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Meet some of our Executive Advisors

Dr. Joshua Aronson (United States)

Joshua Aronson is associate professor of developmental, social, and educational psychology at New York University. Along with Professor Jennifer Hill, Joshua directs the Mindful Education Lab, a group of psychologists and neuroscientists dedicated to using research to improve the psychological functioning and learning of children confronted with stress.

Joshua is probably best known for his pioneering research on “stereotype threat” and minority student achievement, which has been cited over 6,000 times in the academic literature, cited in four Supreme Court cases, and appears in every psychology textbook for over the last decade.

Seeking remedies for stereotype threat, Joshua pioneered a widely used and replicated intervention, popularized by Carol Dweck under the name of the “Growth Mindset.” Joshua’s work has been featured in popular books like Blink, Nurtureshock, Mindset, Drive, Nerve, Choke, Grit — and books with long titles like Lean in, How Children Succeed, Intelligence and How to Get It, and Whistling Vivaldi. Before coming to NYU, he taught at both Stanford and University of Texas Austin.  Aronson’s research focuses on the social and psychological influences on learning, achievement, and well-being.

Listed by Education Week as one of the most influential education scholars in America, Joshua is the Editor of Improving Academic Achievement (Academic Press) and Readings about the Social Animal and is Co-author of best-selling text, The Social Animal (Worth) with his father Elliot. Joshua has received numerous awards and grants for both research and teaching, including early career awards from the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the William T. Grant Foundation, the National Science Foundation.  Most recently he was awarded the Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology for his research on stereotype threat.  Aronson is also an award-winning teacher, recipient of the G. Stanley Hall Lecturer Award from the American Psychological Association, and the Carl Rogers Laureate Award from the Kappa Delta Pi (the honor Society of teachers), and the Teaching Excellence Award from NYU Steinhardt. His current work is devoted to helping schools become environments that promote excellence in cognitive, socio-emotional, and moral development.  His current work helps schools improve by incorporating mindfulness and meditation into classrooms and by developing 4-dimensional curriculum into improving IQ, curiosity, critical thinking and self-control, and purpose.  Aronson’s laboratory also works with New York University’s School to Prosperity Pipeline, which serves children aged 4 to 22, with scientifically based interventions to promote emotional functioning, wellbeing, and college readiness.

Glenn Manning (United States)

Glenn Manning works with schools to help them use data and research-based strategies to build caring, inclusive school communities where students feel safe and supported and learn to become responsible and constructive members of a community. He has held positions in educational organizations that span the public, private, and non-profit sectors and now works to help school communities develop systems that specifically encourage young people’s social, emotional, and ethical capacities. Glenn earned a Master of Education in the Learning and Teaching program at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Saint Michael’s College.

Dr. Craig Roland (United States)

Craig Roland has over 40 years of experience teaching art in various educational settings.  Before joining the School of Art and Art History faculty at the University of Florida in 1988, Dr. Roland taught Art Education classes at Eastern Illinois University and Purdue University. Prior to his university career, he taught art at The American Foundation of Monterrey, Mexico and at Shawnee Middle School in Lima Ohio.  Over the years, Dr. Roland’s research interests have included teaching thinking through art and design, exploring ways of supporting and transforming teaching and learning in art through the use of technology, and improving professional development practices for art teachers.

In 2007, he started a social network called Art Education 2.0 with the goal of connecting art classrooms around the globe. Over the past decade, this network grew to over 15,000 members who joined the site seeking innovative classroom ideas, useful curriculum resources, and professional dialogue. More recently, Dr. Roland spearheaded the development of an Online Master of Arts in Art Education at the University of Florida that currently services nearly 100 distant students. This program transformed the way graduate studies in art education is approached at the University of Florida.

Geoff Roberts (Canada)

Geoff Roberts is a seasoned and knowledgeable educator with over three decades of independent school experience, most recently as the past Headmaster of Crescent School in Toronto, Canada.   He has served on the boards of the International Boys’ School Coalition, and the Conference of Independent Schools.  He currently sits on the Canadian Advisory Committee for Neuchatel Junior College and is the Managing Director of Branksome Hall Asia in Jeju, Korea.  Mr. Roberts is a consultant and coach for many independent school Heads and Deputy Heads across Canada.  He has presented and published extensively and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours English) from Victoria College, University of Toronto, and a Masters in Education (Curriculum) from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

Michael Bryant (Canada)

Michael Bryant is a former Attorney General of Ontario, (2003-2007), having served a decade in the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and six years as a Cabinet Minister. Mr. Bryant is a lawyer and Ex Officio Bencher at the Law Society of Upper Canada. Previously he served as Special Advisor to Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, and as a litigation associate at McCarthy Tetrault LLP. Mr. Bryant is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, Osgoode Hall Law School and Harvard University and clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada in 1992.   He was a Lecturer in Law at King’s College London, and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall.  He is currently Chair of the Public Accountants Council, a Barrister at King Law Chambers and director at several charities.  He lives in Toronto with his two children.

Poonam Thadani (United States)

Poonam Thadani has Global Experience in Technology, Finance, and Pharmaceuticals. She has worked for Novartis and was involved in setting up the first Global Services Operation in India. In addition, she has worked in Telecommunications in Japan and carried out research projects for satellite connectivity in difficult terrains to facilitate programs such as distance education and the provision of live medical support via video conferencing.  Poonam has also performed assignments in Hong Kong. She has successfully championed Human Rights causes in India (Getting the 200-year-old Articles of Association changed to admit women members in the Cricket Club of India).

Poonam has a degree in Computer Engineering. She lives in Palo Alto, CA and is pursuing her Masters in Business Administration.

Tina Medina (United States)

Tina Medina is the VIBE Movement’s Founder and Director of Community Transformation and works tirelessly to promote healthy relationships between youth and the adults who support them. Taking a restorative approach to building community and strengthening relationships based on trust and mutual respect, the VIBE Movement offers products and services to help teachers, parents and community members learn and apply best practices around positive youth development, social-emotional development, and culturally responsive teaching.

Medina is also a Program Officer at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. Working primarily with San Diego’s Local and Emerging PeaceMakers, Medina has designed, implemented, and managed several large-scale youth development programs focused on social cohesion, self-efficacy, change-making, and peacebuilding. For example, Medina launched the Social Fabric Initiative in summer 2018 which builds small teams of high school students, university-level interns, and field-based professionals that work together to design and implement small-scale change projects around the social justice and environmental issues they are most passionate about.

Before she became a program officer and social entrepreneur, Medina spent 12 years as a teacher in San Diego and developed a sustainable youth leadership program that was for youth, by youth. The program trained young people to facilitate dialogue among their peers on issues of conflict prevention and resolution and relationship building. In recognition of her leadership of the program, she was given the Unity in Action Award by the San Diego Hate Crimes Coalition. In 2013, Medina earned a masters in peace and justice studies from the University of San Diego’s Kroc School and found her passions for education and peace align through restorative practices. For her teaching and work promoting peace in schools, Medina was recognized as the 2012 and 2016 Season for Non-violence Teacher of the Year.

Medina also spent much of her youth living, working, studying and volunteering abroad in humbling places like South Africa, India and Vietnam. With almost 30 countries and 20 states under her belt by the time she was 26, Medina got a good glimpse of a world that was full of both love and destruction. She realized at a very young age the meaning of global citizenship, the duty we owe each other as human beings, and the impact one person can have. She currently lives in Vista, CA with her two daughters and is always reflecting on how she can be a model for their evolution into compassionate human beings.

Children’s Rights & Care

Dr. Indra Narang (Canada)

Dr. Indra Narang is the Director of Sleep Medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Senior Associate Scientist at the Research Institute, Toronto and an Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. Dr. Narang completed medical school, pediatric and respiratory training in the United Kingdom. She also completed a 3-year research degree and was awarded her “Doctorate of Medicine” at the University of London. Following this, she undertook training in Sleep Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, U.S.A. She was appointed as Faculty at the Hospital for Sick Children in 2007.

Dr. Narang has established the largest and most comprehensive pediatric sleep program in Canada which will evaluate children with sleep disorders from all across Canada. This program has advanced the clinical care and reduced morbidity related to sleep disorders in both healthy children and children with underlying diseases. This program is coupled with a large research program which conducts state of the art clinical research. She has also established a strong educational program to train the next generation of pediatric sleep physicians. Dr. Narang is a keen advocate for equal access to health and education for all children.

Dr. Mahendra Sheth (Canada)

Dr. Mahendra Sheth is a medical doctor with a Diploma in Tropical Paediatrics from Liverpool School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as well as a Certificate in Health Policy and Financing from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  He has contributed to several global initiatives such as polio and measles eradication, strengthening routine immunization, improving maternal and child health, combatting child malnutrition, elimination of micronutrient deficiencies and food fortification.  He has also worked in complex emergencies in Ethiopia, Sudan, Malawi and in emergencies in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Yemen. Dr. Sheth has worked with UN agencies (UNICEF and UNHCR), NGOs (Save the Children Fund UK), and the Ministry of Health in several complex emergencies as well as a regular programming

environment. From 2003 to 2013, he worked in the UNICEF Regional Office in the Middle East and North Africa as the Chief of Child Survival Cluster supporting UNICEF’s programs in 21 countries in immunization, polio eradication, maternal and child health, nutrition and Water and Sanitation in collaboration with World Health Organization, the UN and bilateral agencies, CDC Atlanta, Emory University, Ministries of Health, Ministries of Planning, other government agencies and NGOs.

Dr. Sheth’s other assignments include: Regional Advisor YCSD a.i. for UNICEF in Bangkok from March – April 2016, Senior Consultant for UNICEF Comoros from Sept 2014 to April 2015, UNICEF’s Chief of Health and Nutrition from 2000 – 2003 in Ethiopia; UNICEF Programme Coordinator/ Deputy Representative in the Sultanate of Oman from 1994 – 2000; Chief of Health in UNICEF Sudan from 1990 – 1993; in Malawi from 1988 to 1989 as Health Coordinator for UNHCR and in Ethiopia from 1980 – 1988 with Save the Children Fund UK as Senior Medical Officer.

Sakeenah Boyd MSN, APN (United States)

Sakeenah Boyd is the Director of Health and Wellness at Christina Seix Academy, a private school that provides children from underserved communities with a rigorous, holistic education. She began her career in healthcare as a registered nurse before earning a Master’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. As a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, her previous work includes directing inpatient care units, outpatient care, emergency rooms, and clinical research projects at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Virtua Hospital in New Jersey. Sakeenah also attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania to expand her healthcare expertise into

other industries serving children. She has experience working with multiple patient populations and diverse organizations and considers it a privilege to be entrusted with the health care of children.
With her experience in collaborating closely with physicians and senior administrators to ensure quality outcomes at hospitals, she uses that framework to partner with administration and staff at Christina Seix Academy. She advocates for improved health within the school through evidence-based practices of preventative care, comprehensive assessments, nutrition and health education and physical activity which are closely connected to improved academic outcomes and life-long wellness.


Russell Speirs (United Kingdom)

Russell Speirs is the CEO and Founder of RSAcademics, a management consultancy that enables independent and private schools worldwide to flourish by finding and developing leaders, guiding decision-makers, making connections and shaping the educational debate.  Set up in 2002, the company employs over 80 staff and associates and supports over 250 schools each year across the globe.  The company exists entirely to serve schools and is headquartered in the UK.  Russell is a graduate of the University of Oxford and The European School of Management.

Ashwin Assomull (Singapore)

Ashwin Assomull is a Partner at L.E.K. Consulting, head of both the Mumbai and Singapore offices, and a founding member of the firm’s Education practice. Ashwin has worked on over 300 education-specific cases and has led more than 200 engagements in the education sector, across all verticals including K-12, Higher and Vocational Education, Transnational Education, English Language Training and Education Technology.

Ashwin frequently advises CEOs of top education companies and investors on buy- and sell-side diligences, market-entry strategy, pricing strategy, and full potential assessments. He is also a regular speaker at industry-leading conferences such as EdEx MENA, EdEx Qatar, IPSEF and Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend. Ashwin joined L.E.K. in 2018 and was previously a Managing Director at the Education Centre of Excellence at EY- Parthenon. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the London School of Economics and a Master of Business Administration from London Business School.

Dr. Teresa Greely (United States of America)

Dr. Greely provides expertise in the areas of biological oceanography, ecological physiology, marine fishes, and ocean science education. She has broad research interests which encompass teaching and training about the ocean sciences in three areas: graduate and undergraduate education, teacher education, and ocean literacy amongst youth. She currently coordinates four education programs: The Oceanography Camp for Girls(OCG), the In-service Teacher Oceanography Workshops (In-TOW), the National Ocean Science Bowl’s regional Spoonbill Bowl competition, and the OCEANS Teaching Fellowships.

In addition to teaching natural sciences and science education courses, Dr. Greely also developed a series of graduate courses focused on teaching and communicating ocean sciences. Programs and courses are designed to teach science parallel to the way science is practiced in a research setting: courses are inquiry-based, experiential, and learner guided.

Dr. Greely’s current research encompasses Ocean Literacy and reasoning about ocean issues by determining the influence of content, experience, and morality. The objective is to determine what youth around the world know about the ocean, what their attitudes are about ocean stewardship, and what they think about ocean issues.

Bill Boyer (Switzerland)

Bill Boyer, brings a wealth of knowledge to our team, with over 30 years experience in the field of education.  In 1989, he joined Neuchatel Junior College (NJC), an elite private school in Switzerland, as Principal following 12 years as Head of the French Department and Director of Admissions at Crescent School, a leading Canadian boys’ school in Toronto. He served NJC from 1989 to 1992, then returned to Canada upon being appointed Head of the prestigious Toronto French School and later, Head of Hillfield-Strathallan College in Hamilton, Ontario. During his tenure at Hillfield-Strathallan, Mr. Boyer served on NJC’s Canadian Advisory Committee as a volunteer director for seven years. In 2009, he returned to NJC as Head of School where he currently serves.

Heidi Gollert (Canada)

Heidi Gollert has significant experience in the education field, having worked with students from varying socio-economic backgrounds.  Ms. Gollert served as the Superintendent of Education for the Toronto District School Board and supervised 23 schools in a diverse inner-city environment.  She coordinated professional development programming for Principals and Vice-Principals and oversaw school improvement techniques in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.  Ms. Gollert also provided system-wide leadership in the areas of Equity, Anti-Racist and Human Rights.  She then moved to the private school system and served as the Senior School Principal at Toronto French School. She later joined Neuchatel Junior College, where she served as the Deputy Head. 

Development & Construction

Abdul Kaderali (Canada)

Mr. Kaderali brings a wealth of knowledge to the team, having practiced architecture on four continents and experienced the full spectrum of architectural work.  He graduated from the Leicester School of Architecture in the United Kingdom and was an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He then came to Canada and went on to become the principal of a large architectural firm in Toronto for a number of years, overseeing the quality control of the firm’s contract documents and contract administration. Mr. Kaderali served as the President of the Rotary Club of Toronto Don Valley, was a Member of the Committee of Adjustment for East York, and was also a Member of the Planning Board for East York. With considerable expertise in both design and finance, Mr. Kaderali will add tremendous value to the Casa Laxmi team. Hs vast experience in not only design, but also the construction process will allow him to see the Institute from start to finish, and ensure its success.

Admissions Advisory Board

The Foundation has established an Advisory Board to devise and implement admissions policies, entrance examinations, and the application review process.

Our Admissions Advisory Board consists of professionals such as child psychiatrists and psychologists to design entrance examinations to test intelligence quotient for the various age groups of students. We also have those individuals qualified to work with vulnerable children in designing and administering these entrance examinations.

Finance and Administration

We have invited those with a background in finance to assist in the planning, budgeting and overall administration of the facility and its programs from these early stages to when we are fully operational, and beyond.

Technology & Innovation

We have posted individuals on our Technology & Innovation Advisory Board who have a background in technology, technical systems, and communications.  With this expertise in place, we strive to ensure that students have access to the most state of the art tools, not only as part of their academic and extra-curricular pursuits but also in respect of communicating with their family on a regular basis and providing families with a window into their child’s day to day activities.

Dr. Christopher Anand (Canada)

Christopher Anand completed his PhD in Differential Geometry at McGill University and held an NSERC Postdoctoral award at the University of Warwick and Cambridge University.  He has taught for over twenty years at McGill University, L’Université de Bretagne Occidentale, and McMaster University, where he currently holds the position of Associate Professor.  He has also worked in the industry in Canada, Germany, and the United States, and is currently Chief Science Officer of Optimal Computational Algorithms, Inc.  He holds nine patents in the areas of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and High-Performance Computer Hardware and Software.  He has contributed to three free educational apps, Image 2 Bits, ElmJr and TouchMRI, and a free web-based programming environment, https://macoutreach.rocks.  He has developed courses in Software Engineering of Complex Scientific Systems and Software Entrepreneurship and introduced innovations such as the use of Game Theory in teaching Calculus.  He is the faculty advisor for the Computing and Software Outreach Program which has taught over 10K children in Southern Ontario.


Given the cumulative wealth that will be concentrated on our campus, security will be critical for the protection of students, staff, and visitors. Accordingly, we have compiled a team of those who have expertise in not only providing security services but also devising and implementing security procedures and strategies in this type of setting.

To ensure the safety and security of our students, staff, and visitors, the identity of the members of the Security Advisory Board will be kept confidential and available to those who have the appropriate security clearance. If you have the proper authorization and would like to access this information, please click here.

By way of example, meet one of the members of our Security Advisory Board:

D.R. Kaarthikeyan (India)

Mr. Kaarthikeyan is a farmer turned lawyer by training and a highly decorated Indian Police Service Officer. He held many important positions in the State of Karnataka and Government of India, besides serving in Moscow and Sydney in various capacities.  He also served as Director of the prestigious Central Bureau of Investigation and Director General of the National Human Rights Commission in India.  He headed the Special Investigation Team of the CBI that successfully investigated and prosecuted the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.  He was invited by INTERPOL to make a presentation of the globally applauded investigation before an International assembly of top police officers and forensic

scientists, who hailed it as a model Investigation.  Throughout his career, Mr. Kaarthikeyan held many offices, such as the Head of the Karnataka State Police Academy, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, in Bangalore and the Deputy Inspector General of Police in the Karnataka State Intelligence Department and the Special Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force, the largest paramilitary force in the World.  Mr. Kaarthikeyan has also had significant involvement in international affairs and served as the First Secretary in the Embassy of India in Moscow, USSR/Russia from 1974-1977.  Further, from 1985-1988, he worked in Sydney, Australia to promote Indian exports to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.  He has been honored with the Police Medal for Meritorious Service, The President’s Medal for distinguished service, besides many honors and titles from organizations from within India and outside.  In 2010, Mr. Kaarthikeyan was awarded the Padma Shri, the one of the highest civilian award in India, for his contribution to the field of Indian Civil Service.

Parent Resort

The Institute will have an upscale, exclusive resort for parents and families to stay when visiting their children. Our Parent Resort Advisory Board is comprised of individuals with a background in tourism, specifically in the managing and construction of world-class hotels and resorts. Our members also have experience in consulting on, operating and constructing restaurants and spas, as the parent resort will have a separate gourmet dining facility and a spa, offering a host of therapies.

Meet the Head of the Parent Resort Advisory Board:

Steve Fitzgerald (England)

Steve Fitzgerald brings a wealth of experience to the table, having an extensive background in the hospitality and tourism industry. He currently provides investment consulting services to the largest leisure, tourism, and investment company in China. In the past, Mr. Fitzgerald assisted in business development projects, including strategic sales and marketing, for exclusive resorts such as the Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, Six Senses Hotels Resorts & Spas, and Sapphire Cay. Through his endeavors, Mr. Fitzgerald has built up an extensive network of institutional investors, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and insurance companies.

Talent Acquisition

Dr. Angela Lodge (United States of America)

Angela Lodge’s expertise and passion contribute to bringing out the best, in the lives of those she is privileged to touch and to promote ocean literacy. Dr. Lodge is currently an Education and Outreach Coordinator at University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science. She provides professional development training for teachers, graduate students, scientists and others, on how to work effectively with youth and each other. Since earning her MSW from New York University, Dr. Lodge has held several positions working with individuals from diverse populations. She is skilled in the areas of foster care/adoptions, victims’ advocacy, medical and school social work, mental health therapy, homeless outreach, intervening for abused children and adults, diversity training and spiritual counseling.

Dr. Lodge’s current role at USF expanded her social science expertise, to include the appreciation and understanding of oceanography and the value of the ocean to the sustenance and well-being of all. Coordination of the Oceanography Camp for Girls, facilitation of K- Adult experiential STEM programs and active participation in ocean literacy research, equips her to teach and promote ocean literacy. Dr. Lodge is a Co-Founder of Tampa Bay Florida’s Chapter of the National Conference of Community and Justice (NCCJ), Camp Anytown. Camp Anytown is a youth empowering experience, that teaches teens to respect, others who are different and fight bias bigotry and racism. Being a youth mentor, pastoral care counselor and palliative care worker, have been amongst Dr. Lodge’s favorite volunteer roles. Angela Lodge desires to be involved in supportive, educational, environmental, religious,  humanitarian programs for as long as possible.

Victoria Damjanovic (United States of America)

Victoria Damjanovic completed her Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education at the University of South Florida in May 2015. She started her role as the Director of the USF Preschool for Creative Learning in 2015. Additionally, she is Affiliated Faculty for the Early Childhood Education program at USF. Prior to graduation, she served as the Liaison between the Department of Education and the USF PCL for four years providing staff development for teachers. She received her B.S. and M.S in Development and Family Studies and Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas. She began her career as a teacher. She then began working with children diagnosed with developmental delays, specifically autism spectrum. This led to working with parents and teachers as a parent/teacher educator, and working in Head Start providing support to families and teachers within Easter Seals Tampa as a Developmental Specialist. Her research interests include inquiry-based teaching and learning with pre-service and in-service teachers, professional learning communities, Project Approach as a framework for children’s inquiry, and documentation as a tool for teacher learning.

DM Freed (United States of America)

DM Freed is an author, speaker, consultant and educator best known for his development of the global SEL curriculum: Discovering the Five Love Languages at School (Grades 1-6). A full-time resident of Washington State, DM holds a BA degree from Boise State University in elementary education and two masters; degrees from Whitworth University with certifications in counseling and administration. His forward thinking has resulted in revolutionizing the way educators think about student connections regarding their peers, families, and educational staff.

Sports and Recreation

Dr. Michael Sagas (United States of America)

Michael Sagas currently serves as Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sports Management at the University of Florida. Dr. Sagas also serves the university as the Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA and SEC. Sagas received his masters and doctorate from Texas A&M University in sports management, where he also served as a faculty member prior to his arrival to UF in 2008.

Dr. Sagas’ primary line of inquiry in the field of sports management has been focused on the under-representation and differential treatment of youth, women, and minorities in sports. The general goal of this research has been to provide theoretical and practical insights needed by scholars, policymakers, and managers to identify the barriers that limit the status, development, advancement, and well-being of youth, women and racial minorities in sports. Sagas has authored or coauthored over 85 refereed journal articles and is a Research Fellow of the North American Society for Sport Management.

Child Wellness

Fiona Douglas-Crampton (Canada)

Fiona’s career path has been an unexpected and interesting journey, including careers as a Gaming Investigator, Stay-at-home Mom, Sales & Marketing professional, and Non-Profit CEO. When speaking of her current role, she says “It seems as if the universe moved me here” and feels she was meant to become the President & CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace + Education.
Fiona has always had a passion for leadership and mentoring, and she believes strongly in the power of relationships as a path to success and happiness. Her previous roles include CEO of the Minerva Foundation, Acting Director of Fund Development at YWCA Metro Vancouver, and Director of Membership Marketing for the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT).

At the GVBOT, she also served as Chair of the Women’s Leadership Circle from 2015 – 2017 and has been an active Mentor with the Leaders of Tomorrow Program for several years.
She has been President & CEO of the Dalai Lama Center (DLC) since April of 2014. The DLC focuses on promoting and nurturing “Heart-Mind well-being” in children through the adults in their lives. This focus on social and emotional development is a hallmark of Fiona’s leadership philosophy and a perfect extension of her previous non-profit work. She is passionately committed to “educating the heart” as a foundation of how we raise and nurture children, how we work with each other, and invest in the future of our community.

Community Alliance

The Foundation has created a Community Alliance Advisory Board comprised of well-established educators and entrepreneurs in Panama City to act as a liaison between it and the community. These advisors will be tapped into the issued faced by the community and will generate ideas on how the Institute may be able to benefit the community.

Meet our Community Alliance Advisory Board:

William (Bill) V. Husfelt III, United States

Superintendent Husfelt is the sitting Superintendent of Schools for Bay County and has been in this role for the past 11 years. Prior to this, he served as a high school principal for 12 years, before which he was a teacher in various secondary schools.  Originally from Panama City, Superintendent Husfelt holds a Bachelors of Secondary Education and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Florida State University.  He has been awarded various honors throughout his career, most notably, Florida Nominee District Administrator of the Year (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006) and Florida Department of Education Regional Principal Award (2005, 2007).  Given his vast expertise in the education sector and his sizable network in Panama City, Superintendent Husfelt will be instrumental in not only assisting the Foundation to establish its roots in the area but to help the Institute integrate itself into the community.

At the GVBOT, she also served as Chair of the Women’s Leadership Circle from 2015 – 2017 and has been an active Mentor with the Leaders of Tomorrow Program for several years.
She has been President & CEO of the Dalai Lama Center (DLC) since April of 2014. The DLC focuses on promoting and nurturing “Heart-Mind well-being” in children through the adults in their lives. This focus on social and emotional development is a hallmark of Fiona’s leadership philosophy and a perfect extension of her previous non-profit work. She is passionately committed to “educating the heart” as a foundation of how we raise and nurture children, how we work with each other, and invest in the future of our community.

April Wilkes, United States

Ms. April Wilkes began working at The St. Joe Company in 2001 in the role of Project Coordinator.  Over the years, April’s’ position has increased in responsibilities and she served in various capacities including Manager of Regulatory & Public Affairs.  In early 2018, April accepted the position of Executive Director of The St. Joe Community Foundation.  In her new role, she leads the Foundation’s efforts of enriching the quality of life in Northwest Florida with a key focus in the areas of Education, Healthcare, Environmental Stewardship and Cultural Arts. 

Ms. Wilkes holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Husson University in Maine.  After relocating to Panama City, Florida in 1999, April married Michael Wilkes, a 3rd generation Bay County resident, in 2000.  Michael has worked as a lineman for Gulf Power since 2000.  April and Michael have two daughters in the Bay County school system.  Additionally, April serves on the Gulf Coast State College Foundation Board and the Panama City Beach Chamber Board.  With her understanding of the community needs and her network of contacts, April will be a great resource for Casa Laxmi in Bay County.