Research Associate, International Coastal Network, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Surfer. Scientist. Artist. Explorer.
Surfing is Easkey’s active metaphor for life. Pursuing big waves, adventure travel, research and artistic expression has given her the opportunity to explore more deeply the values surfing teaches and the importance of exploring more innovative and creative ways of applying and sharing those values to create positive social change.
Her passion for the marine environment has led to collaborations with the Wellcoast network, the European Commission’s Inseparable campaign, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Rockefeller Foundation on their gender engagement strategy for global marine conservation. In 2012, Easkey completed a PhD in Environment and Society specialising in human wellbeing and coastal resilience and continued her research with a one-year post-doctoral research fellowship with the Too Big To Ignore project, a global research partnership elevating the profile of sustainable mall-scale fisheries.
Alongside her studies, Easkey’s sense of adventure has taken her to far-flung corners of the world and in 2010 she became the first woman to surf in Iran’s remote province of Baluchistan. Her return last year to introduce surfing to young Iranian women and local communities is the feature of a documentary film, Into the Sea. As a result of that experience, Easkey co-founded Waves of Freedom in 2014. The initiative is founded on the belief in surfing as a powerful medium for creating positive social impact and empowerment, especially for women and girls in areas of the world where it is not always easy to follow your passion. It is Easkey’s passion for the ocean that set her on this path, “I always wanted to get under the surface of the ocean and that is what has led my life in this direction,” she says of her work and this latest project.
An inspirational public speaker, her work and unique connection to the ocean led her to being asked to talk at TEDx Dublin 2013 about the power of the ocean to connect. She has presented her work at international conferences and published numerous book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals. Easkey is also a successful professional surfer – her pioneering big-wave performance at Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland has earned her a Global Billabong XXL nomination. It is hardly surprising that she is an Oxfam Hero ambassador and participant at THNK’s Creative Leadership program.