Donor Profiles: Sophia Harris of the Aall Foundation
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Sophia Harris, one of the directors of the Aall Foundation, discovered Friends of the Earth after a personal experience involving pollinators on the Cayman Islands. Sophia and her neighbors started to notice more and more dying bees on the island and became worried about what that meant about the health of their community. Sophia’s concerned research led her to Friends of the Earth, and our work to eliminate dangerous pesticides.
After digging into our reports and financials, she was pleased with the level of both impact and transparency. Sophia felt that partnering with Friends of the Earth would allow the Aall Foundation to make a positive impact on our planet. After taking this information to her colleagues, the Aall Foundation directors unanimously decided to support our work.
The Aall Foundation is based on the Cayman Islands, and its sole objective is to find effective charitable organizations that provide maximum impact towards the foundation’s goal of alleviating human suffering. Each director contributes by identifying such worthy and effective charitable organizations that the Aall Foundation should support, that have a global impact (as well as local Cayman charities). The directors come together regularly to report on the progress of the work that’s being supported. As the changing needs of the world evolves, the directors strive to be responsive to the changing humanitarian needs.
While the goal is big, it’s hard to ignore the urgency and necessity of having a healthy and sustainable planet for all people. As Sophia puts it, “the Earth is raging, and we must have our environment as a top priority and support the communities that rely on a healthy planet the most. At this point, it’d be hard to find someone who can honestly say they’re not impacted by the unprecedented changes in our environment, from lack of clean drinking water, exposure to toxic pollution and pesticides, climate migration and the intensity of weather events.
“Years ago, during hurricane season, the storms would range the gamut from tropical storms to lower category hurricanes, with category five hurricanes considered extremely rare or even once-in-a-lifetime experiences. There’s been a palpable change. Now it feels like every hurricane is a category five, and even tropical storms like 2021’s Grace caused intense and unexpected levels of damage to the Cayman Islands. Anything we can do to change, mitigate, or reverse the direction of climate change must be done”.
Sophia’s concerns for the environment continue to grow, especially when considering the communities that are most impacted by corporation and governments’ unsustainable and negligent practices. Seeing the intersection between environmental risks and the people, communities, and countries, has influenced their grant-making process. The Aall Foundation is very cognizant about funding organizations like Friends of the Earth that uplift impacted voices and work with community organizations, instead of an authoritarian approach.
When thinking about the future, Sophia does worry about how global financial issues will impact resources and keeping corporations accountable for sustainable practices, as they increasingly worry about the financial bottom line. Sophia and the Aall Foundation recognize Friends of the Earth as a key component to hold government and corporations responsible in our quest for a healthier and more just planet.