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In Memoriam: Wangari Maathai, Environmentalist and Peacemaker

September 26, 2011

We were terribly saddened to receive news this morning about the passing of Wangari Maathai. As a life so full would have it, she held numerous honors and distinctions. We were honored to recognize her with the 1991 Goldman Environmental Prize and will forever be inspired by her unwavering commitment to the environment and social justice.

Here are some reflections from staff members who knew her well:

“In the instant I met her, it was so clear that I was in the presence of greatness. Wangari’s smile and warmth were so beautifully in sync with her strength and determination. Her fascinating, difficult, courageous and ultimately inspiring life is something that we all have the privilege and responsibility to learn from and take with us as we, each in our own way, work for justice and a sustainable world. I have a photo of Wangari and me from that day in Washington, and I will treasure it always.”

“We were fortunate to have met Wangari and spent time with her on several occasions following the 1991 Prize. Her presence was so warm and strong that you couldn’t help but be drawn to her when she walked into the room. Her commitment to helping others and making the world a better place seemed her role in life. It was impossible not to realize this when you were around her. Mr. Goldman was especially fond of her and proud of her many accomplishments. She was a force, no doubt, and she and her family are in our thoughts and prayers.”

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