Boston power couple Mike and Leila Chambers embrace social justice.
Most everything Leila and Michael Chambers do, including their philanthropic ventures, is inspired by adventure and the outdoors.
As Mike Chambers likes to tell the story, the moment he met Leila de Bruyne, he turned to his buddy and told him he was going to marry her. Beyond her doe-eyed beauty, Mike found Leila’s passion for social justice extraordinary. “I was super-intimidated by her,” he remembers. He had good reason to be. At the age of 23, after volunteering at an orphanage in the slums of Nairobi throughout college, Leila and two partners moved to Kenya, bought a three-acre farm, and started taking in orphaned children. “I’d never seen such horrific circumstances, but I’d also never seen such amazing potential,” recalls Leila, now 31. “These bright, engaging, hardworking kids just wanted so badly to go to school.” Three children quickly turned into six, then into nine. Today, Leila’s foundation, Flying Kites, cares for and educates more than eighty orphaned or deeply impoverished children in Kenya. As for Mike’s marriage prediction? It came true two years ago.
Now Leila and Mike Chambers are Boston’s newest philanthropic power couple. Mike joined Flying Kites shortly after meeting Leila and created FK Adventures, which organizes global travel packages—guided expeditions to Kilimanjaro, safari tours in Kenya—to raise money for the foundation. “I’m the product of parents who met [while] helicopter skiing in Jackson Hole,” says Mike, a sponsored mountaineer and endurance athlete. “I’ve had adventure ingrained in me from a very young age.” Mike’s first foray into philanthropy came in Nicaragua when he started an organization called Surf for the Cause with a friend, which is how he met Leila. When the two joined forces, Mike brought his expertise of turning adventure travel into fundraising dollars. Ever since, FK Adventures has allocated all of its profits—to date, about $1 million—to Flying Kites, which now offers a robust scholarship program to secondary schools in Kenya and a Launch Program for 18-year-olds entering the workforce.
Most recently, Mike left Flying Kites to cofound his own nonprofit, which will focus on education in Haiti. What began as a mission to build a high school for 300 high-performing students has since expanded to include a network of 41 pre-existing, underfunded primary schools. Summits Education will officially launch this spring. Shortly after, Leila and Mike will celebrate their second wedding anniversary—in Boston, Kenya, Haiti, or some other corner of the world that they will inevitably leave a better place.