Meitamei is Co-Director of the Maasai Community Partnership Project, and Adjunct Professor at Prescott College in Arizona, U.S. Meitamei was taken to school at a young age from his home community in Narok District and has gone on to use his subsequent education to advocate for the Maasai community, to stopping the illegal appropriation of Maasai people’s traditional lands for commercial development, agriculture, mining, irresponsible tourism operations, indiscriminate clearing of forests, and other forms of development that are destructive to Maasai culture, African wildlife and the delicate habitat they share. Having graduated from Edgerton University, in 1987 at the age of 24, he founded MERC Kenya to coordinate, resource, and represent grassroots efforts of 150 Maasai organizations and community leaders. In response to a climate of political repression in Kenya, in the early 1990s Meitamei traveled to the U.S. to find international allies for the Maasai community, and established MERC US in Washington State in 1994. As the Executive Director of MERC’s international office based in Washington D.C. for many years, Meitamei represented the interests of Maasai people in the Species Survival Network, Cultural Survival, and at international forums including the CITIES convention (International Trade In Endangered Species). He has taught seminars at Harvard, consulted with the World Bank, spoken on the BBC and Voice of America, and has articles published in numerous publications including Humane Society Magazine, Cultural Survival Quarterly, and the African Wildlife Institute. Meitamei ran for Parliament as an ODM-Kenya candidate in the Narok North district of Kenya in 2007 and 2013. He has led the fight for the return of Mau Narok, a 30,000 acre region of traditional Maasai homeland, since 2008. A Synergos fellow since 2011, Meitamei currently co-directs the MERC Institute in Narok and Talek and the Prescott College field studies program in Kenya.
Mary is the Chair of Global Studies at Prescott College, Arizona, teaching in the areas of U.S. history, gender studies, race relations in the U.S., history of East Africa, global development studies, indigenous research methods and Maasai history. Mary has worked in public policy, serving on the staff of the Washington State Senate Ways and Means Committee designing fiscal policy for social service programs. She has also served as the Executive Director of Early Options in New York City, a reproductive rights organization. She has been involved with community development work in Africa beginning in the late 1970s. Mary co-designed, with Meitamei Olol Dapash the Prescott College field studies program in 2004 with the vision of sharing the resources and power of higher education with the Maasai community, and exposing American university students to the perspectives of Maasai people about issues of global concern. She is on the Board of Directors of MERC in both the U.S. and Kenya, co-author of various papers on Maasai land rights. Mary is an honorary Rotarian in Arizona. She earned a Ph.D. from Rutgers University in U.S. History in 2000, and a B.A. from the Evergreen State College in Education and Political Economy in 1988. She is the author of The Segregated Origins of Social Security: African Americans and the Welfare State (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2006)
Daniel is Chairman of the Olgulului Group Ranch, which surrounds the Amboseli National Park. He is a long-time MERC activist and Maasai community leader and built the Prescott College field Studies program in Amboseli. Daniel has been instrumental in securing many vital resources for the Maasai community, including building primary schools, well projects, and advocating for the return of traditional Maasai lands. He has led efforts to reform tourism in Maasailand for three decades.
Ole Takai is Program Manager for MERC’s community water projects. He has many years experience working with various NGOs in Narok District. He served as a Community Technical Motivator and Community Development Motivator for World Vision from 1988 to 1996, was Team Leader of the Naikarra Project for World Vision’s Maasai People’s Program and in that capacity built the MPP’s Drought Animal Power Program. He has been employed with a number of other organizations including World Concern, the Docese of Ngong on their Relief Food Feeding Program, Christian Missionary Fellowship in Narok, and Rotary Foundation. He has also served as a trainer/facilitator for the Kenyan Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. He has completed training in project management from such organizations as the African Institute for Economic and Social Development, Trans Rural and Urban Development Services, as Premese Africa Development Institute.
A group of Maasai women in Narok, Kenya, created a beading cooperative in 1993 to help them sell their beads to earn money for school fees for their children. While Maasai beadwork is known throughout the world for its beauty, the women who make the beads are typically paid very little as profits are realized by middle men from outside of the Maasai community. Olosho (The Community) Initiative now has 58 members who represent 1,600 Maasai women in the area who make this traditional beadwork. Maasai women value education and selling beadwork is one of the few means they have to pay school fees.
Ole Kipila is a social worker and community activist who has worked with women’s empowerment and environmental conservation with various NGOs. He has worked closely with the Narok women’s beading cooperative, taught in the Prescott College field studies program, and led aspects of the research undertaken to support the Mau Narok land rights movement.
Keiwua is the Manager of the MERC Dopoi Center near Talek, and overseer of construction and all facilities operations.