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December 16, 2011

The Savvy Girl's Guide to Giving Back

two women

Photo Credit: Bill Diodate

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DO-GOODER: Lisa Shannon, 36, Portland, OR
Founder of Run for Congo Women, a fundraising and awarenessorganization

Job: "In 2005, I learned about the situation in Congo for the first time from a TV show — women and children were being raped and killed on a massive scale. I couldn't believe the suffering, so I had the idea to do a 30-mile run to raise money. I ended up collecting $28,000, enough to sponsor 80 women. After that, I founded Run for Congo Women, a volunteer organization that coordinates races and walks all over the world. We've raised $11 million in race pledges and in donations prompted by media coverage."

Background: "I always wanted to do something for the world, but I figured I'd make money first and give back later. After my father died in 2004 — he was a social worker who treated Vietnam vets with post-traumatic stress disorder — I had the nagging feeling that I hadn't become the person I wanted to be."

Reward: "I've been to Congo three times, and this past summer I traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, to launch a sexual violence hotline and medical services center for women, Sister Somalia. It was the scariest thing I've ever done — I had to hire eight guys with guns to take me around — but when I walked into the center and saw 30 women waiting there, it was worth it."

DO-GOODERS: Dana Arbib & Farah Malik, 31 and 33, New York, NY
Founders of A Peace Treaty, an accessories line made by Third World artisans

Job: "Our line of scarves and jewelry sells everywhere from Barneys to Rugby Ralph Lauren." — Farah Malik

Background: "We both have philanthropic families — after college, my dad and I delivered HIV medicines to Ethiopian kids, and Farah's parents treated schizophrenic women in Pakistan in the '70s. Growing up as travelers, we loved exploring shopping bazaars all over the world, so we work well together." — Dana Arbib

Reward: "We travel to source every collection, which can be hard. I got malaria on a production visit to Pakistan a few years ago, and we lost one entire collection when our shipping truck was bombed in Afghanistan in 2009. But bringing a living wage to international craftspeople motivates us. Last year, we had $800,000 in revenue, $600,000 of which went to pay workers." — Malik

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