We are a group of educators, activists, and environmentalists who care deeply about empowering Maasai women. Our focus is to work on projects that are fully supported and guided by respected Maasai people in the community in order to maintain cultural traditions. 

Rafaelle Abramovitz   Rafaelle moved around a lot with her family as a child, but finished high school in Boise, Idaho. She attended St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico and transferred to Prescott College in Arizona, where she completed both an B.A. in Adventure-based Environmental Studies and an M.A. in Experiential Education. Since then Rafaelle has had a colorful career as an outdoor educator, wilderness guide and teacher. She has led wilderness expeditions and nature retreats domestically in over 15 states, and internationally in 3 countries. For the last 12 years, Rafaelle has been working for Outward Bound California as an Instructor, Trainer and Course Director. She also teaches part time at Prescott College in their Environmental Studies and Adventure Education departments. Rafaelle first visited Kenya in 2007 and again in 2011 as a volunteer teacher for the Amboselli Guide School. In 2012, she initiated the first Naretoi Expedition to Mt. Kenya, which she has been running annually ever since. Along with Maasai collaborators she also founded the Lenana Empowerment Education Project (LEEP), and the Naretoi Women’s Initiative (NAWI) beading project. Rafaelle continues to be passionate about facilitating alternative and transformative educational experiences, feminist solidarity work and deep ecology activism.

Rafaelle Abramovitz

Rafaelle moved around a lot with her family as a child, but finished high school in Boise, Idaho. She attended St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico and transferred to Prescott College in Arizona, where she completed both an B.A. in Adventure-based Environmental Studies and an M.A. in Experiential Education. Since then Rafaelle has had a colorful career as an outdoor educator, wilderness guide and teacher. She has led wilderness expeditions and nature retreats domestically in over 15 states, and internationally in 3 countries. For the last 12 years, Rafaelle has been working for Outward Bound California as an Instructor, Trainer and Course Director. She also teaches part time at Prescott College in their Environmental Studies and Adventure Education departments. Rafaelle first visited Kenya in 2007 and again in 2011 as a volunteer teacher for the Amboselli Guide School. In 2012, she initiated the first Naretoi Expedition to Mt. Kenya, which she has been running annually ever since. Along with Maasai collaborators she also founded the Lenana Empowerment Education Project (LEEP), and the Naretoi Women’s Initiative (NAWI) beading project. Rafaelle continues to be passionate about facilitating alternative and transformative educational experiences, feminist solidarity work and deep ecology activism.

Erin Thacher   Erin grew up in Kansas and attended Wichita State University. She earned degrees in Modern & Classical Languages and Literature, emphasizing in the Spanish language, and Marketing & Communications with an emphasis in visual media and a minor in Graphic Design. She worked professionally as a graphic designer for three years before relocating to California to be closer to her sister's family. Since relocating in 2015, Erin has worked for Outward Bound California in the Sierra Nevada, Joshua Tree National Park and San Francisco as part of the logistics management team and within the marketing department. She currently enjoys a busy summer working near Yosemite National Park and finds herself traveling and visiting family during the winter. Her first visit to Kenya, in 2015, changed her course and sparked her interest and passion for working with Naretoi as she took part in the mountain expedition. She then returned to Kenya in 2016 in a volunteer capacity for all of the Naretoi programs. Being a part of the board for Naretoi is a special and important part of her life and alongside her work on the board, she plans for return to Kenya very soon to visit her dear friends that she has made through the years.

Erin Thacher

Erin grew up in Kansas and attended Wichita State University. She earned degrees in Modern & Classical Languages and Literature, emphasizing in the Spanish language, and Marketing & Communications with an emphasis in visual media and a minor in Graphic Design. She worked professionally as a graphic designer for three years before relocating to California to be closer to her sister's family. Since relocating in 2015, Erin has worked for Outward Bound California in the Sierra Nevada, Joshua Tree National Park and San Francisco as part of the logistics management team and within the marketing department. She currently enjoys a busy summer working near Yosemite National Park and finds herself traveling and visiting family during the winter. Her first visit to Kenya, in 2015, changed her course and sparked her interest and passion for working with Naretoi as she took part in the mountain expedition. She then returned to Kenya in 2016 in a volunteer capacity for all of the Naretoi programs. Being a part of the board for Naretoi is a special and important part of her life and alongside her work on the board, she plans for return to Kenya very soon to visit her dear friends that she has made through the years.

Katie Sugarman   Katie has worked in commercial film and photography production since 2007. She works as a freelance wardrobe Stylist. Katie has a B.A. from Lewis and Clark College where she majored in Photography. During college, Katie studied abroad in Kenya and Tanzania where she studied Swahili, Politics, Biology, Marine Biology and Ornithology. She lived with a Maasai family then, and jumped at the opportunity to go back and be a part of the Naretoi women’s trip to Mt. Kenya. She joined the board shortly after that trip. Katie has spent a significant part of her life in the great outdoors and traveled extensively getting to know people around the world. She truly understands the importance of conservation, education and what it means to collaborate with local communities based on their needs.

Katie Sugarman

Katie has worked in commercial film and photography production since 2007. She works as a freelance wardrobe Stylist. Katie has a B.A. from Lewis and Clark College where she majored in Photography. During college, Katie studied abroad in Kenya and Tanzania where she studied Swahili, Politics, Biology, Marine Biology and Ornithology. She lived with a Maasai family then, and jumped at the opportunity to go back and be a part of the Naretoi women’s trip to Mt. Kenya. She joined the board shortly after that trip. Katie has spent a significant part of her life in the great outdoors and traveled extensively getting to know people around the world. She truly understands the importance of conservation, education and what it means to collaborate with local communities based on their needs.

Laura Manczewksi   Laura grew up just outside of Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Ohio University in Athens with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 2000. Her love of the outdoors, hiking, and the environment was sparked working at an overnight camp in New Hampshire after college and eventually she left the indoor classroom for the outdoor one. She has taught outdoor education and environmental science since 2004 in various locations in southern California and for NatureBridge, a non- profit in Yosemite National Park.  Her love of travelling and adventure, as well as a desire to learn about other cultures and countries led her to teach English in Japan, outdoor education in China and to backpack in Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and Spain. Currently she works for Outward Bound California, instructing and facilitating backpacking and rock climbing trips in the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the desert of Joshua Tree California.  Laura first visited Kenya in January 2015 to be a part of the Naretoi mountain expedition and was captivated by the experience. She has returned to Kenya every winter since for various lengths of time, to be a part of the mountain expedition two more times, travel on other treks, and to support the girls education and beading projects.

Laura Manczewksi

Laura grew up just outside of Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Ohio University in Athens with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 2000. Her love of the outdoors, hiking, and the environment was sparked working at an overnight camp in New Hampshire after college and eventually she left the indoor classroom for the outdoor one. She has taught outdoor education and environmental science since 2004 in various locations in southern California and for NatureBridge, a non- profit in Yosemite National Park.

Her love of travelling and adventure, as well as a desire to learn about other cultures and countries led her to teach English in Japan, outdoor education in China and to backpack in Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and Spain. Currently she works for Outward Bound California, instructing and facilitating backpacking and rock climbing trips in the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the desert of Joshua Tree California.

Laura first visited Kenya in January 2015 to be a part of the Naretoi mountain expedition and was captivated by the experience. She has returned to Kenya every winter since for various lengths of time, to be a part of the mountain expedition two more times, travel on other treks, and to support the girls education and beading projects.

Samira Said   Samira has been working as a social worker for the last 10 years in Stockholm, Sweden. In her work she has focused mainly on troubled teenagers and family treatment. She started her career with what were considered the most difficult cases in the country, especially teens that no one else wanted to deal with. She has also worked with refugees for many years, helping them transition into a completely new country with all the challenges that come along with that. Her educational background is in sociology, criminology and cultural studies from Stockhom and Gothenburg Universities. Samira is very passionate about providing young women with opportunities for education in developing countries.

Samira Said

Samira has been working as a social worker for the last 10 years in Stockholm, Sweden. In her work she has focused mainly on troubled teenagers and family treatment. She started her career with what were considered the most difficult cases in the country, especially teens that no one else wanted to deal with. She has also worked with refugees for many years, helping them transition into a completely new country with all the challenges that come along with that. Her educational background is in sociology, criminology and cultural studies from Stockhom and Gothenburg Universities. Samira is very passionate about providing young women with opportunities for education in developing countries.

Joseph Logela Melita   Joseph Logela Melita   is Naretoi's in country coordinator for the Maasai Girls Education Project, Naretoi Women Initiative C.B.O (NAWI), as well as the Naretoi Women's Expedition. He attended the East African University in Kitengela while pursuing a diploma in Project Planning & Management. He gained knowledge & skills to enable him run the projects already at hand more effectively & efficiently. He is also the manager for the Rocky Hill Limited Campsite.  He was born & brought up in a small village known as Eluai, situated in Olgulului/Ololarrashi group ranch near Namanga, Kenya. He joined elementary school at Olgulului Primary School. He later attended Kiluani NewLife Secondary School which he completed in 2003. He has taught at Eluai Nursery School before he was employed as a tourist camp manager in 2004. Logela met Alan in 2005 at the Community campsite where he was employed & became friends. They were reunited in 2007 when he attended the Maasai Field Guide Training Program in the Mara, designed & implemented by Alan as an independent study through his college. Logela graduated & joined the Amboseli guide school as an instructor in 2010. He is always passionate about progress in his entire community, especially for girl's child education and women's empowerment.

Joseph Logela Melita

Joseph Logela Melita is Naretoi's in country coordinator for the Maasai Girls Education Project, Naretoi Women Initiative C.B.O (NAWI), as well as the Naretoi Women's Expedition. He attended the East African University in Kitengela while pursuing a diploma in Project Planning & Management. He gained knowledge & skills to enable him run the projects already at hand more effectively & efficiently. He is also the manager for the Rocky Hill Limited Campsite.

He was born & brought up in a small village known as Eluai, situated in Olgulului/Ololarrashi group ranch near Namanga, Kenya. He joined elementary school at Olgulului Primary School. He later attended Kiluani NewLife Secondary School which he completed in 2003. He has taught at Eluai Nursery School before he was employed as a tourist camp manager in 2004. Logela met Alan in 2005 at the Community campsite where he was employed & became friends. They were reunited in 2007 when he attended the Maasai Field Guide Training Program in the Mara, designed & implemented by Alan as an independent study through his college. Logela graduated & joined the Amboseli guide school as an instructor in 2010. He is always passionate about progress in his entire community, especially for girl's child education and women's empowerment.

Josie Kramer   Josie Kramer is a yoga teacher, holistic health coach, mindfulness-based counselor, and massage therapist. She is happy and inspired to offer back to others the healing practices that have had such a profound impact on her own journey towards health and wholeness. Josie's work is motivated by a dynamic passion for personal, cultural and global transformation. She values an engaged, authentic spirituality and the eco-social vision of peace, equality, and sustainability. Josie's prayer and vision is that we all rise up and become the light and healing our world so dearly needs.   Josie received her 200 hour Certification from Center for Yoga in 2004, participated in the Work-scholar Program at Esalen Institute in 2006, and earned her B.A. from Naropa University in 2007. Josie's Major was Traditional Eastern Arts with a 1,000 hour Yoga Teacher Training Concentration, her Minor was Somatic Psychology. In 2008 Josie graduated from The Institute of Psycho Structural Balancing with a 550 hour Massage Certification. That same year she lived at a wellness center in Auroville, India where she taught yoga and dance. In 2010 Josiereceived her professional training to practice Holistic Health Coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Josie graduated from Sofia University in 2013 with her M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology and a Specialization in Transpersonal Life Coaching. In 2017 Josie went on to co-found Body Love, Soul Purpose as a women's empowerment organization with her good friend Rachel.  Josie currently practices and teaches in Los Angeles and leads retreats worldwide. She loves the LA beach community and lives in El Segundo with her partner Josh and their cat Raju.

Josie Kramer

Josie Kramer is a yoga teacher, holistic health coach, mindfulness-based counselor, and massage therapist. She is happy and inspired to offer back to others the healing practices that have had such a profound impact on her own journey towards health and wholeness. Josie's work is motivated by a dynamic passion for personal, cultural and global transformation. She values an engaged, authentic spirituality and the eco-social vision of peace, equality, and sustainability. Josie's prayer and vision is that we all rise up and become the light and healing our world so dearly needs.

Josie received her 200 hour Certification from Center for Yoga in 2004, participated in the Work-scholar Program at Esalen Institute in 2006, and earned her B.A. from Naropa University in 2007. Josie's Major was Traditional Eastern Arts with a 1,000 hour Yoga Teacher Training Concentration, her Minor was Somatic Psychology. In 2008 Josie graduated from The Institute of Psycho Structural Balancing with a 550 hour Massage Certification. That same year she lived at a wellness center in Auroville, India where she taught yoga and dance. In 2010 Josiereceived her professional training to practice Holistic Health Coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Josie graduated from Sofia University in 2013 with her M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology and a Specialization in Transpersonal Life Coaching. In 2017 Josie went on to co-found Body Love, Soul Purpose as a women's empowerment organization with her good friend Rachel.

Josie currently practices and teaches in Los Angeles and leads retreats worldwide. She loves the LA beach community and lives in El Segundo with her partner Josh and their cat Raju.

Shane Stump   Shane grew up in Santa Barbara, California and graduated from St. John’s College with a B.A. in Philosophy and Mathematics. He has a passion for coaching and mentoring young people, and for the last 15 years has been applying that passion as an outdoor educator, teacher and athletics coach. He has worked for numerous outdoor leadership organizations and guided trips all over the U.S. He currently works as an Instructor and Course Director for Outward Bound California, as well as the Chadwick School, leading backpacking, mountaineering and rock-climbing courses. He also teaches part time in the Adventure Education and Environmental Studies departments at Prescott College in Arizona. Shane first visited Kenya in 2011 when he worked as a volunteer teacher at the Amboseli Guide School in Olgulului. Since then he has been back to Kenya 4 different times.

Shane Stump

Shane grew up in Santa Barbara, California and graduated from St. John’s College with a B.A. in Philosophy and Mathematics. He has a passion for coaching and mentoring young people, and for the last 15 years has been applying that passion as an outdoor educator, teacher and athletics coach. He has worked for numerous outdoor leadership organizations and guided trips all over the U.S. He currently works as an Instructor and Course Director for Outward Bound California, as well as the Chadwick School, leading backpacking, mountaineering and rock-climbing courses. He also teaches part time in the Adventure Education and Environmental Studies departments at Prescott College in Arizona. Shane first visited Kenya in 2011 when he worked as a volunteer teacher at the Amboseli Guide School in Olgulului. Since then he has been back to Kenya 4 different times.

Alice Benjamin   2015 Naretoi Expedition Participant | 2017, 2018 and 2019 Expedition Leader| Kimana Regional Coordinator for LEEP (Lenana Empowerment Education Project) Alice has been part of Naretoi since its inception in 2011. She was one of the Maasai women who originally inspired the idea for the Women’s Expedition and has participated in every expedition in some way. She has co-led the last three expeditions with Rafaelle. Alice is a mother of six children and lives with her family in Kimana, Kenya, at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She is a graduate of the Amboselli Guide School, and is a talented translator and chef. She continues to be a powerful spokeswoman and advocate for Maasai women in her community.

Alice Benjamin

2015 Naretoi Expedition Participant | 2017, 2018 and 2019 Expedition Leader| Kimana Regional Coordinator for LEEP (Lenana Empowerment Education Project) Alice has been part of Naretoi since its inception in 2011. She was one of the Maasai women who originally inspired the idea for the Women’s Expedition and has participated in every expedition in some way. She has co-led the last three expeditions with Rafaelle. Alice is a mother of six children and lives with her family in Kimana, Kenya, at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She is a graduate of the Amboselli Guide School, and is a talented translator and chef. She continues to be a powerful spokeswoman and advocate for Maasai women in her community.

Kelsey Doyle   Kelsey is a documentary filmmaker and producer at Stanford. She captured the expedition to Mt. Kenya in 2017 and will launch the tour of her film in partnership with Patagonia in 2019. Her work focuses mainly on capturing environmental and anthropological issues. Her work has taken her and her teams from the jungles of Sumatra to the outermost Pacific islands of Micronesia, and has been published by Stanford, National Geographic, Oceanic Society, National Science Foundation, UN, Filmmaker, Independent Filmmaker Project, PBS Newshour, Patagonia, UCB, NYU, and New York Magazine. Kelsey holds an M.A. in News and Documentary Journalism from New York University and a B.A. in Film and Digital Media from the University of California. She is proud to be a board member for Naretoi and is determined to encourage female empowerment all over the world.

Kelsey Doyle

Kelsey is a documentary filmmaker and producer at Stanford. She captured the expedition to Mt. Kenya in 2017 and will launch the tour of her film in partnership with Patagonia in 2019. Her work focuses mainly on capturing environmental and anthropological issues. Her work has taken her and her teams from the jungles of Sumatra to the outermost Pacific islands of Micronesia, and has been published by Stanford, National Geographic, Oceanic Society, National Science Foundation, UN, Filmmaker, Independent Filmmaker Project, PBS Newshour, Patagonia, UCB, NYU, and New York Magazine. Kelsey holds an M.A. in News and Documentary Journalism from New York University and a B.A. in Film and Digital Media from the University of California. She is proud to be a board member for Naretoi and is determined to encourage female empowerment all over the world.

Joyce Saiko   2015 Naretoi Expedition Participant | Kaijado Regional Coordinator for LEEP (Lenana Empowerment Education Project) Joyce lives in Kajiado and works as the Programme Officer-Governance with the Neighbours Initiative Alliance. She lives with her husband, two children, and her nephew, who she is raising. She has recently become one of three Maasai, in country staff members for LEEP.

Joyce Saiko

2015 Naretoi Expedition Participant | Kaijado Regional Coordinator for LEEP (Lenana Empowerment Education Project) Joyce lives in Kajiado and works as the Programme Officer-Governance with the Neighbours Initiative Alliance. She lives with her husband, two children, and her nephew, who she is raising. She has recently become one of three Maasai, in country staff members for LEEP.