Sacred Fire Foundation

Who We Are

Sacred Fire Foundation

Who We Are

The mission of Sacred Fire Foundation is two-fold: to ensure the continuance of ancestral wisdom; and to expand awareness about why the indigenous worldview is crucial for all of us now, as well as for the future generations. We envision a global society that prioritizes balance, community, and connection, and helps to sustain all life on earth.

Our grant program provides direct funding and technical support to Indigenous communities worldwide to ensure that their ancestral wisdom can continue to flourish for generations to come.

Our awarenes initatives provide opportunities for people to experience ancestral wisdom directly from indigenous elders, either through in-person gatherings or digital media, with practical advice for integrating this wisdom into your life.

Our Wisdom Fellowship Award honors the work of elders who have demonstrated lifelong achievement in bringing wisdom, leadership and learning to their people and their community.

Support Our Work

Board of Trustees

David Wiley

Chairman

Before his spiritual calling, David worked as a management consultant in Atlanta, Georgia where he developed team performance models for clients and later became an international trade consultant within the U.S., Canada and México. In the mid 1990’s he underwent a series of life changing experiences that guided him to elders in both Nahua and Huichol work in México. These Peoples and their ceremonial leaders recognized an ancestral connection in David to their traditions and brought him into years of apprenticeship. He is now a Tsaurirrikame (fully initiated elder shaman) in the Huichol tradition and a Temachtian (elder granicero or “weather worker”) in the Nahua tradition. His primary responsibilities are as a counselor, traditional healer and ceremonial leader to his local and international community (Sacred Fire Community) where he sits on a variety of councils and governing bodies.

 

Keiko Cronin

President of the Board

Keiko lives in Marina del Rey, CA where she has a healing practice as an acupuncturist, herbalist and a mará akáme (initiated medicine woman) in the Huichol tradition. She earned a BA in Psychology from UCLA and a Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute.  Her leadership and administrative background includes past work as the Academic Dean of Yo San University and Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine. She served as a volunteer Co-Executive Officer with the Blue Deer Center for 7 years, and as the volunteer Executive Director of the Sacred Fire Foundation for 3 years.

 

Alan Kerner

Board Member

Alan currently dedicates his life to serving his community in Santa Monica, CA as an initiated firekeeper and mará akáme (healer) in the Huichol tradition.  In his former career, he founded and led a successful intermodal transportation company, serving Southern California for 28 years.  He volunteered his time, leadership, and financial skills on the Board, Steering Committee, and Financial Advisory Team of the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center of Southern California, a not-for-profit organization.  He received his education at the University of California at Los Angeles, majoring in finance and accounting.

 

Artemia Fabre Zarandona

Board Member, Grant Review Committee member

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 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

Board Member, Grant Review Committee member

From Brookfield, MA, Gwen majored in Psychology and later became a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Gwen is an initiated mará akáme (healer) in the Huichol tradition and plays an important community role as a fire keeper for her hamlet. She has had a successful patient care practice for 20 years that now includes deep shamanic healing as well. Gwen was a strong volunteer on a committee that produced a city master plan over a two-year period.

 

 

Indigenous Advisory Board

Oren Lyons

Onondaga Nation

Oren Lyons is a traditional faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation who sits on the Onondaga Council of Chiefs. Born in 1930, he was raised in the traditional life ways of the Haudenosaunee on the Seneca and Onondaga reservations. As a youth he left for New York City but in 1970, Lyons returned to his ancestral homeland in upstate New York to act as Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan. In this capacity, he is entrusted with keeping alive his people’s traditions, values and history. Since then he has dedicated his life to preserving and protecting indigenous lifeways by being one of the key players in establishing the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations.

In recognition of his contributions over many years as a teacher of undergraduate and graduate students in the University at Buffalo, Dr. Lyons is listed as SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and Professor Emeritus of American Studies in the UB College of Arts and Sciences. He has appeared on the documentary Faithkeeper, produced and hosted by Bill Moyers[8] in 1991, and in Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary “The 11th Hour” in 2007.

Among his accolades he has received the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, the National Audubon Award, the First Annual Earth Day International Award of the United Nations, the Elder and Wiser Award of the Rosa Parks Institute for Human Rights, as well as the Wisdom Fellowship Award of the Sacred Fire Foundation. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival, and is a principal figure in the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders that he helped create in 1977.

 

Tarcila Rivera Zea

Quechua

Tarcila Rivera Zea is a Quechuan leader from Ayacucho, Peru who has devoted over 20 years of her life to defend and seek recognition and acknowledgment of Peruvian Indigenous Peoples and cultures. Tarcila moved to Lima when she was ten years old, and worked as a domestic worker in exchange for education, learning Spanish only at age 18, and finishing high school at 21. Through her own merit she won a series of scholarships and ultimately earned a Human Rights degree from the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, Holland.

Tarcila is the founder and Executive Director of Chirapaq (Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru), an organization committed to the recognition and full exercise of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, giving priority to the leadership of women and Indigenous youth.  In the past 20 years, Tarcila has contributed to the creation of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMI), the International Indigenous Women Forum (FIMI) and the International Indigenous Press Agency (AIPIN). Her contributions have resulted in the creation of the Permanent Workshop of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru, the International Forum of Indigenous Women of the Americas and the Continental Link of Indigenous Women of the Americas. Tarcila Rivera currently sits in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She received Sacred Fire Foundation’s Wisdom Fellowship Award in 2014.

 

Tenzin Wangyal

Bön

Tenzin Rinpoche was born in Amritsar, India, not long after his parents escaped their Tibetan homeland in 1959 during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. At age 10, Tenzin Rinpoche was ordained as a monk at Menri Monastery near Dolanji, India. He was recognized by head teacher Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche as a reincarnation of the famous master Khyung Tul Rinpoche, a renowned meditation master, teacher, scholar and healer who died in the mid-20th century.

In 1986 Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, an accomplished scholar in the Bön Buddhist textual traditions of philosophy, exegesis and debate, completed an 11-year course of traditional studies at the Bön Dialectic School of Menri Monastery, where he received his Geshe degree, equivalent to a doctorate in philosophy from Western universities. Upon graduating, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama appointed Rinpoche to be the Bön tradition’s representative to the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies of the Tibetan-Government-in-Exile.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche was one of the first to bring the precious Bön teachings to the West. In 1992, he founded Ligmincha Institute in Charlottesville, Va., a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to preserve for future generations the ancient teachings, arts, sciences, language and literature of Tibet and Zhang Zhung. Today Rinpoche continues his dedicated efforts to preserve the Bön Buddhist tradition through establishing centers and groups worldwide. In 2013 he received the Wisdom Fellowship Award from the Sacred Fire Foundation.

 

 

Grant Review Committee

Neva Morrison

Chair, Grant Review Committee

Neva Morrison is Grant Review Committee Chair. Before joining our team she co-founded and was Managing Director of First Peoples Worldwide for close to a decade before leaving to pursue her Masters of Social Work.  While at First Peoples Worldwide, she helped build one of the largest indigenous to indigenous grantmaking programs, Keepers of the Earth, funding over $1.2 million in small grants directly to grassroots indigenous organizations.  Neva, who is Cherokee and Skokomish, has been fighting for Indigenous Peoples rights since her first job out of college with Native American Management.  She later went on to work on Capitol Hill in Washington DC with the National Indian Gaming Association.  She currently resides in Richmond, VA with her husband and three sons.

 

Elvera Sargent

Grant Review Committee member

Konwanhktotha (She is given space) Elvera Sargent is a Snipe Clan member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. She resides on the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, which is located between New York, Quebec and Ontario, Canada. She has over 35 years of working in the private and nonprofit sectors. The majority of her work has been with Native organizations in the areas of economic development, research and native language. Elvera is fluent speaker of the Mohawk language. For the past 20 years she has worked with the Akwesasne Freedom School, which was one of the first to adopt a total language and cultural immersion programming.

 

Mercedes Caso

Director of Grantmaking, Grant Review committee member

Mercedes Caso is a non-profit professional with grant making, program design and management experience in the U.S. and México. In her career in the nonprofit sector and philanthropy, Mercedes has worked on multiple issues on behalf of low-income children and families, Indigenous communities, migrants, Mexican culture and people with disabilities. She served as Program Officer at the U.S.- México Foundation, where she played a key role in launching the organization. She received her master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from The New School’s Milano School for Management and Urban Policy in New York, and a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Universidad Iberoamericana in México City. Mercedes was a founding board member of Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture without Borders in New York. She strongly believes in the value of protecting and promoting cultural diversity and the importance of recognizing indigenous wisdom as a heritage for humanity. She loves music and dancing and has a beautiful baby boy named Michael.

 

Artemia Fabre Zarandona

Board Member, Grant Review Committee member

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 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

Board Member, Grant Review Committee member

From Brookfield, MA, Gwen majored in Psychology and later became a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Gwen is an initiated mará akáme (healer) in the Huichol tradition and plays an important community role as a fire keeper for her hamlet. She has had a successful patient care practice for 20 years that now includes deep shamanic healing as well. Gwen was a strong volunteer on a committee that produced a city master plan over a two-year period.

 

 

Staff

Sofia Arroyo

Executive DIrector

Sofia Arroyo is the Executive Director at Sacred Fire Foundation, where she previously served as Director of Communications and Director of Grants and Partnerships. She lives in México City with her husband and two daughters. She has a BA in Communications from Universidad Iberoamericana, and has worked in the film and advertising industry as a director and assistant director since the 1990’s. She lived for a few years in Geneva, Switzerland where she attended several UN meetings regarding indigenous issues and became interested in indigenous philanthropy. Sofia has been a passionate and strong advocate for the preservation and revitalization of traditional knowledge for many years now and hopes to continue this work for many years to come.

 

Citlalli Peña

Director of Communications

Citlalli lives in Amatlán, México, a place deeply rooted in ancestral traditions. Her passion for community led her to co-found Yolotlán, a sustainable cohousing project, and Circulo Ollines, a thriving alternative currency for Tepoztlán, of which she is a council member.  Citlalli has a B.A. in Communications from the Universidad Iberoamericana and a diploma in Creative Writing from the General Writers Society of México (SOGEM).   A storyteller at heart, she started her career as a journalist for print, radio and television and then moved on to documentary film. For the last seven years she has been a scriptwriter of documentary and animation videos for international humanitarian and educational organizations. She deeply believes in the importance of creating platforms from which Indigenous elders can share their wisdom with the world.

 

Eric Noyes

Events Director and Elder Liaison

Raised in New Mexico, Eric has followed a lifelong concern for, and interest in, the cultures and worldviews of American Indians. The depth of his interest ultimately led to his serving as the Executive Director of the American Indian Institute in Bozeman, Montana, for more than 10 years, where he helped create programs to ensure the perpetuation of the ancient wisdom and cultural heritage of North America’s Native people, and to promote a greater understanding of that wisdom among all people. Eric maintains relations with a network of grassroots traditional leaders from Indian nations throughout North America. Prior to joining the American Indian Institute in 2002 as its Associate Director, a position he held for five years, Eric served for six years as Director of Development for PERC, an environmental think tank based in Bozeman. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Eric worked in New York, London, Los Angeles, and San Francisco for the international finance company Credit Suisse First Boston.Eric lives in Bozeman, Montana, with his wife and three children. He earned his undergraduate degree from Colgate University in 1986, and a graduate degree from the Columbia University School of Business in 1992.

 

Mary Fifield

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Mary Fifield, a writer since age 13, draws inspiration from the complexity of human relationships and the mystery of “inter-being”, and she feels deeply connected to Sacred Fire Foundation’s vision. With more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, she brings expertise in program design, strategic development, communications, and training. As Executive Director of Amazon Partnerships Foundation in Ecuador, she worked with indigenous leaders to create a grantmaking model through which communities designed and implemented their own projects to confront climate change. In Latin America and Africa, she has cultivated alliances among local and international organizations to support community self-determination. Her articles on community-driven development appear in Alliance Magazine and other publications. She holds an MFA in creative writing and resides in Portland, Oregon with her partner.

 

Mercedes Caso

Director of Grantmaking, Grant Review committee member

Mercedes Caso is a non-profit professional with grant making, program design and management experience in the U.S. and México. In her career in the nonprofit sector and philanthropy, Mercedes has worked on multiple issues on behalf of low-income children and families, Indigenous communities, migrants, Mexican culture and people with disabilities. She served as Program Officer at the U.S.- México Foundation, where she played a key role in launching the organization. She received her master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from The New School’s Milano School for Management and Urban Policy in New York, and a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Universidad Iberoamericana in México City. Mercedes was a founding board member of Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture without Borders in New York. She strongly believes in the value of protecting and promoting cultural diversity and the importance of recognizing indigenous wisdom as a heritage for humanity. She loves music and dancing and has a beautiful baby boy named Michael.

 

Alison Gottschalk

Social Media Manager

Alison Gottschalk is currently managing the social media and marketing campaigns at Sacred Fire Foundation. She has ten years of experience as an independent freelancer handling corporate branding, product positioning, website creation, SEO & CRM strategies, for small to large businesses, and passionately supports non-profits bringing wisdom to the world. She was raised in the suburbs of Washington D.C. learning about organizational development, team leadership strategies, and web coding. Eager to seek out more independent causes, she made her way to México, built her business, became a mother, and has now joined Sacred Fire Foundation with the singular goal of making sure the activities, grant programs, and messages of wisdom from our organization reach the largest possible audience online today.

 

Alison Wearing

Writer proofreader

Alison Wearing is a writer and performer based in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Her articles and essays, short stories, books, and multimedia solo plays have been published and performed internationally. Her first book, Honeymoon in Purdah, is a series of tales of the kindness and generosity she encountered during a journey to Iran. Her most recent book is a memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s. Alison performs, speaks, and teaches writing workshops internationally. She first connected with the Sacred Fire community while living in in Tepoztlán, Mexico, in the early 2000s, and she is delighted to be working among such wonderfully ‘heart-strong’ people at Sacred Fire Foundation.

 

Dan Cernese

Information Technology Manager

Dan lives in Pepperell, MA and is a 35+-year veteran of the computer industry, having taught himself how to program in high school.  He traded in his paper route for a programming job while working his way to a BS in Computer Science at WPI.  Having worked primarily for technology-focused companies, Dan currently finds himself working full-time from home for Hewlett-Packard Company.  Dan has offered his consulting and practical hands-on experience to the Foundation since 2006 and is a founding member of the Pepperell Hamlet Sacred Fire Community council.

 

Karla Perez

Grantmaking Assistant

Karla Pérez is the Grantmaking Assistant at Sacred Fire Foundation. She lives in México City with her partner and her adopted dog and cat. She has a bachelor’s degree in Administration from Universidad del Valle de México. At the beginning of her career she worked in the telecommunication industry in the areas of human resources and administration, then she worked in local and international NGOs focusing on bi-national issues (US & México), education, and fighting against gender violence. Karla is vegan, and has been a volunteer in animal liberation groups for more than a decade. She is interested in raising awareness about veganism, she belongs to feminist groups, enjoys bike riding and running.

 

Kathy German

Database Manager

Kathy lives in Austin, TX, close to her family, and she has dedicated her life to teaching, learning, and helping others through Plant Spirit Medicine, Massage Therapy, and birthing services. Kathy earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A & M University in 1991. In 2001, she had a profound healing treatment that lead her down the path of Holistic Bodywork and Healing.  She served as the Executive Center Director for the Blue Dear Center, supporting the work of bring authentic wisdom teachings to the world, and has volunteered for the Sacred Fire Community Organization for years as the Database Manager.  She is currently the Massage Therapy Program Director at Avenue Five Institute, where she loves teaching students about massage and healing.  She also maintains a private practice and teaches Massage Continuing Education around the country. Kathy loves how a database can be more than information; it can be a living connection of people around the world serving a common purpose.

 

María García

Designer

Maria is a designer, an animal rights activist, and a communications expert specializing in social initiatives. She lives in Tepoztlan, Mexico, and works out of her studio, “zanto,” where she designs and writes ideas and strategies for organizations or individuals who have projects which can be considered ‘good causes.’ In her own words, she prefers to work for “projects with soul. She has founded two non-profit organizations focused on animal rights—People for Animal Defense and LIBERO Santuario Silvestre—and has collaborated with groups such as Humane Society International, Peta, World Animal Protection and Great Ape Project. For five years she was the Communications Manager of the National Comission of Biodiversity in Mexico, where she worked on many projects involving Mexican Indigenous communities such as the Corredor Biológico Mesoamericano.

 

Sherry Morgan

Donor relations

Sherry obtained tax-exempt status for Sacred Fire Foundation in 2005 and became its founding President. She continued as a volunteer member of the Board and Executive Committee until 2010. SheShe continues to offer her time supporting the Foundation in donor relations. Sherry leads the Sacred Fire Community Lifeways program “Exploring the Core Basis of Prayer” and has maintained protocols as an initiated Weather Worker (granicera) in the Nahua tradition of México since 1998. She greets the weather in beautiful Victoria, BC.

 

Wendy Brittain

Donor gratitude

A water sprite by nature, Wendy has nevertheless spent the majority of her adult life nestled amongst the saguaro of the American Southwest. She has held a wide variety of jobs over the years, ranging from fire lookout to teacher, public health nurse to massage therapist. What stirs her heart most is sitting in stillness feeling the bounty of the natural world flow through. She deeply honors the mission of the Sacred Fire Foundation and, in her own words, “is thrilled to shower our precious donors with gratitude.”

 

 

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