Paola Gianturco Biography

Photo Courtesy CCTV America

Photo Courtesy CCTV America


Paola Gianturco is an author/photographer who has documented women’s lives in 62 countries and had six books published.

Women’s Issues

Her involvement with women’s issues is long standing. She has lectured about them in the US, Canada, France, United Arab Emirates, and Spain. She spoke at UNESCO International Headquarters in Paris on International Women’ s Day 2008; her photographs were exhibited there in 2009 and 2011. Paola co-developed and taught Executive Institutes on Women and Leadership at Stanford University, and served on the Board of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). She was a principal in the first women-owned advertising agency in the United States and is a current member of International Women’s Forum. Paola presented a TED TALK in 2014 in Dubai. In 2013, Paola was named one of "40 Women to Watch over 40" --- and in 2014, she was named one of "21 Leaders for the 21st Century" by Women's eNews. In 2017 the YWCA inducted her into the Marin Women's Hall of Fame.


Paola’s sixth book, Wonder Girls: Changing Our World ( was created with her eleven-year-old granddaughter co-author, Alex Sangster, and released in October 2017. It is the first book to document the work of groups of activist girls around the world. All 15 groups include girls age 10 to 18, tackling diverse issues in 13 countries. The book has won literary awards in categories as diverse as Women’s Studies, Multicultural Nonfiction and, most recently, a Gold in the Social Justice category of the Nautilus Book Awards.


Her fifth book, Grandmother Power, A Global Phenomenon (powerHouse Books, 2012), documents a new, unheralded international women’s movement. Grandmother Power features 120 activist grandmothers in 17 grandmother groups in 15 countries on five continents who are fighting courageously and effectively—against poverty, disease, illiteracy, and human rights abuse—to create a better world for grandchildren everywhere. Grandmother Power has won the 2013 Living Now Book Award's Gold medal -- Social Action category, Foreword Reviews' 2012 Book of the Year Gold Award -- Women's Studies category, 2013 Readers' Choice Award for Favorite Grandparenting Book, and the 2013 International Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction. (


Women Who Light the Dark, (www.womenwholightthedark) was released in 2007. It features women in 15 countries who are helping each other with the intractable problems that make life dark for families everywhere.


Paola’s third book, ¡Viva Colores! A Salute to the Indomitable People of Guatemala was published in September 2006; its bi-lingual, English/Spanish text was written by David Hill. (


Her second book, Celebrating Women (2004) features festivals in 15 countries that celebrate women’s accomplishments, attributes, roles, rites of passage, and spiritual lives. ( The first exhibit ever curated by the International Museum of Women (San Francisco) was Celebrating Women. A travelling exhibit was mounted by the Field Museum in Chicago, where 195,000 visitors saw it during seven months in 2008. UNESCO exhibited Celebrating Women in March 2009 at its world headquarters in Paris. The show travelled to six U.S. venues in 2010 and 2011. 


Paola conceived and, collaborating with Toby Tuttle, was co-author/photographer of In Her Hands, Craftswomen Changing the World, (hardcover, 2000; paperback, 2004) ( This book features women artisans in 12 countries, all sending their children to school with the money they earn from selling their handicrafts. Photographs from this book have been exhibited at The United Nations in New York; The United States Senate, Washington DC; The Smithsonian Museum Folklife Festival, Washington DC and The Field Museum, Chicago. 

Media Coverage

Paola has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, NPR, and CNN. Her photographs have been published by Harpers Bazaar-Australia, Marie Claire (US, Taiwan and Greek editions), The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, The Denver Post, The Chicago Tribune, plus many Internet sites, podcasts and blogs.

Solo Exhibits 

Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Wonder Girls: Changing           Our World,  January 15-February 4, 2018

Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville, KY, Grandmother Power, August 19 2017-   January 8, 2018

World Affairs Council, San Francisco, CA, Wonder Girls: Changing Our World, September 1-December 15, 2017

Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL, Grandmother Power, February 14-April 30,             2017

Dennos Museum, Traverse City, MI, Grandmother Power, September 18-              January 31,       2017

Mount Mary University, Milwaukee WI, Grandmother Power, July 28- September       13, 2014

Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids, MI, Grandmother Power,               September 6, 2013- February 2, 2014 

Field Museum, Chicago IL, In Her Hands, May 18, 2001-January 13, 2002 

Field Museum, Chicago IL, Celebrating Women, March 1-September 7, 2008 

International Museum of Women, San Francisco CA, Celebrating Women,               October-December 2004 

San Jose Museum of Art, San Francisco CA, In Her Hands, August 4-22, 2004 

UNESCO, Paris, Miro Rooms 1 and 2, Celebrating Women, March 2009 

Smithsonian Folklife Festival, South African Pavilion photomurals, Washington     DC, June            23-July 4, 1999

United States Senate Russell Rotunda, Washington DC, In Her Hands, October             2002 

Center for International Women’s Leadership, Notre Dame IN, In Her Hands, February 8-September 30, 2002

University of New England Art Gallery, Portland MA, Celebrating Women, March 8-May 20, 2010

Dennos Museum, Traverse City MI, Celebrating Women, September 19, 2010-   January 2, 2011 

Center for International Women’s Leadership, Notre Dame IN, Celebrating       Women, October 2, 2008-January 15, 2009 

Tarbel Art Center, Charleston IL, Celebrating Women, January, 2011 

Leedy-Volkos Gallery, Kansas City, MO, Celebrating Women, March/April 2011

Dominican University Library, San Rafael, CA, Celebrating Women, May 25-June             30, 2011 

505 Sansome Gallery, San Francisco CA, In Her Hands, February 9-27, 2004 

Art Works, Chestertown, MD, In Her Hands, March, 2009 

Bryan Art Gallery, Conway SC, In Her Hands, September 11-October 17, 2008 

Children’s Discovery Museum, San Jose, CA, In Her Hands, June 1-July 31               2005 




Group Exhibits

United Nations, General Assembly Lobby, New York, Progress of the World’s              Women, June 5-July 6, 2001

UNESCO, Headquarters, Paris: Women at Work, Women’s Lives, March 2011

Petaluma Historical Society, Women and the Search for Wisdom, March 2018


Permanent Collections 

Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco CA (40 images) 

Truman Medical Center, Kansas City MO (40 Celebrating Women images) 

Carole Ann Reed Breast Health Center, Oakland CA (20 In Her Hands images) 


First Career

Prior to 1996, Paola spent 34 years in communications: 7 in retailing and public relations; 14 as a principal at Hall & Levine Advertising, the first women-owned advertising agency; 9 as Executive Vice President of Saatchi & Saatchi’s Corporate Communications Group; 4 as President of The Gianturco Company, a communications consultancy. 



In addition to her involvement with women’s issues (listed above), Paola is a member of the Advisory Boards of three nonprofits:  Global GrandmothersRise Up , and Pencils for Africa . Previously, she was Board Chair of The Crafts Center, which worked with low-income artisans in 79 countries, and served on the Board of the travel company, International Nature and Cultural Adventures.