Archive for April, 2014

The Penguin Lady

Posted: April 18, 2014 in Uncategorized



    Dyan deNapoli is a penguin expert, TED speaker, and author of the award-winning book, The Great Penguin Rescue. Dyan grew up near the ocean and has always had a deep passion for the sea and for animals. When she first learned about endangered species as a young child, she wanted to do something to help, but felt powerless to do so. She never dreamed that one day she would have the opportunity to do something tangible to help save a species.

    Many years later, while working as a Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium, Dyan was a member of the first team of penguin experts to fly to South Africa from the United States to help manage the rehabilitation of thousands of penguins that were oiled when a ship sank near their breeding grounds. Her participation in the dramatic rescue of 40,000 penguins from the Treasure oil spill was transformative and unforgettable. The experience was so powerful that she felt compelled to share the story by writing a book about it.

    Published by Simon & Schuster’s Free Press in 2010, The Great Penguin Rescue won a Silver Nautilus Book Award, was named a “Must-Read” Book in the Massachusetts Book Awards, and was selected as “One of the best Natural Science books of 2010” by Library Journal. The New York Post put it on their “Required Reading” list, calling it “an eco-thriller with a happy ending”.

    After working closely with penguins at the New England Aquarium for nine years, Dyan founded her company, The Penguin Lady, to teach audiences worldwide about the biology, behavior, and conservation of these unique seabirds. She has been interviewed on numerous radio and TV shows in the US and abroad, including CNN’s Situation Room, the BBC, CBC Canada and Sierra Club Radio. Dyan has been the guest lecturer on nature cruises to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands and, since 1995, has taught approximately 250,000 people worldwide about penguins. Dyan’s mission is to raise awareness and funding to protect these engaging seabirds – to that end, she donates 20% of the proceeds from her book and from every appearance to penguin rescue groups.

Ron Finley, The TED Speaker

Posted: April 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

ImageAn inspiring story I got from:

“People need to realize how powerful the transformation of soil can be. We’ve gotten so far away from our food source. It’s been hijacked from us. But if you get soil, plant something in it and water it, you can feed yourself. It’s that simple.” (SOURCE: The New York Times)

Without the trappings of fame, Ron Finley is just a father who cares about his sons’ health. He fashioned a garden out of his front lawn, just as he embellishes bare walls with graffiti. The result is a free source of food and an amalgam of life in the form of plants.

TED Speaker

He was one of the founders of an organization, which was inspired by his “gangster attitude” towards gardening. Before his TED Talk, Ron and his organization had less than 30 volunteers; his TED appearance, however, gave it the media mileage it needed and multiplied its workforce more than ten-fold. According to Ron, we should break away from what food corporations dictate that we eat, as our growing indifference towards growing our own food only makes these capitalists richer.
Dubbed a “food desert,” South Central Los Angeles has one of the highest obesity rates in America. It’s a place where diabetes is also prevalent due to poor eating habits; without fresh fruits and vegetables around, people are left with few choices other than convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.
Ron’s garden inspired his neighbors (and many others after his TED talk) to think about what they eat. But what’s important to him now is that his garden enables him to silently help people who have hardly anything to eat:

“I remember this time, there was this mother and a daughter came, it was, like, 10:30 at night, and they were in my yard, and I came out and they looked so ashamed. So I’m like, man, it made me feel bad that they were there, and I told them, you know, you don’t have to do this like this. This is on the street for a reason. It made me feel ashamed to see people that were this close to me that were hungry, and this only reinforced why I do this, and people asked me, “Fin, aren’t you afraid people are going to steal your food?” And I’m like, “Hell no, I ain’t afraid they’re gonna steal it. That’s why it’s on the street. That’s the whole idea. I want them to take it, but at the same time, I want them to take back their health.” (SOURCE: TED Talks)

Yes, aside from having a green thumb, this “gangster gardener” also has a big heart.



Thanks to


If you are a parent, would you feed your children plastic? “Of course not!” No parent would. But did you know we could be doing it inadvertently by allowing plastic to populate the world? Experts estimate that by 2050, we could be producing over one-trillion pounds of plastic each year, in accordance with today’s 4-5% rise in plastic production. How do we reverse our fate? Daniella Dimitrova Russo is doing what she can through “Think Beyond Plastics” and the “Plastic Pollution Coalition.”

Her work in the environmental field began after seeing a mother albatross feed her young with food from the Pacific Garbage Patch. It was a sorry scene; we are truly drowning in our own wastes. In the name of convenience, we are putting our children’s future at risk. Plastic particles are found in our oceans, ingested by our aquatic resources, and are polluting the food chain. Like the albatross, we don’t want our kids to be eating plastics. But do we have a choice?


Daniella explains the goal of the project they started in 2009:

“Our vision is a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on people, animals and the environment. Towards this goal, we work to eliminate disposable plastics, and reduce the planetary plastic footprint. This is only possible through the combined efforts of individuals, organizations and businesses, and so we have formed the Plastic Pollution Coalition to create a common goal. We all work to educate the public on the issues with plastic; to encourage policy-makers to support our efforts and also to provide long-term economic incentives to businesses that invest in alternatives to plastic; and to form a global, international alliance.” (SOURCE: 7×7)

The “Plastic Pollution Coalition” has partnered with organizations and businesses to realize sustainable ways of life without relying on plastic. With leaders joining them from around the world, the plastic problem is now being pushed towards the world’s top issues which demand immediate action. Since the 1950s, the plastic industry has experienced a steady boom and our production has increased by 10%, causing tremendous problems like flooding and pollution which are more pressing now than ever before.


The first of Daniella’s initiatives was “Think Beyond Plastic,” an award-winning global organization. In 2009, “Think Beyond Plastic” won “Best 360 Campaign” at the Jackson Hole Film Festival. In the same year, she launched “GMO-Free Monterey County,” which is “dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of genetically-modified foods to the agricultural bounty of Monterey County. It incorporates a web site, numerous film screenings, a film festival and many other public events. Today, GMO-Free Monterey County collaborates with state-wide efforts to ban GMO crops, and to enforce labeling laws.” (SOURCE: Daniella Russo)

Feel free to support Daniella’s cause if you love your children and your planet.


  1. She founded “Think Beyond Plastic” in 2007.
  2. In 2009, “Think Beyond Plastic” won “Best 360 Campaign” at the Jackson Hole Film Festival.
  3. That same year, she co-founded another environmental organization, the “Plastic Pollution Coalition.”
  4. She was a successful career woman before becoming an environmental activist.
  5. She founded her own consultation company, “Mindzone,” in 1998.
  6. She also launched a network for people on the go, called “Planetstop.”
  7. She is the brains behind “GMO-Free Monterey County.”
  8. She helped “Infoseek,” one of the first internet companies, take off.
  9. She once worked for “Sun Microsystems.”
  10. She’s an esteemed speaker and proud mother of two.

Liya Kebede

Posted: April 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


Liya Kebede (born January 3, 1980) is an Ethiopian model who has appeared on the cover of US Vogue twice.  According to Forbes, Kebede was eleventh-highest-paid top model in the world

Kebede was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A film director spotted Kebede while she was attending Lycee Guebre Mariam and introduced her to a French modeling agent. After completing her studies, she moved to France to pursue work through a Parisian agency. Kebede later relocated to New York City. She has remarked that the modeling industry in Ethiopia is quite different from the catwalks on which she is now ubiquitous. In contrast, in Ethiopia she had to provide her own shoes for each runway show.

Kebede’s big break came when Tom Ford asked her for an exclusive contract for his Gucci Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show. Kebede was a finalist in the Miss World supermodel contest and later established a place in fashion’s elite by modeling on the New York, Milan, London and Paris runway circuit . Kebede’s popularity in the fashion industry sky-rocketed when she appeared on the cover the May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue which dedicated the entire issue to her .

Kebede has been seen on the covers of Italian, Japanese, American, French and Spanish Vogue, V, Flair, i-D and Time’s Style & Design. Kebede has been featured in ad campaigns including those for Gap, Yves Saint-Laurent, Victoria’s Secret, Emanuel Ungaro, Tommy Hilfiger, Revlon, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada and Louis Vuitton. In 2003, Kebede was named the newest face of Estée Lauder cosmetics, the first Ethiopian to serve as their representative in the company’s 57-year history. Her contract was rumoured to be for $3 million dollars .

Kebede is one of a very few African models featured in major fashion photo shoots and runway shows . According to Conor Kennedy, in 2003 a booker at Elite Model Management,

“It’s like there’s only room for one very successful black model at a time. For the past year it’s been Kebede”.

In 2005, Kebede was appointed as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. She also appeared in a group montage on a rare (as of recent years) group montage of up and coming supermodels.

In summer of 2006 she was also one of the very few non-white models to have been given a cover of American Vogue, the issue highlighted her humanitarian work.

In July 2007, earning at an estimated total of $2.5 million in the past 12 months, Forbes named her eleventh in the list of the World’s 15 Top-Earning Supermodels.

Kebede has also had minor roles in two films: The Good Shepherd and Lord of War.

In 2008, Kebede was featured on one of the four covers of Vogue Italia’s all Black Issue.
Personal life

Kebede married Ethiopian hedge fund manager Kassy Kebede in 2000 and they have two children together; son Suhul (b. 2001) and daughter Raee (b. August 2005). As of 2007, the family resides in New York City.

Aside from being a mother of two, a model, an actor, a humanitarian and a goodwill ambassador, Kebede has also designed a children’s-wear line that are made from Ethiopia. Kebede says she hopes this will part a sea of change for her home country. “It’s wonderful to be able to donate and help people,” she says.

    “Honestly, I wish I could’ve lived in their time. They had so much fun.” – Liya on the supermodel era, Vogue
    “Every day we hear about the dangers of cancer, heart disease and AIDS. But how many of us realize that, in much of the world, the act of giving life to a child is still the biggest killer of women of child-bearing age? That over half a million die every year? Or that 3 million babies are stillborn? Or that another 4 million die during the first days and weeks of life?” – during her acceptance of the 2005 UN Day Award.



I got this amazing story of this wonderful woman from:

Dr. Laura Stachel is the co-founder of the non-profit organization “WE CARE Solar.” She and herhusband, Hal Aronson, launched the organization to provide sustainable lighting systems to hospitals and clinics in developing countries where mortality rates due to childbirth are high. The “Solar Suitcase” units they have distributed to 27 countries have saved thousands of patients so far, even beyond mothers and their babies. The solar lighting system now enables clinics which lack electricity to continue their business during the night, which was previously an inconceivable feat.



Thanks to


Marlice van Vuuren has the looks of a model. Google-ing her would give you the impression that she was a celebrity before she became a conservationist, but further reading belies that notion. Marlice has been a woman of the wildlife ever since she was a kid; it’s her love for animals that catapulted her to celebrity status. Angelina Jolie discovered her wildlife sanctuary when she filmed “Beyond Borders” in 2002. She fell in love with the place, and even gave birth to her child, Shiloh, in Namibia.


The Naankuse Foundation was established by Marlice and her husband, Rudie van Vuuren, in 2006. They focus on:

• A Lifeline Clinic which provides free primary healthcare and an ambulance service to the San community in Epukiro, in rural east Namibia. On average around 3,500 patients are seen each year, 84% of whom are San with 45% being children (a quarter of whom are under 5 years old). This is a vital service for this remote marginalised community.
• The Clever Cubs Pre-primary school which provides education to 11 children and support to a further 16 children who are in mainstream schools in Windhoek. These children are all family members of our employees and largely from the San community.
• Employment on all our sites for the San community.
• A wildlife sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned or injured animals. Where possible we re-release these animals. If release is not possible we provide a loving home for these ambassador animals who help us to teach people about conservation.
• A carnivore research project which provides consultancies to farmers and landowners and advises them on issues of carnivore conflict mitigation. (SOURCE: TFWA)


In 2008, Philip Selkirk discovered Marlice’s and Rudie’s work, and was taken by Marlice’s personal struggles in achieving her goals. The documentary “Marlice – A Vision for Africa” tells her captivating story, from tending to her animals at the sanctuary to living a harmonious life with the San Community.

But even with help from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation and other partners, the couple still wants to do so much more. They are hoping to protect more animals and are looking into expanding their sanctuary so that wild lions, tigers, hyenas and cheetahs can roam freely and co-exist. Indeed, Marlice is a true-blue African.


  1. She co-founded the “N/a’an ku sê (Naankuse) Lifeline Clinic” with her husband, Rudie, and two other partners.
  2. She and her husband started “N/a’an ku sê Foundation” with the help of donors.
  3. Angelina Jolie is an international patron of their sanctuary.
  4. She started “N/a’an ku sê’s Carnivore Research Project” with her husband.
  5. She opened “Clever Cubs School” with her husband and the help of Clabile Trust.
  6. She was featured in an ad for Volkswagen with her pet cheetah, “Lucky.”
  7. Naankuse received the “International Health Promotion Award” (awarded first place in the prestigious Community Health Awards).
  8. She worked with Angelina Jolie on the film set of “Beyond Borders” by providing them with vultures from her sanctuary.
  9. She is one of the few white people who can speak the Bushman language fluently.
  10. A documentary of her life, “Marlice – A Vision for Africa,” was released in 2008.


ImageJimmy Donal Wales is an internet entrepreneur the co-founder of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that runs with an open management style. Times magazine named him in their list of ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2006.

Wales was born on 7th August 1966 in Huntsville, Alabama. He had a keen interest in general knowledge since he was a child. He accredits the Montessori Method of his schools education that was to spend a lot of time reading the Britannica’s and the World Book Encyclopedias. Wales went to Randolph School where he graduated at 16. He then enrolled in Auburn University to gain his bachelor’s degree. He received his master’s degree from University of Alabama. Jimmy Wales landed a job with Chicago Options Associates, a trading firm in Illinois. He recalls himself as being completely addicted to the internet. He even wrote computer codes as a leisure activity. Wales got inspired from Netscape’s outstanding public offering in 1995 and thus left the territory of financial trading to become an internet entrepreneur. The next year he ventured into a web portal named ‘Bomis’ that featured webrings generated by the users and erotic pictures. This however did not prove to be very successful. Although this project was not as fruitful as Wales had expected, it encouraged him to begin another endeavor, one that was also his passion; an online encyclopedia. He started ‘Nupedia’ in 2000 with Larry Sanger, a PhD student at Ohio State University, as its editor-in-chief. In 2001 an extreme programming expert, Ben Kovitz introduced the wiki concept to Wales. The main writing experts of Nupedia were not very interested in this idea because they believed it would harm the credibility of the encyclopedia.

Sanger and Wales both believed in this project thus they initiated it from another domain. Wales hoped that this would start the knowledge building that he had always wanted. Fortunately for the duo, the website had more articles than Nupedia in just a few days. Wales feared the fact that anyone could add whatever they wanted so much so that it had him awake at nights. However, the team of editors made sure that robust and good quality content was being added to the encyclopedia. There was some controversy between Wales and Sanger as Wales claimed to be the sole founder of the website. In 2003 Wales established the Wikimedia Foundation (a non-profit organization) in St. Petersburg, Florida. This was done in order to support the Wikipedia project along with other sister projects.

Jimmy Wales was listed in Time 100 ‘Scientists and Thinkers’ section in 2006. Forbes named him as one of ‘The Web Celeb 25’ and as one of the ‘Young Global Leaders’ in 2007. He has been honored with the ‘Pioneer Award’ and the ‘Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize’ in 2011. He has received other awards such as the ‘2009 Nokia Foundation’ annual award, the ‘Business Process’ award and ‘the 2008 Global Brand Icon of the Year Award’. He has also been awarded honorary degrees from Stevenson University, Amherst College, Knox College, MIREA University in Russia and Universidad Empresarial Siglo 21 of Argentina.