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.

Jackson Tirkolo

Jackson Tirkolo is a specialist in agricultural economics, with extensive experience in community development through improved agribusiness. He is currently a financial advisor and credit officer with Good Hope Sacco LTD, based in the town of Narok, providing a wide range of financial solutions in the whole process of community empowerment. Jackson’s interests are in wildlife and environmental conservation, in ways that will build positive sustainable human-wildlife relationships and benefit the local human community as well.


Jackson has been a board member of Friends of Maasai Mara since its inception in 2012, and he has been a pivotal figure in seeking out and establishing networks for the organization. He is also one of the key organizers of the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos, and Lions and related events in the Mara area each year. Jackson’s dream and vision is to develop Friends of Maasai Mara into a fully fledged NGO that carries out sustained wildlife conservation and community empowerment programs in and around the Maasai Mara National Preserve.

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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 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 creatures. She currently resides in Austin, Texas with her rescue dogs, Marley and Toby, and a French Bulldog named Ketchup. Michelle is the mother of two grown children, Parker and Madison, who are also involved in the Mara Center.

Barb Mackraz

Barb Mackraz is the founder of OliveSeed Foundation and a lifelong advocate for wildlife and a sustainable relationship with nature. She has been an active volunteer with environmental organizations in the US for many years and was an organizer of the San Francisco March for Elephants. Barb believes that a critical part of conservation is inspiring empathy toward wildlife and nature among young people, through education and direct experience with the natural world: We protect what we know and love. Barb is also passionate about literacy, and since early 2014 has been developing libraries and story projects in rural Morocco and now also the Mara Girls Leadership School in Kenya. Today, she combines her passions for conservation and education to help FOMM secure a future for African wildlife and develop programs for young people in the Mara.


Professionally, for many years Barb was a designer and researcher for tech companies in Silicon Valley, including Apple, Tellme, Microsoft, and a number of startups, until devoting herself full time to conservation and education. In 2014, she was a mentor in the US State Department's TechWomen program, bringing together women from around the world who work in STEM fields, and she serves on the committee of a World Affairs Council chapter. She is also a past president of the Rotary Club of Woodside/Portola Valley, California. Barb has a BA in European history from the University of California and a Master of Liberal Arts from Stanford University, where she wrote a thesis on cartography of the Nile.

Jackline Kisaka

Jackline Kisaka is a content marketing and advertising professional at Nation Media Group in Nairobi, the largest private media house in East and Central Africa. Jackie’s passion and commitment to wildlife began in 2014, when she became aware of the poaching crisis affecting elephants, rhinos, and other wildlife throughout Africa. Since then, she has been actively involved in raising awareness for wildlife and speaking out against poaching. She is also an active organizer for the annual Global March for Elephants, Rhinos, and Lions in the Maasai Mara region.


Jackie has a Bachelor of Education Arts, majoring in English and literature, and is an eloquent speaker of maa, shahii, English, and French.

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© 2016-2021 Friends of Maasai Mara

a registered nonprofit organization

Nairobi & Talek, Kenya


Tel: +254 721 527 964

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