A message from The Ojai Foundation’s Board of Directors
The Ojai Foundation (TOF) Board of Directors is delighted to announce new leadership and a new leadership structure at TOF.
Last spring, Adam Rumack and Miriam Tassone announced that their tenure as co-executive directors of The Ojai Foundation was coming to a close. Both stayed through July to assist TOF through the transition. We are grateful for their service and all the gifts they brought to our organization and to our community. We wish them well as they continue their work.
In response to their announcement, the Board of Directors convened a leadership transition committee comprised of TOF staff, elders, board members, advisors, and community members to look together at what would best serve TOF moving forward. Honoring our legacy while also responding to the unique calling of this time in the world, the transition committee recommended that we return again to the wisdom of the circle. We are pleased to welcome a new circle of stewards and to announce the formation of an Executive Stewardship Circle.
The Executive Stewardship Circle was intentionally drawn from within our extended community. We welcome Laura Whitney, David Bryan, Julie Mino, Sharon Shay Sloan, and Brendan Clarke into their new roles. As you see from the stewards’ biographies below, the team brings a diverse set of skills and deep relationships with TOF past, present, and future, and is well suited to their task of bridging the heart of the Foundation’s legacy with a relevant response to the challenges of our times.
Our decision represents our deep and enduring commitment to circle-based forms, intergenerational collaboration, and to bringing forth a sane, regenerative and joyful way to live with one another and the earth. Under this new leadership, and in collaboration with you and many others, we know The Ojai Foundation will continue to fulfill its destiny and to flourish.
We thank you for your care and ask for your ongoing support as our stewards settle into the new structure, and their roles and responsibilities.
With deep gratitude,
TOF Board of Directors
Brendan Clarke was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Maryland. He began his career as an educator in southwest Chicago, with Teach for America. Afterward, he moved to California and spent three years immersed in deep nature connection studies, relational education, and Permaculture, before joining the staff of Weaving Earth. He has spent the better part of the last decade designing, staffing, and supporting Bay Area nature-based education in schools, summer camps, homeschool programs, one-on-one mentoring, and rites of passage outings. He is a certified wildlife tracker, Iyengar yoga teacher, and wilderness first responder. Since childhood, he has carried a deep passion for healing the human relationship to the planet, and especially water. He has been involved with the Walking Water Pilgrimage, Standing Rock, and the Russian River Confluence. He is a student of bird language, council, writing, mythology, and the greater dreaming of these times.
Julie Mino joined The Ojai Foundation as Director of Operations in 2016. She has a diverse background in non-profit event planning and donor cultivation as well as corporate event planning for high-end resorts. She is a Kundalini yoga teacher, having studied under Guru Singh, Kia Miller, Krishna Kaur, and many other wonderful teachers. She teaches in the community and leads retreats throughout the world. She looks forward to supporting and strengthening the community she calls home through The Ojai Foundation’s many transformational programs.
Laura Whitney has served The Ojai Foundation in many capacities since 2000 including as a youth leader, program manager, guest teacher, and interim 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. Laura is TOF President and has held that role since 2008.
Sharon Shay Sloan was born into an extended community network and is a second-generation community steward committed to nurturing communities and communities of practice. In 2007, she went through her first community-supported rite of passage, met The Ojai Foundation and began working in international conservation. Since that time, she has engaged in the practice and evolution of the field of rites of passage, including with Beyond Boundaries, Wilderness Reflections, Global Passageways, and the Youth Passageways national youth rites of passage network. She has also been an advisor and consultant to The Ojai Foundation, creating and leading immersive programming and retreats. In 2012, she became a council trainer and the founding director of the Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas program for The WILD Foundation. Over 20 years, Shay has had the honor of working with, alongside and/or for indigenous peoples from hundreds of nations. She is co-editor of Protecting Wild Nature on Native Lands and co-author of the report Cross-Cultural Protocols in Rites of Passage: Guiding Principles, Themes and Inquiry. When not working, Shay can be found in the ceramics studio or working in the garden.
David Bryan 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. Over a nearly thirty year period, David accompanied countless high school seniors on their rites of passage trips to TOF. In 2013, David began teaching in the Economics Department at UC Santa Cruz. In addition to teaching, drawing on his background in law and the sciences, he consults with schools, non-profits, and public corporations, and is completing a book on education. David is co-chair of TOF Board of Directors where he has been serving since Fall 2016.