National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Shannon Galpin founded Mountain2Mountain in November 2006. A rape survivor and mother, she realized she couldn’t just stand on the sidelines, watching women and girls routinely raped, oppressed and denied basic human rights. Believing that connecting communities on both sides of the equation was key to combating the apathy that prevents action and that changing perceptions was just as important as tangible projects, she developed events that involved communities and provoked discussion through art, music, and sport.
After four years working in various parts of Afghanistan working with women and girls, Shannon developed long-term strategies that focused on cyclical solutions in conflict zones globally that focused on connecting communities and sparking conversation. It was in the Kandahar prison, where Shannon was confronted with the power of voice. Frustrated by the lack of tangible help she would be able to provide, she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of stories from the women. They were despereate to be heard, to know that their injustice, their struggle, their heartbreak would survive outside of those walls.
An avid mountain biker continually focused on breaking gender barriers, in 2009, she became the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan, a country where the culture does not allow women to ride bikes. In 2010 she became the first person to ride across Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, which gave birth to the Panjshir Tour, a series of community bike rides in the US. Along the way, she always has a silver barette given to her by one of the women inside the Kandahar prison – a piece of that woman free as Shannon fights for the rights of women and girls around the world. Shannon writes regularly for Huffington Post and Matador Network, and is currently writing her first book. She has been featured on Dateline NBC, Today Show, New York Times, NBC Nightly News, and in Outside Magazine. Her first TEDx talkwas in 2012 on the Power of Voice which best illustrates the thread that links all of her work together. She is the subject of the documentary film series, MoveShake screening at film festivals throughout 2012 and 2013 and is working as the producer for the upcoming documentary, Afghan Cycles, with filmmaker Sarah Menzies of Let Media about the women’s national cycling team in Afghanistan premiering 2014.
Shannon is currently working on her first book, to release with St. Martin’s Press in fall of 2014.
You can contact Shannon at: email@example.com