Kala Venugopal Shah — Community Heroes Co-Founder, Executive Director and Board President, Community Connector, Soccer Mom: Kala has been on a lifelong quest to figure out what drives people to make their unique positive impact in the world. As a mom to three boys and like many parents out there, she was seeking a way to authentically teach her own kids about gratitude, compassion and service and launched Community Heroes to help drive a cultural shift from “ME” to “WE.” She has worked on national and statewide policy initiatives to advance the 3Es (economy, environment and equity) with organizations to put those sustainability values to practice and as a funder to encourage civic involvement and activism. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts in Government and French from the University of Texas at Austin.
Marlena Blavin – Producer, Director: Marlena Blavin is a professional speaker and performance storyteller and a founder of The Circle Of Women storytelling group. She is also the co-founder with David Roche of Love At Second Sight, the live program on appearance and acceptance, diversity and disability that they have performed over 250 times across Canada and the U.S. She is passionate about empowering youth leaders and lifting the voices of everyday heroes. For forty years, Marlena has maintained a thriving practice in the healing arts. She is a certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, Massage Therapist, Cranial Sacral Therapist and hospice counselor. www.marlenablavin.com
Atashi Chakravarty — Nonprofit Executive, Fundraising Expert, Parent, Caregiver: Atashi has worked as a non-profit consultant, as the Member Engagement Manager at the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership in Marin, and as the Executive Director of Narika in Berkeley and has over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit community with a focus on fundraising planning and disaster planning. She is a graduate of UC Riverside where she earned a BA in Economics & Political Science.
Kevin Lee — Community Heroes Tech Guy: Kevin helps put inspiring ideas into action in digital form. He was formerly director of email remarketing for Bankrate Insurance and also held the role of director of data strategy, where he oversaw the company’s online insurance applications and testing program. Previously, he was a channel manager at Knight Ridder Digital. Kevin has an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from U.C. Berkeley. In his off hours, he enjoys following baseball, college football and playing word games and logic puzzles.
Suzanne Lettrick — Research Guru, CEO, Educator, Qualitative Researcher, Real-World Learning Strategist: Through her life’s work and research, Suzanne seeks to answer questions about human potential, fulfillment, and connection. She is an expert on adolescent development and cognition, and has extensive experience through her work both as classroom teacher and now in private practice providing custom strategies to all types of learners, including those with academic challenges and those with unique interests in learning and creating in the real world. As researcher, Suzanne directed a large study based in Jordan on the entrepreneurial mindsets and ecosystems of youth in nine Middle Eastern and African countries. She graduated with her second masters in education (2011) from Harvard University’s Mind, Brain and Education program with Howard Gardner as her mentor. Her most recent research projects explore 1.) individual and community wellbeing within Tibetan Buddhist and Himalayan nomadic societies as well as 2.) the development and expression of pro-social behaviors in children of Marin County, Calif.
Mita Mayoraz — Community Heroes Treasurer, Scientist, Entrepreneur and Lifelong Learner: As an educator and a mom, Mita is fascinated by how kids learn. To computationally understand how kids learn, she founded the education technology startup, Zapptitude. She is building new technologies for game-based assessment and learning in the 21st century, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation. Mita started her career as an Atmospheric Scientist studying air pollution and global warming, analyzing large data sets and building models for control and mitigation. She holds a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science and M.S. in Management of Technology.
Kathryn Rose — Serial Entrepreneur, Green Pioneer, Student of Natural Healing: Strategic & operational CFO and executive with unique breadth in leading startups & global public companies through product launch, optimization, and scale. Sectors included software & hardware solutions for clean tech, renewable energy, telecom, and consumer products. Successfully raised $200M+ from VCs, angels, strategic investors, & institutions. Proven leadership in emerging markets including IoT, location based services, SaaS, & green products. Achieved two private exits; IP sale & private merger returning 6X invested capital. Provided vision & business strategy by leading strategic planning, business development and product management; prepared companies for growth with infrastructure in accounting, HR, and legal. Specialist in working with and developing first time entrepreneurs.
Nimish Shah — Community Heroes Board Secretary, Engineer, Analyst Extraordinaire: Nimish has a background in wireless communications technology, both in research and development, as well as strategic planning. He has spent the past two decades helping bring successive mobile wireless technologies to market. He enjoys coaching his sons’ soccer and basketball teams and is an active Scout leader. He has a B.S. in Engineering from Cornell University and an M.S. in Engineering from U.C. Berkeley.
Michele Tharp — Marketing and Branding Expert: Michele is an integrated marketing consultant who is passionate about doing inspiring work that positively impacts the interconnected world in which we live. She provides strategic and management leadership for creating and growing brand identities through effective business and marketing strategies, brand positioning and messaging, digital and visual design, social media and content initiatives, as well as consumer activation and engagement. Michele has held marketing positions with several media companies including Capitol-EMI Records, Showtime Networks, Paragon Media Strategies, and has consulted clients including CBS Radio News, TRX Training, TheBluesMobile Radio Show (with Dan Aykroyd) and the Public Radio Association. Michele recently helped launch and oversees marketing and engagement for the nonprofit start-up VuHaus, a collaborative video network created by the country’s leading public radio companies. Michele is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where she earned a B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing.
Julie Allegro — Venture Capitalist and Founder/Chair of V Foundation Wine Celebration: More than 20 years in technology industry as both an investor and operator. Founder of two venture firms in the seed stage arena achieving top percentile returns. Director of Internet of PFI, a telecommunications startup and early pioneer in building fiber optic networks for 14 cities that turned out to be some of the most profitable in the industry. Strong network into the sports, media and technology worlds have proven real accelerators for entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders of Julie’s initiatives. Founder and Chairwoman of the Wine Celebration, Board of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, V Capital Campaign Committee. The Wine Celebration is now the third largest charity auction in the U.S., raising more than $80M. Strategic adviser from seed stage to exit for Bazaarvoice. Board Member for Tango Card, Pley, Trace and Feed.fm. Board Observer MassRelevance (Spreadfast) and OrderGroove. MBA in Finance, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and B.S. in Entrepreneurial & Strategic Management, The Wharton School.
Lisa Batchelder — Facilitator, Writer/Artist & Creative Chief Officer of Coddiwomple Queen: From her first book at age seven as a truck driver who roamed the world with five cats looking for adventure, Lisa has always been an artist and human who plays in the intersection between real life, humor and awareness. With experience as a corporate communications facilitator/coach, educator, writer/artist/speaker and parent, she is devoted to do her part in shaping a more inclusive, curious world. With this purpose, Lisa created Coddiwomple Queen, a company that creates products for space and play — especially in times of change.
Kelly Chmielewski — Founder + CEO of The Possibility Shop, Mother, Global Adventurer, Volunteer, Dreamer of Big Dreams: Kelly is an award-winning brand innovation expert who has led the development of hundreds of innovative new products, services, strategies and campaigns for top brands. Prior to opening The Possibility Shop, Kelly led the beloved PBS brand through 15 years of extraordinary change. Her team delivered innovative brand strategy, creative and experiential campaigns resulting in double-digit brand engagement and widespread industry recognition. Kelly is a sought-after speaker and mentor and serves as a pro bono strategist for the Taproot Foundation. With Washington, D.C., as her home base, Kelly also is a global wanderer who recently returned from her first (but not last) visit to Cuba, where she one day plans to host brand innovation retreats.
Toan Lam — Community Heroes Co-Founder, Chief Inspirator: Toan is the host of the TruthDare podcast, motivational speaker, multimedia consultant, university instructor and founder of the nonprofit Go Inspire Go (GIG), a multimedia platform that “uses storytelling and social networking for social change.” After eight years as a TV news reporter, Toan left his job to start GIG, a nonprofit organization that scours the globe for “street corner”-style heroes to produce authentic and touching stories, while leveraging social media to raise visibility and support for those featured. His work has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, Disney and Hallmark channels. Toan’s blogs have been shared on The Huffington Post and Deepak and Mallika Chopra’s intent.com. Toan teaches in the School of Communications & Media Technologies at the Academy of Art University.
Bob Lenz — Project-Based Learning, 21st Century Skills Education, and Performance Assessment: Bob is Executive Director of the Buck Institute for Education (BIE). Before taking the helm at BIE, he was the co-founder of Envision Education and served as its CEO and Chief of Innovation. Under Bob’s leadership, Envision Education put into practice a highly successful redesign model that has opened a path to college and college retention for underserved urban students at Envision’s three Bay Area arts and technology high schools. Bob also launched Envision Learning Partners, that works with schools, districts and networks of schools across the country as they adopt the Envision Schools College and Career Ready Student Performance Assessment System. He is recognized nationally as a leader in high school redesign, Project Based Learning, 21st century skills education, and performance assessment. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has recognized Bob as a Senior Deeper Learning Fellow. He is the author of Transforming Schools: Using Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessment and Common Core Standards.
Michael Pritchard — Comedian, Youth Counselor, Advocate of Social Emotional Learning: Michael Pritchard is a nationally-acclaimed keynote speaker praised by the Wall Street Journal, CNN and Time for his ability to use humor to inspire and educate his audiences on life skills. Michael’s sensational stand-up comedy billed him onstage with Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Dana Carvey and Whoopi Goldberg, including a guest appearance on an Emmy Award-winning episode of “Taxi.” He’s done voice work for Star Wars episodes and Sesame Street. Michael rejected offers from Hollywood to focus on using his comic talents for inspiring youth and adults. Drawing from his counseling background, he began using humor to inspire, teach communication skills, anger management, diversity, conflict resolution and overcoming burnout and stress. His seven educational series for PBS and distribution has been seen by millions and focuses on youth guidance in the areas of violence prevention. For his work in promoting nonviolence with youth, Dr. Michael Pritchard was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Hartwick University.
Kathy Wong — Social Entrepreneur: Kathy has a degree in visual communications which she used to start three businesses in the area of design branding, marketing and publishing. Kathy is passionate about community, inspiring children to be change makers, loves 80’s music and hates chokes. After retiring for ten years, Kathy has emerged from retirement to become a social entrepreneur and is making a difference for children in poverty with her Australia-based business, Moeloco, which means “dream crazy.” Moeloco designs and manufactures a rubber flip flop that leaves positive messages in the sand such as I am Peace and Be Grateful. For every pair sold, Moeloco donates one pair of canvas shoes to a child in need that then allows them to attend school and protect their health. Kathy’s vision for a dream crazy world is one where every product or service we purchase has a give back and leaves a positive mark on the world. Key to this picture is inspiring children to become social entrepreneurs and change makers.
Elisabeth Fox is a junior at San Rafael High School. She plays for her school’s JV volleyball team and jazz choir. She’s been part of Community Heroes since 4th grade and in middle school, participated in the after-school Community Heroes and Explorers program, co-developing a mural project to help beautify her middle school’s campus. Outside of Community Heroes, she still gives back! She’s part of Link Crew (a leadership class at SRHS) and has been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten.
Bella Stanger is a junior at San Rafael High School where she’s been on the varsity volleyball team for two years. She’s been part of Community Heroes ever since it started at her elementary school. Since then, she has helped paint a mural at Davidson Middle School, led a project group at the Day of Giving creating spa kits for domestic violence survivors, and co-led a seminar at Khan Lab School in Mountain View to share her experiences around giving and gratitude with other students. Bella is excited to work with Community Heroes to help expand her society’s mindset and perspective, and promote kindness and giving back!
Marianna Stanley is a junior at San Rafael High School and has been a part of the program since 3rd grade when the program launched at her elementary school, serving as the club secretary and participating in multiple collection drives, bake sales and service projects for local charities. She has led group activities at the Day of Giving, including making care and comfort kits for shelter residents. She helped conceive and co-led a semester-long project to create a large mural at Davidson Middle School. Marianna is excited to be a student intern and help inspire people to get involved in their communities.
Sofia Storey is a junior studying musical theatre and creative writing at the Marin School of the Arts. She’s been a member of Community Heroes since she was in 3rd grade and also attended the after-school Community Heroes and Explorers program. Growing up with Community Heroes, Sofia is excited to make the shift from learning to do good to inspiring members of her community to make the change from a ME To WE mindset.