social change | January 09, 2013

Congo Activism Picks Up Steam: Catching Up With Lisa Shannon

While the Congolese conflict still rages on, human rights speaker Lisa Shannon is hopeful about the progress that is being made as of late. The humanitarian activist spoke with us here at the agency about her recent efforts to improve conditions in the nation. As the founder of Run for Congo Women and the ambassador for Women for Women International, Shannon has been deeply involved with bringing attention to the violence plaguing the Congo. She has noticed a significant increase in international attention being paid to the issue recently. Strides are being made.

When Shannon first began her involvement in this initiative she was no different than most Americans. She had a great job and was engaged to be married. However, when she was alerted to the atrocities taking place in the Congo, she realized she had to do something about it. After spending many years studying, visiting, and advocating for the region, Shannon has since enrolled in a Master's program at Harvard to learn the nuances of social movements and leadership. Pairing her first-hand experience with the knowledge gained in her program, she is currently in the process of penning a book about leadership. Believing that anyone is capable of making a difference, she plans to provide a guide for those who want to get involved but are unsure of where to start. She is working with co-author Michelle Hamilton to compile a collection of interviews from others who have followed a similar path. She is also working on a second new book about launching her Sisters of Somalia project.

While her achievements in life may not seem ordinary—helping to advance the swift passage of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act which protects Congolese lives, for example—Shannon stresses that she wants to be relatable more than admired. She wants people to know that she came from humble beginnings herself, found a cause she believed in, and taught herself how to better the world as she went along. Her speeches include remarkable personal anecdotes which Shannon combines with the lessons she's learned in her work, and she inspires her audiences to make a difference in the world.

Up Next

leadership | January 08, 2013