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TEAM AND BOARD

We are first and foremost guided by a Council of Elders whose teachings, values, and principles are the very threads that hold cultures together. Our leadership team comes from diverse backgrounds and perspectives collectively bringing decades of experience and dedication to the mission of Seeds of Wisdom (formerly Sacred Fire Foundation). The Circle of Advisors further strengthens and informs our work as it relates to best practices, trust-building with Indigenous partners, capacity-building, and relationships built on reciprocity and respect. At the very core of who we are is our incredible team of volunteers who selflessly share their heart in all they do.

VOLUNTEERS

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SHERRY MORGAN

DONOR RELATIONS

Sherry was the founding President of Sacred Fire Foundation in 2005 and served on its Board through 2010. Remaining a loyal volunteer in various capacities since then, she currently works in support of donor relations. Previously, Sherry spent about 20 years in business. In 1982 a spiritual calling experience set her on a new trajectory. Sherry has since apprenticed with several Indigenous Elders and was initiated in the Nahuatl tradition of Mexico as a Quiapequiz, Weather Worker, in 1998. Since 2001, Sherry has taught people about the phenomenon of prayer in 5 countries under the umbrella “Love Is Round”. Sherry lives in Victoria, Canada, in the traditional lands of Coast Salish peoples.

TEAM

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RUBINA COHEN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

As the Executive Director of Seeds of Wisdom, Rubina applies her extensive marketing and leadership experience, as well as her CEO and entrepreneurship background to support the organization’s path forward. This role leverages her leadership, strategy, and marcomm acumen, as well as her commitment to sustainability and community engagement. Having served as Seeds of Wisdom’s Communications and Marketing Consultant for the past four years illuminated for her the crucial role that Indigenous Wisdom plays in planetary and human vitality, and inspired her through marketing, communications, media, and storytelling to put significant effort into bridge building between traditional knowledge and modern-day challenges.

With a background enriched by over 20 years in strategic marketing and communications, a certificate in Interpersonal Neurobiology as well as being a certified Regenerative Practitioner and Meditation Teacher, Rubina has dedicated much of her career to the advancement of non-profits, social impact causes, and human wellness.

JOHN NABIL HANDEM PIETTE

CREATIVE DIRECTOR/EDITOR of VIDEO

John Nabil Handem Piette, a UK Telly-Award Winner, is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, with a passion for creating compelling, unifying, and world-changing content. Growing up, John developed a love of storytelling—the only constant in his life as home and roots were ever-changing. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, John moved with his family to London, then Paris, eventually arriving in Washington, D.C. and then Austin, where he attended film school at the University of Texas. In 2009, he moved to Los Angeles and began working with A-list talent on award-winning films, music videos, documentaries, trailers, and a web series. With his move to New York in 2018, he served as a Senior Producer and Editor for The Dodo, creating hundreds of animal-centric videos, and now, as a member of the Writers Guild of America East, he has formed his own production company—Assemble Studios—where he develops original narrative and documentary projects, as well as collaborates with inspiring organizations to help tell their stories. “Whatever the medium or platform, my storytelling focus is always set squarely on enlightening, yet entertaining content that helps unify and uplift our world.”

PALOMA ABREGU ARROYO 

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS

L. Paloma Abregú Arroyo is Chanka (an ethnic group of Quechua people from Peru). She spent most of her formative years in the US, and has since lived in many other countries, including Australia, where she completed a master’s degree in International Relations, and then Austria, where she was awarded a scholarship for a graduate diploma in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution. Paloma’s work has taken her to Honduras, India, Nepal, Ghana, and California, where she was involved with a wide variety of community projects over the years. She has supported women’s development efforts and the rights of young women against cultural oppression, created and led sustainable art workshops, developed and led conflict transformation workshops for Liberian refugees, provided mediation and taught permaculture with former child soldiers, as well as led restorative justice and mediation programs at primary and secondary schools in both Oakland and Berkeley, CA. Based on her experiences, Paloma has surmised that one of the most important elements to improving one’s self-esteem is strengthening one’s identity. She has seen that those who feel connected to their roots feel a sense of balance, a strong identity that allows them to value their past, their present, and respect the cultures of others. With this passionate awareness, Paloma in 2014 founded and is the executive director of Saphichay, an organization whose mission is to support and defend Indigenous rights and cultural survival in Peru. Her dedication to supporting Indigenous knowledge, practices, and rights is fundamental to who she is.

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NANCY CATES 

COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Nancy Cates has been an artist, entrepreneur, and world traveler all her life. Born in Texas, she has lived in several states within the U.S., as well as Canada and Germany. Everywhere she goes, she incorporates her love of art, food, and culture into her own human experience.

She earned her Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design in 2006 and then her Masters in Business Administration in 2022. Using the skills and experiences she’s gained, Nancy applies her knowledge in a number of ways including web development, social media management, marketing, communications, and other entrepreneurial ways.

Seeds of Wisdom’s mission and vision are uniquely in line with Nancy’s heart and personal goals. She worked through a consultant for 2 years before coming on board with the Seeds of Wisdom team in 2022. She has a personal passion for art, food, languages, and all things born of creativity.

CIRCLE OF ADVISORS

DR. ISABEL HAWKINS 

ADVISOR

Dr. Isabel Hawkins is Senior Scientist at the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco, California, USA. She obtained her doctorate in astrophysics at the University of California in 1986. Isabel received a Fulbright U.S. Global Scholar award for 2018-2022 to research the Pleiades star cluster from the perspective of three cultures—Māori, Maya, and Quechua—in New Zealand, Guatemala, and Peru. Since 2011, she has served as volunteer co-coordinator with Dr. Shelly Valdez (Laguna Pueblo) of the YAKANAL Indigenous Youth Cultural Exchange Program whose mission is “To strengthen cultural identity and leadership capacities in indigenous youth, preparing them to engage with other cultures while preserving their own.” She is also seven-time Latin dance world champion in salsa and bachata in the “over-50” category at the World Latin Dance Cup international competition.

MARCUS GRISWOLD

ADVISOR

Marcus Griswold PhD is a coach, scientist, community engagement specialist and founder of Calm Waters Group. He has 15 years of experience communicating science and policy, providing strategic leadership, fundraising, and empowering communities on the most complex and controversial projects. He works on and provides mediation, facilitation, and planning services to non-profits, local, state, and federal governments and tribes. He believes that communities already know what is needed to solve climate justice, and helps them tell their story, advocate for their needs, and engage with agencies. Marcus is father of two boys, Leif and Kai. They live in Northern California.

RUDO KEMPER 

ADVISOR

Rudo is a geographer and technologist with over a decade of experience supporting Indigenous communities in mapping and monitoring their lands, and building digital tools that increase community self-determination, access to land rights, and land management capabilities. His professional experience includes work with Indigenous and other local communities throughout the Amazon, Caribbean, North America, and East Africa, and steering the direction of several digital mapping tools and platforms. At the Cadasta Foundation, he serves as Chief Programs Officer to develop, lead, and manage Cadasta’s program strategy and implementation.

Prior to joining Cadasta, Rudo worked as Senior Programmatic Lead at Digital Democracy and as Mapping and Programs Support Manager at the Amazon Conservation Team. He serves on the board of directors of Native Land Digital, the open-source stewards team of Terrastories, the circle of advisors for the Seeds of Wisdom Foundation, and he was the inaugural president of the International Society for Participatory Mapping. He holds a graduate degree in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in international administration from the University of Miami.

ROBERT STRUM 

ADVISOR

Robert has worked in nonprofit management for more than 25 years, mostly in the areas of health promotion, health equity, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. He has with local organizations in San Francisco, Chicago and Santa Fe and serving as regional “weaver” for Native Americans in Philanthropy. Since 2000, Robert has been consulting with nonprofits, focusing on values-driven management, effective communication, community-based evaluation and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2016, he founded Indigenous Methods, LLC with his friend Lee Francis IV from the Pueblo of Laguna. Indigenous Methods provides evaluation and planning services to indigenous communities and native-led programs and works with philanthropic and nonprofit organizations to decolonize their policies, procedures, and operations in order to increase equity for all people. Since 2014, Robert has split his time between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Oaxaca, Mexico. In Oaxaca, Robert works on projects that support indigenous youth and artisans and help to decolonize folk art curation and marketing.

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PAUL RAINBIRD 

ADVISOR

Paul is the former director of the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum and former president of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. As producer of the Santa Fe Indian Market, his expertise lent to executing the largest contemporary Indian art show in the world.

For 26 years, Paul served as tribal councilman for the San Ildefonso Pueblo. Paul also founded the New Mexico CultureNet Statewide web program. For 14 years, he served on the Board of Regents for the Museums of New Mexico, receiving the Regents Award in 2001.

Additionally, Paul has served as an administrative director for several government organizations including Bureau Chief for the statewide Medicaid waiver program which was the leading program advocating home health services.

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PAUL S KATO 

ADVISOR

Paul Sanom Kato is a native of Nigeria. A passionate educator, Paul holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business/Economics, a Post Baccalaureate Certificate with an RX and NR endorsement in Social Studies and Computer Science. Paul also holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Education.

Paul brings a wealth of experience from 25 years in the education sector. Paul was inducted into the 2018 Spring Arbor University Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in soccer and his humanitarian work in Africa. A former professional soccer player Paul has used his platform to establish a 501(c) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for a boarding school in his native Nigeria. A proponent for social justice and equal opportunity especially for the disadvantaged, Paul has dedicated his life to a better future for humanity.

Paul lives in Michigan with his wife, Gwen. They have 2 children, Celete and Ian.

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RYAN DRAGON 

ADVISOR

Ryan Dragon is a farmer, multimedia artist, and community organizer. He’s the co-founder and manager of Yellow Birch Farm, an organic, no-till, hemp farm in Northern Vermont. Along with his interest in sustainable agriculture, Ryan believes strongly in the importance of creativity and community. He loves creating art, as well as creating the environments in which other artists can display their talents. He’s worked both independently and within organizations such as The Wreckshop Movement to coordinate fundraisers and art related events. These events allow artists to express themselves while also spreading awareness about several social and environmental issues. Ryan hopes to use his passion and experience to unite cultures through the expression of art and the application of sustainable agriculture.
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SAM KWESKIN 

ADVISOR

Sam Kweskin is a visual artist based in Los Angeles and was raised in the coastal town of San Clemente, California. Sam grew up in the water and exploring the nearby hills — with the horizon line of the Pacific Ocean as his focal point. These early impressions of scale, texture and movement continue to inform his work today. Sam has always had a deep level of curiosity and compassion for the natural world and how humanity connects and coexists with it.

When Sam is not working on commissioned projects, his personal time is spent nurturing and supporting efforts related to environmental conservation and social equality. Sam is a local collaborator with organizations shedding light on underserved communities, as well as those educating communities on the importance of native plant habitats and connected ecosystems.

It is Sam’s hope that through his art and innate ability to connect with people, that he can help bridge the gap of environmental disconnect to bring communities together in a more sustainable and empathetic way.

Photo of Tumi Kholumo

REITUMETSE “TUMI” KHOLUMO 

ADVISOR

Reitumetse (Tumi) Kholumo is a descendant of the Basotho and Batswana clans of Southern Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the same field. Her current research is focused on bioprospecting bioactive compounds from endophytic bacteria harvested from an Indigenous plant (Centella asiatica) for medicinal applications.

Beyond academia, she is the founder of Kwela Brews, a social enterprise that aims to support homebrewers of traditional African beer with manufacturing, ensuring quality, and facilitating distribution. Her approach is not just business; it’s a commitment to preserving and promoting the rich heritage of Indigenous brewing practices. With a human-centered and systems-lens, she is primarily interested in the applications of Indigenous bio-sciences in the lives of African people. Her passion is particularly directed towards African women, the custodians of Indigenous knowledge systems. With her education in bioprocess engineering, Tumi aspires to play a role in co-creating scalable solutions for Indigenous knowledge holders in the bioeconomy.

She enjoys flooding her grandmas with questions for all kinds of insights, listening to jazz music, and reading historical fiction novels.

BOARD

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MARY WILSON

PRESIDENT

Māori of the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe on the East Coast of the North Island, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Mary has over 30 years experience across government, business, philanthropic and not-for-profit sectors.

For the last 10 years Mary has worked alongside community groups (including Māori / Pacific / Ethnic communities) and assisted them to achieve their goals and aspirations. More so, she has worked with many Māori Iwi (tribes) and Hapū (sub-tribes) in the development of their Marae (tribal reservations) and cultural projects where mātauranga (indigenous knowledge and wisdom) is paramount.

Like all indigenous cultures, Māori base their world view upon the relationship with the natural (and spiritual) world where each generation continues their role as guardians to care and protect the environment for present and future generations.

International travel and work abroad have provided Mary with a greater appreciation and respect for all cultures and communities. She recognises that for many generations, indigenous wisdom has been either extinguished or dampened to small embers and sparks. She believes Seeds of Wisdom is part of the greater consciousness movement to gently blow the ‘breath of life’ on those embers to re-ignite the flame and restore the sacred fires around the world.

ALBERTO GRANADOS

TREASURER

A graduate of the University of Phoenix and the University of Texas, El Paso, Alberto has lived for over twenty years in Santa Fe. Alberto worked managing the business operations of an Oscar-nominated entertainer and entrepreneur, at the Corporate Finance offices of The Home Depot and as a Controller at the Pepsi Distribution Center in El Paso, Texas. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, he also worked ten years at two non-profits with a social justice mission. He is active in immigrant rights activities and fluent in Spanish. Passionate about health and physical fitness (you can find Alberto at the gym very early, every morning), or on a bicycle-having cycled across Portugal, the Adriatic coast and the foothills of the Apennines of Italy and from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

ARTEMIA FABRE ZARANDONA

TRUSTEE

Artemia is native to México and holds a PhD in Social Anthropology. Since 1988 her main work has been in research and in teaching in different Universities in México specializing in the anthropology of religion and judicial anthropology. Artemia regularly conducts seminars and postgraduate courses about Indigenous rights, cultural diversity and the intercultural dialogue for legal representatives of Indigenous people, lawyers, judges, human rights advocates and public employees. She is an advisor to anthropologists and lawyers in judicial process where Indigenous individuals or groups require expertise in their culture, judicial system and values.

GWEN BROZ

SECRETARY

Gwen majored in Psychology and went on to become a doctor of Osteopathy with specialized training in manual medicine. She recently retired from 29 years of serving her community as a Family Practice physician. She continues to offer cranial osteopathic and herbal treatments to the community. Gwen pilgrimaged for 17 years to a sacred mountain in Mexico that is one of the manifestations of the Great Goddess, deepening her healing work. She and her husband live in Central Massachusetts, which is the ancient home of the Nipmuc, the People of the Fresh Water who were recently gifted a piece of land in this area so they could reclaim a Sacred site.
Photo of Wakanyi Hoffman

WAKANYI HOFFMAN 

BOARD MEMBER

Wakanyi Hoffman is a Kenya-born global nomad who has lived in many countries. She is currently based in the Netherlands with her husband and children. She is a trained journalist, a collector of African folktales, and a keeper of Indigenous wisdom from Africa. As a mother to four Third Culture Kids, she has spent a significant amount of time in international school libraries worldwide and noticed the gaping absence of children’s books about Africa written by Africans. To fix this, she enrolled in a master’s degree program studying development education and global learning and designed her thesis around a project aimed at digitizing folktales from Africa to make them accessible to the rest of the world.

While collecting these folktales, she discovered that lessons that aligned to solutions needed to meet the challenges of achieving sustainable development goals were embedded in the storytelling. Wakanyi commissioned an artist based in Kenya to paint images that would capture the essence of African folktales. The first story will soon be published in a series of children’s books that introduce learners to the SDGs through African folktales. She hopes that this will be one way of bringing Indigenous knowledge into mainstream education on a global scale.

Wakanyi founded The African Folktales Project as a space for educators and learners to explore and gain this knowledge through services such as online school visits, teachers’ storytelling sessions, and even a book club about the SDGs for children. She also self-published The Twelve Days of Christmas Safari, a children’s book celebrating African wildlife.

Wakanyi is a founding board member of The Kenya Education Fund, which offers high school scholarships to children in Kenya, and is also a co-founder of Humanity Link, which builds partnerships between non-profit organizations and the corporate world. Wakanyi’s mission in life is to continue using her unique African childhood and global life experience to connect children worldwide with knowledge from our indigenous ancestors to co-create a better tomorrow for all future citizens of the world. In her spare time, she loves walking in the forest, traveling to new places, learning new languages and dancing to new music.

 Wakanyi’s new book Sala: Mountain Warrior, is available now! The story is the only girl who takes on the challenge of climbing a mountain! The story is set among the Samburu people of Kenya. Illustrations by Onyinye Iwo. You can order the book at Amazon!

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BASMATI PERSAUD 

BOARD MEMBER

Basmati is a native to Guyana and comes from East Indian ancestry rooted in the values of family, respect for elders and deeply rooted relationship with the natural world.
She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), holds an honor degree in accounting, and has over 30 years experiences in auditing and finance across government and Non-Profit sectors. While working with an Education Reform project in Guyana, Basmati found her passion in supporting the call for equal education opportunities for all children especially girls and worked on funding schools with match funds to acquire much needed learning tools.

Her continued passion for education, nature and numbers has led her down a robust path of experience and knowledge and led her to join The Nature Conservancy-Canada Program and is now the Finance Manger. She continues to support women and girls’ initiatives and hosted conversations on financial literacy and empowerment for women within The Conservancy.

Basmati now lives in Toronto, Canada with her family. She enjoys a good book, gardening, travelling, and learning about different cultures.

Photo of Cory Martin

CORY MARTIN 

BOARD MEMBER

Cory Martin is an award-winning marketing social entrepreneur, having created some of the top Global Experiential Marketing and Activation companies in the U.S. Over a 20-year career, Cory produced over 3,500 events for some of the world’s top brands like Bentley, Netflix, Louis Vuitton, Vogue, Rolls Royce, Pernod Ricard, Dolce & Gabbana, Patron, Vanity Fair, Valentino, Red Bull, and top fundraising events for President Barack Obama.

His lifetime of love for this planet combined with his 20+ years of innovative experiential marketing experience, has led him to develop United For Humanity (UnitedForHumanity.com). Launching in 2024, United’s mission is to unite and inspire humanity for a better tomorrow, one story at a time.

Cory’s portfolio Includes: Winner of Marketing 2.0’s 2022 “Outstanding Leadership Award,” Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), Current Member of Association of Fundraising Professionals, Current Digital Marketing Institute Professional, Current Member of the American Marketing Association, Current Climate Reality Project Leader, named the “Event King” by L.A. Confidential Magazine, named “L.A.’s Modern Man” by Angeleno Magazine, former AFP-GLAC Event Committee Member, former Food & Wine Editor for Beverly Hills Magazine, and former Event Committee Member for L.A.’s Children’s Institute Inc.

Cory lives in Los Angeles with his fiancée Ashley and their 2 puppies, Bella and Adona.

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TIKVA MOROWATI 

BOARD MEMBER

Tikva Morowati is a visionary and innovator with over 25 years of dedicated commitment to transforming relationships with ourselves, our communities, and the natural world through mission-driven enterprises and artistic pursuits.

She is dedicated to facilitating the reconnection of people in modern society with indigenous and ancient, ancestral practices, fostering greater harmony with the planet and our collective well-being.

Tikva draws experience from her intuition and imagination, ontological training (Landmark Education), embodiment education (Strozzi Institute), her time with ancient Māori and Inner Aikido energetic practices, and as a climate change fellow (Terra.do).

As an award-winning filmmaker, Tikva honed her skills at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, promoting unique voices that enabled new ways of sensing the world while crafting stories of connection.

She established the groundbreaking storytelling event series, Ignite NYC, which cultivates diverse audiences, attracting attention from the likes of TED and the New York Times, and speakers such as Alexis Ohanian (Reddit’s founder) and Baratunde Thurston (Emmy-nominated host).

Tikva created The Heroine Project, an intergenerational dinner party series to transform the narrative for what it means to be a woman in the business world.

Since entering Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program where she received her Master’s making award-winning interactive hardware art that created moments of intimate connections through play, she has been committed to enabling technology to be used for good.

At Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, she ran product development as an executive for a first-ever loyalty experience. After launch, Hello Sunshine was acquired for $900M.

At Google, Tikva launched a Research + Development Lab, leading multi-disciplinary teams to create futuristic open offices that enabled breakthroughs with team collaboration and peace of mind. Her work impacted changes of 24 M square feet of workspace across the globe.

At Facebook, she crafted social products that deepened connections through leading holistic design and marketing efforts with brands such as Nike and Match.com.

She has had the honor to support women in technology through venture funds like Sequoia Capital and First Round Capital.

She is also a Coralus Activator, promoting entrepreneurs through a matriarchal-oriented community working towards Sustainable Development Goals.

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