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Women Explorers: Pamela Fingleton

Do all you can to get legislation passed in Congress addressing the biggest danger of our time: Climate Change.

Assistant Expedition Leader to the Expedition Leader-in-Chief from Day 1

Perfect manners, native elegance, and a sly sense of humor

When Pamela was approached to be part of our celebration of women explorers, she didn’t just demur, she reacted as if we had proposed a starring role in a Broadway musical. She insisted she didn’t belong on the roster and didn't consider herself a real explorer.


A chorus of voices dissented, though.


Lindblad Expeditions, in all its iterations, is a trail-blazing enterprise, and Pamela was there every step of the way, wielding her perfect manners, native elegance, and sly sense of humor as effectively as any machete-hefting naturalist hacking through a jungle. And she commands the attention of the far-flung Lindblad enterprise with the aplomb of any polar expedition leader.


Coming from a sheltered childhood in the leafier confines of New England, Pamela’s early travels were of the familial kind. After high school, she attended the venerable Katherine Gibbs School. Immediately upon graduation her adventurous streak appeared, and she headed off to London to work for a year.


She returned to the States and spent the next dozen years working for Mary Rockefeller, first wife of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. More aptly, Mrs. R was the mother of the legendary explorer-art collector, Michael Rockefeller, who went missing and was presumed dead in the Asmat region of New Guinea—making Pamela decidedly explorer-adjacent.


In 1978 Pamela began working for Sven Lindblad during his brief tenure at Lindblad Travel. And the rest, as they say, is history.


In 1979 when Sven started his own company, Special Expeditions, she joined him. Her online biography states, “In the early years Pamela was involved in just about every aspect of the company from reservations to operations to bill paying to the hiring of the field staff on the ships.”


This doesn’t begin to describe the importance and diversity of her role, or the extent to which every one of her tasks, in those early days, involved inventing, not merely being involved in.


We honor Pamela for her can-do explorer spirit, Protean abilities, and for being the co-creator, in many ways, of the soul of this enterprise. 

We asked Pamela Fingleton:

What is your favorite Lindblad destination?

Baja California. It was the first ship destination for the company Sven Lindblad started in 1979, Special Expeditions. It was also the first time I had ever experienced an “expedition”, and I was hooked. Although I do not consider myself a desert-type person, there is something about the landscape, the colors, the light on the islands in the Sea of Cortez that was captivating. Add to that the diverse and varied marine life, and Baja has remained my favorite destination—I’ve been at least 8-10 times.


What is the dream exploration you haven’t done…yet?

Antarctica. Not a destination that would have been at the top of my list a while back. However, after several years of hearing from numerous people about the majesty of the place, the extraordinary colors of the ice, the feeling of SPACE—I too want to marvel at the enormity of this part of the world.  


Name a female hero and why. 

Michelle Obama. She is brave, extremely intelligent, tolerant, real.  An inspiration to millions of young women—white, black, brown, all religions.


What’s your advice for the next generation of women explorers?

Do all you can to get legislation passed in Congress addressing the biggest danger of our time: Climate Change.


What would people be surprised to know about you?

That I HATE giving speeches.