Creative Female Innovators in Humanitarian Aid

Women in Aid

On International Women’s Day, we’ve been reminiscing about the profound positive impact of creative female leaders all over the globe. Women at every stage of life and business continue to shape the world with their groundbreaking ideas, sense of humanity, and dogged determination to make the world a better place.

In honor of all the great female humanitarian innovators making a difference, we thought we’d introduce you to some of the brilliant feminine minds behind a few of our supplier organizations. This post is full of woman power! 

Megan Birney, President

Unite to Light

Megan BirneyUnite To Light has been leading Unite to Light, a non-profit organization that focuses on bringing solar-powered reading lights to under-served communities with limited or no access to electricity since August of 2016.

She’s passionate about solar power and shares her professional opinion on the renewable energy industry on Tech Crunch and has an article detailing the outlook of Commercial Solar in 2016 published with Renewable Energy World as well. Watch her TEDx talk Powering Our Future with Sun, Water, and Waves to learn more about renewable energy initiatives. She discusses how most of our society could transition to a sustainable energy model with zero reliance on fossil fuels within one generation.

Check out Megan’s story on 22Lightbulbs podcast episode.


Lisa Tarver, Co-Founder

One World PLAY Project

Lisa Tarver is the founder and Chief Impact Officer of the One World Play Project (OWPP). Through her work at OWPP, Lisa helps bring a bit of humanity and joy to underprivileged and disaster-impacted children all over the world.

With a focus on the positive physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of play, OWPP creates extremely durable futbols that are used to teach children about conflict resolution, gender equality, and other fundamental life skills. And, of course, they also facilitate free play! 

Megan graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master’s in Public Policy (focus on Environmental Policy) and has a B.A. in Sociology from the U.C. San Diego.


Maria Besteman, Head of Programs

Basic Water Needs

Basic Water NeedsMaria Besteman’s passion for international development gives her a strong foundation as she initiates and develops programs at Basic Water Needs to help increase safe water access and hygiene in developing countries.

Basic Water Needs is based in the Netherlands. The company specializes in developing portable and table top water filtration and storage products for household use in underserved and rural communities where access to clean, healthy water is limited or nonexistent.

Maria has a Master’s Degree from the Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam and a Bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, also from the University of Amsterdam.



Patricia Compas-Markman, Founder & CEO

DayOne Response

DayOne ResponsePatricia (Tricia) Compas-Markman founded DayOne Response in 2010 and has been working diligently to provide water treatment and sanitation solutions to impoverished communities ever since. She’s passionate about bringing clean water resources to the world’s most vulnerable people and promoting disaster relief and preparedness initiatives.

Tricia is also the co-inventor of DayOne’s flagship product, the Waterbag and has won numerous awards and had her work recognized by multiple organizations including the Creativity Foundation and Junior Chamber International. 

Tricia has an M.S. and B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cal Poly.


Beth Kolko PhD, Co-Founder & CEO

Shift Labs

Beth Kolko wears many hats. Not only is she mentoring the next generation of humanitarian engineers as a Professor of Human Centered Design Engineering at the University of Washington, but she also helps bring low-cost medical equipment to impoverished countries.

Shift Labs is known for their DripAssist, the only FDA-cleared infusion rate monitor that counts infusion rates with 99% accuracy, doesn’t require a pump or maintenance, and is totally portable. Dr. Kolko focuses on encouraging her students to become functional engineers and solve problems in the real world. Through her work at Shift Labs, Dr. Kolko expounds the importance of design and its ability to revolutionize technology and reimagine previously complicated equipment as simple, easy-to-use devices. Check out Beth’s story on 22Lightbulbs podcast episode.

Beth graduated with a PhD in English from the University of Texas at Austin and holds a B.A. from Oberlin College.


Trine Sig, Co-Founder & Managing Director

Real Relief

Trine Sig is a woman making a difference for underserved and disaster-impacted communities across the globe. Her company, Real Relief, produces a number of humanitarian supplies including water filters, cooking kits, rapid diagnostic kits, mosquito nets, rapid assembly shelters, and more.

One product in particular that has our attention is the SafePad, a self-sterilizing sanitary pad designed to protect women in developing countries from infections and illness due to using unhygienic materials during their menstruation. You can listen to Trine tackle the “taboo” subject of menstruation and discuss the SafePad in detail on our 22 Lightbulbs podcast.


Julie Kreutz King, Director of Kit Programs

Project C.U.R.E.

Julie Kreutz King makes a difference in the lives of children in developing nations all over the world by organizing the kit programs at Project C.U.R.E. And it just so happens that she’s also one our neighbors here in Colorado!

Project C.U.R.E. packages a variety of kits full of medical necessities that help facilitate general medical services as well as post-natal care. The organization also sends volunteer medical teams to underserved communities worldwide to offer free training and assistance to local healthcare staff.  During her time with Project C.U.R.E., Julie has made it her mission to increase the delivery of quality medical and hygiene supplies to families and children in developing countries.

Julie graduated with a Masters in Psychology from Antioch University, Santa Barbara and holds a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State. 


International Women’s Day events are happening worldwide. Find an event near you. Visit our blog to learn about new disaster relief aid and humanitarian supplies and to stay up to date on humanitarian news and industry events.

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