Jessica Buchanan: Teacher, Author, Humanitarian, Speaker, Survivor
In the summer of 2006, Jessica Buchanan followed her dream and left for Africa. She traveled through areas of South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, volunteering in different capacities, and then was fortunate enough to secure a student teaching position at an international school based in Nairobi, Kenya, the Rosslyn Academy. In 2009, Jessica married Erik Landemalm, a native Swede she had met while working in Nairobi, and shortly after relocated to Hargeisa, Somaliland to join her new husband and begin her next adventure. Jessica eventually took on the role as the Regional Education Adviser for the Danish Demining Group, the mine action unit of the Danish Refugee Council, and worked with issues related to Armed Violence Reduction and community safety in areas of Somaliland, Somalia, Uganda, and South Sudan.
On October 25, 2011, while on a routine field mission in Somalia, Jessica was abducted at gunpoint and held for ransom by a group of Somali pirates for 93 days. Held outdoors in deplorable conditions, starved, and terrorized by more than two dozen gangsters, Jessica’s health steadily deteriorated until, by order of President Obama, she was rescued by the elite SEAL Team VI on January 25, 2012.
The ordeal is detailed through the perspective of Jessica, and her husband, Erik in their New York Times bestselling book, Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six. Click to learn more.
Jessica and her husband have since relocated to the United States and now reside in the Washington DC area with their two children. Erik continues to work in the international development sector, and Jessica travels the country speaking about her experience as a hostage to a wide range of audiences. She is a family liaison volunteer for the non-profit organization, Hostage US, that seeks to support former hostages and their families. She also continues to serve as a dedicated Ambassador for the Navy SEAL Foundation, which works to support families of fallen SEALs. And as a believer in the power of nature to nurture and heal, she serves on the board for the Hollin Meadows Partnership for Outdoor Education that supports outdoor education for disenfranchised children.
Jessica is also the co-host of the popular conversational podcast, "We Should Talk About That" where she and co-host Jessica Kidwell attempt to unpack the uncomfortable topics that nobody is talking about, but definitely should. With a touch of humor and a healthy dose of self-deprecation The Two Jess(es) attempt to unpack the controversial conversations relating to PTSD, grief, racial justice, mental health, imposter syndrome, equality, the plight of the working mom and more. Click to listen!
In her spare time, Jessica will most likely be found outdoors, usually up in the mountains, hiking with her family. She is committed to teaching her children the necessity of being outside, the importance of remaining in awe of creation, and most significantly, how lucky she is to be free.