Wanjira Mathai grew up in Kenya, traveling to the United States to attend college. She is a graduate of Hobart William Smith College and graduate schools of Business and Public Health at Emory University. She then worked as Sr. Program Officer for International Health at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta focusing on issues of disease eradication. Since 2002, Ms. Mathai has been directing International Affairs at the Green Belt Movement, which was founded by her mother, the late Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the Green Belt Movement and the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies.