BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Madhur (Muddy) Ramrakha
Chair of the Board
Muddy left his banking career in late 2013 to return to Kenya to care for his elderly parents, and is currently managing a family office of property and financial investments based in Kenya; building and renovating sustainable green homes in Kenya & the UK. Among his philanthropic causes, Muddy is Board Treasurer of the Kenya Green Building Society and Board Chair of Africa Yoga Project.
His professional career between 1990 and 2013 has spanned 4 years of audit & advisory practice at Price Waterhouse, Toronto, Canada covering banking; investment fund; oil & gas; pulp & paper; and not-for-profit clients. Following this, he joined one of his clients and gained 19 years of investment banking experience at J.P. Morgan in Canada, the UK, the US, Russia, Central & Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. His banking career involved roles in Finance, Mergers & Acquisitions, Operations, Technology, and Corporate Strategy, where he built a reputation of integrity and professionalism in helping J.P.Morgan establish and grow in emerging markets.
He earned his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation through the California Board of Accountancy in San Diego, CA, USA in 1996, having previously earned his Bachelor of Commerce at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1990 with a concentration in Finance & Accountancy. In the property sector, he recently earned a Greenstar SA Accredited Professional – New Buildings.
Amid his professional career, Muddy built a long history of philanthropic engagement with healthcare and nutrition based charities on a volunteer, donor, fundraiser and non-executive director level in Canada, the UK, and Brazil and is now doing the same in Kenya.
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Paige lives and breathes the creed of service and self-empowerment that she teaches. A native New Yorker, Ashoka Fellow, Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Global Citizen 2017 award recipient, Paige has been teaching yoga for over a decade. As a Senior Baptiste Yoga Teacher, Paige leads yoga teacher trainings in Kenya and across the United States. teaches in Yoga Journal Conferences across the United States, and is a featured presenter at the Evolution Asia Yoga Conference, the Barcelona Yoga Conference, the AcroYoga Festival, the Baptiste Power Flow Immersion, and the Yoga Teacher Telesummit.
Paige’s incisive skills as a businesswoman, spiritual activist, and social entrepreneur inspired her work with the Africa Yoga Project organization. In 2007, Paige moved to Africa and co-founded the AYP organization, a movement that empowers the youth of Kenya to learn, contribute, and change their lives through the transformative power of yoga. With the support of Baron Baptiste and his community, the AYP organization facilitated the first yoga teacher training in Kenya and now employs local youth to teach full-time in their own communities. AYP programs offer free classes to over 6,000 students per week, simultaneously building schools and funding education, critical operations, and environmental endeavors.
Since 2007, Paige has partnered with leaders in politics, philanthropy, design, and entertainment to broaden the AYP organization’s empowering reach. Whether working alongside Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation, UNICEF, or Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative, Paige creates unique opportunities for community involvement and transformation. At home in Nairobi or reaching students around the world, Paige’s dedication to positive global change is infectious and inspiring.
Pia Sethi Desai
Pia is a Director at DS Advisors, an investment firm in New York. Prior to joining DS Advisors she held roles at The Honest Company, Microsoft and McKinsey & Company. Pia is also a director and board member of The DS Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that promotes the use of technology, education and entrepreneurship to improve lives and economic outcomes. She is a certified yoga instructor and loves to practice with her parents, who first introduced her to yoga in high school. Pia holds a B.A. in Economics from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Valerie Gwinner is a senior communications strategist and writer. She has worked for over 25 years on issues of gender, public health, food security, climate change, and poverty alleviation in US and international contexts. She was the global Head of Communications for the International Potato Center, based in Lima, Peru and Communications Director for Altarum Institute in Washington, DC. She served as a Senior Analyst in the US Office on Women’s Health and Women’s Health Project Director at Georgetown University. Her current projects have ranged from international family planning financing to forest preservation, and from livestock genetics to livelihood diversification in the Horn of Africa, with a strong focus throughout on improving lives for women and youths, especially. She has been very involved in thinking strategically about how to tap into the power of partnerships and communications for boosting the uptake of key information and innovations.
Valerie holds an MA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, MA in Social History from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris, France), and BA in Political Science from Wellesley College. She considers herself a serial beginner at yoga, and likes dancer’s pose best of all.
Britt Gwinner has worked for more than twenty-five years in banking and finance, much of that in international development, focused on providing access to affordable, quality housing for middle and low income people in developing countries.
Currently, Britt is Head of Housing Finance for the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group. Based in Nairobi, he leads a global team of specialists who support housing investments. Britt has led investment, advisory, and policy engagements for the IFC and the World Bank in a range of countries in each of the regions in which the World Bank Group operates.
In search of a substitute for the Mysore-style Ashtanga school that he had frequented before moving to Nairobi, Britt found the Saturday class at AYP’s Shine Center in 2012, and was amazed by the energy of the people and the program. He was further impressed to see one of AYP’s teachers the following month, working as a yoga teacher at a hotel on Kenya’s coast. Youth employment is a serious issue for Kenya and many other countries. Clearly, yoga can work as an employable skill set.
Britt holds an MBA in Finance and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University. He enjoys the outdoors, vinyasa yoga, good food, friends and family, reading, music, traveling. He cannot yet hold a hand stand, but there is hope.
Founder and CEO of Gina Din Corporate Communications
Gina Din-Kariuki is the founder and CEO of Gina Din Corporate Communications (GDCC) based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company founded in 1997 offers innovative communication solutions across the region. Its mission is Excellence. Before departing from Barclays Bank, in October 1997 to establish this venture, Gina served in the international bank in a number of capacities and rose to be head of Corporate Affairs where she led the “Connecting with the People” agenda and firmly put Barclays Bank on the map in Corporate Kenya. Gina has over 24 years of service and experience providing state of the art media and communications to corporate, governmental and non-governmental sectors in Kenya and abroad. GDCC has filled a market niche by providing comprehensive corporate communications strategy as well as major events organizing for many blue chip and international companies.
Brad is a dedicated husband and father currently living with his wife, Lindsey Elenson and two sons, Dean and Desmond in Manhattan, NY. After spending two years in Peace Corps Kenya (1999-2001) learning Kiswahili and training trainers in HIV/AIDS education, Brad turned his love of Kenya into a career by starting Kenya Education Fund (KEF), a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and Life Skills training to Kenyans who are denied the chance to learn because public high school in Kenya is not free. It is estimated that two-thirds of Kenyans – most of them girls - will not finish high school due to poverty.
KEF and Africa Yoga Project have collaborated on many projects in Nairobi to benefit hundreds of deserving youths. As an extension of Brad’s work in Kenya, he brings with him the resources and knowledge of KEF’s Nairobi office to assist AYP in delivering its vision.
Brad holds a BA in Spanish from SUNY Stony Brook and an MA in Political Science from Western Washington University.