Bay Area businesswoman to lead humanitarian aid mission to Turkey

Charlene Nijmeh, the businesswoman who founded the Green Education Foundation and Seventh Generation Recycling, plans to lead a humanitarian mission to aid the relief effort in Turkey.  The environmental foundation that she founded eleven years ago  — which does business around the world — will be sending food, supplies, blankets to the towns and villages most impacted by last month’s devastating earthquake.

It’s estimated that the death toll could be as high as 100,000 people, though official counts are much lower.  Hundreds of thousands more have been left homeless or displaced.  Nijmeh and company executives will be in Turkey in the middle of March to deliver the humanitarian aid, and to ensure that it is distributed to those most in need.

Nijmeh’s firm does business in Turkey.  While her company’s operations in Istanbul were not impacted by the natural disaster, her employees and their families lost many loved ones.

“The images of the devastation and the stories that we hear from employees and business partners in the region are jaw-dropping and tragic,” Nijmeh explains.  “This is devastation of biblical proportions.  The global community must step up to alleviate the suffering.”

“Our company is going to step up, and we invite others to join us,” she adds.  “There is an enormous amount of work to do, and we will be returning to Turkey later this year for a second relief mission.”

The Chairwoman is planning a second humanitarian trip later this year in which she is inviting other Bay Area entrepreneurs, executives, and civic leaders to join her in this longterm reconstruction effort.  She wants the Bay Area business community to build even stronger economic ties with the region.

The initiative resembles her humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine, where she sent 300,000 pounds of goods, clothing, jackets, blankets, and other relief supplies.

Nijmeh’s Green Education Foundation diverts 50 million pounds of textiles from landfills every year.  She founded the landfill diversion program 15 years ago, and it has been growing rapidly ever since.  The firm now does business in Latin America, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. 

There’s opportunity for other Bay Area business people and tech executives to take Nijmeh up on her offer and join her on the humanitarian trip.

“Our firm has a strong logistics network and we plan to use it to distribute the goods and supplies,” she explains.  “It’s important for me to travel there to make sure our partners know how committed we are to seeing them through this — in both a macro and micro sense.”

Nijmeh is also the Chairwoman of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, the Indian Tribe that is aboriginal to the San Francisco Bay Area, and has been in a 40-year long struggle to reaffirm its federal status.  Nijmeh has made land acquisition and the construction of a Native Village within the Tribe’s aboriginal territory the priority of her administration.

If you are interested in supporting the relief effort, or the effort to reaffirm the Tribe’s federal status, the Chairwoman is encouraging people to reach out to her staff at

Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh is becoming a familiar face on Capitol Hill.   In recent months she has been advancing legislation in Congress that will restore the Tribe’s federal status.   The Tribe was previously recognized and never Terminated, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs errored when it issued its 1978-list, from which the Tribe was absent.

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