Board of Directors

Laura Whitney
President & Co-Chair

Laura has served The Ojai Foundation in many capacities since 2000 including as a youth leader, program manager, guest teacher, and interim Executive Director. She holds a master's degree from the University of Southern California in Film and Anthropology and is co-owner of Sage Mountain Films, a documentary film production company she runs with her husband Jim Whitney. She is a carrier of council, a ceremonial guide, and an activist/philanthropist committed to restoring our relationship with land and water both locally and globally. She has served as President since 2008.

Over 16 years ago, I celebrated my 40th birthday high on a mesa in New Mexico during a Vision Fast ceremony guided by Roshi Joan Halifax. I was marking my birthday as well as a move with my family from Los Angeles to Ojai. I came down from the mountain with a vision: to create a center for celebrating life - nature, community, ceremony, children. When I shared my vision, Joan replied, “Why don’t you just go to The Ojai Foundation?!”  There began a life-long love affair and commitment to the land and work of TOF. I have worn many hats over the years…always in service to bringing forth a more connected, just, and meaning-filled world. I am overflowing with gratitude for all I have received in return for what I have given…and, god willing, will continue to give until the end of my days.

 
 
David Bryan
Co-chair

David was born in New York City and moved to Los Angeles in 1989. In 1995, he co-founded New Roads School, a progressive college preparatory school dedicated to offering independent education to students from families who might not otherwise afford it. Under his leadership, New Roads grew from a small middle school to a K through 12 school with nearly 700 students on four campuses in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. In 2013, David began teaching in the Economics Department at UC Santa Cruz. In addition to teaching, he consults with schools and non-profits, is completing a book on education, and has involved himself in local civic life. David and his wife, Shelly Graham, currently live in the Santa Cruz mountains where he remains eager for the next adventure.

Early in the year 1989, I had recently returned to Southern California. A meandering conversation with an acquaintance, Jack Zimmerman, ended with his casual invitation: “I am involved with a place in Ojai where we do this thing called council...you might find it interesting...” I said yes. A month or so later I went to The Ojai Foundation for a Council Training workshop. Nearly 28 years later, I continue to return to the Foundation, sometimes with students for a program with their school, sometimes with adults in ceremony of one sort or another, and sometimes alone--simply to walk and wander and ponder and breathe and feel welcomed by this land. Recently, when I was asked to consider joining the board on the chance that some of what I may have learned over the years might serve, I paused. A chance to give back to my beautiful and wise old friend, this place, this land, that has given me so very much? I said yes.

 

Stephen MacIntosh
Treasurer

Stephen, a Financial Advisor with Crowell, Weedon & Co, provides a high-touch financial services practice for individuals, families and businesses. Stephen is well-versed in sustainable investing, otherwise known as "ESG Investing” (Environment, Society and Governance) and helps his clients establish investment portfolios that are aligned with their core values. He enjoys helping not-for-profit endowments and foundations develop and implement investment policies that are aligned with their vision and long-term goals. Prior to his work at Crowell Weedon, Stephen was a Principal with the KPS Consulting Group, comprised of industry leaders in sustainability, social responsibility and public affairs.

Stephen has actively volunteered throughout his career, enjoying his current posts as treasurer and board member of The Ojai Foundation and commissioner on the City of Santa Barbara’s Harbor Commission. Recognized as a community leader, he has served on numerous boards of directors, commissions and committees in the non-profit and public sectors. Stephen holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from UC San Diego and a master’s degree from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Stephen and his wife Kerry, an emergency room nurse, live in Santa Barbara, CA with their two children.

Vaikko Allen

Vaikko is an environmental scientist working at the intersection of technology, regulation, and finance to put sustainable water management techniques into practice in urban environments. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Southern Maine with a concentration in Water Resources. He is an LEED Accredited Professional, a Certified Profession in Stormwater Quality, and has also invented several stormwater management systems. Vaikko currently lives with his family in Ojai, where he enjoys running and biking through the mountains, surfing the world class breaks nearby, and quality time on his yoga mat.

Ojai began calling me away from Los Angeles in 2008, shortly after my son was born. The natural abundance of the valley, the more contemplative pace of life, and the richness of the community felt in some ways reminiscent of my youth in Maine and seemed to be an ideal place to raise a family. Once I moved here full time in 2010, I was immediately drawn to The Ojai Foundation, as an indispensable spiritual and cultural beacon for the local community and a crossroads for a global community of healers, teachers, and mystics. I see The Ojai Foundation’s approach to land stewardship as an important model of sustainability and resilience that I have been honored to help hone.

 

Margaret Tarmy

Margaret holds a master’s degree in Conflict Transformation from the SIT Graduate Institute. She has been active in a variety of community-building initiatives including Transition Town work in Putney, VT and a food co-op initiative in Ojai, CA. She is passionate about the positive impact that dialogue and connection can have on people, and is in the process of being trained up to be a council carrier. A mother and grandmother, she cares deeply about the way people engage with each other and with the earth, water and air that sustain life.

I lived for many years in a small town in southeastern Vermont and experienced the way circle practices, as part of intentional community-building, strengthened and deepened connections throughout the community. When I moved to Ojai, I sought out The Ojai Foundation because I wanted more: more council practice, more experience, more community on this path. Being a member of the Board of Directors of The Ojai Foundation and helping TOF chart its course is extremely rewarding.

Simone Jowell

Simone was born in Cape Town, South Africa where she studied and practiced law. She moved to the USA in 2000 and completed a Masters In International Public Health from Emory University.  After living in Cleveland, Ohio for 10 years and building a photography business, she moved to Ojai where she now lives with her 2 kids, Jonah and Danielle, and rescue pup.

I first came to Ojai in early 2014 for a working weekend, and was strangely reminded of the natural beauty of South Africa. That summer, I spent a month here with my children and discovered the Oak Grove School and immediately felt that it would be an excellent fit for the education that I dreamt of for them. We moved a year later and have fallen in love with life in Ojai. Spending time on the Ojai Foundation land has added another magical layer to life in Ojai. It has been a wonderful honor and fulfilling experience to be a Board member and to also photographically document life on the land.

 

Narmeen Hashim

Narmeen is a social justice advocate, researcher, and artist born in Ottawa, Canada. Narmeen holds a master’s degree in Geography from York University. As a Geographer she practices a spatial approach to problem solving and honors the deep interconnection between the physical environment and the human world. Prior to relocating to Ojai in 2015, she worked for 8 years as a dedicated program manager and human rights case worker at the Center for Equality Rights in Accommodation; using human rights legislation to combat discrimination in the rental housing market, while advocating for housing rights at the national and international level. Concurrent to this, Narmeen has served for over a decade as a community artist, facilitating over 30 community arts projects, using art-making as a means of healing individuals, communities, and landscapes. Narmeen considers her work in the world to take place at the intersection of Art, Justice, and Geography. She continues to conduct independent research and is currently working on publishing her dissertation titled “The Paint Marks the Place: The Mural Art of Resistance in Oakland, California.”

Prior to landing in the Ojai Valley, I was advised by my elders, and those who know both my work and that of the Ojai Foundation to to pay visit. Upon arriving at the land, and sharing my story it became clear that we both had something to offer one another. I believe in the healing and transformational capacity of human connection through authentic intentional conversation. The Art of Council cultivated and practiced at the Ojai Foundation offers this medicine with accessible and beautiful form to capsulate the practice. As a bridge between many communities and cultures I believe my work with the Ojai Foundation is to help share this practice in today’s world diseased with bigotry and isolation, so desperate for healing connection. I appreciate the opportunity to serve on the Board of the Ojai Foundation and extend an invitation to all peoples who feel called to pay visit and experience the magic of the land.

 

Kristin Worthe

Kristin was born and raised in the Los Angeles area.  She is a graduate of UCSB with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a MA in Fine Arts.  Kristin is Reiki certified and has been a Spiritual Advisor for over twenty years. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband and two daughters.

As a student of Crossroads School in the 1980’s I was introduced to the art of council.  I now feel this is coming full circle for me.  The Ojai Foundation is a place where I can now be of service and reciprocate.  I am looking forward to being involved in the creation of programs and it will be my honor to bring these programs to a larger audience, particularly children.

 

 

 

Paul Cummins
Member Emeritus