Nearly all aspects of my background tie into the larger intention driving my work.
Below, I share the key areas of my life that have continuously inspired me to deepen my commitment to my life's work.
I grew up on a certified organic farm in rural Pennsylvania. Most of my childhood was spent learning to work the land, to grow food that would sustain our family, and how to care for our animals. I learned to respect the land and animals that fed and provided for us. I spent most of my time outside, either in the fields working or on the back of my horse galloping through the creeks and forests. Living off of the land brings with it a constant awareness of your direct impact and dependence on the environment. This lifestyle provided me a fundamental basis for sustainable practices that I would continuously build into my life as I got older.
My professional path unpredictably led me to Asia, where I spent several years working as a Manufacturing Manager for a product development company based in the USA. Fresh out of college and eager to get field experience, I had the rare opportunity to learn firsthand the ins and outs of international supply chain management. I developed our sourcing office in Hong Kong, establishing supplier qualification systems, performed pre-audits, managed cost/timeline and quality negotiations and oversaw production. I developed and managed supplier relationships and grew our capacity.
While working with factories in China, I realized my passion for cross-cultural communication and dynamic conflict resolution. I also realized an overwhelming sense of responsibility for contributing to the degradation of our environment through the production of essentially useless promotional products. I saw horrendous working conditions in factories, and even though my company chose not to do business with those particular factories, I couldn't help but notice that their production lines were operating at full capacity. I was also directly affected by the severe pollution of the factory cities when I developed a lung condition as a result of it. I found myself overwhelmed by the volume of "stuff" I witnessed being produced, and frustrated with my own inability to influence change.
I decided to step away from the industry, to shift my perspective and reimagine my role. I knew there was vast opportunity to influence positive change in this space, but I was uncertain of the best way to go about it. I felt cynical about the state of "business as usual" and depleted from the environmental and social degradation I had witnessed. So I went for a walk; a very long walk. Over the course of five months, I walked from Maine to Georgia, the entire 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail, carrying with me everything I needed. Nothing teaches you how little you actually need, nor to appreciate the quality of long lasting, durable goods, quite like carrying everything you have on your back. The hike opened me up to a new level of vulnerability, and I had the honor and privilege of being swept up in the kindness of strangers that I constantly encountered along the trail. The trail offered a sanctuary of daily ritual in nature, in many ways it restored my faith in humanity, while also allowing me to evaluate the intention of my work and place in this world.
After finishing the trail, I was eager to get back to work in supply chain, seeking a vocation in an arena where I could be an agent of positive change. I began working for a social compliance monitoring firm in San Francisco called Level Works. What attracted me to this company was their commitment to establishing and maintaining supply chain transparency, rather than glossing over the challenges it presents- they were taking ethical sourcing and corporate responsibility seriously, and I appreciated this. They were an entrepreneurial group committed to challenging the status quo of the audit industry, pushing their clients to take a more customized, effective approach. The integrity that drove our process and purpose was a guiding light for the company and its employees and it was a breath of fresh air for me as I dropped back into the complex intricacies of our globalized economies.
In this work I found opportunity to utilize my expertise in supply chain management to produce effective and practical systems and tools for the implementation of code of conduct programs. I also found space for my heart to come into my work as I dove deeper into the realities of human rights and environmental issues that affect every product we buy and sell. I worked with Fortune 100 companies to build social compliance programs, cultivate responsible sourcing strategies and business practices and evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs. I developed a strong base of knowledge focused on labor and environmental issues across the top 25 sourcing countries. I worked with companies in industries that included electronics, agriculture, food processing, consumer goods, apparel, footwear, and toys. I developed an expertise in strategy to manage issues such as child labor, human trafficking, and transparency (such as undocumented workers, falsified payroll and timecards, illegal outsourcing etc.).
I loved this work, especially the opportunity to engage in meaningful work with so many innovative minds and hearts around the world. I still have a deep love of and passion for this work.
After five years with Elevate (formerly Level Works), I decided to again take a break from the industry. To be frank, the weight of this work was bearing down on me- the knowledge of so many problems in the world, the vastness and complexity of those problems, and the slow pace of progress- it can weigh heavily at times. I was in deep need of rest and solace in the midst of what had become a very busy life. I knew that if I had any hope to continue my work in this space with fresh eyes, grounded optimism and creative ingenuinity that was so desperately needed, I would have to leave the "rate race" and nurture my soul.
With my husband I moved to Chile, holding close the intention explore some wild places, devote more time and energy to writing, and once again shift my perspective and reimagine my role in this industry, and this world. After several months of traveling across the country, we landed in the small volcano town of Pucón, in Southern Chile. Since arriving in Chile, I've worked on several local projects with organic vineyards, sustainable building projects, and community development. I've climbed a lot of mountains. I've skinned up live volcanos, galloped horses through the Andes, and surfed with dolphins in the south. My husband and I also spent four months riding our horses 1000 kilometers across Patagonia, connecting with wild places and remote communities.
I recently became a board member of Fundación Llancalil, through which I'm supporting the restoration and re-wilding of 1200 acres of old growth native forests just outside of Pucón. It is both an incredible honor and gift to be asked to be one of the Directors of this inspiring project that will honor the preservation of Chile's ancient forests through wilderness education programs and reciprocal conservation practices.
In the midst of this life in the wild and remote south of Chile, I have reconnected with the global network of corporate social responsibility and responsible sourcing professionals and projects, and I currently offer services as an independent consultant. I am continuing to consult on responsible supply web strategy, with a particular focus on creating systems and communication devices that establish and support transparency and accountability. I find myself weaving new and wonderful connections with folks leading inspiring companies and initiatives all across the world- leaders who are unafraid to take on the vast challenges of transparency, who are committed to traceability and meaningful impact, and are willing to lean into the essential work of building organizations and businesses with integrity and heart.
Most recently I've found myself at a professional confluence of purpose, and I've decided to weave my passion for regenerative and resilient companies, communities and individuals, with my deep passion and love of working with horses. In April 2018, I received my certification in Equine Facilitated Learning and Coaching, and I'm now in the midst of launching a company here in Chile called CuraKuda, where we work in partnership with our horses to craft authentic leadership & personal development experiences that explore how inner transformation supports outer innovation. We offer equine-led expeditions (multi-day, mixed adventure treks in partnership with horses), free-range horse herd experiential learning journeys (focus on horse communication/language of the herd, team-building, organizational coherence) and round pen experiences that feature equine facilitated coaching (support leadership development and personal development/emotional awareness). These body-based experiences, facilitated on the ground and in the saddle, develop mindfulness, cultivate leadership skills, expand emotional agility, and build awareness of the interconnectedness between humans and the environments around us. The horses work in partnership with us as sentient catalysts for change.
We facilitate this work with a consciousness of the physical impact we have on the land and wilderness areas we access. In order to ensure we are working toward our vision of operating a company that is a regenerative presence that cultivates resilience, we are dedicated to integrating regenerative grazing practices and holistic land management techniques in the environments where we live and work with the herd. To better understand how best to do this, we are studying the relationship between horse herds, pasturelands and wilderness areas to inform how we can modify our services and operations so that they work in collaborative partnership with the local ecosystem. It's our mission to embody a regenerative presence that cultivates a resilient planet. We have embedded a circular design into all aspects of our business strategy from the ground up, with dedicated commitments to economic, social and environmental initiatives. We are starting small but thinking big- this is a long term journey toward a large scale impact.
I am continuously seeking thought partners who are willing to journey through the most challenging aspects of our reality- those who are willing to seek a level of transparency that invokes and inspires true authenticity- within individuals and the organizations or communities they manage and lead, individuals who are willing to explore their inner and outer landscapes, and are committed to believing in the beauty we can collectively create in this world.
I look forward to finding our way toward one another.
Visit my Linkedin profile for a detailed overview of my professional experience.