Known For: Production
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Lisa J. Shannon is an American author, human rights activist, and speaker known for her work in the international women’s movement, including founding Run for Congo Women and co-founding Sister Somalia with Fartun Adan Abdisalan. She is author of A Thousand Sisters: My Journey Into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman (Seal Press, 2010). Her second book, Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen: An Ordinary Family’s Extraordinary Tale of Love, Loss, and Survival in Congo (Public Affairs, 2015), follows one family’s struggle for survival in the shadow of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
Shannon grew up in Portland, Oregon, and previously owned a stock photography production company, where she served as art director and producer. Her activism began following the death of her father, Stewart Shannon, a therapist who treated Vietnam Vets with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When Shannon’s activism work took over, her fiancé with whom she ran her business “signaled to her that she had to choose — and she chose Congo.”Shannon has publicly discussed the financial and personal costs of her work. In Nicholas Kristof’s profile in the New York Times Magazine piece DIY Foreign Aid: “Devoting yourself to helping others may seem wonderfully glamorous — until you’re single, jobless and alone on a Saturday night. Shannon has taken in five roommates to share her house, and she saves pennies everywhere she can, but at some point she will become a pauper unless she finds a way of supporting herself.”
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