Statement on the Passing of Wangari Maathai

Today, Africa and the world mourn the passing of Wangari Maathai, a tireless advocate for women, the environment, democracy, and Africa.

Maathai spoke truth to power in all she did, whether she was empowering women to fight poverty through conservation or protesting the government that she so proudly served. She richly deserved the Nobel Peace Prize she received in 2004, and she took on every fight with a sense of hope that will continue to inspire activists and leaders for generations to come.

I was honored to work with Maathai through the Clinton Global Initiative and through her work on the Green Belt Movement. She always filled the room with her optimism, laughter, and magical presence. She was a great friend and will be sorely missed. But her memory will live on through all those she inspired, through the change she brought to Africa, and in the healthier more peaceful world she left behind.

John Podesta is President and CEO of American Progress.