You met MacDella Cooper, my #1 inspiration for traveling to Liberia, in the previous post. Now, meet my “creative influences.” These are women who, like me, aren’t humanitarians — just storytellers, leveraging their connections to the media to make remote-sounding world issues real to young women. Be inspired by:

Brandon Holley, former editor-in-chief of JANE

Brandon HolleyWhen I was an intern at JANE last winter, Brandon traveled to Liberia with the IRC. She blogged about it on JANE’s MySpace page and wrote about it in her editor’s letter (lucky for you, the posts are still online even though JANE is not, sadly). Trust me, when Brandon’s assistant sent me to RadioShack to buy her travel adapter, I had NO idea I’d be preparing for my own trip to Liberia exactly one year later. When I asked Brandon if she’d meet with me to talk about Liberia, she wrote back in less than 10 minutes to say of course. And when I told my parents I wanted to go to Liberia, you can bet I used Brandon’s trip to justify it was safe for me.

Cindi Leive and Mariane Pearl, Glamour

Cindi LeiveIf you pick up the current issue of Glamour, you will find Cindi’s editor’s letter is all about her trip to Uganda. You can watch her on-location video on She traveled to support the women who created the group Empowering Hands to rehabilitate child soldiers (also a serious issue in Liberia).

Mariane PearlThe woman who travels EVERY month to dangerous locales around the globe for Glamour is Mariane Pearl. If you’re not a Glamour reader, you might recognize her as the woman Angelina Jolie portrayed in A Mighty Heart– the wife of the WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl, who Islamic fundamentalists brutally murdered. Here is her video from a trip to Liberia.

Jauretsi Saizarbitoria, former JANE entertainment editor, and Charlize Theron, Academy-Award winning actress

CharlizeThese best friends traveled to Cuba to film a documentary called East of Havana, which is about hip-hop performers who struggle to express themselves in a culture of censorship. Jauretsi was co-director and Charlize was co-producer. I adore it when friends work together and combine skills Jauretsito tell a meaningful story. I’m really lucky to have that opportunity with Genevieve. I’d go nuts on a 16-hour flight (we transfer in Belgium) by myself.

Jenna Bush, president’s daughter, and Mia Baxter, former Glamour photographer

Mia BaxterJenna BushAnother example of a creative friendship: Jenna and Mia were UNICEF interns when they discovered Ana, a teenage mother who was HIV positive. Jenna did the writing, Mia did the illustrating. They tell her story in a work of non-fiction targeted to young adult readers. The book, Ana’s Story, emphasizes the importance of using condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and the need to help children who are abused and marginalized because they carry the disease.