Council of Elders


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/Executive Director



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.

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.

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!

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.”

Annaita Gandhy

Annaita Gandhy is a spiritual and holistic guide who, since 2011, has been affiliated with The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT, hosting weekly meditations and empowerment workshops for the community. She has also conducted periodic meditation and talk events at Yoga Studio in Cromwell, The Miracle, in Middletown; Durham Public Library, and Buddha Barn in Madison, CT.

Always drawn to the occult and natural therapies from childhood, as well as following her heart for a higher truth, in 2000 Annaita underwent extensive spiritual, metaphysical and energy training with prominent mediums in India, receiving divine guidance from various ascended Masters in her training as a healing medium.

Annaita’s training also includes varied healing modalities such as meditation, reiki, quantum healing, holistic healing, foot reflexology and numerology. Having always been available to those in need, in 2001 she worked her way into the wards of Sassoon Hospital in Pune and into the homes of the very poor and underserved. She continued this through December 2007 (when she left Pune for personal reasons). Facing all types of illness and disease, situations and conditions, it was during this period she understood the importance of empowering others.

In the more “material” world, Annaita has fourteen years of management experience at her family’s framing workshop and retail outlet ‘Chemould Frames’ in Bombay, India. She was part-time assistant to an insurance agent and motivational speaker, where she ran the office and created power-point presentations. She worked briefly with Law Offices of Cyrus S. Nallaseth as a para-legal. During her final year in India, Annaita was appointed Manager of Forsyth’s Lodge, an eco-friendly resort in the buffer zone of Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, India, where she had been involved in the setting-up.

In 2009 Annaita moved to Middletown, CT, to be near her family and care for her aging parents.

Maggie Carlin

Maggie Carlin is an artist living in Canton, CT. She recently retired from Tunxis Community College where she worked for 28 years as director of student activities, academic advisor and counselor. She is an adjunct professor in the college’s business department teaching courses in Management.
Maggie is an activist in the fight against hunger. She has been a volunteer for over 30 years at the Plainville Community Food Pantry where she now serves as President of the Board of Directors. The state of Connecticut honored her with a citation as “Volunteer of the Year” in 2015 for her service to the Pantry. For the past 9 years, she has chaired a chapter of the international organization, “Dining For Women,” whose mission is to raise women and girls around the world out of poverty. She is a co-founder of the Food Pantry at Tunxis Community College, which serves college students and staff in need.
Maggie is a painter, photographer and multi-media artist. She established a scholarship at Tunxis Community College in memory of her mother, Ruth Carlin, who was also a self-taught artist, to encourage and support art students in pursuing their career in photography or art.
AFWP is a perfect fit for Maggie using art as a means for obtaining peace and understanding in the world while accomplishing real goals for people in need, and she is pleased to be a part of the Council of Elders.

Maria Louise

Maria felt a calling for design as a young child. In an attempt to weave her passions together while making a difference globally, she embarked on the journey of her life’s work.  Seeking to learn from the greatest examples of design throughout history, she was instinctively drawn to the notion of biomimicry and learning design from nature. She has now embraced being an artist, and fuses her love of design with skills of creating tangible work. She has undergone, and continues to undergo, critical transformation thanks to her soul’s passion and love of hip hop culture, as well as continued inspiration from the world and people around her.  Writing, poetry, and lyricism have always been an outlet for her as well as the benefits of freestyle song/rap. She feels able to connect with ancestors through this and cherishes it as an integral part of her human experience. She is currently working on AFWP’s “Currency of Peace” and is involved with numerous projects on different levels.


Jamie Datino

Lori O’Neil

Janine Thomas

Kerry Kincy

Rosemary Nichols