A community of optimists hosted by Melinda French Gates

Maggie Lemere is a filmmaker, oral historian and storytelling and social change strategist who cultivates connection through story. Maggie is the co-founder of Rhiza, a women-led collective that uses storytelling, healing, organizing, and research to support social transformation and environmental justice—and she is currently directing and producing independent documentary films in the Middle East and Southeast Asia that explore communities' efforts to protect the environment. She has worked on storytelling projects across North and Central America, Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Maggie’s work also includes founding and hosting the podcast, Bad Feminists Making Films; leading Storytelling for Changemakers workshops globally with Ashoka: Innovators for the Public; acting as oral historian for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the DC Oral History Collaborative; and working as storytelling strategist for Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security. Maggie is also on the leadership team of Tuyo Media, a new kind of journalism school and collaborative network that equips, connects, and supports a new, more representative generation of journalists.

Maggie previously published Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives from Burma’s Military Regime (Voice of Witness/ McSweeney’s). She is passionate about expanding voice and representation in storytelling and film and creating frameworks for high-quality and high-impact collaborative filmmaking.


If you could go on long walk with anyone, who would it be?

Katy Payne, the self-trained zoologist, acoustic biologist and researcher who is widely credited with discovering how whales create rhythmic sound (songs) and communicate with each other across vast distances. She also founded the Elephant Listening Project after discovering that elephants have a complex, low-frequency communication system beyond the range of human ears.

On Sunday afternoons, you can find me…

Out running, hiking, and exploring nature with my dog, Rumi, while listening to an episode of Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being.

Please share a favorite quote.

"When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.” — from Mary Oliver’s poem, When Death Comes