Meet Our Board of Directors

A great team of people that really care.



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, and, 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.”


Komnieve is a meditator, motivator and entrepreneur based in Southern California. Most recently, he served as the President and co-founder of CallFire, a software company that was named one of the top 5 places to work in Los Angeles as well as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the United States by both Inc. Magazine and Delloite Consulting. Prior to CallFire, he founded an open source focused telecom consultancy. He now finds himself deepening in stillness and contemplation while applying his business acumen to helping socially conscious organizations make an impact.
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.”




Prior to moving to the USA in 1992, Kayoko was a producer/director for NHK Japan’s National Public Broadcaster, working on prime time national broadcast current affairs and documentary television programs for seven years; and cultural attaché at the Embassy of Japan in London for two years. Her passion for documentary filmmaking to bridge diverse values and cultures are rooted in the perspective gained from years of living abroad including Australia, Brazil, United Kingdom and USA.

Kayoko co-founded Yoga Gives Back in 2007, from her yoga class in Los Angeles, which has now grown to a global campaign.

“As a middle age woman, feeling my life being so enriched by the practice of yoga, I felt a strong need to use all my resources to help others. I learned a lot about Dr. Muhammad Yunus’s revolutionary micro financing while working on a documentary about Social Entrepreneurship featuring I was struck by the incredible impact which micro financing could bring to alleviate generations of poverty. And 25 dollars can make a fundamental difference on somebody’s life in India. As a happy and healthy yoga practitioner, I realized that I could contribute a little to India’s poverty issues. I hope to invite everyone who benefits from Yoga to join in our campaign by giving back and making difference together.”

exist. I am honored to do what I can for Yoga Gives Back.”



Pranidhi Varshney is a devoted Ashtanga yoga practitioner and teacher, and the founder of Yoga Shala West, a community-supported Ashtanga yoga shala in West Los Angeles. She met Manju Jois early on in her journey, and he continues to be her teacher and mentor. Pranidhi teaches to share the love she has for Ashtanga yoga and for all students who follow this path. She aims to cultivate, for herself and for her students, a sense of balance on and off the mat—simultaneous strength and surrender. Her goal is to inspire her students to build a regular practice, for committing to practice is the surest way she’s found to live an authentic, compassionate life.

Pranidhi writes regularly, has released an album of Sanskrit chanting, and is active in the global yoga community, working as a Yoga Gives Backambassador and sitting on the advisory board of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. She also works with Service Space to continue to ignite transformation in herself and others. Through all her work, she aims to build community and touch the heart.



Brittny McCarthy is an Associate Marriage + Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA, incorporating more than 15 years of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices into her therapeutic work with clients, as well as in her own life.

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.”

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