Public Speaker Alison Wright with Speaking Matters, a speakers bureau

our speakers:

Alison Wright


  • Learning to Breathe: One Woman's Journey of Spirit and Survival (Talk/Photo Presentation)

Travels from: New York, NY

For award-winning documentary photographer, Alison Wright (, traveling in packed vehicles around third world countries was just part of a day's work — until the fateful day in 2000 when her bus careened around a dangerous blind curve on a remote jungle road in Laos and collided head-on with a logging truck. In an instant of crushed metal and shattered glass, she was gravely injured and barely able to breathe. Hours from medical help, Wright was determined to survive her mortal wounds. Not only did she survive injuries that would have killed many others, she thrived in the face of doctors who told her what she couldn't do, what she would never do. Since then, she has achieved the unthinkable: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and resuming her life as an intrepid photojournalist, documenting the traditions and changes of people of cultures in Asia and throughout the remotest regions of the world. Wright chronicles her inspirational story in her memoir, Learning to Breathe: One Woman's Journey of Spirit and Survival. Almost 30 surgeries later, she continues to defy the odds, using this second chance at life to give back and serve others. Her Faces of Hope Fund ( helps children in the developing world, but it is Wright herself who may be the truest face of hope of all.

Wright's photography is represented by National Geographic and Corbis. Her work has been published in numerous publications, including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Islands, Smithsonian, American Photo, Natural History, Time, Forbes, O: The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Her compelling writing and heart-felt photographs have also been globally published in her other books: The Dalai Lama: A Simple Monk, based on her two-decade friendship with the Dalai Lama and The Spirit of Tibet: Portrait of a Culture in Exile, as well as through the Travel Channel Photo Journeys series and National Geographic books. Many of the captivating images from her years of documenting children's lives around the developing world became the basis of her highly-acclaimed book Faces of Hope: Children of a Changing World.

Wright has photographed for UNICEF and other relief organizations, such as CARE, ILO, Save the Children, USAID, SEVA, the Helen Keller Foundation, the Children's Defense Fund, and the Global Fund for Children. Her most recent humanitarian photos cover the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Sri Lanka and Hurricane Katrina.

Wright is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography and a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Award Travel Journalism Award. She leads National Geographic photo tours to Asia as a South East Asia expert ( Wright earned a Masters degree in Visual Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Preview Videos:

The Year in Photos 2010

Learning to Breathe Interview

"We are fortunate to have had many accomplished people address our community. Few, however, have so successfully engaged our students and incited their passions as Alison Wright. Her unique combination of humanity, humor and spirit of adventure transported us for over an hour, and the spontaneous standing ovation that followed was genuine, uncommon, and well-deserved. She left our community uplifted and touched."

Brian R. Daniell,
Dean of Residential Life
The Lawrenceville School