Maya Penn is a 23-year-old award-winning environmental activist, 3 time TED Speaker, animator, educator, artist, sustainability consultant and author. She has been working in sustainability and environmental justice for 13 years since 2008 when she was just 8 years old. Maya has received a commendation from President Barack Obama for outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship and has been named Oprah’s youngest Supersoul 100 change maker. Maya made history in 2016 during the Obama administration when she was commissioned to create an animated film for the opening of the first ever digital report to congress, which was to get an American museum of Women’s History built in Washington. As of 2021 this legislation has been successfully passed through the senate.
Maya has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, TIME, Grist, Scholastic Science World, ESSENCE, NRDC, The View, CNN, Wired, VICE, and has been named one of Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21. Maya’s latest TEDWomen Talk has gone viral worldwide, has been translated into 38 languages, and is one of TED’s official top 15 TEDWomen Talks of all time. Maya was awarded the 2016 Coretta Scott King A.N.G.E.L. Award, as well as honored at the SCLC Drum Major for Justice Awards when she was 12 years old. Maya’s book You Got This (Published by Simon & Schuster) is being used in schools around the world from Cincinnati, US to Bangalore, India as curriculum to teach youth sustainable entrepreneurship, creative problem solving, and giving back. Maya serves on the advisory board of Ghana-based sustainable design initiative THE REVIVAL and previously served on The Pollination Project’s Youth Grantmaking Advisory Board.
She founded her own environmental justice and humanitarian-centered 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Maya's Ideas 4 The Planet, in 2011. One of her most notable ongoing initiatives has been designing and creating eco-friendly sanitary pads that have been shipped to healthcare facilities in Haiti, Senegal, Somalia, and Cameroon. Maya also utilizes biomimicry for her work in sustainable design and innovation for the future.