Meet Our Extra Special Board Members

 Mother Miracle School Board of Directors in USA and Board of Trustees in India

Board of Directors, USA

Mother Miracle is a 501(c) (3) Nonprofit registered in the USA from 2007 to present. All donations are tax-deductible.

Shahla Ettefagh – President and Founder of Mother Miracle

Shahla Ettefagh holds a master’s degree in Architecture and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Child Psychology from the University of San Francisco. From 1984-2002, she owned a successful commercial interior art design firm and an adult community art school in San Francisco Bay Area. She moved to India in 2002 with the mission of providing an opportunity for extremely impoverished children through education, empowerment, and unconditional love.  As a foreigner, she was told India would “eat her up,” and she faced many challenges, but her belief in miracles and the grace of God allowed her to persevere.

Tom Duffy – Vice President

Tom Duffy previously served as Board Chair of the Ukulele Kids Club, a 501(C)(3) serving hospitalized children with music therapy and instruments. He serves on the Board of Conservation 501(C)(3). A longtime TM meditation practitioner and teacher, he is currently self-employed in commercial real estate practice and management. A graduate of Villanova University with a master’s degree from Maharishi International University, Tom has sponsored 5 children at Mother Miracle students since 2018. He lives in New Hampshire, but his heart is in Rishikesh, India.

Jasmine Nazari – Treasurer

Jasmine Nazari joined Urban Green Investments, a real estate private equity shop, in early 2013 after attending the University of California at Davis, where she got an MS in Soils and Biogeochemistry and studied Vertical Farming. At Urban Green, where she serves as Chief Operating Officer, she oversees operations, fundraising, and business development. She is a licensed Real Estate Broker and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) candidate. She is fluent in four languages (English, French, Farsi, and Spanish) and has a bilingual Baccalaureate. Since college, Jasmine was gifted to sponsor a stellar young girl at Mother Miracle and later sponsored a brilliant young boy. She has visited the school and volunteer her time for a few months. She likes to dance in her spare time and thinks that she and her partner can complete renovations around her new house.

Michael Ward, MD – Secretary

Michael Ward trained in Chemical Engineering and, upon graduation, entered Medical School, becoming an anesthesiologist. He retired after 33 years of a successful practice, much of which was servicing as Department Chairman. Upon retirement, Michael knew he wanted to give back to society and help children who did not have the many opportunities in life that he had been given. In 2017, during his travels in India, he found Mother Miracle and had dedicated the rest of his life to supporting these beautiful and most deserving children. He sponsors one child; he says, “I fell in love with him upon first seeing his warm, loving eyes.” The child is now in the 3rd grade and is top of his class. Michael continues to support Mother Miracle in various ways as it expands and envisions even greater things for the future.

Kusum Bijalwan – Member

Kusum Bijalwan joined Mother Miracle School when she was 10 years old. In 2008, she became a part-time assistant to Shahla and traveled extensively with her to the US for three months. She graduated in 2013 holding a bachelor’s degree in Science, and in 2015, she earned her master’s in Zoology. Immediately, she started working for Mother Miracle School as an assistant to the founder and president. She manages the school by taking care of all the daily school chores and communicating via emails with sponsors and donors worldwide to raise money for our project. In September 2017, she became a Trustee and was selected as a Treasurer of the trust. She is fully dedicated to this project. Today she is the Director of administration Services in School, Treasurer in Indian Trust, and the board of directors in the USA.

Maryam Ettefagh – Member

Maryam Ettefagh attended Pepperdine University and the California Academy of Arts & Crafts. Thereafter she managed and sizably grew a portfolio of properties for herself and her family since the 1980s. She concurrently managed the financial reporting of her family’s corporation, Erza Corporation. Since Mother Miracle was founded in early 2002, Maryam has served as a support system in any capacity, as Board Member, as an accountant, and as honorary liaison to her dear Sister, the founder of Mother Miracle, Shahla Ettefagh. She currently resides in Palm Desert, California. You will find her fashionably dressed and pondering how and what to improve upon next in her spare time.

Ajay Gupta – Member

Ajay Gupta is a Motivational speaker and Life coach. His coaching company, Celebration Coaching Academy, works with people worldwide. Through his family’s involvement, he came to Mother Miracle, who collectively sponsor over 100 children at the school. After volunteering for a month with the children, he was inspired to join the Board of Directors, where he brings his talents in marketing, public relations, and fundraising. Ajay’s passion is to make a difference in people’s lives, particularly young people. He has had the privilege of visiting 43 countries, speaking over 1000 times across the USA for Anthony Robbins, where he was a youth coach for 8 years. He lives by the belief of “The Secret to Living is Giving, the more we can give, authentically, the more life becomes meaningful.”

Karen Mindt Howell, LPC – Member

Karen Mindt Howell, MA, MBA, is a licensed professional counselor in Oregon. She has her own private practice and has managed her business for over 20 years. She got her start in nonprofit work in 1988 when she became the Child Assault Prevention Project executive director in the Bay Area. Committed to children’s safety and empowerment, Karen founded and directed 4 such organizations in California and Washington. Other careers include business consulting to small and medium-sized businesses. She has two avocations. One, a partner in American Veda Tours, she has the pleasure of introducing groups of travelers to India each year. And two, she is “head over heels in love” with the 5-year-old girl she sponsors at Mother Miracle School and is committed to supporting her education through college.

Nicole Massoumi – Member

Nicole graduated from the University of San Francisco’s business school with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Upon graduation, Nicole worked as a Financial Statement Auditor at an international public accounting firm where she served clients across various industries. Nicole quickly discovered her passion for working with nonprofit organizations and decided to spend a year volunteering at different nonprofits around the world. While traveling through India, Nicole discovered the Mother Miracle School where she volunteered her time by performing a pro bono audit of the school’s finances and helped prepare financial reports for prospective donors. Impressed by the school’s large impact on a lean budget, Nicole continued to volunteer her time on various projects in a remote capacity. She returned to the school later that year to help build on the founder’s vision of achieving long-term financial stability by assisting with the setup of the school’s first revenue-generating venture, Mother Miracle Bakery. Nicole sponsors two Mother Miracle students, and she continues to support the school remotely by providing pro bono accounting and finance-related services.

Board of Trustees, India

Mother Miracle Trust is a 12A and 80G NGO registered in India from 2005 to present. All donations are tax-deductible.

Vishal Bindal – Trust President and Chief Functionary

Vishal Bindal was raised in Rishikesh, India. In 1995 he earned his degree in Architecture from Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar. While studying, he began designing buildings for an architecture firm. After graduation, he started Aakar Architects in Rishikesh. His successful firm designs government and private structures such as luxury apartments, hospitals, and colleges throughout North India. In 2002, Mr. Bindal began offering his generous support to Mother Miracle. He has helped to design our buildings, and his firm has donated our architectural designs. He and his wife live in Rishikesh with their cute little girl, Aadya.

Yogesh Uniyal, MA, MCA – Secretary

Yogesh Uniyal has a Master of English Literature from HNB Garhwal University Uttarakhand. Additionally, he has a Master of Computer Application from Sikkim Manipal University. He continues his education pursuing his Ph.D. in Computer Science from OPJS Rajasthan University. Before joining Mother Miracle in 2008 he spent 17 years teaching computer sciences. As Director of Educational Services at Mother Miracle, his commitment to and love for the children is one of the “special ingredients” that makes the school such a success.

Kusum Bijalwan – Treasurer

Kusum Bijalwan joined Mother Miracle School when she was 10 years old. In 2008, she became a part-time assistant to Shahla and traveled extensively with her to the US for three months. She graduated in 2013 holding a bachelor’s degree in Science, and in 2015, she earned her master’s in Zoology. Immediately, she started working for Mother Miracle School as an assistant to the founder and president. She manages the school by taking care of all the daily school chores and communicating via emails with sponsors and donors worldwide to raise money for our project. In September 2017, she became a Trustee and was selected as a Treasurer of the trust. She is fully dedicated to this project. Today she is the Director of administration Services in School, Treasurer in Indian Trust, and the board of directors in the USA.

Shahla Ettefagh, MA – Trustee and Founder of Mother Miracle

Shahla Ettefagh holds a master’s degree in Architecture and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Child Psychology from the University of San Francisco. From 1984-2002, she owned a successful commercial interior art design firm and an adult community art school in San Francisco Bay Area. She moved to India in 2002 with the mission of providing an opportunity for extremely impoverished children through education, empowerment, and unconditional love.  As a foreigner, she was told India would “eat her up,” and she faced many challenges, but her belief in miracles and the grace of God allowed her to persevere.

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