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Marisia Geraci
Marisia Geraci

Title: CEO Heifer International South Africa

Location: Durban, South Africa

When did you start working for Heifer? 2001

What attracted you to work for Heifer? From a young age, I wanted to have a career in poverty alleviation-I wanted to help others. I was also passionate about other cultures and left the U.S. at 17 to live in Europe. The combination of my drive to help others, my international exposure from a young age and educational experience in international business led me to apply in 2001.

What has been the most memorable experience you have had while working for Heifer? December 2009 when I left a comfortable life in the U.S. to move with my daughters to South Africa. It was a huge leap of faith for me but something I knew deep down that was meant to be. I left behind everything, packed a handful of suitcases with just our clothes and boarded a plan with my 4-year-old daughters. I had an incredible conviction for Heifer International South Africa. I saw endless opportunity and knew I could make a difference. Four years ago the organization was at the point of closing down. Now we are flourishing and helping change the lives of thousands. Day to day life is never easy here. 

My education includes: Studying in five different countries to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in International Trade-Summa Cum Laude; D.B.E- Diploma Basico de Español como Lengua Extranjera; Honours in Economics and Finance; Masters of Business Administration-Summa Cum Laude.

My hobbies include: I love helping in my community, whether it be at my daughters’ school, serving on nonprofit boards, volunteering with orphans and vulnerable children, or giving lunch to the person on the street. I give unconditionally to others. It’s so simple yet so rewarding. It is the essence of who I am.

My family consists of: First and foremost my beautiful 8-year-old twin daughters, Sienna and Sofia and family in the U.S. and Italy. And all my brothers and sisters here in Africa who work with Heifer or have worked with Heifer. Since living in Africa, family has taken on a new meaning. 

Something about me that you might not know: I have a very mischievous personality and love to see and make people laugh.

What is the best thing about working at Heifer International South Africa? Four to five years ago, Heifer International South Africa was at the point of closing down. With hard work, determination and a strong vision to overcome what seemed would be the inevitable, we are now flourishing and helping change the lives of thousands. Some of my favorite things about working here is that I am directly part of my organization’s transformation and the impact we have in the communities with which we work. I like taking a step back at times and seeing our growth and remembering where we have come from. The challenges have made me stronger.  And we are seeing our work expand into new areas. I love sitting in my office early mornings and looking out over the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu Natal and watching the monkeys jump in the trees. I get strength from my staff and the smiles on the faces of the people, particularly the women and children, across the country who we are helping.