Andrea Kerzner (KDHSVP 1976) is the founder of Lalela, a non-profit organisation that provides educational arts for at-risk youth to spark creative thinking and awaken the entrepreneurial spirit.
Andrea was born in Durban, South Africa and presently resides in New York City. She holds a Masters Degree in Psychology from Columbia University and an MBA from London Business School. Since 2006 she has combined her education and experiences to focus on humanitarian projects.
Andrea’s journey in educational arts began 10 years ago in a remote village in KwaZulu Natal. Sitting on the cement floor surrounded by children, many of whom were orphaned by AIDS and hardened by the effects of poverty, Andrea experienced a transformative moment. The children, previously shut down and quiet, became curious and engaged as they began making masks. One at a time, they donned their masks and began sharing their stories. That day Andrea witnessed the power of creative expression in providing healing and joy.
After working in KwaZulu Natal, Andrea spent time in Eastern Chad working with refugee children from the war in Darfur. Again, she witnessed the restorative power of the arts as hundreds of children lined up to enter a small tent where they painted kites as way of sharing their stories of challenge and hope.
Next Andrea worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo in collaboration with UNICEF where they provided workshops in art and music to child victims of war. These programmes enabled boy and girl soldiers to harness the power of the arts to imagine a new future, one of real possibilities.
At Lalela, Andrea and her dedicated team provide educational arts to nearly 5000 children in South Africa, Northern Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Through an innovative curriculum developed by a team of educators, artists and an art therapist, Lalela provides students with the tools to map and manifest their dreams and goals.
In addition to her work with Lalela, Andrea sits on the board of the University of Johannesburg's School of Tourism and Hospitality. She is also a member of Tate's Africa Acquisitions Committee.
Andrea has been vegetarian for 31 years and vegan for 4 years. A few years ago, she decided to use her activism in fighting climate change. To that end, she started a fast casual chain of vegan restaurants focusing on America’s favourite staple… the burger. This combines her love of and comfort in the hospitality world with her work in the non-profit field. Cattle and dairy account for 51 percent of the planet’s carbon footprint. If one can capture customers from the many meat burger chains one could start making a dent in this industry. Andrea teamed up with Amanda Cohen, a Canadian Iron Chef who has a widely acclaimed vegetarian restaurant in New York City called Dirt Candy. Together they are launching the first of these fast casual vegan burger restaurants in Tribeca in November 2019, Lekka Burger, paying homage to Andrea’s South African roots. All Lekka Burger merchandise profits will be going to carefully vetted environmental causes.