Council of Elders


In September 2015, Artists for World Peace will be in its thirteenth year. In 2013, I felt that it was time to merge all of my personal beliefs into the system of running an international foundation. Spending my adult life in a traditional Native American circle, and my new phase of life as an “elder,” has suggested to me that a Council of Elders can be the heartbeat that will keep the foundation alive and growing. To me an elder is not necessarily only one who has reached the age of 55, it is also a person with wisdom and compassion, regardless of age. 

While I understand the necessity of a Board of Directors, I realize it is the concept of a circle that I personally relate to — where everyone brings their expertise, experiences and knowledge to help grow an idea from within.

Therefore, in addition to our board, I established a “Council of Elders.” I invited each of the following women to bring their skills, compassion, grace, and unique perspective of a nonprofit to the table, where everyone has an equal voice. Each person has been given the opportunity to develop an aspect of Artists for World Peace that inspires them personally, and in doing so we will continue to grow.

Wendy Black-Nasta, Founder

 February 2014



Jo-Anne Leventhal

Jo-Anne’s career has spanned the corporate and nonprofit worlds, working in the areas of communications, marketing, development, and external relations. She has worked at The Phoenix, the National Kidney Foundation of CT, the National MS Society, CT, Our Piece of the Pie, Charter Oak Health Center and Capital Community College. She has served on the boards of the Farmington Valley Arts Center, Literacy Volunteers of America and Literacy Volunteers of America-CT and the Human Relations Commission in Glastonbury. She has been a mentor to a number of youth, a volunteer for Special Olympics International and a volunteer at Wish Elementary School.

Cynthia E. Rockwell

Cynthia E. Rockwell is the associate editor of the Wesleyan University magazine, a position she has held for more than a decade, and a publication with which she has been affiliated for nearly 30 years. She particularly enjoys writing stories about alumni exploring social justice issues and alternative educational models. Early in her career, she was a high school teacher of English in Connecticut and Massachusetts; she earned her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Tufts University with a major in English. Her master’s degree, also from Tufts, was in secondary education, focusing on American literature. Formerly a resident of Middletown, she lives in Canton with her husband and has two grown sons. Her interests include writing and photography.

Chantal Laliberte

Chantal Laliberte is an experienced business professional with strong finance, analytical and relationship building skills with a passion for making a difference in the world.  She brings 20+ years experience as a certified public accountant with a career spanning both public and private practice working with large and small companies in multicultural settings.  She has a BS in Accounting and a Masters Degree in Experiential Health and Healing.  She recently completed UConn’s Encore! Hartford program and UConn’s Grant Writing and Fund Development course both part of UConn’s Non Profit Leadership Program. Chantal has been volunteering with AFWP since 2006 in various capacities from event planning work, event execution duties, managing volunteers, fundraising support, and grant writing to name a few.  She was also the catalyst for our humanitarian work in Tanzania.  Chantal met Josephine in Tanzania in early 2008 when she was care taking the International Peace Belt to Mt Kilimanjaro.  Chantal also has volunteered her time and efforts with other non profit organizations.

Pat McGrath

It’s in the smallest moments when we feel most alive and we are making a difference. That’s why I chose to be a member of the Artists For World Peace counsel. Over and over again Wendy Black Nasta provides opportunities for everyone to connect with each other on a meaningful level in order to help the world be a better place. She makes big things happen no matter how small the contribution. I am a certified meditation instructor from the McLean Meditation Institute in Sedona, Arizona ( and owner of Adventures In Mind, LLC helping people re-connect with, and be motivated by, their own inner wisdom. (

Mensimah Shabazz

A native of Ghana, Mensimah Shabazz is currently the Director of Academic Initiatives, and former Director of Admissions at Middlesex Community College. She holds a Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Studies/Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in California with a concentration in Women’s Spiritual Development. She is a doctoral candidate at the California Institute of Integral Studies’ Philosophy and Religion Program. Ms. Shabazz is the author of an autobiography titled, Sankofa: Learning from Hindsight. She has broad international perspectives, having lived in Ghana, Italy, Brazil and United States. She speaks about issues facing women in the world and is the president of OHEMAA Foundation in Ghana. The Foundation plans to build a Women’s Empowerment Center where mentoring will be a key component to cultivating new leaders and also address vocational, higher educational and emotional needs for young women. Ms. Shabazz currently teaches a World Religions course at Middlesex Community College. She is a member of the American Academy of Religion, American Association of University Women (AAUW) and a former Board Member, Women’s and Family Center in Meriden, CT. She was a Domestic Violence Counselor at the New Horizon’s Women’s Shelter. As noted in the preface of her book, Sankofa: Learning from Hindsight, Ms. Shabazz writes that she has discovered that her story is heroic and illustrious in the private way that many women’s stories are. It may attract unwanted attention, but if she fails to share it, her community suffers. She also notes and expresses her heartfelt belief that individuation, honoring self and Spirit are fundamental to any spiritual growth.

Carolyn (“Lyn”) D. Shaw

I lived abroad in Mexico ( five years) and Korea (two years) before my Senior year in high school with brief but extensive travel throughout Southeast Asia; I’m a graduate of Oberlin College (Ohio);  I served two years in Kano, Nigeria as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, implementing a Teacher InService Education Program in the Kano area and other parts of the Northern Region; I’m a 44-year Middletown, Connecticut resident and community volunteer; I retired from the Wesleyan University Office of Admission after eighteen years in which I largely supported the Freeman Asian Scholars Program which provides two scholarships annually to students from each of eleven Asian countries; my peace activism has included participation in Plowshares Pilgrimage, a summer long anti-nuclear walk across the country in 1983 and two or three shorter walks, including the climate change-related Walk for Our Grandchildren from Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia to Washington, D.C. in July of 2013. I am a reiki practitioner with two children and three grandchildren!

Nikitia Michelle Tillman

Born and raised in Great Falls, S.C., Nikitia is currently in her 15 th year of service at Yale Law School. She started her career in the Office of Alumni Affairs, spent 10 fabulous years in the Career Development Office working directly with students, and is now serving as a Financial Assistant in the Law School Business Office.  She has also worked at the Yale School of Nursing as Assistant to the Dean of Research Affairs and the Yale School of Medicine.  Since 2012, Nikitia’s passion for literacy and education has inspired her to volunteer two nights per week as a tutor for school-age children at New Haven Reads. She serves on the New Haven Reads Planning Committee for the NHR Annual Adult Spelling Bee.  Most importantly, Nikitia is a single mother of an amazing high school senior at the Engineering & Science University Magnet School in New Haven, where she has been a parent volunteer for 6 years.  In her “free” time, Nikitia paints at the Art Plus Studio and has continued to play the clarinet for the  past 30 years.  Nikitia’s main objective in her life is to be kind, supportive, dedicated, and loyal to every soul, especially children, worldwide. Because of her positive energy and kind heart, she has been nominated for the Yale Law Women Staff Excellence Award by law students for the past 8 years.

Diane Valentine

Diane Valentine has been a practicing school psychologist for 25 years working with children and adolescents in both therapeutic and educational settings.  During the 1990’s, when interest in brain research began to offer explanations connecting behavior and learning,  she obtained additional training and currently enjoys  Diplomate status with the American Board of School Neuropsychology.

Michele Wytas

Although her family is originally from the Czech Republic, and she is fluent in Czech, Michele was born and raised in Connecticut.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, and for the past twenty years has worked in television as a producer, and as a freelance graphic designer and animator who goes by the name, Renderwoman.  Now the Art Director for Artists for World Peace. Michele lives in Haddam, Connecticut, with her family.

Nan Child Zimmer

Nan Child Zimmer, a William & Mary graduate with a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University, draws on a unique and rich background of life in an Episcopal rectory, Peace Corps staff service in the South Pacific, four decades of social activism, mental health and community leadership to fuel her passion for introducing the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) for the creative management of change in her elder years as a resident of Covenant Village of Cromwell.

Ginger Blume

Ginger Blume, Ph.D. believes her purpose in life is to contribute to the better good of the world through compassion, acceptance, and connection with others.  She choose to explore retirement in 2016 after 37 years as a doctoral level clinical psychologist in private practice.  In the past, Ginger hosted a local AM radio show on mental health topics for many years, as well as wrote a newspaper column.  Her life has been filled with wonderful travel experiences around the world to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Cuba, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, and Austria.  When Ginger was 18, she discovered she was the world’s youngest twin-engine pilot while delivering airplanes from Geneva to airports in Europe.  She has always loved understanding other cultures and exploring various spiritual practices.  Almost fluent in Spanish, Ginger regularly volunteers for ESL (English as a Second Language) and enjoys the exchange of ideas with her students.  She is in a mixed racial marriage and has two wonderful daughters.  Ginger’s hobbies have included artistic expression, pets, camping, reading, writing, and social dancing.  She and her husband enjoy teaching dance to others who just want to have fun.
“When I heard about AFWP I was instantly drawn to their mission and excited to contribute in any way I could.”

Elizabeth Lupacchino 

Elizabeth Lupacchino, CHt, RMP is a well respected Hypnotherapist and Master Reiki Practitioner within the medical community.   She has seen many changes over the 25 years she has been treating people, and the most important change is the medical community’s acceptance of Hypnotherapy and Reiki as an adjunctive protocol.  Elizabeth’s belief is that by empowering the individual to access the tools for healing that already exist in each one of us gives the individual a sense of control.
Elizabeth can be found leading meditation sessions in various locations throughout Connecticut.  She has witnessed first-hand the positive impact that meditating just a few minutes a day has on the individual; including children of all ages.
Elizabeth sees patients in the Cancer Center at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, CT.  She is available to treat those at home who are unable to come to her office.  She also conducts workshops, seminars and group therapy sessions.
Elizabeth received her Hypnotherapy Certifications through the Connecticut School of Hypnosis and NLP and is a member of the International Association of Counselors and Therapists (IACT) and the International Medical and Dental Hypnosis Association (IMDHA).  These certifications include:  Advanced Hypnosis, Advanced Regression Therapy, Advanced Ericksonian Hypnosis, and Neurolinguistic Programming.  She also received her Master Reiki Practitioner Certification in Vernon, CT.
She authored a book; “Food for the Soul,” “A Book of Daily Meditations for a Month of Transformation” and is currently working on two more books for publication later this year; “A Prisoner in My Own Body,”  “A Story of Life, Love and Death,” and “When the Mountain Gets in the Way of the Hill, “Overcoming and Embracing Life’s Obstacles.”