Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
My name is Lorna Macleod, and I’m the Founder and Executive Director of Huru International. At Huru, we envision a world where no girl or woman is limited by her period. We produce and distribute locally-made, high-quality, reusable menstrual pads to girls and women in Africa who need them. My current focus is straightforward: establish sustainable programs that allow girls and women in Africa the opportunity to chase after their biggest dreams.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
Being a member of Ellevate Network gives me the opportunity to connect with women who support other women which is really important.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Well first, it’s crucial to be passionate about the work that you do. I also think it’s important for nonprofit professionals to flexible and communicative-- especially when the majority of your staff is oversees. There’s a 7-hour time difference between our New York and Nairobi offices, and sometimes last-minute meetings or appointments just come up and you have to be adaptable.
What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
A huge accomplishment that happened in 2018 was moving into our new facility in Nairobi. The space is much bigger which means our staff offices and production lines can finally be under one roof which is so important to our Kenya team. For reference, at our old space, we could produce about 100 pads a day. Now we’ve hired many more people from the local community and are producing about 4,000 pads per day!
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
Several factors led me to where I am -- and where Huru is -- today. However, there’s one moment in time that really defined my future. Over 30 years ago I met a little boy in Nairobi’s second-largest slum, Mukuru. He needed money (only about $15) for his school fees and uniform. I gave it to him and after that I started an organization called AmericaShare which is the philanthropic arm of luxury safari company, Micato Safaris. AmericaShare provides disadvantaged youth in Kenya with access to quality education. Fast-forward to 2008 when the issue of menstrual health was brought to our team’s attention by our partners at Johnson & Johnson and Huru International was born.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is hands-down hearing the stories from the girls we work with. A pack of pads is truly capable of transforming lives, and we’ve seen it firsthand!
What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?
We want to leave behind communities that support girls. Our hope every time we leave a school or a community is that the girls we met will be encouraged to go to school and get their dream jobs, all the while managing their periods independently and confidently. Along the way, period poverty becomes a thing of the past, menstrual stigma is abolished, and girls are given the same opportunities as boys. We can’t think of a better legacy than that.
What is your morning ritual?
My mornings are really important for me to start the day off right and for personal growth. I box 2-3 times a week, and every morning around 6AM I take my dog, Buns, on a long walk with my mom who lives nearby. We love enjoying walking through the woods and seeing the seasons change, but it’s also a great way to meditate and mentally prepare for the day.
Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
I bet work/life balance is tough for a lot of women working in the nonprofit space. It’s hard to turn your brain off from thinking about the work to be done. On the other hand, I really do value a work/life balance. I try to take time away from the office when I need it, especially to spend time with family. I encourage the same of our staff, because it’s important to stay energized about the work.
What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?
Never give up. Always remember that the work you’re doing is important, and that’s what really matters.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Lorna is the Founder and Executive Director of sister nonprofits, AmericaShare and Huru International.
Since 1986, Lorna has developed AmericaShare’s diverse programs ranging from quality education for orphans and vulnerable children to business opportunities for woman to support their families, as well as establishing a community center in one of Nairobi’s largest informal settlements, Mukuru kwa Njenga. The center facilitates various educational, recreational and community-focused activities and is home to a lending library and basketball... Continue Reading
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