Narda Pitkethly/Founder and CEO/Board Member: In 1991 Narda established a top-selling real estate brokerage firm in the aggressive Sun Valley, Idaho, real estate market. In 2005 her life’s passion called and she retired from her brokerage firm to devote her time to the development of the Nardagani Reading Program. Early on, when Narda needed funds to continue her work on Nardagani, she created a successful window washing company (windowwisdom44.com), established an environmentally sustainable company to recycle food waste in local restaurants (WormOn.net) and created and marketed her own hand-blown glass art products (GlassyGlobes.com).
Kenneth Lewis/Investor/Chairman of the Board: Ken is a businessman and former shipping executive. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Ken served on the Board of Trustees of Pacific University and Lewis and Clark College, both in Oregon; the Board of Visitors of the University of Oregon School of Law and the Board of Directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He was chairman of the national “I Have A Dream” Foundation in New York City; was founding chairman of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation in Oregon; and is the current president of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation in Idaho. He was president of the Oregon Ballet Theatre and the World Affairs Council of Oregon. He was also president of the Port of Portland Commission and he served on the Board of the Oregon Community Foundation. Mr. Lewis received the President’s Public Service Award in 1991 from the Oregon State Bar Association.
Jeffrey Wilhelm, Ph.D./Board Member: Jeff is a distinguished professor of English education at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, and a nationally recognized literacy expert. He is the founding director of the Boise State Writing Project that supports over 3,000 teachers each year with over 110,000 contact hours of professional development. He is a highly regarded author and co-author of over 37 books about literacy and literacy education, 24 of which are national best sellers.
Jeff has won the two top research awards in English education: the NCTE’s Promising Research Award for “YOU GOTTA BE THE BOOK”(TC Press) and the David H. Russell Award for distinguished research for both “READING DON’T FIX NO CHEVYS” (2005) and “READING UNBOUND: Promoting The Power of Pleasure Reading” (2016).
Jeff has devoted his professional career to helping teachers help their students. He is particularly devoted to assisting students who are considered to be reluctant, struggling, or at-risk. He has worked on numerous materials and software programs for students, including Scholastic’s e21, and has edited several series of books and libraries for reluctant readers.
Jeff’s research agenda is organized around creating supportive, inquiry-oriented contexts for developing and performing literacy, literate behaviors and literate identities. His research demonstrates how inquiry environments are powerful contexts for learning literacy and achieving deep understanding.
Jeff is a frequently requested speaker at state, regional, national and international conferences, as well as providing professional development on a variety of topics to educators and administrators.
Dan Vallimarescu/Investor/Board Member: Dan is a retired international banker who has lived and worked in London, Paris, Mexico, Madrid and New York City. Dan ran the Americas Debt Capital Markets Group at Santander Investment Securities for 11 years and the Latin America Debt Capital Markets Group, among other businesses, at Merrill Lynch for 13 years. Prior to that, he worked at the IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank, and the Bank of Boston. Dan has a B.A. in Government from Harvard University and an MBA from INSEAD. Dan is principal of Sawtooth Mountain Partners LLC, an investment and advisory group, and is Advisory Board Chair of BUILD NY (Buildnewyork.org). He is also on the boards of BUILD (Build.org), the Ketchum Innovation Center (Ketchuminnovationcenter.org) and Nardagani (Nardagani.com). Dan is married, with three grown children, and splits his time between New York City and Sun Valley.
Ali Long/Investor/Board Member: Ali is founder and director of the Local Food Alliance (LFA) and president and trustee of The Springcreek Foundation (TSF). Ali is a mother, conservationist and Impact Investor in Idaho. In these various capacities, Ali integrates social mindedness and environmental awareness, ever cognizant of the legacy and responsibility we will leave to our children. TSF aspires to strengthen our community through individual and collaborative grants and investments. The LFA’s mission is to create a healthy local food system and restore food security in the Wood River Valley. Ali has been committed professionally and personally to philanthropy promotion and education since 1996, and now focuses her professional energy on the synergistic reform of our food and financial systems in order to achieve a balanced global environmental and social system.
Fred Burmester/Investor/Board Member: Fred has been an entrepreneur and master mason all of his adult life. He has owned Stoneworks of Palm Beach, Fla., for over 30 years. In the early 1980s Fred sold commodities at the Chicago Board of Trade. Fred has owned several companies. In 1979 Fred graduated from Maharishi School of Management, in Iowa, with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.
Laura Giadorou Koch/Investor/Advisor: Laura recently joined the Nardagani advisory board. Dan Vallimarescu introduced us to Laura (fellow New Yorkers and co-board members for Build NYC.org). Laura is a New York and Argentine lawyer, system social entrepreneur and innovative educator. She is currently CEO for DOLIUM Bodega Subterranea, the first “B Certified” winery in Latin America; she currently serves as chair for the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) Social Engagement Network; and is an Ashoka Senior Advisor – just to name a few. Personally, Laura has had a lifelong struggle with dyslexia and, consequently, she has conducted extensive research of her own and has invested significant time and resources to take the available RTI (Response to Intervention) courses to create a learning platform that will allow underprivileged kids to have access to an easy-to-use and inexpensive program for learning. Laura took the Nardagani “online Teacher Training Course” just a few months ago and became an instant supporter – and now one of our number-one crusaders of the Nardagani methodology. She works actively to introduce us to prominent and exciting organizations for potential partnerships. Laura sees that Nardagani will have a great impact in the world to help eradicate illiteracy, thus has great vision for us in helping Nardagani scale its methodology globally.
Lauri Maher/Investor/Business Development, Administrator: Lauri has over 20 years’ real estate experience. Positions she has held within the industry include designated managing broker in Idaho and Washington; leasing manager/consultant for new construction, high-rise, multi-family projects; director of marketing for several development and management firms; regional manager/portfolio manager for 3000 plus multi-family units; co-owner for resort vacation rental company; co-owner of a corporate extended-stay hotel company; and development administrator/managing member for the development of two multi-use land projects. Lauri brings her knowledge in marketing, sales and operations management to our team.
Cheryl Allaire/Local Legal Counsel: Cheryl is a co-managing member of the law firm Mathieu, Ranum & Allaire, PLLC. She has more than 20 years of experience providing legal and strategic counsel to businesses ranging in size from small start-ups to established publicly held corporations. Her practice focuses on a wide variety of corporate and business matters and she assists businesses throughout their entire life cycles, from start-up to exit, and in many different industries including technology, energy, food and beverage, venture capital, real estate, retail and consumer products, manufacturing, life sciences and investment management. She has a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and an MBA and received her law degree from Georgetown University. She has practiced corporate law at some of the top national law firms, as well as in-house at a Fortune 500 financial institution. She is licensed to practice in California and Idaho.
Bradlee Frazer/Legal Counsel (Intellectual Property, Trademark and Copyright Matters): Bradlee is a partner in the Boise office of Hawley Troxell. He is a member of the firm’s business and finance group and chairs the firm’s Internet and intellectual property group. In addition to emphasizing and focusing on all facets of internet law, intellectual property law, and information technology law, Mr. Frazer is also involved with related transactional work and litigation. Mr. Frazer has written extensively on matters of internet and intellectual property law and is a frequent speaker on internet, intellectual property, and computer law topics and a guest lecturer at Boise State University and Northwest Nazarene University on intellectual property law and internet ethics. A Boise native, Mr. Frazer began his legal career in 1989 as an intellectual property attorney and commercial litigator at a Boise-based law firm. In 1997 he accepted an in-house position as Senior Intellectual Property Counsel with the Fortune 1000 company, Micron Electronics, Inc., and remained there through the company’s merger with Interland, Inc. (now Web.com), then the nation’s largest Web hosting company. He eventually became Deputy General Counsel for Micron Electronics, Inc., and Interland, Inc. From June 2003 to February 2006, Mr. Frazer served as Deputy General Counsel to MPC Computers, LLC, in Nampa, Idaho.
Thomas Wilford/Investor: Tom received his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Minnesota. Areas of study included accounting, finance, economics and quantitative analysis. Tom retired from Ernst & Young after 27 years in public accounting. Tom spent the next 20 years as CEO of a private company and foundation with emphasis on operations, investment management and philanthropy. Tom has served as a board member of a California real estate developer and a Washington, D.C., online education curriculum provider and is formerly director and audit committee member of IDACorp and Idaho Power.
Louise Twohy/Investor: Louise (or Louisa, as she likes to be called) has been an entrepreneur for most of her life and along with her husband, Kevin, has started and run several million-dollar businesses. She is now semi-retired, takes time for her spiritual practices and oversees her multinational anti-aging products company. She also enjoys oil painting and the outdoors on the central California coast near Santa Barbara. Louisa brings both her business experience and intuitive perspectives to Nardagani.
Jose Varela/Instructor: Jose has helped Narda develop the Spanish version of Nardagani. He has been testing and teaching our bilingual program at the Blaine County Detention Center since April 2013. Jose teaches the bilingual program to students of all ages. He was born in Mexico and moved to the United States to attend Montebello High School in L.A. in the mid 80s. He owned Tropicana Travel Systems from 1993-2000. Jose owned Miramar Restaurant in Hailey from 2003 to 2016.
Barbara Mercer/Instructor: A Washington State-certified reading specialist, Barb has taught reading, writing and spelling in grades K-12 for 30 years. As a school district curriculum administrator and staff developer, she taught and supervised all teachers new to the district in the area of literacy. She has also supervised student teachers for four Washington/Oregon universities. Barb has also been an adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University, Washington State University and University of Portland. A lifelong passion for how the brain functions led to Barb’s presenting at a national conference on Brain Compatible Learning Environments. Her last job, before moving to Idaho, was a literacy coach for a large middle/high school with a faculty of 50.