Wanjira Mathai ’94 was recently featured as the “Personality of the Week” by The Daily Nation, one of Kenya’s most popular newspapers. An international steward of environmental sustainability and women’s equality, Mathai is the chair of the Greenbelt Movement, co-chair of the Global Restoration Council, chair of the Wangari Maathai Foundation (WMF) and director of the Women Entrepreneurship in Renewables (wPOWER) Hub.
The article features a question and answer session with Mathai, in which she discusses some of her many achievements and her greatest sources of inspiration. Most recently, Mathai’s work has focused on the WMF, established to advance the legacy of her mother, the late Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai Sc. D. ’94, P’94, P’96 who in 2008 received the Elizabeth Blackwell Award. The organization amplifies Maathai’s message to aspire to an idea bigger than oneself by supporting ideas and initiatives that demonstrate every person can make a difference.
Mathai has also continued her longtime involvement with the Green Belt Movement, which was started by her mother and that works to restore degraded landscapes, protect open green spaces and empower communities to protect their environment. As director at wPOWER at the Wangari Maathai Institute at the University of Nairobi, Mathai works to address energy, poverty and climatic change by promoting the central role that women must play in clean energy entrepreneurship.
Growing up in Kenya, Mathai came to the United States to attend Hobart and William Smith, where she majored in biology and participated in chorale, jazz ensemble and Hai Timiai. She later studied public health and business at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and Goizueta School of Business. She also worked as senior program officer for international health at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta focusing on issues of disease eradication.
The full “Personality of the Week” profile is available here.