Founder & President

Prince Harris Pems Taga

Prince Harris Taga is a native Maasai and a lifelong advocate for living sustainably with nature and wildlife. As the founder of Friends of Maasai Mara, Harris’ goal is to teach young people about their rich wildlife heritage and to engage his home community around the Maasai Mara National Preserve to protect wildlife and the local ecosystem for future generations. He accomplishes this through outreach to students and families, through wildlife programs in local schools, and by taking children out into the Maasai Mara Preserve to witness wildlife firsthand, which they would otherwise never see. Harris believes in nurturing the natural empathy that young people have, and that this will be the key to coexistence between people and wildlife in the 21st century.


Harris is also the lead organizer of the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos, and Lions in the Maasai Mara every fall, with thousands of participants, and he hosts a weekly radio show on wildlife broadcast throughout the Mara region. Currently, he is spearheading the Mara Center for conservation and education, in collaboration with his colleagues at Friends of Maasai Mara and other members of the local community. In addition to his advocacy work, Harris is an engineer. He earned a BS in mechanical and manufacturing engineering from the University of Nairobi.


John Kisimir

John Kisimir is a communications expert in international development, conservation, and human rights, drawing on experiences from Africa, the US, and Latin America. He was formerly Communications Director for World Vision and ActionAid International in Africa, working in programs to alleviate poverty. John is currently an independent communications and campaigns specialist for international agencies as well as grassroots organizations in East Africa.


John is passionate about giving communities a voice in all matters conservation and is supporting Friends of Maasai Mara in becoming a movement that will bestow respect and faith for communities that live in the Maasai Mara ecosystem.

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Michelle Schmidt Nirenstein

Michelle has always been a wildlife advocate. Her global passions are education, women's empowerment, and conservation. In addition to her involvement with the Friends of Maasai Mara, she is a former president and active member of her Rotary Club in the U.S., supporting local as well as international projects including H2Open Doors. She holds a bachelors degree in clinical psychology and business.

Her background includes careers in product development, commercial real estate, interior and landscape design, and fashion design. She holds several U.S. patents in the footwear field, including a pneumatic shoe sole called Energaire®, that was licensed to Reebok and Spaulding.

Michelle grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where as a child, she was always rescuing and rehabilitating small animals. She currently resides in Austin, Texas with her rescue dogs, Marley and Toby, a two French Bulldogs named Ketchup, and Moo. Michelle is the mother of two grown children, Parker and Madison, who are also involved in the Mara Center.