Board of Directors
President: Amber Voiles
Amber made her way from the corn fields of Eldred, Illinois to Texas and then to California where she currently resides when not traveling with groups to remote parts of the world. She holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Master in Fine Arts, is a NAMA-approved Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Transpersonal Psychology. She comes from an extensive movement and healing arts background, specializing in Restorative Yoga, Conscious Relaxation, and Meditation. In addition to founding The SOFIE Foundation, Amber's latest labor of love was creating a meditation program for Equinox, a fitness organization in the United States and Europe. Learn more at ambervoilesyoga.com/listen.
The Joy, the Laugher, the Life, and the Sacred Wisdom that lives and breathes in the Forest inspired Amber to help create The SOFIE Foundation. With a full heart she thanks the people currently in her life for showing up. Without whom none of this would be possible.
Treasurer: Ezra Chaouli
Born in Berlin, spending most of his professional life in Hamburg and London, Ezra Chaouli settled in Los Angeles in 2004. He received his BS in Economics from the University of London and holds an MBA from the Cass Business School, City University in London. Ezra has an extensive business background in real estate development, renewable energy investment, and venture capital funding.
As sustainability is only achievable by reconnecting with nature rather than separating from it, his pursuit is raising awareness in recognition that everything on our planet and the universe is connected. The technology to live in harmony with our environment is available, accessible, and economically viable. We just need the motivation and will to apply it. Ezra is a private pilot, paddle boarder, yogi and triathlete. His other passions include the study of Persian mysticism, the evolution of universal consciousness, and cooking.
Secretary: Bia Russo
Bia Russo is of Brazilian descent and from an early age has been searching for her place back in nature. She is a Strategic Designer and works mostly as a creativity instructor and researcher, at ESPM - Rio (Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). She holds a Master's degree in Human Factors from PUC-Rio (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro) and a PhD in Emotional Design from the TUDelft (Technische Universiteit Delft, The Netherlands).
Her work is about helping people reconnect with their own nature and express their identity and vision, and to make use of problem-solving design methodologies to tackle business problems in the most humane way. In her spare time, she plants organic food, takes care of the land she lives in (a natural reserve in the heart of the Atlantic Forest), and studies medicinal plants. Feels highly connected to the Yawanawá people (Amazon forest, Acre, Brazil) and long ago has elected their medicines to be her spiritual teacher and healer.
Sofie Foundation Staff
Indigenous Partner: Matsini Yawanawá
Matsini was the first to begin studying with Tatá from a very early age. As one of Tatá's successors and Spiritual Leaders of the Yawanawá, he is guiding many young Yawanawá people as well as non-native people into the spiritual studies of the Yawanawá with a lot of care and dedication. Following a vision, he founded a Spiritual Center in Mutum where people can study and learn about the many sacred medicines that are growing there. He has been walking this path for many decades and carries with him a lot of knowledge. He is firmly grounded in the Yawanawá culture, and also embraces new ways of working. He loves music and storytelling and walks with powerfully focused energy.
Chief Executive Officer: Josip Markus
After spending over 20 years working internationally in the financial services and technology industries in both technical and business roles, Josip has shifted his focus to being of service through nonprofit leadership, philanthropy, and his Life Transformation Coaching business, Walk Your Path®.
Josip holds an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, a Master of International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in East Asian Studies from John Carroll University. He is a native English speaker, is fluent in Croatian and Japanese, and is studying Portuguese and Spanish.
Josip is an avid global traveler and loves immersing himself in new cultures, studying indigenous spiritual traditions, and practicing grounding and mindfulness through barefoot hiking. He is also deeply committed to helping people reconnect with the joy of being in balance with themselves, others, and the Earth, and through that inspiring them to create the more beautiful world we all know is possible.
Project Manager: Bianca Malott
Bianca was born in Marin County, California. and moved to Rio de Janeiro to live with her Brazilian mother at the age of 2. Her life has been divided between both cultures ever since—California and Brazil—and she feels blessed to have the best of both worlds. The Brazilian in her is where she feels deeply rooted to being passionately expressive; the Californian in her has allowed for the expansion of a greater sense of higher self.