Emily is an experienced skipper, ocean advocate and artist who is dedicated to exploring the huge environmental challenges we face, in particular ocean plastics. As much at home in and on the water as she is on dry land, Emily's ability to develop and communicate solutions for challenges facing today's society has been sharpened by a diverse portfolio of unique experiences.
Emily left Cambridge University with a degree in Architecture and a job offer in Australia. Deciding not to fly, she landed herself a place on Earthrace - a record breaking bio-fuelled boat. After crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans she ended up in Tonga and single-handedly co-ordinated the largest ever community-led rubbish cleanup in the South Pacific.
She went on to co-found Pangaea Explorations, enabling scientists, filmmakers and everyday people to gain access to the most remote parts of our planet via a 72ft sailing expedition vessel; collecting data on global issues and along the way discovered previously unknown oceanic gyres – huge areas of plastic pollution accumulation. Emily trawled for microplastics on a voyage through the Arctic Northwest Passage and worked on a sailing cargo ship trading western supplies for coconuts.
Emily now splits her time between running eXXpedition - a series of all female voyages focusing on plastic pollution and female health - and working on solving the ocean plastics issue with Parley for the Oceans and other corporate clients.
At the heart of Emily’s work is a mission to inspire and facilitate a community of change-makers. She runs workshops and programs that encourage us to re-think everything we do, from the social and environmental challenges we face, to happiness, efficiency, values, mass-consumption and more. Emily has followed her passion in life, not a pre-set career path, and as such she is an inspiration to all who desire the same for their lives.
An experienced public speaker, Emily has spoken around the world at TEDx conferences, universities and global companies, sharing both her adventures and an understanding of the issues relating to our oceans, human mindset and future society. Last year she addressed Presidents, Prime Ministers, Fisheries and Climate Ministers from around the globe at the United Nations General Assembly 'Sustainable Oceans and the Blue Economy' event.
Emily was honoured with the Fitzroy Award at the 2016 Ocean Awards and is also the youngest and only female recipient of both the Yachtmaster of the Year, awarded by HRH Princess Royal, and the Seamaster of the Year award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical society and in 2017 was elected as a member of the Cordon Rouge Club.
"Ms. Penn has a beautiful and natural way of connecting with her audience. First she brings them into her world with personal and personable stories of her adventures. Then she hands them a line to follow her in her travels, to bring them along, while encouraging them and giving them the tools to envision and take steps towards their own meaningful path."– Alison Walker, EEI Program Professional, Earth Ethics Institute (EEI), Miami Dade College
"Emily gave two insightful and excellent talks to our Sixth Form Geographers. She combined a deep insight of the issue of ocean conservation with elements of Chemistry, Biology, Oceanography, Geography and Anthropology, all delivered in an easy-going informative style. Her personal journey I can only describe as fascinating and inspiring - she made a real impact on our pupils. The workshop on solving the problems of ocean plastics was very effective in a clearly developed, yet simple way. Each step brought in new issues for the pupils to consider. It added to their understanding of the topic of ocean issues. I would say that Emily is one of the most inspirational role models that young people could meet and listen to - a real insight into seizing opportunities."– Trevor Kidson, Head of Geography, Bradfield College
"Best plastic pollution workshop ever!"– Chris Jordan, Artist, Parley Ocean School
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