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Women's Day Spotlight: Cay Craig, PhD

Written by Stella Gryler

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Posted on March 03 2021

Cay Craig, CPALI founder and director

Meet Cay Craig, CPALI's founder and director! During a time of unparalleled threat to the world's biodiversity, Cay felt that her training could be best put to use exploring an innovative approach to conservation that links protection of endangered ecosystems with the well-being of local communities. Using her vast knowledge and experience, Cay developed the wild silk production program that has evolved into what you see here at Ta'na'na Silk today. For almost two decades, Cay has worked with a devoted team of experts in the US and Madagascar to develop the CPALI/SEPALIM program, providing supplementary income for our Malagasy team members and reducing stress on the vital rainforest ecosystems that make Madagascar so unique. 

CPALI & Ta'na'na Silk are lucky to be under the leadership of such an intelligent, dedicated, and innovative woman. 

Personal Statement from CPALI Director, Catherine Craig:

 “I was trained as an ecologist and evolutionary biologist and loved the research in which I was involved. Nevertheless, I felt that I could not maintain my focus on the evolution of spiders, webs and silks in the face of the ever-increasing numbers of species that were being driven to extinction due to over-hunting, habitat loss and climate change. Therefore, I decide to use the tools that I had, my training as a scientist and teacher, my knowledge of silk proteins, insects and tropical habitats, and my farming heritage, to develop a “wild” silk farming program. With a dream, a Fulbright research fellowship, and support from the National Geographic Society, the Rufford Foundation and numerous private donors, I founded Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, International.

Early on, I was fortunate to enlist a talented Malagasy biologist, Mamy Ratsimbazafy. He and I spent two years developing trust among and between team members as well as farmer participants. To extend the program, Mamy founded and manages SEPALI Madagascar, an independent, national NGO that is building toward its economic independence. I feel tremendously proud of all that SEPALI Madagascar has accomplished under Mamy’s direction and through his dedication to this work. I am privileged to be working with him.

However, the story is far from complete. The final piece of the project that can turn the CPALI dream into reality must be a developed market for its unique, non-spun, wild silk textile and newly designed products.”

Cay Craig with Wild Silk informational display

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