A graduate of Duke and Yale, Eileen Flanagan is the award-winning author of three books and scores of articles. In addition to helping people to make their activism more effective, she speaks to international audiences on topics ranging from personal empowerment and spirituality to climate justice. She is the board chair of Earth Quaker Action Team, which uses nonviolent direct action to work for a just and sustainable economy.

The Backstory

The granddaughter of Irish immigrants, Eileen was raised in a one-bedroom apartment over a movie theatre just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Through the Girl Scouts and then her high school Outing Club, she fell in love with forests, which is where she feels closest to the Divine. For twenty-five years, she has found spiritual community among Quakers. (Visit Eileen’s Quakerism in a Nutshell page if you are wondering if Quakers are like the Amish.) Much of her writing has explored how spiritual principles apply to real life concerns, from marriage and parenting, to economic and racial justice.

Eileen’s concern for justice was sparked by two and a half years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana, where she woke up to global inequality. She loved living in a mud hut and came home to the United States wanting to live simply. Then came marriage and two children. At age forty-nine, she looked around her three-story house filled with electronics and wondered how her life had moved so far away from the simplicity and activism of her youth. The story of how she reoriented her life, traveled back to Africa, and became a leader in environmental justice work is the subject of Renewable: One Woman’s Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope.

Revelations Not in the Book

Eileen has a half sister whom she didn’t know about until she was an adult. That may be a story for a different memoir, but you can read a bit of it in Shaken to the Core: Oprah’s Surprise Sister and Mine.

Two of Eileen’s favorite things are connecting people and making them laugh.

She makes a mean Irish whiskey cake.