DIG has assembled a strong team of directors with extensive non- profit and private sector experience. Each individual brings multiple expertise to DIG assisting our success in fundraising, agriculture, non-profit management, financial security, and long-term vision. Beyond their technical expertise each individual has taken an active role in empowering the human spirit of others.
DIG’s board members not only help us with our US based operations but are active in the field getting to know the communities we touch by lending a hand to those in need. Our board has established a personal connection and commitment to the communities we serve.
Mark Colvin - Board Chair
Mark Colvin attended Baylor University where he received a B.B.A. in Accounting. Mark worked with Arthur Andersen, LLP in Houston and obtained his Certified Public Accountant's license after which he spent time in London, England studying and working. Mark has spent a significant amount of time in public accounting and has worked with many large public companies, including the time he served as a financial manager at Browning-Ferris Industries, First Data Corporation, and Advertising Production Resources. He is currently Chief Financial Officer at The Home Ranch, a high-end dude ranch near Steamboat Springs, Co. Mark is familiar with nonprofits and has provided accounting and financial services to many small organizations. He has also served as a volunteer for the nonprofit organization, Young Life. In addition to his academic and professional background, Mark is an avid outdoorsman having climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, 50 of Colorado's "14ers" and depending on the season, finds himself snowboarding, golfing, fishing or biking. Zeke, Mark's 7-year-old German shorthair Pointer also keeps Mark on the go.
Beth Pann - Board Vice Chair
Beth Pann is the Vice President of the National Society of High School Scholars, an international honor society founded by Claes Nobel, senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes. With 20 years in the nonprofit sector, Beth has extensive experience in business development and communications, strategic and sustainability planning, and donor cultivation and stewardship. Previously, Beth was the Director of Development for Usher’s New Look Foundation. She has also served as the Strategic Initiatives Development Officer for the Woodruff Arts Center, the parent company to the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, High Museum of Art, and Young Audiences in Atlanta, Georgia. Before Woodruff, Beth led the fund development and brand awareness programs for The Bridge, a residential center for abused teenagers, and Rainbow House, an emergency shelter for children. Her career in the nonprofit sector began with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Choral Arts Society of Washington in Washington, D.C. Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History from Denison University. Personal interests include international travel, visual and performing arts, fitness and nutrition.
Ken Merlo - Board Treasurer
Ken Merlo works for Town Hall Capital, LLC, a financial services firm and in the financial services industry, since 2003 and is now a Chief Compliance Officer. Ken capitalizes on extensive legal compliance, fundraising, and marketing expertise in securing capital for hedge funds and private equity funds. Ken serves as an in-house general counsel and compliance officer. Ken has served as the Executive Director of the Chances for Children foundation, where he assumed sole responsibility for overseeing all day-to-day operations, including program and development work. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, chaired this foundation. Ken was the President and CEO of Consulting for Architects, a job placement and recruiting firm. He has also served as a Board Member since 2003 for the NYC non-profit the Association for Rehabilitative Case Management & Housing. He is the proud father of a New York City undergraduate and together they travel extensively to developing countries throughout Africa and Asia.
Bill Westwood - Board Secretary
Bill Westwood is a Senior Partner in Korn/Ferry International’s Leadership and Talent Consulting group, based in the Firm’s Chicago office. He has directed a number of large, executive-level assessment engagements for prominent clients of the Firm. Previously, he was the Director of Global Leadership and Organization Development for the Communications Enterprise within Motorola. Bill brings an expertise in organization design, leadership assessment and succession planning. He is a native of Montana and a competitive age group distance runner.
Bill Watts is an attorney with Sutherland Asbill and Brennan in Washington, DC. Before Sutherland, Bill served as the Director of Regulatory Affairs and Chief Compliance Officer for an investment advisory firm and as a Staff Attorney with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. Bill earned a BA in Political Science and his Juris Doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a member of the American Bar Association as well as the District of Columbia and North Carolina Bar Associations. Bill, his wife, Erin, and their rambunctious toddler Isaac live in Washington, DC. Bill and Erin volunteered at DIG’s site on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.
Stephanie Kaplan graduated from the College of Charleston with a B.A. in Corporate Communication/Film Studies Stephanie moved to New York to pursue a career in broadcast/television production. While working as a producer at G Whiz/Grey Worldwide she produced television commercials/campaigns for a variety of clients including P&G, Progressive Auto Insurance, Panasonic, American Egg Board, Lowe's Home Improvement and others. After working for several years in the television production industry, she joined the US Peace Corps. From 2006-2008 she worked as a Small Enterprise Development volunteer in Burkina Faso. While there she completed a multitude of small business, health, and agricultural projects including constructing a school garden. While visiting Dakar, Senegal, she had an opportunity to tour the DIG Fann Hospital garden and proceeded to get involved with DIG’s mission. Currently Stephanie is working as the Communications Director at African Services Committee, a non-profit based in Harlem serving the needs of the African & Caribbean immigrant community in New York City; and helms a small production company, Apt. 306 Productions. In her spare time she enjoys many different athletic pursuits including cycling, triathlon, running, rock climbing & playing soccer with her husband. Otherwise, you will find her on the couch watching movies, relaxing & playing with their Husky pooch, Leigha.
Alan Silverman works as an independent consultant in international development issues, focusing on capacity building and facilitating global meetings and retreats. Most of his assignments are for the UN system, including UNAIDS, UNICEF and UNFPA. He worked for 8 years for UNAIDS as a Senior Learning Strategy Advisor building capacity for the UN staff to respond to AIDS, both in the context of supporting national responses to the epidemic and HIV in the UN workplace. Prior to joining UNAIDS, he worked for over 20 years for UNICEF including being based in Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Kenya. He has undertaken assignments in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. Alan received his master’s degree in Social Planning and Program Development from the University of Texas at Austin. Alan has an incredible depth of knowledge in the international development sector through his work with the UN and also has had the grassroots experience of his Peace Corps volunteer experience in Senegal. Even though Alan is often working around the globe he considers New York City his home.
Brad Carlson is a real estate developer, investment manager and activist with wide-ranging experience in business, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. He is managing director of CIC Group, a wealth management consultancy. He is a founding board member of Development in Gardening. He previously served as Board President of Stonewall Community Foundation, New York City's LGBT public charity. He currently serves as treasurer of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, the political wing of the nation's oldest LGBT civil rights organization. He has worked as a program officer for The New York Community Trust, the country's third largest community foundation, where he developed new funding initiatives, evaluated grant proposals, and helped budget approximately $100 million in annual giving. Brad holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a B.S. in journalism and psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and has completed programs in finance and private wealth management at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He enjoys downhill skiing, architecture and design, time with his dog, Elmo, and traveling the world with his partner, Austin. He has visited DIG projects in Dakar and Ziguinchor, Senegal.
Over a career span of thirty-five years, Paulette Nichols provides strategic planning and program policy advice to international organizations engaged in the delivery of development aid and humanitarian assistance. Working first for Non Governmental Organizations (Operation Crossroads Africa, American Friends Service Committee, USA for Africa and Africare), she has recently retired from over twenty years of service with UNICEF assigned to English, French and Portuguese-speaking countries coordinating health, education, water, and capacity development programs. She managed the global program policy and procedures unit during the last 5 years of tenure with UNICEF. Since retirement from UNICEF, she has consulted with UN and NGO organizations and presently holds a Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation position with the Secretariat of OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) in St. Lucia. Paulette is a mother, grandmother and avid gardener.
Dennis HeskelDennis Heskel has retired from a 25 year career in finance. Most recently, he was Head of Hedge Fund Research and a Managing Director at LYXOR Asset Management, where he helped oversee evaluation and monitoring of the company’s hedge fund investments globally. His other finance roles were in both the private and in the academic sectors and involved portfolio management, asset and portfolio allocation, and teaching and advising multi-national organizations, Central Banks, Ministries of Finance, and private sector banks and insurance companies on the use of derivative instruments, asset allocation and use of Capital Markets, and more recently, investments into hedge funds. Dennis has also been involved with social justice oriented non-profits that focus on food justice and availability and ones that concentrate on educational opportunity. He has always had a love of gardening and besides his own planting, oversees several community gardens in the Chicago area. Dennis has a PhD and MA from Harvard University; a MBA from the University of Chicago; and, a MA and BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
David Touster is a graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York City, where he began his career as a graphic designer working for Condé Nast Publications, The InterContinental Hotels Corporation, and Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast’s vastly innovative Pushpin Studios, before moving to Los Angeles. Over the last thirty years, he has pursued a number of successful ventures as a production designer, visual artist, and interior design consultant. His distinctive visual style can be seen in restaurants and clubs around Los Angeles, numerous non-profit and corporate events, and gallery shows. He has been a long time volunteer, including at Project Angel Food in Los Angeles, which provides daily meals for people homebound or disabled by HIV/AIDS, as well as on numerous political campaigns. David has hosted DIG’s annual Los Angeles fund-raising events and, in June of 2011 visited DIG’s projects in Zambia. Sometimes he secretly wishes he’d become a chef.
DIG’s Advisory Board Members
Pape Amadou Gaye
Pape Amadou Gaye is president and CEO of IntraHealth International. A native of Senegal, he has three decades of leadership in international health with extensive field experience in Africa. Prior to his appointment as IntraHealth's CEO in 2004, Mr. Gaye led the organization's regional office for West, Central, and North Africa. His career includes work with the US Peace Corps, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Committee, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dedicated to improving the well-being of the most vulnerable people around the globe, Mr. Gaye believes partnership is essential: he promotes collaborative partnerships among diverse organizations and governments to meet the enormous health challenges faced by developing countries.
Beth Dannhauser has an extensive history in charitable work, she has served on the board of many notable organizations including the Boys and Girls Harbor in East Harlem, The Tribute WTC Visitor Center. She is a nurse and certified infant massage teacher. She co-founded Original Swiss Aromatics/Body Day, a wholesale company supplying pharmaceutical quality aromatherapy oils to health spas, massage therapists and skin care specialists. She is the founder and President of Compassionate Touch LLC . In 1996 Dannhauser developed a holistic treatment for critically ill hospital bound patients. She has introduced the program to Mt. Sinai Hospital , North General Hospital, Cabrini Medical Center and St. Vincent's Hospital. At the present time Dannhauser is a Consultant to the NY Visiting Nurse Service - Hospice. She has been involved in a hands on way with DIG and brought students from the Boys and Girls Harbor in Harlem to Senegal on a volunteer DIG work trip. Beth and her husband Steve reside in NYC.
John Patrick Hayden
John Patrick Hayden is an organic farmer and market gardener who owns and operates The Farm Between in Jeffersonville, VT. John has over 30 years professional experience in sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management as an educator, researcher, extension agent, consultant, and practicing organic farmer. John is also a lecturer in the Ecological Agriculture Program at the University of Vermont. John’s interest in development work began with a Peace Corps assignment in Mali, West Africa where he trained agricultural extension agents in pest management techniques for market gardens. He has consulted in Guinea, India, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. John also serves on the Board of Directors of NOFA-VT (Northeast Organic Farmers Association). He and his wife Nancy are founding directors of the nonprofit Seeds of Self Reliance.
Terry Slaughter founded the internationally known marketing and branding firm The Slaughter Group and has parleyed his success into creating the The Simon Cyrene Foundation. Through this foundation Terry is helping DIG tell the story of our projects and how they are affecting people around the world. Terry’s home base is in Birmingham, AL where he is very active in the Presbyterian church and other philanthropic activities.
David Maddy studied overseas during high school developing both a love of travel & the zeal to explore our diverse world. He earned a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Kansas in 1992. David directed his passion for environmentalism by working with Home Depot Company for 10 years on their Green Team focusing on energy efficiency and environmentally friendly alternatives. David volunteers for several non-profit organizations in San Diego and just earned his B.S. in Nursing. David has been with DIG since its inception and has used his passion for the environment, nutrition, Africa and gardening to assist DIG.