Ami Desai- President
Ami Desai has been involved in public education reform and innovation for over two decades. Her passion for a fair and equitable education for ALL students has included work as a teacher, staff developer, administrator, executive coach, and school design manager in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, South America and Colorado. In 2010 Ami pursued her dream of opening her own consulting business and created Ami Desai and Associates, LLC—a company founded on delivering a holistic approach to executive coaching, professional development, and entrepreneurial education and design thinking (www.amidesaiassociates.com).
She has an Executive Coaching and Professional Development caseload of leaders and schools throughout the country; from leaders opening up new schools to schools that are well established. In 2011 she published a book entitled, The Educational Secret: Cultivating Entrepreneurial Spirit in Our Youth, which focuses on using entrepreneurship to create a transformative experience for youth and school systems resulting in effective culture and discipline, improved self-confidence, and heightened academic performance.
Ami attended the first Dazzle Africa safari in 2012 and immediately fell in love with the land, people, and animals of Mfuwe, which led her to join the board in 2013. She feels grateful she gets to spend two months a year in magical Mfuwe. In all of her endeavours, Ami focuses on empowering young people, educational leaders, and communities to leverage their passions in order to actualize their dreams.
Cathy Smith- Secretary
Catherine Smith, M.D., is a practicing radiologist. After graduating from the University of Alabama at Huntsville, she chose to pursue a career in medicine. She attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine followed by residencies in both Internal Medicine and Diagnostic Radiology. She finished her training with a fellowship in body MRI at Yale/ New Haven Hospital. She practices general radiology with a special emphasis in cardiac, abdominal, and musculoskeletal MRI.
Cathy grew up in Alabama with her three siblings. Her love of domestic animals and wildlife began when she was young. She was always taking in stray pets and she read extensively about animals all over the world. Cathy is very active in local wildlife management. She remains on the board of a bear advocacy group and works with other wildlife advocates on human-wildlife conflict. She just completed a two-year term on the Washoe County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife. Additionally, along with several other NGOs, Cathy continues to work with the Nevada legislature as an unpaid lobbyist in an attempt to enact laws protecting our environment and wildlife across the globe.
Cathy and her husband, Mike, currently reside in Reno, NV with their three dogs. In their free time, they enjoy travel, wildlife photography, hiking, and skiing.
Marki Sindlinger- Treasurer
Marki Sindlinger was born and raised in the mountains of Colorado. She is a 2010 graduate of Fort Lewis College of Durango, Colorado with a BA in Business Management. Growing up with a passion for the outdoors, she has continued to make her home within the Rocky Mountains. She grew up spending many hours on the local ski mountains of Beaver Creek and Vail, Colorado and continued that joy in the San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado, where she realized her true calling.
After moving home to the Vail Valley she continued her education in Emergency Medical Services, collecting her Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), certification from Colorado Mountain College in 2013. A year later she joined Beaver Creek Ski Patrol and became Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC), certified by National Ski Patrol Rocky Mountain District.
Marki is currently a Ski Patroller year round for Beaver Creek Mountain, in her hometown of Avon, Colorado. She is also a certified NSP OEC instructor, as well as BLS CPR certified instructor for Southwest Regional CPR.
Marki has an adventurous spirit not only in the mountains but also in experiencing new lands. For the past six years, she has been traveling back and forth from America to Southeast Asia and gaining a wealth of knowledge and respect for the culture and all the living creatures that work with one another in the circle of life. Although she did not follow in the footsteps of her parents, both educators, she does share the same passion for teaching and reaching out to others from all over the world.
Mike Paredes- Board Director
Mike Paredes, born and raised in New Jersey, works as a pilot for United Airlines. Travel and adventure are what led him to his wife Nancy, also a pilot, and they have explored the world together, both on and off the job. It was Nancy who planned their first African safari, and Mike was transformed by the experience. Since then, they have explored the wilds of Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and of course, Zambia, and taken a deep dive into volunteer wildlife conservation work. Though he has been involved with Dazzle Africa in an unofficial capacity for some years, he is thrilled to be officially part of the Dazzle Africa team as a member of the Board of Directors. When not flying, Mike hones his photography skills, kayaks, and sails with Nancy in Annapolis, Maryland, where they live with their animals. Speaking of, his spirit animal is one particular mystical-looking kudu whom he shared a few amazing moments within the South Luangwa.
Frank Coyne- Board Director
Frank Coyne started working on the dream of founding the Denver Green School (DGS) in 2008. That dream became reality in the fall of 2010 when DGS opened its doors as an Innovation School and the first school dedicated to sustainability in Denver. Since it’s inception DGS has been one of the top performing schools in Denver and received local and national recognition for their innovative programming.
Prior to joining founding DGS, Frank spent almost a decade working at the University of Denver where he was the Director of the Center for Community Engagement. During this time he successfully managed DU and DPS partnerships and fundraised over $500,000 to grow these successful partnerships. His focus was on training the faculty in the fundamentals of service learning and how to most effectively work with community partners in the highest needs area of Denver.
Frank has been extensively involved in the Denver community for two decades. He has volunteered with AmeriCorps, the American Red Cross, and with Bluff Lake Nature Center and dozens of DPS schools. He has served on several boards of local non-profits and charter schools well with the goals to increase educational opportunities and improve financial literacy for low-income families in Denver. He is excited to be joining the Dazzle Board and looks forward to bringing his knowledge and networks to grow the impact that Dazzle has on the community in Zambia.
Past Board of Directors:
Sarah Early * Founder, Former President
Donielle Alexander * Founder
Shera Pillsbury * Founder, Past Treasurer
Joanne Hardy * Founder