34. Stephanie Case – ‘The Ultimate Outlier’, a UN Human Rights Lawyer who breaks running conventions

Dec 30, 2020

“There is a value doing work where you are able to support one person or are able to shift the landscape in the tiniest way and move a millimetre in the right direction. You have to believe wholeheartedly in what you are doing or you will lose your mind.”

Stephanie Case is a human rights lawyer and women’s rights advocate with expertise in conflict settings and humanitarian emergencies. Starting her career as a corporate lawyer in NYC, the Global Financial Crises offered her an opportunity to take a year off. She did a series of international law consultancies before accepting her dream job – a volunteer position for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in 2012.

Since then, her career has taken her to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. She has done multiple deployments for the UN in Afghanistan, the International Rescue Committee in South Sudan, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Kyrgyzstan, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Gaza, Palestine. As Covid-19 broke out, Steph was in Kabul, working for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan as the. Head of Protection of Civilians and Child Protection.

Steph has witnessed first-hand the harmful effects of conflict and the disproportionate negative impact on women and girls. She founded not-for-profit organisation Free to Run to use the power of sports to transform lives and communities in the places where it’s needed most.

An accomplished ultra-trail athlete for over a decade, Steph has found a way to continue her training while many would have been resigned to the complexity whilst living in situations of conflict. She’s logged laps on a treadmill and around the UN compound in Kabul and hitched helicopter rides to train in the mountains in Western Afghanistan.

Steph has won or placed in a number of international running events, ranging from 250 km multi-day desert races to 200-mile non-stop mountain races. Stephanie is a passionate advocate for women’s rights, and a TEDx speaker.

This impactful conversation discusses:

  • Her path from corporate law to humanitarian lawyer for the UN.
  • How she’s learned to package her emotions through experiences that have extended her.
  • The subjective nature of suffering yet her approach to placing personal suffering into perspective.
  • Insights on pathways into development and the ethics of volunteerism.
  • The process to establishing Free to Run – the why, how, challenges and iterations.
  • Pivotal life & death situations that Steph has experienced from her time in South Sudan, Afghanistan and on a mountain top in the Italian Alps.
  • How she’s coped with trauma and her path to recovery.
  • Her empowering stance that her personal journey & timeline is uniquely HER OWN. Something that makes her happy, which is the most important thing.

To discover more about Steph you can follow her on

instagram: @theultrarunnergirl

Personal website: https://ultrarunnergirl.com/

Free to Run website: https://freetorun.org/

How to get involved with Free to Run: https://freetorun.org/get-involved

Thank you for your support with this podcast throughout 2020… don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review the podcast and I cannot wait to bring you some stellar tales of adventure in 2021!!



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