Colleen Denny

Colleen is currently a candidate at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in the Master of International Public Policy program with an affiliation in Conflict Management and will graduate in December 2018. Colleen is a native of Buffalo, NY and graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science and a commissioning as an Ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard. Immediately following graduation, she served on the Coast Guard Cutter FORWARD. In January 2010, the FORWARD responded to an earthquake that struck Port Au Prince, Haiti. As a responder, she led the first shore excursions into Port Au Prince to provide medical care and deliver humanitarian supplies. She was also responsible for coordinating helicopter medical evacuations in and out of the harbor. In 2011, she sailed with the FORWARD to Western Africa where she trained the newly created Liberian Coast Guard, Senegalese Navy, and Sierra Leone Navy. After completing another at-sea assignment and then a shore-side special staff assignment, in 2015, she transferred to serve as the Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Cutter DONALD HORSLEY, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. While captain of the ship, the crew netted over $7 million in illicit narcotics, successfully interdicted multiple human smugglers, and conducted Search and Rescue operations in the Caribbean which resulted in seven lives saved. After returning from his fellowship over the summer, Colleen discussed with AP the impacts the fellowship had on him. "Working with CPI Kenya and doing actual peacebuilding work in the field was an invaluable experience. My 10 weeks taught me so much and exposed me to how the dedicated work of just a few individuals at CPI Kenya has completely transformed the communities of thousands of pastoralist families. It also showed me how resilient the human spirit is; the families and children we worked with have struggled through so much, yet are still kind, generous and optimistic. It was truly an incredible and humbling experience."

What I Saw

06 Sep

Market Day in Plesian Village, Samburu County


On my final trip to Samburu County with CPI Kenya, I saw some amazing things. Since CPI Kenya started working with the Samburu and Pokot tribes to bring peace to their communities, the peacebuilding work has completely transformed their lives.

Market Day in Plesian Village, Samburu County, Kenya


I saw Market Day in Plesian Village. Every Tuesday, the Pokot tribe hosts a market in Plesian Village. At this Market Day I saw women selling vegetables, clothes, and household supplies. I saw men selling goats, cows, sheep, and farm equipment. I saw Samburu men and women shopping at this predominantly Pokot market. I saw young Samburu and Pokot men, in their early twenties, eating chapatti and drinking tea together.

During the conflict, Pokot families on average harvested 1.7 bags of maize a year. Now, on average they harvest 21.4 bags of maize a year


Why does this matter? Because just eight years ago, none of this existed. There was no Market Day, because there was nothing. The people were living like refugees, hiding in the bush and scrapping by for every meal. There was no food to sell, because there were no crops being grown. There was no livestock to sell, because all livestock had been stolen or killed in raids. And young Samburu and Pokot men eating chapatti and drinking tea together? Unimaginable. Eight years ago those same men I saw today would have killed each other on the spot if they saw one another. The only time there was interaction between the two tribes was on the battlefield.

A Pokot woman (left) and Samburu woman (right) in Longewon Village, Samburu County


The next day I saw Market Day in Longewon Village. Every Wednesday, the Samburu tribe hosts a market in Longewon. I saw similar things being sold. I saw Pokot and Samburu women patiently waiting to be seen at the Maternity Clinic by the doctor. I saw Pokot and Samburu children walking hand and hand through the village. I saw Pokot and Samburu boys playing soccer together on the dirt soccer field at Longewon Primary School.

Market Day in Longewon Village, Samburu County

Why does this matter? Because just eight years ago, none of this existed. Just like the Pokots in Plesian, the Samburu in Longewon lived as refugees. They couldn’t grow crops, because they were constantly fleeing. Pregnant women couldn’t visit the doctor or receive any health care. And Longewon Primary School was closed, unable to open because it was unsafe for the children to attend.

I saw a total transformation. I saw lives being led normally. I saw people living with peace of mind. I saw children being able to be children. I saw intermarriage. I saw friendships reaching across both tribes. I saw a thriving local economy. I saw it all, and it was all because of CPI Kenya.

Posted By Colleen Denny

Posted Sep 6th, 2018

1 Comment

  • Iain Guest

    September 12, 2018


    Colleen – What a great way to end up your fellowship! I’ve also been there and was struck by all the same sights and impressions. CPI’s model of peace-building really works. You’ve done a fantastic job this summer and I really hope you can stay involved. A huge thanks for a job well done!

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