Murugi Kenyatta will be recognized for her advocacy work with San Diego’s Somali and East African refugee population at the OceanLeaf Awards Celebration Oct. 17. Born and raised in Kenya, she said she witnessed the power of women and the role they played in strengthening families and improving communities in East Africa. As a member of the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, Kenyatta is involved in two Rotary-funded projects that benefit the East African community in San Diego — Project Refuge (under the auspices of the Somali Family Services) and the Somali Women Sewing Center (under the auspices of Horn of Africa).
She also brings her experience and passion to the mission of the Foundation for Women where she serves as the community liaison and a critical connection between the organization and the communities it serves in San Diego.
What brought you to La Jolla?
For the last three years I have worked for the Foundation for Women (FFW), an organization that works to empower underserved women in San Diego and Liberia by providing them with microloans, training and business support so that they can start and build sustainable livelihoods. FFW was founded by Deborah Lindholm, a La Jollan and Rotarian.
What might you add, substract or improve in the area?
La Jolla is one of the most picturesque communities. It is a beautiful area that is filled with abundance. It would be impossible for me to add or subtract anything from it.
Who or what inspires you?
The women that we serve in San Diego are a great inspiration. They are resilient, passionate and very hardworking. It is wonderful to see them seize the opportunities provided to them and transform their lives, families and communities. I am truly inspired by women like micro-entrepreneur Jaimi Lutz, who has used the microloans and training from FFW to start and build a viable business. Jaimi makes and sells vegan cookies while raising two young children. She attends FFW’s weekly meetings, picks up her children from school, and makes time to market her cookies around the county. She does it tirelessly so that she can be able to support herself and her family. There is no doubt that her drive and determination will take her business, Jaimi’s Lovin’ Cookies, to greater heights of success.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
Wangari Maathai (Kenyan environmental and political activist; first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize), Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian author), Dambisa Moyo (international economist and author), João Gilberto (Brazilian singer and guitarist), Aung San Suu Kyi (Chairperson for the National League for Democracy in Burma) and Pablo Neruda (a Chilean poet).
What are you reading?
I'm currently reading “Imperial Reckoning” by Caroline Elkins.
What do you most dislike?
What is your most-prized possession?
That would be my late mother’s memoir that is written in her own handwriting.
What do you do for fun?
Discover and explore San Diego County — on foot or by car.
What is your philosophy of life?
UBUNTU: Showing humanity to others is what makes us human — a strong sense of community, sharing and generosity.
What would be your dream vacation?
To visit the Southern part of Africa and have an opportunity to tour and meet the people of Botswana, Nambia, Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa.