Our Board of Directors
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.
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,
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.”
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.
She has taught yoga since 2007, owned a community yoga studio in West Los Angeles, and is certified through the Yoga Alliance, the accrediting body that recognizes certified yoga teachers, as a E-200 RYT/500 RYT. Yoga, mindfulness, and personal growth are pillars of her personal and professional life.
A former federal lobbyist for university Presidents, she holds a PhD in higher education policy and organizational leadership and before becoming a psychotherapist worked for 10 years advising members of Congress, University presidents, and faculty members.
“Having traveled to India three times and benefiting personally from the life practice of yoga, I am proud to be a member of the YGB board. It feels like a small gesture to give back in this way to the birthplace of yoga and to the growing community that supports and sustains my own practice.”
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.
“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.