Alex Kinzer

Director of Forest Landscape Restoration

Alex and an Eden employee standing in the mud

No car of their own. Covered in mud. With the COVID pandemic limiting people's ability to work and people losing jobs in the surrounding community, Alex and a committed team of Eden diehards found themselves at a remote police station loading 800 seedlings onto a trailer, all in the effort to create a handful of jobs in the midst of a global crisis. Because this team had one goal - to employ people to plant trees - and at Eden, no matter the circumstances, you find a way to get the work done.

Alex focuses on turning overwhelming challenges into viable opportunities, which is how Eden Kenya has become the largest reforestation organization in the country. As she expands the Eden model from an average of 2,000 hectares (7.7 square miles) sized projects to 50,000 hectares (193 square miles) of landscape-sized restoration projects, she always starts by instilling Eden's organizational values as a way to build teams to accomplish large-scale restoration goals. She doesn't wait for lots of random options; she finds "the one" person or solution. Then, Alex passes down the strategy, direction, and resources for success.

In every country she works in, Alex identifies leadership potential and skills in non-traditional places and then offers people the opportunity to ignite their passion and capacity to change their landscape for the better. She has found that educational background or current occupation is not as important as an unwavering commitment to apply local knowledge to develop local solutions. This is how Alex turns a seed of opportunity into a forest and a community full of jobs.

"Every task everyone is doing is pushing towards getting one person to put one tree in the ground," Alex says. "That's all we're trying to do — times a million. Every person honors the work of everybody else. We all understand we're moving towards a goal together. Seeing that look in people's eyes when they realize we actually do what we say we do and that it actually works — when it hits people, it's really cool."

Alex Kinzer