Meet the Interns: Hey, Laura!


We are so excited to welcome another incredible young women to our WEA internship team this Summer! Meet Laura, who is poised to make a significant impact on the world. Laura will be supporting our Programs + Operations this month. We can’t wait to learn from her and weave her into WEA’s fabric. Please help us give her a warm welcome!

Name: Laura Lira

Hometown: Hayward, CA

If you had a superpower, what would it would be (and why)?: The ability to shapeshift! I could turn into whichever animal I want and be big or small, fly or swim.

How did you find WEA? I found WEA through a dear mentor and teacher who thought that this organization was doing great things! She really wanted me to learn about WEA and the work they do to support powerful women and a protected environment. My teacher knew I was passionate about both of these two fundamental issues (critical to improving our communities), so I was really fortunate she made that connection for me.

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I wanted to intern at WEA because I became so on-board with the idea of creating opportunities for women to thrive and protect the environment. It is important to provide women with the tools they need so they are capable of creating strong communities. WEA’s work tackles more than one problem.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. It is hard to name one person as I draw inspirations from multiple women in my life. My mom, my look-alike aunt, and one of my former English teachers all have qualities (independence, strength, love, and simplicity towards life) that I admire and want to integrate in myself.
Why women and why the environment? Women are a powerful force. We live in a world that has forced women to be dependent, and held back, so giving them the resources they need to rise is very necessary. The disregard to the environment has also gone on way longer than it should have, and continuing that will bring about terrible ends. Throughout trips I have taken I have held all my encounters with nature close to me. It’s important that we stop delaying change and instead create a more conscious and healthy relationship with the earth and all that it provides us.

What does your life outside WEA look like? Outside of WEA, I spend my time teaching martial arts, volunteering at the zoo, and rooting for the San Francisco Giants! I also really like drawing and learning about animals. Raising awareness to the public about the ways human activities affect wildlife and their environment has grown to be a part of my life. As I spread the word, I also work to eliminate the things I know I’m doing that negatively affect the environment.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? My favorite thing to do in the Bay Area is to explore new places. I’ve lived here all my life and I still have so many places to see, hike, and just adventure through with friends.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I’m currently reading State of Wonder and trying to catch up on The Flash.

Meet the Interns: Oh hey, Ro!


Ever wonder who keeps these blog posts coming? Who keeps the drumbeat of our social media channels going? Well, it’s a team effort, and this summer that effort is being led by WEA’s Communications + Outreach Intern, Ro! As a current Media Studies major at the University of California, Berkeley, we couldn’t dream of anyone more ideal to be helping us to make sure our community (that’s you!) is as up-to-date and engaged with our work and partners as possible.

We’re so excited to share with you a little bit more about this communications powerhouse! Meet Ro!

Name: Roisin (Ro) Duffy
Hometown: Mill Valley, CA

If you had a superpower, what would it be (and why)?: To have the ability to control time! I often think of times when I wish I could rewind and relive a specific/memorable event, or pause a great moment so I could really take it in and appreciate it for as long as possible. Time flies when you’re having fun and loving a moment, so why not have the power to pause and/or go back and experience it all over again?

Why did you want to intern with WEA? WEA’s mission is to protect the earth and strengthen communities by equipping women with the power to do so. I think that this goal is incredibly important, as gender equality and female empowerment are elements which are often overlooked when it comes to environmental issues. However, these elements are so important to take into account as women are often the backbone of communities. I fully support WEA’s goals and I wanted an opportunity to be a part of WEA’s mission.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. I am currently on the Cal Women’s Rowing team, and I honestly would have to say that every single girl who is a part of that team is an inspiration to me. It is truly inspiring being surrounded by such driven, hardworking, and supportive individuals—they are my motivation.

Why women and why the environment? I have always had a passion for the outdoors and the environment—I think that growing up in such a beautiful area contributed to this passion. In addition, I have always had a passion for women’s rights and gender equality. I have taken a number of Gender and Women Studies classes at Cal, which has really opened my eyes to gender related issues and has piqued my interests even more. Women are incredibly important to our communities, and we can only better our communities (and the world) by empowering women and giving them the opportunities to do so.

What does your life outside WEA look like? I am a senior at Cal majoring in Media Studies. In addition to that, I am also on the Cal Women’s Rowing team, which defines me in so many ways and is something that I truly love being a part of (go bears!). In my free time I love being outside, adventuring with my friends and my family, eating and exploring new restaurants, and of course being with my dogs.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I am a Bay Area native, so being at home with my family and friends is one of my favorite things. I also love going to the beach (Stinson beach) with my dogs and swimming (when it’s not too cold!)

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I am currently watching the new season of Orange is the New Black and catching up on Game of Thrones! I have also been listening to a podcast called “My Favorite Murder” (which I highly recommend!).

Meet the Interns: Welcome Megan!


Are you as excited as we are to welcome our summer interns to the team? Megan is yet another intelligent, skilled and dedicated women who will be supporting our Programs + Operations team this summer.

A current Master’s student at the University of San Francisco, we can’t wait to read Megan’s thesis on the gendered impacts of community-based conservation initiatives at Amboseli National Park in Kenya, and see the positive impact she makes for women and environment in her career. We’re so lucky to work with her!

Name: Megan Clemens
Hometown: Broomfield, Colorado

If you had a superpower, what would it be (and why)? 
If I had a superpower, I would want it to be the ability to speak many languages because I have always wanted to be multilingual. Other than English I am proficient in Spanish, but someday I hope to learn more languages.

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I wanted to Intern at WEA because I am passionate about WEA’s mission to bolster female leadership while protecting the environment. Female empowerment and environmental sustainability are issues that represent a big part of who I am both personally and academically. Also, interning at WEA means working with a very impressive and amazing group of women.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. This is a tough question, because there are so many inspiring women in my life. However, since I was a very young girl I have been inspired by Jane Goodall because her approach to researching chimpanzees was completely revolutionary, and she has also become an incredible leader for conservation. Also, she is 83 years old and traveling and sharing her messages of hope and inspiring change — which is pretty awesome!

Why women and why the environment? Since I was a young girl I have always felt drawn to the outdoors, the environment and conservation. Growing up I spent most of my time outdoors — climbing trees in my backyard, going on mountain biking adventures with my family. I always watched animal planet any chance I got and read every book I could on topics related to conservation. As I grew up I became more aware of women’s issues and was able to piece together the intersectionality of women’s issues and environmental issues. I was incredibly inspired by Vandana Shiva and Maria Mies’ book on Ecofeminism, and I am currently researching topics related to women and the environment through my master’s course work and independent research.

What does your life outside WEA look like? I am pursuing a Master’s degree in International Studies at the University of San Francisco. Currently I am working on my thesis, researching the gendered impacts of conservation development in Kenya. I will be traveling back to Kenya later on this summer to interview Maasai women living near Amboseli National Park about their experience with wildlife conservation and tourism. Outside of school and WEA, I also work as a mental health specialist providing behavioral services to children within their academic settings in the East Bay. Also, my partner and I have 3 dogs so a lot of my time is spent adventuring with them!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I really enjoying the hiking! My favorite places are Redwood Regional Park (because it is so easy to get to from my house) but I also really enjoy Muir Woods, and Point Reyes. Also, since being in the Bay I have really enjoyed being near the ocean. I’ve been able to learn new activities like paddleboarding, and my dogs also love to visit the beach!

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? Currently, I have become very invested in watching the Handmaiden’s Tale on Hulu. I also watch a lot of documentaries, and I recently discovered a documentary series on Netflix called Tales by Light. This series follows photographers to places all of the world and also discusses the cultural and environmental significance of their work and subjects. As far as music one of my favorite bands, Dispatch, just released a new album. They are awesome because aside from being musicians they use their platform and music to discuss issues of social injustice.

Meet the Interns: Hey Abby!


One of our favorite parts about our work here at WEA is that each year we get the opportunity to spend time with passionate, inspiring and hardworking people…like Abby! Every intern who joins the WEA family brings with them an incredible array of talents, fresh ideas, and a new perspective. Their dedicated time and effort make it so that our vision of supporting women leaders around the world can be brought to life.

We’re so lucky to welcome Abby, a rising senior at American University in Washington D.C., to our Programs + Operations team this summer!

Name: Abby Newbold
Hometown: San Francisco, California!

If you had a superpower, it would be (and why): To fly! Ironically, I am terrified of heights but my greatest dream is to skydive out of a plane. If I could fly, I could skydive all the time!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? WEA plays a key role in supporting women and the environment, and very few organizations seem to be at the crossroads of the two; this makes WEA an incredibly unique and exceptional organization. I wanted to expand my own dialogue and interest in the combination of women and environment, because I am already studying environmental policy. WEA was the perfect opportunity to help me gain experience in non-profit environmental organizations while committing my work to the larger purpose of uplifting women!

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. My heroes change frequently and the list is always growing, but the woman who has inspired me most recently (I just read her memoir Unbowed!) is Wangari Maathai. Her peaceful and righteous protest in the face of opposition, her positions in the Kenyan government, founding the Green Belt Movement are such inspirational achievements I can only dream of being half as amazing.

Why women and why the environment? Women are vital to our communities, and the world is always better when we support one another. To uplift women is to uplift the world. My goal in life is to help others, especially women, achieve full recognition and presence as leaders and equal figures in our communities. As the environment becomes the greatest challenge facing our world’s leaders, women have a key role to play in the safety and success of sustainable initiatives, both in and out of government.

What does your life outside WEA look like? Here in the Bay Area, I spend time with my family, listen to NPR podcasts, hang out with friends, and work at a bakery in the city on weekends!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area? I love exploring new places to eat. There are so many great restaurants in both the city and across the bay, and I love trying new foods. Send any suggestions my way!

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? Currently reading SPQR by Mary Beard, watching Jane the Virgin (I haven’t finished Season 1 yet but I’m getting there!), and listening to Planet Money podcasts when I exercise. It’s a great distraction!

The Original Loom this Mother’s Day

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Each Mother’s Day, we lift up and celebrate the work of mothers and community caregivers around the world. It is no easy task to nurture children, birth movements, or protect our shared future on Earth.

We know that you share our vision that through women’s leadership we can create a future of balance, health, and peace for our world, and we never forget that your partnership is making this vision possible — today and throughout our decade. This Mother’s Day, with your support, WEA’s carefully planted seeds can bloom.

WEA Project Lead Sunita Rao is the Director of Vanastree Collective and Project Lead for our Seeds of Resilience Project in Karnataka, India. Sunita’s work ensures that rural women leaders and small-scale forest home gardeners in one of the most richly biodiverse and therefore severely threatened regions of southern India can advocate for their rights, promote indigenous climate-resilient seed saving practices, and support climate adaptation and mitigation.

Sunita Rao teaching a group remotely about Indigenous seeds and the Vanastree seed bank to preserve this knowledge.

In her own reflection on what it means to nurture and protect, Sunita shared:

“Women…are able to sense the pulse of things in the natural world, which cannot be explained by words. It seems to happen almost by instinct, by an ancient calling that is written into their genetic code.

[It is] the feeling that happens to each of us as we touch our foreheads to the earth — the prostration is almost by reflex, unthinking, something you are so used to. Yet, each time there is that something that sparks off a connection to the Other, that almost gives you the power to be invincible while bringing that keen awareness that you are but a humble drop.

If you remember, that is — remember where the Source is, where the original loom where your own fabric was woven came from.

We are being bombarded by change that has made social and ecological refugees of many of us. In these dark times, the hope lies in the original memory of who we really are, in the primordial bond that connects us to the earth, in what we as women are capable of and…in keeping the sacred alive.

For it is this that will continue to nurture where all else fails. And this is what we must uphold, celebrate, and bring forth over and over again.”

In honor of our mothers — and all the unstoppable women in our lives — we invite you to make a tax-deductible contribution today. Stand with us and with leaders like Sunita as we remember the connection to our original loom, and preserve this hope for future generations.

From our hearts to yours, we wish you all the happiest of Mother’s Days!