Who's That Gal: Leila Chambers of Flying Kites
Leila Chambers, Executive Director of Flying Kites, is a truly inspiring woman. Inspired by what she saw while studying abroad, she helped open a school in rural Kenya. Now, she splits her time between Njabini and Boston. We're thrilled to have her speak at our upcoming Ladies Lounge event!
So, what is Flying Kites?
We run a prep school in the foothills of Kenya’s Aberdares Mountain ranges. Our vision is to be able to offer vulnerable children access to a high-quality education. We opened a home for orphaned children in 2007 and we opened our school for critically-poor children in 2010. We now have 85 kids who live and learn through Flying Kites. Our goal is to provide them with the resources they need to take on leadership roles in their communities.
Our US offices are here in Boston, and we support the school with general development, child sponsorship programs, and a volunteer program where people raise money and then visit Kenya as part of a guided trip. We also have an adventure challenge program, whereby people fundraise for Flying Kites before joining us on a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro or to Everest Base Camp.
What do you do as Executive Director?
My role is largely about fundraising. We have a team of 30 in Kenya, including strong leadership, so I focus more on development versus day-to-day operations.
Why Boston? Why is this a good place for the U.S office?
We started the organization in Newport, RI, and then had an office in New York for a few years, and moved to Boston almost two years ago. We love Boston because there is a strong sense of community here. It’s an incredibly philanthropic and internationally-minded community.
What are some of the challenges of running an international nonprofit?
There are lots. Connecting people here to issues abroad can be challenging. Here, we don’t see the same type of poverty that challenges Flying Kites students, so to get people to understand our mission, we have to be good at communicating the problems facing many of the children we serve in rural Kenya, while at the same time, conveying how much good stuff is happening, everyday, on the ground. It’s a balance of need and hope; it can be hard to get it right without feeling like you are compromising in one way or another.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs that want to give back?
What is next for Flying Kites?
We have some very exciting things in the works - we are launching a capital campaign in the fall to more than double the size of our school to accommodate about 180 students!
2 words that describe my style:
I’d like to say “classic”, but its probably closer to “mainstream”.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, no question.
Favorite thing about summer?
Last book you read?
My most recent read was A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Sarah Shourd - my husband is always giving me these books that completely overload my nervous system!
COME MEET LEILA AT LADIES LOUNGE
Join the JUGs, General Assembly, and WeWork for a night of inspiration on the theme of social enterprise + entrepreneurship with our lovely speakers, Leila, and Emily Cunningham of True Moringa.
Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 6pm - 8pm
WeWork Fort Point
51 Melcher St.
Boston, MA 02210