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Alumni Profiles
reed magazine logoMarch 2010

Where There’s a Wheel...

by Lucy Bellwood ’12


Jenny Leonard

Jenny Leonard, in South Africa, on her way to work.

Every weekday, 16-year-old Mercy gets up at 3 a.m. and walks for three hours to get to school—walking back home under the baking South African sun. When biology major Jenny Leonard ’09 met Mercy during her semester abroad, she was shocked to discover that such commutes are a reality for thousands of South African schoolchildren. “Physical exhaustion and time spent walking are huge deterrents to the success of Mercy and her classmates,” she explains. Fortunately, Jenny’s interests in conservation and grassroots activism converged when she found Bicycles for Humanity (B4H), a Canadian organization helping nonprofit chapters to send shipping containers full of bikes, tools, and spare parts to African communities in need. Suddenly, it all made sense. “You can go twice as far, twice as fast, and carry three times as much on a bike,” she enthuses over coffee at Paradox Lost.

Undeterred by her lack of fundraising experience, Jenny founded a B4H chapter in Portland and set to work. So far she has raised over $4,500 of the $7,000 needed to fill and ship a container, which will serve as a local bike shop upon its arrival in South Africa. Much of the fundraising relies on local supporters like Chris Langford ’86, a fellow biology major who hosted a party for Jenny at his home. She hopes to draw upon this network to collect the most important element of all—the 400 used bikes needed to fill the container. To pitch in, contact Jenny at 925/354-1616, email, or visit

reed magazine logoMarch 2010