Kayla Mueller is a devoted humanitarian. She is courageous, compassionate, dedicated, and genuine. 

Photo Courtesy of Casey Myrick / Lumberjack

Photo Courtesy of Casey Myrick / Lumberjack

Kayla grew up in Prescott, Arizona with her parents and older brother. She loves camping and adventuring in the mountains. She is always quick with a joke to keep people going, and generous with her time in connecting with others.

She has spent her life working for those who need it most, using her voice to amplify those of others, and standing in solidarity with people as they struggle for their own rights and dignity. If there is work to be done in service to others, she does it.

Kayla cares deeply about humanitarian work and we know it would be important to her that we use this space to introduce the people and the places she values so deeply.  Like us, you will be inspired by the number of causes and organizations that Kayla has dedicated herself to throughout the world. Kayla has maintained her generous spirit by intentionally seeking the wisdom of spiritual teachers and guides along the way. She spent time at Plum Village learning from Thich Nhat Hanh, and was active in the campus ministry. Kayla grounds herself in these teachings as she has dedicated herself to the most painful parts of the world. She has always remained strong and willing, even in the most trying circumstances, as she has offered her compassion to those suffering under oppression and injustice. In explaining her own work, Kayla wrote these words:

I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine. If this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you.
— Kayla

What She's Achieved

  • African Refugee Development Center supports, protects and empowers African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. Kayla volunteered at a summer camp for African refugee youth.

  • Amnesty International is an international human rights organization. Kayla founded the student chapter at Northern Arizona University.

  • Contact Magazine is a Tibetan monthly magazine published in Dharamsala, India. Kayla served as a journalist and editor.  
  • Danish Refugee Council works worldwide to help those who have been displaced by war, violence, or persecution. Kayla worked to help the Syrian refugees in Turkey.
  • Food For Life Vrindavan is a humanitarian organization that provides food, education, and medical care for the poorest groups of women and children south of New Delhi. Kayla volunteered primarily as an English teacher.
  • International Solidarity Movement supports the Palestinian popular struggle against occupation and apartheid. Kayla accompanied families in their homes and children going to school.
  • Just Peace is a social justice project of the campus ministry at Northern Arizona University. Kayla joined them on a humanitarian trip to Guatemala and engaged in actions against torture and Guantanamo Bay.
  • LHA Charitable Trust is a social work organization in Dharamsala, India, that educates and provides social support for Tibetan Refugees. Kayla volunteered as an English teacher.
  • New Day Peace Center is a community center dedicated to nonviolence and peace education. Kayla helped to establish services for veterans  starting as students at Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College.
  • Northern Arizona University Center for Intercultural Education provides services for international students and works to internationalize the culture at NAU.
  • Plum Village is the monastery of Thich Nhat Hanh in Southern France. Here Kayla studied the Buddhist teachings of mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh while volunteering in the center.
  • Prescott Area Womens Shelter is a shelter designed to meet the needs of homeless women, children, and families in Prescott, AZ. Kayla worked there during the nights.
  • Save Darfur Coalition is a collaborative movement working to end the suffering in Darfur and other areas of Sudan. Kayla conducted several letter-writing campaigns and led two silent walks in Prescott, AZ.
  • STAND:NAU is part of the national student movement of STAND, which provides students with the tools to stop genocide and mass violence. Kayla was the president of STAND:NAU, and the  Southwest Regional Outreach Coordinator of STAND.
  • Support to Life is an international aid organization that works with people in disaster-stricken areas. Kayla worked to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.
  • Tibet Hope Center is an organization that serves the Tibetan refugee community by helping them gain life skills to live independently in India. Kayla helped refugees learn English and she compiled the monthly newsletter.
  • Youth Count is a nationwide organization that works to meet the needs of young people and their families. As a volunteer in Prescott, AZ, Kayla participated in many environmental and inter-generational projects.