STAFF

 

DR. CHRISTINE SCHUTZ

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER

Christine started supporting children for education and housing in 2002 while visiting friends and trekking in Nepal. She officially established Mitrata Nepal Foundation for Children, Inc as a nonprofit in 2005. Now she travels to Nepal to oversee program development, taking groups of sponsors/donors on cultural tours and serves as the volunteer executive director for Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children, Inc. in the USA. She is a psychologist in private practice.

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ALEXIS MEAD

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATIONS

Alexis joined Mitrata in 2010 after holding leadership positions in resource and board development, project management, and event planning. She now serves as part-time Director of Development and Operations. Having met the children Mitrata supports and trekked in the Himalayas, Alexis knows firsthand what an incredible difference Mitrata makes in the lives of Nepali children.


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CONNIE COLVIS

DATA MANAGER

Connie first became involved with Mitrata as a member of the Fundraising Committee and as a child sponsor along with other family members. She is retired from her position as Information Technology Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She lives with her husband, Steve, her son, Ken, and two elderly cats in South St. Louis. Connie currently serves as the Data and Database Manager.


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MORGAN LEBAIGE

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Morgan is currently a student at Saint Louis University pursuing her Master of Public Health in Biostatistics. She graduated from Truman State University with one Bachelor of Arts in English and one in German. While she grew up in Missouri, she also lived and worked in Germany for about a year and a half and loves learning about new cultures and ways of life. Morgan is excited to join the Mitrata team and help further the mission of such an inspiring organization.

 

BOARD OFFICERS

 
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DR. NANCY WILLIGER

PRESIDENT

Nancy has been involved with Mitrata since its inception.  She is retired from a private practice of psychotherapy, divorce mediation and counseling, and child custody evaluations.  She has traveled to Nepal four times with Mitrata and actively sponsors two older girls who are in educational programs that will enable them to be financially independent.  She is the Board President, chair of the Executive Committee, and is a member of the Finance Committee, Board Development Committee, and the Sponsor Committee. 


JAMES CRAIG

President-Elect

Jim, his wife Lynn, and twin daughters Danielle and Samantha live in Wildwood with two cats and a dog named Bow. Jim is a practice manager for Phase 5 Consulting, and his wife is a technology architect for the Sisters of Mercy. The Craig family have been long-time child sponsors of a girl in our boarding school program. Jim serves as the President Elect and was the Secretary. He is a member of the Fundraising, Board Development and Finance Committees at Mitrata-Nepal.


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DR. SANDRA HOFFMANN

VICE PRESIDENT

Sandra is a rheumatologist (a physician specializing in arthritis and autoimmune disease) practicing in the South County area and lives in Kirkwood, Missouri. She is Vice President of the Board of Directors and a member of the Sponsorship Committee at Mitrata-Nepal. She sponsors five children (two boarding school, two school, one university). In addition to one biological child, she has adopted three children (from Korea, Russia, and Ukraine). Her role is to facilitate communications with sponsors and the general public.


JULIETTE SCHMIDT

Secretary

Juliette has more than 10 years of experience in marketing with a focus in website optimization, social media marketing, email marketing, and digital advertising. She discovered Mitrata through her husband who has participated in the fundraising climb, Climb for Himalaya Children, of Mt. Rainier twice. Juliette joined the board in 2017 and serves as the Secretary and on the Fundraising Committee.

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MICHAEL REED

TREASURER

Mike is a retired senior executive from the food production and agricultural chemical industries, having spent 13 years on the leadership team of Solae (a DuPont/Bunge joint venture) and 18 years at American Cyanamid prior to that. He established a track record of leading successful company mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, both domestically and internationally in Europe, South America, and Asia, with special emphasis in China. Mike and his wife Connie are long-time child sponsors. Mike is Treasurer of the Board of Directors and a member of the Finance Committee.

 

 BOARD MEMBERS

 
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AMBROSE BITTNER

Ambrose is the founder and CEO of Red Lantern Journeys (www.redlanternjourneys.com), a Seattle-based travel company that arranges cultural tours and adventure travel packages to Asian countries. He has trekked and climbed in Nepal, including an attempt on Mt. Everest in 2005. In many Asian countries, it is disadvantaged women and children that suffer the most from society's inequities and they are the ones that can benefit society the most when given support and education. Towards that end, Ambrose started the Climb for Himalaya Children, a benefit climb of Mt. Rainier to fund the work of the Mitrata Nepal Foundation for Children. He serves on the Executive Committee.


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DR. PAMELA CARAFFA    

Pam has been a clinical and organization psychologist for 36 years, specializing in leadership development, building cultures that enable people to thrive, and transformational change for businesses and not-for-profits of all sizes. After 10 years of sponsoring a child with her husband, Pam joined the Mitrata board in 2016 and is the Chair of the Board Development Committee.


DAVID FLOEH

David has enjoyed being in the lives of hundreds of families as a financial planner since 1986 and currently is located in Clayton, Missouri, practicing with two other planners as Floeh, Green & Fichter. David is a member of the Finance Committee. He and his wife, Tracy, love to travel together and are making a difference in the world with numerous charitable interests, particularly with animals and children and, specifically, by sponsoring two sisters through Mitrata. David has two grown daughters, Natalie and Jessica.


RICK HENDIN

Rick is the former Director of Human Resources for Boeing Military Aircraft, a business unit within Boeing's Defense, Space, and Security sector, based in St. Louis, Missouri. He retired from Boeing in July 2017.  He was introduced to Mitrata through Christine and was very fortunate to join nine other sponsors on the 2014 trip to Nepal. The highlight among many highlights was meeting and getting to know "our children" and meeting his long-time sponsored child, Bijaya. He is Chair of the Finance Committee, a member of the Sponsorship Committee, and has visited Nepal five times. 


PAM HUGHES

Pam is a life-long teacher and counselor who retired seven years ago. She currently works part-time as a prevention specialist for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. In her spare time, she loves to travel and explore the outdoors. She was introduced to Mitrata-Nepal through her friend, Toni Schmidt. As Pam learned more about the work of Mitrata, she became inspired and excited about the opportuinty to make a real difference in the life of a child. She believes that empowering the children of Nepal will impact generations to come. She sponsors a girl with significant special needs and serves as Chair of the Sponsorship Committee.


LEN KANNAPELL

Len is a technical writer working for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) in Seattle, WA, where he spends his days desperately pulling information out of recalcitrant Java developers.  He has been involved with the Climb for Himalaya Children (CHC) for Mitrata-Nepal for five years, plus two years when the Climb was called Three Summits.  He is married to Dr. Vera Trainer, a marine biologist, and they have two children, Roberto and Stephanny, both of whom have been coerced into the great outdoors since they were adopted from Guatemala.  Len and Vera sponsor a girl's university education and are very active in supporting Mitrata in the Seattle area.


TRACY LARAMIE

Tracy is the Senior Interactive Developer and Photographer at the Loft, a design firm that specializes in the marketing/branding of small to medium sized businesses. Her talents lie in visual storytelling and working with brands to communicate through meaningful user experiences. She has been volunteering with Mitrata since 2011 by creating various promotional materials and looks forward to expanding her efforts as a part of the Fundraising Committee.


URMILA PANTHI

Urmila worked in Nepal for the NBA Legal Aid Project for 9 years. She developed and implemented programs for free legal aid to vulnerable women and children in various parts of Nepal as an advocate and women’s activist. For 18 years, she has worked as a social worker in a domestic violence shelter and with the Missouri Department of Mental Health after receiving the Dalai Lama scholarship to study and obtain and Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in St. Louis. Urmila joined the board in 2017 to assist with board development, and she serves on the Fundraising Committee. 

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MATT PLANK

Matt has been an IT consultant in St. Louis since 2003, recently running Web Development at the local creative agency, Twist. He now runs an independent web development agency, Sophik – Catapult Websites, focused on bringing best practices and high-end user experiences to small businesses and not-for-profits. Matt is eager to use his experience in IT to improve the lives of those in need, in particular the children of Nepal. Matt serves on the Sponsorship Committee.


JENNIFER RASHET

Jennifer is excited to join Mitrata as a new child sponsor and board member. She has 18 years of experience with Bayer Crop Science and is currently Head of Parent Seed Production for their North America operations. Jennifer has a diverse background in Supply Chain operations, Import/Export and Customs Compliance, Quality, Stewardship, and Regulatory Policy. She has also enjoyed working in various leadership positions across the agriculture and seed industries. Jennifer and her daughter Hannah (a recent University of Dayton graduate) live in University City, Missouri with their cat, Liza. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys pilates/yoga, gardening, and needlepointing. Jennifer is looking forward to being a part of the Mitrata Fundraising Committee and to supporting the organization to the best of her abilities.

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JACQUELYNN RICHMOND

Jacquelynn serves as Vice President–Deputy General Counsel for Mercy Health, one of the largest Catholic non-profit health systems in the U.S.  Jacquelynn’s experience prior to joining Mercy in 1995 involved the private practice of law in the area of antitrust for the international law firm now known as Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP.  Jacquelynn received her law degree with honors from St. Louis University School of Law and holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy from Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. Jacquelynn serves on the boards of non-profit organizations currently as Board Chair for Mercy Conference & Retreat Center, Board Secretary for the Mid-America Transplant Foundation and as a Director of Mercy Family Center. She serves on the Board Development Committee for Mitrata Nepal.

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CINDY WHITNEY

Cindy Whitney became involved with Mitrata through her association with Karma Thalo Foundation (KTF). Cindy travels to Nepal each year with KTF to help the poor and needy achieve a lasting difference in their lives through better health, ultimately enabling their own self-sufficiency.  Recently, she had the opportunity to meet some of the Mitrata students and their families during the KTF-Mitrata health clinic. Cindy has worked for more than a decade in Human Resources for the School District of Clayton. She is an avid hiker who loves to ski, bike, and swim. Cindy has two daughters and a son, all independent adults who live east of the Mississippi. Cindy serves on the Fundraising Committee.

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DANIEL WILLIGER

Danny is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice and spent much of his career as a direct service provider at a not-for-profit agency.  He and his long-time partner Janet became child sponsors through Mitrata several years ago, and he traveled with Mitrata to Nepal in 2018.  Having seen firsthand the tremendous impact of Mitrata’s program in the lives of the children and the magnitude of change that can occur with sufficient care and resources, Danny sought ways he could participate more fully in support of Mitrata and its mission in Nepal. He serves on the Fundraising Committee. In his spare time, he is an avid cyclist and loves to travel.

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 ADVISORY MEMBERS

 

NINA BALSAM

Nina became involved with Mitrata through her association with Christine Schutz's meditation group, Sunday Sangha, and started regularly attending events. Nina is a lawyer with a Master's in Nonprofit Management. Nina grew up in Miami, came to St. Louis for law school, and never left.  Nina has a 32 year old daughter in Fort Collins and is a grandmother. Nina served on the Mitrata Board from 2016 to 2018.

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TERRA BARNES, PhD

Terra works at Washington University School of Medicine, studying how the brain learns and produces motor sequences. She first heard about Mitrata through Alexis Mead, our Director of Development and Operations. Terra was impressed with how much of the money donated really ends up going to help the children. She, her husband Andy Young, and their three children Brayden, Audrey, and Zoey sponsor 2 children and put together a few small fundraisers each year. Terra is also a member of the Fundraising Committee.

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AMY BENSON

Amy owns Nonfiction Media, a production company based in Seattle, where she produces, shoots, and edits films telling the stories of organizations around the globe. Since 2008, Amy has been working on a documentary trilogy about one family from central Nepal, the Darnals. Drawing the Tiger, the first film, was a granted project of the Sundance Institute, Fork Films, and recipient of the UNICEF award at Film South Asia. It premiered at Hot Docs in April 2015 and screened in over 40 festivals worldwide. The sequel, The Eldest Son, premiered at the Kathmandu Mountain Film Festival in 2017. Amy is in production for the third film in the series, Literate, focusing on the first educated generation in the family and filmed by the subjects themselves. Amy and her husband, Scott, are proud Mitrata sponsors of four of the Darnal children.

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BETH BOYD

Beth is a CPA and owns a tax, accounting, and QuickBooks consulting practice in South St. Louis county. She was previously a board member and has served on the Fundraising Committee. She has been volunteering her services since 2006.

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STEPHANIE RECHT

Stephanie is the Visitor Experience Manager at the Saint Louis Art Museum. She sponsored a girl from 2003 until 2014, when her sponsored child graduated from 12th grade. This child, now an adult,  runs a successful event photography and video business with her husband, and Stephanie generously transferred her sponsorship to a young boy living and studying in our boarding school program. Stephanie served on the Mitrata Board from 2004 to 2014 and continues her work with the Fundraising Committee.


TONI SCHMIDT

Toni is a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner with a private practice in Clayton and Webster Groves, MO. She was introduced to Mitrata when her friend asked if she would be interested in co-sponsoring a child with her back in 2002. In 2011, she went to Nepal to meet that child, Pawan, who is now a young 20-year-old man attending college. The experience of meeting all of the children changed her forever. Toni served on the Mitrata Board from 2011 to 2016.


GIL WILLIAMS

Gil works as an attorney for the legal firm of Hesse Martone P.C. in Saint Louis, MO. He is also the owner of MacroSun International, a fair trade buisiness that works directly with artisans throughout Nepal and all South Asia. Gil introduced his artisan friends in Nepal to Christine Schutz, and this wonderful partnership of the spirit ultimately led to the formation of Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children. Gil states, "It has been a great honor to be involved with such a heartfelt and effective grassroots organization as Mitrata.  I have seen with my own eyes the opportunities and healing that Mitrata offers to the heart, mind, and spirit of a child.  I can think of no other task or organization more worthy."