SWO Breakfast & Presentation Series with Michele Raffin

Michele Raffin

On Saturday morning, November 7, 2015, SWO hosted a successful and well-attended breakfast in San Rafael, California with author and activist Michele Raffin. Michele’s journey started by rescuing one bird and has evolved one of the largest exotic bird sanctuaries in the United States. Michele talked about her latest book, The Birds of Pandemonium, an enchanting story which offers rare insights into how following a passion can transform not only oneself but also the world.

Mary Granick, a member of SWO Program Committee, welcomed the attendees to the breakfast meeting by sharing some updated information about the ongoing work of SWO and its founder, Dr. Nahid Angha. She introduced SWO as a significant forum for all women, with seventeen Mary-swo-breakfast-2015chapters around the world. Nancy Carroll, another member of SWO Program Committee, talked about how SWO works in support of other humanitarian organizations, such as Amnesty International. SWO has devoted time and financial support towards many humanitarian organizations working towards human rights, immunizations, clean water, education and more.

Leili First, Ph. D., of the SWO Program Committee, talked about Michele’s contribution to the world of bird conservation, and then invited Michele up to the podium for her presentation.

Michele, a former venture capitalist in the Silicon Valley, obtained her degree in the 1980’s from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Her career in business was briefly put on hold by motherhood and then a very unexpected turn of Nancy-swo-breakfast-2015events occurred when she found an injured dove on the side of a road – tending to that dove changed her life dramatically. Before long, Michele described how she went from rescuing one bird to rescuing many. Not only did she begin rescuing birds, but also began housing them. She soon developed a reputation in the birding community as being a soft touch who would take in troubled birds no else wanted from shelters and private breeders. She told us about her “Charlie Brown method” of selection, which involved her taking in the most unadoptable birds and asking herself, “If I don’t take them, who will?” She started taking in finches, injured lorikeets, and African cranes. She mesmerized the audience with how she learned and observed how birds fall in love, mourn, rejoice, and sacrifice; she described how birds have a sense of humor, invent, plot, and cope. Michele reported that birds can teach us volumes about the interrelationships between humans and animals.


Following her riveting talk, Michele answered several questions from the audience and then signed books and spoke with attendees. In addition to appreciating the engaging speaker, the attendees all enjoyed a tasty breakfast and lively conversation with one another in a beautiful sun-lit setting. We look forward to our next SWO Breakfast Lecture in March of 2016!

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