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Tell us about the natural place that most inspires you.
I grew up in South Carolina, and though I left 12 years ago for college and have since found my way to five continents and dozens of countries, it is there—in the land that raised me—where my heart remains. Every time I return to the Lowcountry I fall back under the spell of a beguiling world unfettered by humans. Here I watch wild ducks in the Santee Coastal Reserve lift off from swamp to air in the most ancient of dances. I kayak in the company of 1000-year old cypress trees along the Wambaw Creek and dig oysters out of the surf, always careful to leave the small ones tucked in the mud for further growth. As I explore barrier islands and the King’s Highway and soak up the rich history of the people who worked these lands, I am indebted to those who are protecting it for our future delight.
What inspires you to give back?
Some would say history is in the past, but I say history is here, all around us. These places I have seen, these lands that I have walked, they are all part of the story that I am living. I am part of their history as they are a part of mine. By committing to preserve these precious environments, I am keeping up my part of the bargain. You nourish me; I will fight for you. That is our deal.
Through your experiences in Washington and around the world you’ve had exposure to many nonprofits working for the environment. Why do you support The Nature Conservancy in particular?
My time at the State Department introduced me to many admirable organizations, but my appreciation for The Nature Conservancy is really about honoring the example my family set for me. My parents taught me a strong sense of love of place. The Conservancy also appeals to my business sensibilities. It is a smart organization that takes advantage of market incentives to leverage resources in achieving its goals. From a business perspective, supporting The Nature Conservancy just makes good sense.
Caroline Mauldin is the President and Co-Founder of Love Grain, a food company committed to improving the lives of gluten-free families and small-holder farmers. A 2013-2014 Zuckerman Fellow with Harvard's Center for Public Leadership, she is pursuing a dual degree (MBA/MPA) at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and MIT Sloan School of Management, where she is co-president of Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development. Prior to graduate school, she was an advisor and speechwriter at the U.S. Department of State, and in 2011, led the U.S. government’s launch of a new global initiative, the Open Government Partnership.