BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Liz Crawford, Board President

ELIZABETH CRAWFORD, Board President/Treasurer

Affiliations: Ventura County Supervisor, Linda Parks / Founder of Soladyne Capital
Date Appointed to Board: January 16,2001 and again in September 2011

In 1997, Ms. Crawford and Mrs. Huxley formalized a long-standing friendship and revitalized Children: Our Ultimate Investment COUI in Los Angeles. Following the core tenets of Mrs. Huxley’s lifetime philosophies, she co-authored, with Mrs. Huxley, the phenomenally successful, “Teens and Toddlers” educational program.

As COUI President, Ms. Crawford, expands her prior role as Executive Director. She brings policy background from her experience in Ventura County Board of Supervisors Staff, project development and management with over 15 years in national broadcast entertainment and co-founder of Soladyne Capital, a sustainable energy company.


Karen Pfeiffer, Secretary and Treasurer

KAREN PFEIFFER, Board Secretary / Executive Director / Facilitator

Date Appointed to Board: January 16,2001


Ms. Pfeiffer studied Psychology at Chapman University and has been working for Children: Our Ultimate Investment since 1998. As the adopted grandaughter of Laura Huxley, Ms. Pfieffer was one of the inspirations behind Mrs. Huxley establishing COUI. As a Board Member, throughout the past 13 years, Ms. Pfieffer's responsibilities have included board Director, acting Executive Director, and since 2006, she has been a COUI educational facilitator for the Teens & Toddlers program.


MARCELLA MEHARG, Co-Treasurer

Affiliations: Former Social Worker
Date Appointed to Board: January 16, 2001

Mrs. Meharg was a long time friend of COUI founder, Mrs. Huxley, and helped with her personal financing for over twenty years. Formerly a social worker, Marcella has a personal love for the organization.


NATALIE FIRSTENBERG

Date Appointed to Board: January 27, 2015

Natalie obtained professional certification from the New York Psychosynthesis Institute. Her Master's degree is in Counseling Psychology and she has been in private practice for over 20 years- her passion and livelihood. In addition to having worked as a COUI facilitator, Natalie has volunteered for COUI as a therapeutic consultant for facilitators, and more recently at the LA Central Library Literacy Program, providing English tutoring twice a week to a young woman from China with no English speaking skills. For many years Natalie worked in the entertainment industry, both in production and casting. Her BA degree is in Communications.


CAROLYN KLEEFELD

Date Appointed to Board: January 16, 2001

Ms. Kleefeld majored in art and psychology at the University of California. Her art is featured in galleries, museums, private collections and multimedia presentations worldwide. She has a passion for transformation and creative expression. Carolyn is also an award-winning poet. Her three poetry books are used worldwide in human development courses at universities and in human potential centers.


LEAH TIGHE

Affiliations: Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Date Appointed to Board: October 29, 2013

Mrs. Tighe is passionate about children’s rights and protection issues on a personal and professional level. From volunteering with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles, to serving as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Madagascar implementing community development programs and teaching English to middle and high-school aged students, she has always been interested in supporting the needs of children. She currently works as a Program Associate for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supporting innovative work that improves outcomes for young children affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa. The programs the foundation supports are designed to take a targeted approach to ensuring that young children in high HIV/AIDS prevalence settings in east and southern Africa reach their cognitive, social and physical development milestones. Leah is deeply heartened by the work that the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supports, the synergies they have been able to create, the partnerships they have forged, and ultimately that children are being better served as a result of their work. She is personally committed to this cause and to the broader cause of supporting children and youth.


LUPE RAMOS-SILVA

Affiliations: LAPD and many more
Date Appointed to Board: January 27, 2015

Lupe began her career at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s where she served Associate Director for the Pacific Region. Second in command to the Regional Director managing a two office region staff and volunteers fundraising within 10 western states. Overseeing an administrative budget of 4.5 million dollars that produced 7 million of fundraising revenues a year.

Most recently she served as Development Director for SAJE (Strategic Actions For a Just Economy). She also served as Marketing and Development Director for the Specialty Family Foundation (SFF) in support of inner-city Catholic schools. Prior to SFF she served as the first Corporate Director of Development for Streetlights Production Assistant Program, a job training program for at-risk youth that serves the Entertainment Industry. In addition, Lupe served as Director of Corporate events for the American Heart Association, managing a number of special events, where she successfully created corporate partnerships.

Currently she consults in the area of development for a small group of non-profits. The range of responsibilities varies from grant writing activities, cause-related marketing and special events. She recently completed the 9th annual walk for Huntington’s Disease, raising over $57,000!



Honorary Advisors

CAROL ADELKOFF

Affiliations: 1736 Family Crisis Center

Carol is currently the CEO / Executive Director of 1736 Family Crisis Center. They build partnerships and uncover solutions to effectively address the complicated problems of domestic violence and youth homelessness. Ms. Adelkoff has served on the City of Los Angeles Domestic Violence Task Force from 1998 – 2044 as well as served as an elected member on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Advisory Board from 1997 – 2002. She or her delegates now serve as members of the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council, the Statewide California Coalition on Battered Women and the California Alliance. From 1982 – 1984 Carol directed fund development in conjunction with Board, staff and auxiliary group leadership for the Children’s Institute International; From 1980 – 1981 she facilitated fund development for psychiatric hospital and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; From 1977 – 1979 she served as a special education teacher for the Demonstration School, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens), and Elwyn Institute Development Center.


DR. RAM DASS, Ph.D.

Affiliations: SEVA
Date Appointed: September, 2011

Ram Dass (Richard Alpert Ph.D.) is an author, lecturer and co-founder of the SEVA Foundation, an international service organization. Among his numerous books are: Be Here Now, How Can I Help? (with Paul Gorman) and Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service (with Mira Bush). He has been a friend and colleague of Laura Huxley for many years.


DR. PIERO FERRUCCI, Ph.D.

Affiliations: Psychosynthesis based Psycho-Therapist
Date Appointed: October, 2013

As co-founder, Mr. Ferrucci has been a part of Children: Our Ultimate Investment since the beginning (1977). He lives most of the year in Italy and a few months of the year in Australia with his wife and two children. He works alongside Diana Whitmore in psychosynthesis. He has written books, one of which is a book on parenting called, “What Our Children Teach Us”. He has collaborated with Mrs. Huxley on a few of her books as well.


CHUNGLIANG AL HUANG

Affiliations: Living Tao Foundation
Date Appointed: September, 2011

Mr. Huang has written many books on Taoism and Thai Ji. He grew up in the countryside in China, where he learned brush calligraphy and Tai Ji dancing. He studied architecture, Tao philosophy and flute playing here in the states. He founded the organization The Living Tao. He has been Laura Huxley’s friend for many years. Chungliang spoke at the first conference for Children: Our Ultimate Investment in 1978.


DR. MARGARET MARTIN, Ph.D.

Affiliations: Harmony Project
Date Appointed: December, 2012

Dr. Margaret Martin holds a doctorate in Public Health from UCLA in ‘Community Health Science’, and additional advanced degrees in Behavior Science, Health Education, and Population and Family Health. She Founded Harmony Project in 2001, which has provided instruments and tuition-free group and private music lessons to thousands of the most vulnerable children in Los Angeles as a means of positive youth development and social inclusion. She has received the Coming Up Taller Award from First Lady Michelle Obama, on behalf of Harmony Project. In addition, she is working with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (through the LA Phil’s ‘Youth Orchestra Los Angeles’ initiative) and researchers from Northwestern University and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell (after-school) Branch to document the impact of music education and youth orchestra participation on disadvantaged youth. Dr. Margaret has worked in low-income communities as an educator and community organizer for more than 30 years. She is a passionate proponent of arts education and its capacity to transform the lives of children with few resources, along with the neighborhoods in which they live, and she works to seed music programs for at-risk youth in other communities. She is also a published author and illustrator, a produced playwright, composer and lyricist, and the mother of three grown children, all of whom happen to be artists.

BUTCH SCHUMAN

Affiliations: Many
Date Appointed: September, 2011

Butch Schuman is currently the Chairman and CEO of Agro Farming Corporation, (Est. 1970), which produces wine grapes to sell to wineries. Mr. Schuman has contributed to many Los Angeles non-profit organizations, served two terms as President of “Free Arts for Abused Children” and still participates as a member of their Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Butch is also on the Board of Directors for the “Foundation for the Junior Blind”, who honored him as “Man of the Year” in 1979. He also served as Chairman of the Foundation for the Junior Blind’s “Foundation Vocational Independence” Committee. Butch is a recognized leader of the business community, having served as a Chairman of the Board for the “California Association of Wine Grape Growers” and as a Director for the “American Vineyard Foundation”. Butch currently serves on the Executive Committee for Children: Our Ultimate Investment as well.




IN MEMORY OF DR. PAUL FLEISS, BELOVED BOARD MEMBER

We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and dedicated board member, Dr. Paul Fleiss (September 8, 1933 - July 19, 2014).

Today the world is a better place because of his countless contributions to pediatric care, his unique medical perspective and gracious service to the community.  He was a pillar of consistency to COUI throughout the years, and although he will be missed, we feel honored and grateful to have benefited from his experience and wisdom for so long.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and other friends.

"What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us."
-Helen Keller

LEARN MORE

Laura Huxley, Founder
Laura Huxley, Founder
Learn about Laura Huxley, founder of COUI.
COUI's Board of Directors
COUI Board of Directors
Learn about COUI's Board of Directors.
COUI graduates speak out
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Founder, Laura Huxley
T&T educators and graduates speak out
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Teens & Toddlers Graduates
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