From her days at Colgate as musical director of the Swinging ’Gates all-female a cappella group to her role as co-founder and co- executive director of the nonprofit Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA), Amira Diamond ’95 relishes lifting up women’s voices in harmony.

“It’s about really listening to the strengths of all the different leaders and highlighting the best of what each person has to bring,” Diamond says.

Founded in 2006, WEA is a global organization that trains, resources, and catalyzes grassroots women-led efforts to protect the environment and build healthy, safe, and just communities. From its inaugural gathering of 30 women leaders from around the globe, the organization has evolved to team up with 250 partners in 23 countries to run programs that have served more than 10 million people. WEA-backed projects have included protecting the sacred Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii, providing environmental education to children in Indonesia, and giving 50,000 women and girls in India compostable sanitary pads.

WEA emerged as a blend of three formative experiences that Diamond had while at Colgate: leading the Swinging ’Gates; helping Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Joan Mandle launch the Center for Women’s Studies; and studying abroad in Kingston, Jamaica, through the School for International Development. “That time in Kingston raised awareness for me about the need for new models of international development that weren’t just going to replicate dangerous colonial practices,” she says.

Instead of importing and imposing solutions, WEA builds the capacity of existing women-led climate and environmental justice initiatives. Its yearlong accelerator training program — which Diamond helped develop — provides mentorship, skills and tools, and funding that enables women leaders on the ground to further their work. The World WEAvers Program then connects those leaders across regions to share their challenges and successes.

At headquarters in Sebastopol, Calif., Diamond focuses her efforts on finding and developing strategic partnerships that will further fund and elevate WEA’s efforts. For example, the organization’s East Africa director, Rose Wamalwa, launched a program that is not only protecting and reforesting the last remaining rain forest in Kenya, but also supporting women to launch microenterprises. In the first four months, the program planted 40,000 trees. Diamond shared the campaign’s success with renowned conservationist Jane Goodall, who selected WEA as one of the forest protection partners in her new Trees for Jane initiative, which launched in September 2021.

WEA and its grassroots partners have proven particularly agile during the pandemic, launching a COVID-19 and climate resilience program in response to needs in eight countries. “When there is a crisis at your doorstep, you reach for the solutions and relationships that you’ve already built,” Diamond says. WEA’s preexisting hybrid accelerator program shifted to an all-virtual model. Partners built out their existing networks and programs. For example, in Tamil Nadu, India, the Auroville Foundation expanded its safe water program so thousands more people had access to sanitation needed to combat COVID-19.

“In a year when people were so isolated and struggling, the support that the Women’s Earth Alliance offered kept a lot of programs moving forward,” she says. “We were more connected than we’ve ever been and, in our 15th anniversary year, had our greatest growth and impact.”