How One Globe-trotter Turned Her Love of Travel Into a Mission of Social Change

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Ever since she was a young girl living in South Florida, Loren Medina has loved to travel and learn about countries and cultures different from her own.

Growing up as the daughter of a Palestinian-Colombian mother and a Cuban father, she started going abroad by herself at age 9 — to South America to visit family in Colombia.

The tradition of solo travel continued when she studied abroad in Italy and did her first backpacking tour across Europe and later when she launched a career in the music industry, working for Sony Music Entertainment and the former company she founded — Digital Girl PR — for clients such as Shakira, Calle 13, and Maná. Today, Medina runs her own company — Guerrera Marketing & PR — with clients such as Kali Uchis, Jessie Reyez, and Omar Apollo. On vacations, Medina would often get on planes to leave the comfort of her Los Angeles home for other nations, many of them in the developing world.

To date, she’s been to 47 countries and every continent except Antarctica.

A few years ago, Medina realized something was missing. She was reading the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It dove into how women’s oppression was the world’s "paramount moral challenge” by looking at how rape, lack of educational opportunities, sex trafficking, and mortality rates for expecting mothers affected women globally.

“It changed my life because I began to think more deeply about how I could make a small difference where I was going,” Medina says. “I had a trip planned to Southeast Asia and I read about the high amount of sex trafficking in parts of the region. How could I go there and leave some trace of goodness as I left?”

Her philanthropic nonprofit, Travel With Purpose, was born.

Instead of exploring the world for the sake of travel alone, Medina has turned her trips into a means for donating tens of thousands of dollars in money and goods to support one of the causes closest to her heart: equality for women.

Since 2014, Travel With Purpose has raised funds and collected supplies that Medina has hand-delivered to aid organizations that work to combat sex trafficking in Cambodia and the Philippines, help poverty-stricken women in Haiti, and provide basic needs to Syrian refugee mothers and their children in Jordan, among other projects.

Instead of exploring the world for the sake of travel alone, Medina has turned her trips into a means for donating tens of thousands of dollars in money and goods to support one of the causes closest to her heart: equality for women. The organization, which she promotes throughout her networks in the U.S. and Latin America, also works to educate Americans about people and issues in the developing world.

“I juggle many jobs,” says Medina, who lives in Norwalk, California, and is an adjunct instructor at the University of California’s Thornton’s Music Industry program in addition to her public relations, marketing, and nonprofit work. “But what I want to do long-term is philanthropy that empowers women. Travel With Purpose is a passion project right now that I want to grow.”

She believes her experience in music marketing and promotion is the key to success.

“I see public relations and marketing at the heart of philanthropy,” Medina says. “No matter what good you try to do in the world, you have to get the message out about it to have the biggest and most lasting impact.”

It’s a lesson from her years in the music world, where she’s learned from industry leaders at companies including Live Nation, Universal Music, Epic Records, Sony Music, and Quincy Jones Productions, and also as an artist manager and vice president of an indie record label.

With fewer international travel and many border restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, Travel With Purpose has focused on other areas closer to home, including mentorship that Medina has done with a survivor of sex trafficking in Southern California as well as an ongoing scholarship program that works to help Black, Latinx, and Indigenous girls from less advantaged backgrounds achieve their goals and dreams.

Last year, Travel With Purpose partnered with Viva la Bonita, a Latinx women-run apparel brand, to launch the GUERRERA x TWP x VLB Scholarship Fund. Supporters can purchase a GUERRERA x VLB x TWP T-shirt or donate directly on GoFundMe to support the scholarship.

“We’ve accomplished a lot at Travel With Purpose to help people around the world,” says Medina. “As the world changes, we can also do more to help girls in our backyard and closer to home.”

CircleAround is operated by a wholly owned subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA. The site serves women nationwide by providing content that is uplifting, thought-provoking, and useful. We make revenue distributions back to GSUSA so they can further their mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

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