“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword, the other is the pen. There is a third power that is stronger than both, that of women.”
~ Malala Yousafzai 

Dear Friend,

International Women’s Day on March 8th is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is also a day of action to continue to advance women’s equality.

I am fortunate to have always been surrounded by women who inspire me starting with my mother, who was widowed at a young age, and who taught me to just keep going in the face of adversity. She worked hard and dreamed of a better and more just world for my sister Nancy and me just as I hope for my daughter, Charlotte, daughter-in-law, Caroline, and my three young granddaughters.

We all benefit from those strong women warriors before us who worked for gender equality. It is fitting that we set aside this day to honor their lives and salute our present-day champions for we still have a way to go.

The United Nations reports: “Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.”

Through the Alnoba Lewis Family Foundation and Grand Circle Foundation, I am proud to know, work with, and support gutsy women who change the world. I hope you will take a moment to learn about these amazing women and pause to give thanks and celebrate the women of all generations in your life.

Strong women—may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

Love and Peace,



Harriet Lewis
Chair, Grand Circle Foundation

The Alnoba Moment of Truth Gender Equity Award

In life and in leadership we all face moments of truth. Daring leaders face the fire when things are raging hot, confront the tough issues, and take decisive action. This award honors a female leader who had the courage to raise the world’s attention to a big issue of our time, and rally allies and resources to make a real and lasting impact. Please take a moment and learn about the amazing women we honored over the past three years who continue to fight for issues impacting women and young girls around the world.

Meet a few of the women who lead GCF-sponsored sites around the world

Eulin Chacon, Principal, San Francisco School, Costa Rica

Grand Circle Foundation partnered with the San Francisco Chachagua School for eighteen years to create a sustainable microfarm that not only feeds 184 students breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even dinner, but also impacts the entire community with its surplus food supply and lifelong lessons in sustainable agriculture. As the principal of the school for 21 years, Eulin Chacon has been a leader in making the microfarm a success.

“It was Grand Circle Foundation that allowed us to make our dream come true, giving us the economic input to achieve the microfarm and obtain the resources to maintain it and make it sustainable. Grand Circle Foundation has also provided funding for primary and preschool classrooms, classrooms for children with disabilities, foreign language teachers, a solar-panel system, fencing, desks, computers and air conditioning for the computer lab, new lighting, and preventive maintenance for the school. I am grateful to Grand Circle for all that they have given me, to make my dream as a teacher come true. I could never have achieved it without them. They have trusted me, and I will be forever grateful.”

Minh Tu Orphanage

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Minh Tu, Buddhist nun and founder of the Minh Tu Orphanage/Duc Son Pagoda, Vietnam

It all began in 1987, when two Buddhist nuns literally found a baby on their doorstep. One of the sisters was Minh Tu. It was just twelve years after the collapse of Saigon that ended the Vietnam War, and Minh Tu saw a country still reeling from decades of conflict, struggling to preserve its heritage and rebuild for a brighter future. She founded the orphanage to offer essential building blocks to those who would create that future (such as the abandoned infant on her doorstep), including food, shelter, education, and—most importantly—love and hope.

Grand Circle Foundation has partnered with Minh Tu since 2002 to help provide what is needed for 200 children, many of whom are disabled. Ages range from pre-school to college and university students. “The kids are raised in an environment filled with love and harmony,” Minh Tu affirms. “My greatest joy is the love we can give to them. They are dying for love!”

Ann Tayiai, Deputy Headmistress of Olmoti Primary School, Kenya

Ann Tayiai was saved from being married off while still in primary school thanks to the intervention of her older brother, who threatened to have their father arrested when he met with a man to discuss Ann’s dowry. Ann went on to complete her secondary school education before marrying, but her marriage was a painful one rife with physical and mental abuse.

“My children and I sometimes went without food,” Ann recalls. “The worst came was when my husband came home with another lady and told me that if I was not comfortable, I could leave. That’s when I decided ‘enough is enough’ and I went back home.”

Ann now works to identify scholarship students in Kenya and provide them with emotional support. She coordinates with the local village and government chiefs to rescue young girls from early marriage and female genital mutilation. Ann is the eyes and ears on the ground for GCF at the schools we support in Kenya, ensuring every student receives the education they deserve. She is proud that many former students remain in contact with her to share news of their successful careers and flourishing families.

Meet Grand Circle Corporation strong women leaders

We asked some of the strong women leaders from GCC’s regional offices, “What does being a daring leader mean to you?” Here are a few highlights from their wonderful responses.

Jaya Kashyap, GCC VP Regional General Manager – Asia

“As a woman leader, I believe it is important to be yourself and acknowledge your emotions. There are days when I am very daring, and there are days when I am scared. Some say that I inspire them, whereas I am looking to get inspired myself.”

“I started my professional career feeling like a ‘victim’ and would often complain about the ‘male ego’ and people being unfair to me. Things changed for me when I accepted that the problem is not with how people judge me, but with ‘me’ not recognizing my own capabilities. As female leader, you first must hold yourself to a higher standard of ethics, integrity, and self-belief. We should not need any validation from outside that we are strong leaders—it should come from within.”


Karem Kraljevic, GCC People & Culture Manager – Europe & MENA

“The quote below describes best what it means to be a leader. —not to be liked at all times, but to be fair and sensible. It is not easy. It takes a lot of thinking, weighing, worrying, and above all courage. But the biggest reward you can ever ask for as a leader is having a strong and successful team who take every day as a chance to be better than yesterday—then you know you made it.”

“There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

Jennifer Zamora, GCC Regional General Manager Central America & Mexico

“To me being a daring female leader means: ‘Do my best effort to make others better as a result of my presence, and make sure that impact lasts in my absence.”

Sandra Vaughan, Grand Circle Foundation Project Manager, East Africa

Pictured above, center, with Koromo, the first GCF sponsored student to graduate from university, and his proud mother. GCF sponsored Koromo’s education for 9 years. You can read more about Koromo and other sponsored students here.

Sandra, a native Kenyan who lives in Arusha, Tanzania, oversees all projects funded by GCF in both Tanzania and Kenya, ranging from the construction of new schools to scholarships for students and everything in between.

Sandra is a devoted wife of 30 years, proud mother of two daughters, and holder of what she believes is the best job in the world. Sandra embraces life in its entirety, finding joy in every moment. She firmly believes that by positively influencing just one young person’s life, you can impact the futures of twenty others. Two quotes resonate deeply with Sandra:

“Don’t blink or you will miss it,” reminding us to cherish every moment and appreciate life’s fleeting beauty.

“Learn something new every day and strive to be a better person tomorrow than you are today,” a mantra that guides her continuous growth and pursuit of self-improvement.

In Sandra’s world, love, learning, and making a difference intertwine to create a life filled with purpose and fulfillment.

Barbara Sirigos, Director of Donor Relations, Grand Circle Foundation

Pictured above at Victoria Falls, on O.A.T.’s Ultimate Africa adventure

If you’ve called or emailed Grand Circle Foundation, chances are you’ve spoken with Barbara. Barbara has been with the company for 14+ years and has visited over 73 countries and counting. She is looking forward to standing on her seventh continent (Antarctica) one day.

“Traveling reinforces my belief that we really are all the same and just want to do the best we can for our families. As an avid reader, there are always at least 3-4 books on my Kindle at any given time. Having the privilege of working with associates worldwide is why my favorite quote is from Helen Keller: ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’ Knowing that our combined efforts are putting kids through school, giving women new skills to earn income, and helping the environment makes me so proud to be a part of GCF.”

Jan Byrnes, Vice President, Grand Circle Foundation

Pictured on the left, with her mom on O.A.T.’s Egypt and the Eternal Nile adventure

Jan has been with the company for 18+ years and is an avid traveler, reader, and gardener. She is passionate about community service.

“I love working with our regional associates around the world to ensure traveler donations are used as intended to fund life-changing projects in schools, villages, and local communities. My favorite quote is ‘Someone else is dreaming of the things you take for granted.’ Knowing we are providing access to clean water, toilets, education, and ways for women to support themselves makes me proud every day of the work we do together.”

Daring Women Who Change the World is a quote-of-the-day compilation of words of wit and wisdom from great women leaders born on that day.

The book, which was compiled by Harriet, opens with a quote for March 21st, when many Indigenous groups begin their calendars, for spring symbolizes the start of a new year through the birth of new plants and animals.

The women leaders highlighted in the book cross a wide spectrum. They are disrupters and divas; poets and public servants; artists and activists; trailblazers and teachers; suffragettes and saints. They pioneered, innovated, provoked, and shattered glass ceilings. Some quotes may make readers stop and think, and some may just make them smile—for humor is such an essential balm for a weary world.

All book profits will be donated to support Alnoba’s work with nonprofit organizations and young people.

You can order your copy here.

Thank you for your generous support of Grand Circle Foundation, and the trust you place in our team to ensure your donation is used as intended.

Because all administration costs are funded by the Lewis Family Foundation, 100% of all donations are tax deductible and returned to our partner sites.

If you made a donation to support a specific project and would like an update on how the funds were used, please feel free to contact us at: [email protected], or call 1‑800‑859‑0852.