Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz was born in Havana, Cuba on October 21, 1925. She first gained recognition in the 1950s, as a singer with the orchestra Sonora Matancera. Relocating to the United States after the ascent of Fidel Castro, Cruz recorded 23 gold records with Tito Puente, the Fania All-Stars and other collaborators. Cruz died in New Jersey in 2003, at the age of 77.


Posted on January 18, 2016 .

Cathy Freeman

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Cathy was the first Aboriginal runner to win a gold metal in the Commonwealth Games in Auckland at the age of 16.  She was also the first Indigenous Australian track and field athlete to compete in the Olympic games, winning a silver in Atlanta in 1996 and gold in Sydney in 2000.  In 1990 she was voted Young Australian of the Year and in 1998 she was name Australian of the Year.  She established the Cathy Freeman Foundation in 2007, which promotes educational opportunities for disadvantaged aboriginal children. To learn more about the Cathy Freeman Foundation http://www.cathyfreemanfoundation.org.au/

Posted on December 1, 2015 .

Kennedy Odede

CEO & Founder of Shining Hope for Communities

Courtesy of SHOFCO

Courtesy of SHOFCO

"Kennedy is one of Africa’s best-known community organizers and social entrepreneurs. He was raised in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa, where he experienced the devastating realities of life in extreme poverty. Still, he dreamed about changing his community.

While working at a factory in 2004, Kennedy saved 20 cents, purchased a soccer ball, and started the Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) movement. Driven by the innovation and entrepreneurial spirits of the people of Kibera, SHOFCO became the largest grassroots organization in the slum.

Although he was entirely informally educated, Kennedy received a full-scholarship to Wesleyan University, becoming one of Kibera’s first to receive an education from an American liberal arts institution. He graduated in 2012 as the Commencement Speaker and with honors in Sociology. Kennedy was awarded the 2010 Echoing Green Fellowship, which is given to the world’s top emerging social entrepreneurs. He won the 2010 Dell Social Innovation Competition, wrote two Op-Eds that appeared in the New York Times, was named one of Forbes’ 2014 30 Under 30: Social Entrepreneurs, and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. His work has been featured in the PBS documentary Half the Sky, by Chelsea Clinton and Maria Menounos on NBC, by President Bill Clinton, and on multiple occasions by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. Kennedy speaks six languages, is a senior fellow with Humanity in Action, and an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow. He splits his time between Nairobi and New York City."


Posted on October 18, 2015 .

Artemisia Gentileschi

Probably the first great female Italian painter, Artemisia Gentileschi was a reference in the development of the painting of the 1600s. She was the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence, at a time when women did not have the possibility of studying anatomy or drawing from life (it was considered unacceptable for a lady to view nudes). Per the custom at that time it was impossible for female painters to hire models or teachers as their sole presence in the female painter’s atelier could ruin her reputation. Today she is considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation after Caravaggio.

Posted on August 2, 2015 .

Pratiwi Sudarmono

Born in Bandung, Indonesia in the year 1952, this badass woman earned her Master's degree from the University of Indonesia and her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Osaka, Japan.  After receiving her Ph.D., Pratiwi was selected to serve on  NASA mission STS-61-H as a Payload Specialist, which later was to be cancelled.  She now works at the University of Indonesia as a professor of Microbiological Science.  We look up to her for pioneering microbiological science in Asia and being the FIRST astronaut from Indonesia.  Talk about fearless.  

Posted on June 8, 2015 .

Concepción Picciotto


Also known as "Conchita", this firecracker and peace activist from Vigo, Spain has been holding her peace camps in Lafayette Square across from the White House for many years.  Concepción has been involved in politics from quite a young age beginning with the Spanish Consulate upon her immigration to the United States at the age of 18.  She is well-known for protesting nuclear weapons, as well as carrying out the longest act of political protest in the U.S. What a visionary! 

Posted on March 29, 2015 .

Sangeeta Sodha

Sangeeta and her team collect used sarees (sari) from vendors in India and recycle them into garments, bags, cushions, bedcovers, and other houseware items.  The word sari is Sanskrit, meaning “strip of clothing" and is a main staple in traditional Indian fashion.  Her dream is to provide work opportunity for women and the poor in India, a very worthy cause. In 2013 UNICEF reported that the literacy rate for women in India was 67.6%. We also believe that providing women in India with jobs is very important for the growth of the country as a whole.  So this month we are giving praise to Sangeeta for her generous, compassionate heart and the humanitarian work she does!

Posted on March 29, 2015 .

María Elena Moyano

María Elena Moyano was a female activist of Afro-Peruvian descent, born in Lima during the year 1958.  At the young age of 24, she became the president of a federation of women called the Ferderación popular de mujeres de Villa El Salvador.  She became a voice for the shantytowns in Peru during the 80s.  María brought awareness to the exclusion of women in society, even within the impoverished shantytowns.  Tragically Moyano was murdered by the guerilla group, Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path) in the year 1992.


“… the revolution opens up to life, to individual and collective dignity; it is a new ethic. The revolution is not death, or imposition, or submission, nor fanaticism. The revolution is new life, convincing people to struggle for a fair, decent society, side by side with the organizations created for our people, respecting its interior democracy and grafting new buds of power for the new Peru. I shall continue to stand alongside my people, women, youngsters and children; I shall continue to struggle for peace in the name of social justice”. -María Elena Moyano

Posted on March 29, 2015 .