Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya is a world-renowned educator and advocate for girls' health and human rights. She has dedicated her life to creating lasting change both in rural communities in Kenya and across Africa.

Engaged at age 5, Dr. Ntaiya experienced female genital mutilation (FGM) as a young teenager in preparation for child marriage. Her life was set to follow the traditional Maasai path of ending school to become a wife and mother, but she had a different dream. She negotiated with her father to return to school after surviving FGM. Dr. Ntaiya finished high school and became the first Maasai woman from her Kenyan community to attend university in the United States. When she was accepted to college, she promised that if her community helped send her to the United States, she would return home to use her education to serve the village. She went on to earn a PhD in education from the University of Pittsburgh and returned to her community to fulfill her promise.

Dr. Ntaiya founded Kakenya’s Dream in 2008 to educate girls, end harmful traditional practices including FGM and child marriage, and transform rural communities. In 2009, the first Kakenya Center for Excellence boarding school opened its doors, serving 30 vulnerable Maasai girls. Today, Kakenya’s Dream reaches thousands of young girls, boys, and community members across rural Kenya each year through their holistic education, health, and leadership programs.

Dr. Ntaiya was featured in Bill Gates’ Heroes in the Field series in 2022 and Melinda French Gates’ book, The Moment of Lift in 2019. She is a proud Top Ten CNN Hero, National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake the World.” She was also recently appointed a 2021/2022 Senior Fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

You can learn more about Dr. Ntaiya and Kakenya’s Dream at kakenyasdream.org and through Dr. Ntaiya’s TED Talks “A girl who demanded school” and “Empower a girl, transform a community."

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