Paola Gianturco: From boardroom to the darkroom

The climb up the corporate ladder to the heights of advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi was neither as difficult for Paola Gianturco as trekking 7,000 feet up the Himalayas on her most recent career move, nor as rewarding.

A year after that Himalayan climb, Gianturco, now 68, has just completed her fourth and what she calls her most demanding book yet, highlighting 23 nonprofits that cater to women’sproblems in 15 developing countries. Women Who Light the Dark was scheduled for a launch Wednesday in New York. Gianturco will follow up the release with a tour and San Francisco appearance at the Commonwealth Club on Oct. 1.

“This book was definitely the most challenging, because it was both physically challenging and emotionally draining,” said Gianturco, a Stanford graduate who lives in Mill Valley.

Writing and photographing the book involved climbing mountains in Nepal, dodging violent political upheaval in Morocco, meeting Cambodian women who had been trafficked as sex workers and talking with Zimbabwean girls who had been raped because of a myth that sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. One hundred percent of her author royalties are reinvested toward the programs highlighted in her books, Gianturco said.

After 34 years in communications, marketing and advertising, Gianturco made the leap from the corporate world in 2001 when she was running her own corporate communications consulting firm.

“I never went back to business full time,” Gianturco said of her sabbatical. “I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun as creating that first book, and the ensuing ones.”

Since then her books have garnered international attention with her photographs being exhibited in museums, including the International Museum of Women, San Francisco. More importantly, her books have helped draw attention to the problems facing women in desperate situations and raise money, Gianturco said.

She credits her years of experience in communications and marketing with her ability to draw attention to female entrepreneurs working at the grassroots level to make a difference.

For more information on Women Who Light the Dark visit the Web at www.womenwholightthedark.com.

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