Our Board of Directors

DR. KENNETH ATCHITY, CHAIR

DR. KENNETH ATCHITY, CHAIR

CEO, Story Merchant

 

With more than forty years experience in the publishing world, and over twenty years in entertainment, Dr. Atchity (Georgetown A.B., Yale Ph.D.) is a writer, producer, professor, and literary manager, responsible for launching dozens of books, films, and brands. His life’s passion has been finding great storytellers and turning them into bestselling authors and screenwriters. Now Ken’s Story Merchant companies,  www.storymerchant.com, provide full-service development, management, production, and brand launch for commercial and literary writers. Dr. Atchity is dedicated to using his experience to help give the stories discovered by Grameen and Kiva happy endings through supporting Yoga Gives Back’s work raising awareness throughout the yoga community.

“I support Yoga Gives Back because it’s a proactive symbol of a future where reciprocity begins at the physical and spiritual levels and reaches into all realms of human endeavor. YGB is a trailblazer and fills a need, to express tangible gratitude that’s felt in yoga studios around the world.”
Gail Hedding

GAIL HEDDING

Gail comes to Yoga Gives Back with over 30 years of experience in the areas of finance and accounting.  She has worked for public accounting, city government, hospitals, insurance companies and one of her favorites a flower farm in Oregon. She gained critical knowledge in a small business environment while working in her husband’s produce and specialty food store. Gail has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a CPA certificate in the states of Missouri and Oregon. She has held board positions and served as the treasurer for several not for profit organizations in the areas of hospital management, home health and hospice, chamber of commerce, community aquatic center and holiday lighting event. Gail currently teaches yoga in her own studio as well as continuing some consulting work with a Medicaid contractor in Oregon.

Being touched by yoga over 20 years ago, it left a lasting impression on her life. When moving to LA in 2015 and retiring she began to think about the choices she wanted to make with her free time. Yoga was the clear answer and she obtained her certificate as a yoga instructor. Upon hearing about Yoga Gives Back from a friend she began to investigate and became very interested in volunteering with the organization. After attending the gala last year as a volunteer she was even more convinced dedicating some free time to the organization and its mission felt right.

“Blending my love and appreciation for yoga with my financial background feels like the perfect place to spend some time.  Thank you for the opportunity.”

FELICIA TOMASKO, Editor in Chief,
LA YOGA

Felicia Tomasko, RN, E-RYT-500, C-IAYT, CAP combines her passions for the teachings of both Yoga and Ayurveda in her life’s work. She integrates her training as a Registered Nurse and her background working in plant biochemistry and cognitive neuroscience in her practice and teaching.She served on the board of directors of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine. In 2002, Felicia was part of the founding team at LA YOGA Magazine, where she is Editor-in-Chief and President of Bliss Network. A longtime teacher, Felicia is a featured teacher on glo.com, is on the Yoga Studies and Yoga Therapy faculty at Loyola Marymount University, and teaches workshops worldwide. Felicia maintains a private practice in Santa Monica. Her commitments include an advocacy for community and highlighting social causes.

“I can’t imagine my life without the practices and philosophies of Yoga. As a member of our modern global community, I believe that giving back and being of service is an important part of demonstrating gratitude for these teachings. Yoga Gives Back expresses that gratitude through targeting efforts that support education and entrepreneurship in India. Education, entrepreneurship, discipline, daily practice, social justice, unity, and how we connect and uplift each other through efforts large and small. I’ve long been a supporter of Yoga Gives Back and I admire the dedication of Kayoko and the other advocates and team members. I appreciate the culture of integrity within Yoga Gives Back as well as the emphasis on making a positive impact in people’s lives through all of the aspects of yoga.”

KAYOKO MITSUMATSU

KAYOKO MITSUMATSU

Co-Founder/President

As an avid yoga practitioner in Los Angles, Kayoko founded Yoga Gives Back in 2007, a non-profit organization whose mission is twofold: first, to mobilize the global yoga community with gratitude and second, to empower women and children in India to build sustainable livelihoods. In its 14th year, YGB provides more than 1400 underserved mothers and children with micro loans and educational funds. YGB’s global campaign has reached many US cities and thirty countries worldwide with its mantra, “For the cost of one yoga class, you can change a life.”

Prior to moving to the USA in 1992, Kayoko was a producer/director for NHK Japan’s National Public Broadcaster, working on primetime current affairs and documentary television programs; and cultural attaché at the Embassy of Japan in London. Her passion for documentary filmmaking is rooted in the perspective gained from years of living abroad including Australia, Brazil, United Kingdom and USA. Kayoko now uses her experience by filming YGB’s fund recipients every year to share their stories with the global yoga community.

For the last three decades living in Los Angeles, Kayoko had continued her work for NHK’s feature documentary programs as producer/director, but since 2016 Kayoko has become YGB’s Executive Director full-time.

JOCELYN SOLOMON

Founder of Jocelyn Solomon Yoga, based in Santa Monica, California, Jocelyn is also a senior teacher at YogaWorks.
Jocelyn is joining the board to grow her commitment to YGB and inspire her students and community to expand their practice by taking their yoga off the mat and into activism. Jocelyn will fold in her legal expertise she gained as a public defender and civil rights attorney, lifelong practice of activism, passionate public speaking and profound love of yoga and service to her work on the board. Jocelyn hopes to help catapult YGB to its next level, creating systems and infrastructures that will support YGB to expand the important work of its mission. 

MANEESH KALRA

Founder of ATHA YOGA  in Japan, Maneesh offers a unique insight into the world of yoga. Born into a traditional Indian family living in Canada, Maneesh grew up firmly established in the roots and philosophy of Yoga.  A degree in pharmacology gave him an insight into the human body from a scientific standpoint and his passion for sports made him a lifelong student of physiology, function and movement.

After MBA school, Maneesh moved to Asia to join the investment bank Goldman Sachs.  First in Tokyo and then Hong Kong, his experiences in the corporate world made Maneesh a more well-rounded yoga instructor and mindfulness coach. He can relate to those who are busy with life in this fast-paced, often overwhelming world, yet are in search of a more permanent contentment and peace.

Maneesh left the corporate world and returned to India in pursuit of further studies in yoga, Ayurveda (ancient Indian medicine), and Sanskrit. Since returning to Japan in 2009, Maneesh has been sharing his insights both domestically and abroad, offering classes, retreats, workshops as well as corporate lectures and seminars on yoga, meditation, mindfulness and wellness.

“I fully believe in Kayoko and the YGB mission.  I have believed in both since the day I first met Kayoko some 8 years or so back.  It is the reason why I joined as ambassador that very day.  And it is the reason I have tried to help raise funds and spread the word in Japan (and beyond) for all of these years.
As a board member, I feel I can help in a larger capacity beyond simply the Japan piece. With a better understanding of the broader picture, I would like to help YGB gain certain efficiencies, come up with some novel ideas and approaches, and execute these ideas so we can continue to increase our impact on the Motherland.”