived and worked around the world learning from grassroots leaders on the frontlines of environmental crises. Whether it was the Midwest United States where toxic lead smelters poisoned children, or rural Kenya where girls walked 4 hours to access water instead of an education, or the Arctic where indigenous lands, traditions, and rights were threatened daily by climate change, Melinda encountered the same phenomenon: Women were at the center–uniquely impacted, consistently marginalized, and leading the charge.
In 2005, she and her colleagues set out to bridge the resource gap for grassroots women tackling our world’s most critical environmental efforts. What began as a small convening of 30 women leaders from 26 countries rapidly grew into WEA’s thriving global network.
Before co-founding Women’s Earth Alliance, Melinda worked in Kenya with CARE International on sustainable agriculture and health projects. Later her work took her throughout the North Pacific Rim with Pacific Environment, partnering with grassroots leaders to grow the capacity of environmental movements in China, the Russian Far East, and Alaska. Melinda built training curricula, led cultural exchanges, and facilitated the International Bering Sea Forum, a long-term collaboration of Russian and Alaskan scientists, policy makers, fisherman, NGOs, and indigenous leaders. At the Natural Capital Institute, Melinda was a key contributor to WiserEarth.org, a global communication platform for NGO leaders. She also co-founded and grew the Global Women’s Water Initiative, equipping grassroots women with training and expertise in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). Melinda serves on the Board of Regeneration, a book and initiative launched by environmentalist, Paul Hawken.
Melinda received her anthropology and environmental policy training from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Melinda is of Ashkenazi Jewish and Northern European roots, and was raised in New York. She lives with her husband and two children in Berkeley, California. She is a trained facilitator, an avid hiker, and a lover of languages, speaking passable Spanish along with some Swahili and Mandarin. Hear Melinda’s Tedx story here.