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Small World Spotlight: How One Woman in Philanthropy is Making an Impact

by One Tree Planted March 05, 2024 3 min read

Gloriana Gund (c) Kate Kindratieva, Ukraine
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In celebration of International Women's Day, One Tree Planted is shining a spotlight on women who are making a powerful impact in the reforestation and conservation space. We recently connected with Gloriana Gund to learn about her journey, and how she views the role of women in philanthropy as it relates to taking care of our planet.

Gloriana is a committed architect and conservation activist, born and raised in Costa Rica. True to her core of deep ecology and social wellness activism, Gloriana is a passionate advisor to non-profits in Costa Rica and the United States, including the G.Frederick Gund Foundation, Electric Planet and OSA Conservation. Being a connector between cultures, she brings empathetic vision to endeavors that range from construction, planning, investment, and architectural design to local business administration and management of local resources, amongst others.

We know you will find her story and perspective as inspiring as we do!

Can you share with us the journey that led you to become involved in philanthropy, particularly in the realm of global reforestation?

My journey into conservation began when I was 21 years old.  Coming from a sprawled urban environment, I wanted to volunteer somewhere really wild and I chose to spend 3 months of my life in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. It was dangerous to be a young woman alone taking care of a ranger station, but I was able to see my first Puma and love deeply the untouched and unique tropical lowlands and endangered forests of Costa Rica. Little did I know, I was only preparing to make impact donation decisions for a private foundation 20 years later. Being able to lead The GFCF Foundation to climate resilience projects, conservation efforts, watershed protection and building awareness to the most vulnerable has been a tough but rewarding task, if not, a true privilege. My decision making has been paramount to a number of organizations, as well as my fundraising capabilities that I didn't know I had. 

What does the role of women in philanthropy mean to you?

It takes a village for a woman like me  to be able to be involved in philanthropy . Without the support of my husband George Gund, my sisters Silvia Herson and Susana Mejia plus my little 5 year old daughter Geovana Rainbow alongside her nanny Lissette Hernandez, I wouldn't be here making ripple effects in the conservation world. The more everyone's female side is involved in this the better.

You don't have to be a woman to be able to be part of the new era where we expect more females in positions of power. Everyone has access to the gift of maternal love, and I have slowly learned to love this way. My mom wasn't able to fully love and dedicate herself to my upbringing, but guess who has been there for me all this time: Mama Earth. She has nurtured me, she has held me tight in times of despair and she has protected me and sheltered me. She loves me and I love her back. We have a deep connection that goes beyond this Life on Earth. I have been a redwood tree before, and I remember how beautiful it was to be in peace and ease up there in the fog. Our relationship has no timeline and no end. 

Considering the critical need for conservation and restoration efforts, what role do you see women playing in safeguarding our planet for future generations?

Women who are in the workforce, or taking care of the family, or being adventurous on their own, can help us protect what's sacred for future generations. Donations of time, money, or skills can actually be very healing to anyone's journey. No matter the gender. I feel that we are all traumatized little children wiping our tears while we do all this thing called being a human. And being a human today is a strong call to Restoration, Regeneration and Renovation of our souls and soils.

There's nothing like putting your hands in the soil, a community beach clean up or learning more about this fascinating planet. I would encourage anyone to simply wake up, take a look and collectively help us on this mission. It is clear to me this quest is about humanity, not the planet. The planet will evolve and regrow and rebuild. The human project needs revision from the lens of maternal love.

We hope you enjoyed this month's Small World Spotlight, and found inspiration in Gloriana's impact story.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, One Tree Planted has established the Women’s Empowerment Fund. With an ambitious goal of raising $500,000 during the month of March, the fund will support reforestation projects that have a focus on empowering women.  

Beyond simply planting trees, these reforestation initiatives benefit women and their families, mitigate climate change, and improve biodiversity. Join us in seeding the Women’s Empowerment Fund to improve the lives of women, their children, the natural world around them, and the planet as a whole.

**Photo of Gloriana taken by (c) Kate Kindratieva, Ukraine

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