CIEE alum Flynn Coleman is a social entrepreneur, an international human rights attorney, the founding mindfulness teacher at King’s College London School of Law and Samya Practice, a Huffington Post blogger, a TEDx speaker, and a Luce Scholar. Though her career path seems diverse, all of her work is tied together by the same thread: a passion for helping others heal and for creating opportunities for empowerment. “I’m interested in infusing innovation, creativity, and behavioral economics into how we perceive and how we provide access to justice for all people,” she explains.
Flynn is also an athlete, and plays soccer wherever she goes – including in Chile during her semester abroad with CIEE. Because women’s soccer teams were uncommon in Chile, Flynn joined the men’s team through the help of her host family. She describes a story from the first time she played on the team: “I went out for the team and we lined up before the game. Everyone shook hands before the game, but when everyone got to me, they would kiss me on the cheek. And then we played the whole game on this dirt field and we ended up winning the game. We lined up after the game, and sure enough everyone shook my hand, and no one kissed my cheek again,” she recalls. “It was an emotional moment for me – and always reminds me of the power of women getting involved and having the opportunity to participate.”
Flynn has continued to pursue her passion for economic empowerment through her new social enterprise, Malena – and she credits her experience in Chile as key inspiration for her new venture . While studying abroad with CIEE in Santiago, Flynn worked with a women’s cooperative, helping to create a market for their goods in the US, which combined many of her passions: economic empowerment, community, stories, and shopping with a social conscience. “It was an extraordinary cooperative that came together after the dictatorship to heal as a community, to sell their creative work, and also to learn business and leadership skills, ” says Flynn. Malena, which comes from the Mapuche indigenous word for ‘girl’, is an original fashion line and a global online marketplace and community for goods and ideas from around the world, all focused on supporting economic empowerment of people worldwide.
“That’s kind of what everything is about – connecting with people, and learning from them, and trying to help when you can.”
Flynn is visiting countries worldwide to form partnerships with companies and cooperatives that support economic empowerment of their artists, including Ethiopia and Rwanda. Flynn’s career as an international human rights attorney focused on international criminal justice for crimes against humanity, including genocide, and so Rwanda is a place that is close to her heart. She draws connections between her law career and her work with yoga and mindfulness, and is inspired by the philosophies of such luminaries as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr. “That’s kind of what everything is about – connecting with people, and learning from them, and trying to help when you can.”