Allyson Reneau: Oklahoma mom lied about rescuing Afghan Robotics girls team
The girls aged between 16 to 18 were rescued after the Harvard graduate 'couldn't shake' the feeling that the girls were in danger after Taliban seized capital Kabul
A Harvard graduate from Oklahoma "couldn't shake" the feeling of girls from Afghanistan's Robotics girls team being in danger after Taliban seized the crisis-torn nation. "Several members of the girls' Afghan robotics team have safely arrived in Doha, Qatar, from Kabul, Afghanistan," a statement from the Digital Citizen Fund and Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs said of the girls, between ages 16 to 18, from Afghanistan's Robotic Team. However, Oklahoma mom Allyson Reneau who claimed to have played a part in saving these girls is a fraud say lawyers representing the girls.
"The Digital Citizen Fund (DCF), the team's parent organization, is deeply grateful to the government of Qatar for their outstanding support, which included not only expediting the visa process but sending a plane after outbound flights from Afghanistan were repeatedly canceled," the organization said in a statement. It was widely reported that Reneau took it upon herself to rescue the girls keeping in mind the Taliban's treatment of women in general. However, reports have emerged saying there's little to no truth to it.
Who is Allyson Reneau?
According to her website, Allyson Reneau is an International motivational speaker who was also nominated as the Harvard Emerging Leader of the Year in 2019. "After raising her 11 children, running several businesses, and graduating from one of the most prestigious educational institutes in the world with a Masters in International Relations, Reneau dedicated herself to bringing life-changing messages to conferences around the world. She inspires her audiences to break through the boundaries that limit them and design a fulfilling future," her bio reads.
Reneau is also an award-winning professional gymnastics coach who spent the last two decades motivating and mentoring children in the community. She describes herself in her LinkedIn bio as a "speaker, author, pilot, equestrian, and humanitarian" amongst other things. She serves on the Board of Directors of Explore Mars Inc in Washington D.C from August 2019 to the present. She's also on the Board of Directors of Colombia Space Agency since February 2021. Reneau is the CEO of her self-titled company since 2000 and worked at NASA's Office of International Relations between October 2015 to 2016. Before that, she was a teaching specialist at the International Space University mentoring Space Business & Management students. She started her career as a research assistant at Harvard between August 2012 to June 2014.
Reneau had nothing to do with rescuing the girls
Reneau had been in touch with the robotics team since 2019 when she started serving on the Board of Directors of Explore Mars. She had met the girls when they attended DoE's annual Humans to Mars conference. The team was viewed as a shining example of the work the US had done in the country to improve the plight of women since the 2001 invasion following the 9/11 attacks. Reneau claimed she sprung into action after watching news of Taliban insurgents rapidly taking over Afghanistan in early August.
“I remembered my former roommate in D.C. a couple of years ago was transferred to Qatar,” Reneau told NBC. “She said she worked in the U.S. Embassy in Qatar. … She was sure her boss would approve helping the girls.
“She wrote up a request, and I got all of their passports together. She went back to the Embassy at midnight and worked all night to prepare the documents [and] packets for the girls," Reneau noted. She said it wasn't a cakewalk to get the girls out of the country who were in a city halfway around the world. “It’s very narrow window of opportunity,” she told NBC. “I knew that if I didn’t run through that door now — it’s now or never. Sometimes you only get one chance," she claimed.
The girls are now at a secure location in the US and will pursue their higher education from there. The Qatari Foreign Ministry are now asking that media stop glorifying Reneau as a "white savior" as she's putting the girls at risk by sharing photos of the girls, most of whom are minors.
“Continuingly recycling old pictures with the Afghan Girls Robotics Team, many of whom are minors, as validation that you had anything to do with their immensely stressful and dangerous escape not only impacts the safety of the girls but it also significantly affects the safety of the members of the team who still remain in Afghanistan,” wrote Kim Motley, a lawyer for the group and a Digital Citizen Fund board member, in a letter sent to Reneau earlier this week. “It is highly unfortunate that you would use such a tragically horrible situation … for what appears to be your own personal gain," the letter further said. Reneau remains unfazed and said she was undeterred by the "blowback" against her efforts.