Celebrating Women Who MAKE TRAVEL MATTER<sup>®</sup> hero image

Celebrating Women Who MAKE TRAVEL MATTER®

This International Women’s Day, we interviewed three inspiring women involved with our TreadRight partners about their work, their accomplishments, and their advice to women and girls with a passion for making positive change. See what they had to say below. 



Co-Founder and Executive Director of Fundación Proyecto Tití

Fundacion Proyecto Titi is a multi-disciplinary on-site conservation program dedicated to conserving the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin in Colombia. 


1. Can you briefly tell us the story behind what inspired you to create Fundación Proyecto Tití along with Dr. Anne Savage? 


I was trained as an architect in my hometown Barranquilla, (northern Colombia,) but loved everything related to designing buildings and spaces in tune with the natural surroundings. With a Fulbright scholarship I got a Masters of Landscape Architecture in the USA. My first job when I returned to Colombia was to redesign the Barranquilla Zoo. That’s where I saw cotton-tops for the first time and fell in love with them. I ended up being appointed as the Zoo Director, and that’s when I met Dr. Anne Savage, who founded Proyecto Tití. I felt that was my chance to make a difference for cotton-tops so I partnered with her to create Fundación Proyecto Tití and help protect the monkeys. In 2008 I left the zoo and since then, I lead the efforts to secure a long-term future for the monkeys and their forest home. 


2. What’s one accomplishment you’re proud of? 


I am very proud of how much forest we have protected for cotton-tops over the last 10+ years. We helped create four protected public areas that secure more than 5,100 hectares of forest for the monkeys, and we created our own forest reserve that, to date, has expanded to 439 hectares. 


Protecting and restoring the forest for cotton-tops also protects the home of many other animal and plant species that are part of our amazing biodiversity in northern Colombia, and it helps secure water and food for local communities. So, what benefits the monkey also benefits us people. That makes me truly happy! 


3. What is special about the cotton-top tamarin, and is there anything these primates have taught you? 


They’re very unique. They’re only found in this little corner of northwest Colombia, nowhere else in the country or in the world. This is the same place where I was born and raised, so it makes me proud to lead the efforts to secure a long-term future for this jewel of nature. Besides, they’re critically endangered, so that makes them even more special, and it is our responsibility as Colombians to do everything in our power to avoid their extinction.


Cotton-tops are about the size of a squirrel – a one-pound monkey. They live in family groups, and their behaviour is very similar to us humans. They have taught me the importance of teamwork, of family, of caring and protecting each other, of protecting our surroundings, and the importance of giving so that you can receive. 


4. What advice would you give women and girls who are passionate about making a change in the world? 


My father used to say “the secret of happiness is to find something you feel very enthusiastic about.” So if you feel passionate about making a change in the world, I would say “GO FOR IT!”  


Passion is the motor of all things in life. 


It gives a sense of purpose in life, when you choose a career in conservation. We need more people leading and joining the efforts to secure a future for our wildlife and wild places. 


Conservation gives you the opportunity to generate positive change in others and for others. That’s very gratifying and it makes a huge difference! So, GO FOR IT!  



Founder and Executive Director of Lakota Youth Development 

Lakota Youth Development is a non-profit serving the youth of the Rosebud tribal nations in South Dakota, with a mission to reclaim Lakota language, culture and spirituality. They do this by promoting education and healthy lifestyles for youth through culturally based strategies. 


1. Can you briefly tell us the story behind why you created Lakota Youth Development? 


Our organization was started initially to provide education and support for tribal members with psychiatric disabilities; we then expanded our support to tribal members with all types of disabilities. We quickly realized that there would never be enough resources for tribal members that acquired preventable disabilities. So, we became an accredited prevention services provider. We focus on our youth as there was a terrible epidemic of suicides. The tribe did a survey of all youth and found what they needed most was access to their culture and spirituality.  We found a culturally specific evidence prevention model and began focusing on helping our youth reclaim their cultural identity that was missing in their lives. I, myself, had to learn our cultural ways only when I went to tribal college and was able to seek out knowledgeable elders. Knowing who we are and whose shoulders we stand is vital to becoming a fully functioning adult. 


2. What’s one accomplishment you’re proud of? 


It is difficult to answer this as in our Lakota culture we are taught to be humble and allow others to speak of your accomplishments. However, in this case I would say my greatest accomplishment regarding LYD is keeping this nonprofit growing for 30 years and creating a permanent 10-acre campus that youth will enjoy for generations.  


 3. What is a piece of motivational wisdom you like to give Indigenous Youth? 


Find your strengths, try as many new healthy things as possible. Remember you are the person your grandmother prayed for. 


4. What advice would you give women and girls in particular who are passionate about making a change in the world? 


Do it, strengthen yourselves as you will be attacked from all directions as you pursue your passion. But you are the heartbeat of our nation, and you are here for a purpose. Find it and fulfill your dreams. 



Chief Visionary Officer of Crypto Blockchain Plug, the first African American Owned Brick and Mortar Cryptocurrency Exchange in the United States, and participant of the Pathways Project

The Pathways Project aims to increase representation of Black, Indigenous and other historically underrepresented individuals in travel and tourism, with a focus on integrating program participants into roles in the guided tour space. 


1. What drew you to the travel industry? 


I would like to do a tour around Los Angeles and share the impact that Cryptocurrency has had on our society and teach about what Cryptocurrency is. 


2. How is your experience with the Pathways Project so far? 


My experience with Pathways has been awesome.  After engaging with Pathways, I was able to see the full scope of the tour industry. It was so much more than I ever imagined.  Pathways had a way of digging deep inside of all the participants to allow them to embody the tour experience from the Tour Guide and Tour Manager, to the tourist perspective, and it was fabulous. 


What Pathways has done for me as a business owner is it has opened my eyes to the new possibilities of owning my own tour company.  I am completing a proposal for how to get Tour Companies to accept Bitcoin for their tours. We started a company named “The Feel Trips” since coming back from the Pathways training.  Our goals are to organize and lead economically challenged students on tour and teach them about financial literacy utilizing the road and monuments as our classroom, and Pathways has shown us how to do that.   We will also be leading Civil Rights Pilgrimages from the West Coast to the South to help those born in America understand American History.  Last but not least, we are going to lead empathy and tolerance tours to help individuals understand and reconcile with the true history of America.   


3. What’s one accomplishment you’re proud of? 


One accomplishment that I am proud of is I came back after the Pathways Tour experience and mapped out what a Crypto Tour would look like here in Los Angeles and am awaiting my first experience. 


4. What advice would you give women and girls who are passionate about making a change in the world? 


Start UGLY!  There is a book called Start Ugly and what that means is there will never be a perfect time to execute your dreams because something will always be in the way, always on your plate, but you must just start.