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OUR TEAM

We are a diverse team of passionate professionals with backgrounds that span across international relations, marketing, religious studies, computer science, economics, graphic design, and so much more. We are monks, grandparents, rock ‘n’ roll artists, refugees, teachers, martial artists, students and everything in-between. We come from India, Italy, America, Tibet, Canada, Ukraine, France, Slovenia, and the UK. We are a global team from many walks of life united by a singular cause to help those in need.

Board members

Gomo Tulku

President

Tenzin D. Kashhi was brought up from childhood in a Tibetan buddhist monastery in India, as he was recognized as being the reincarnation of the renowned Buddhist master, the 22nd Gomo Tulku (from which he has adopted his current name). While in the monastery, he grew up amongst fellow Tibetan refugees and local Indians from the neighboring villages as the monastery was situated in the rural area of Karnataka, South India. Here he learned very quickly of the inequities and lack of opportunities that plagued the area, as he lived it first hand. Since receiving his Rig-Chung certificate from Sera Jey Monastic University, Gomo Tulku has traveled the world giving seminars on training the mind for optimal thinking. Through this journey, he’s lived in the USA, Canada, India, Malaysia and Italy. His travels along with the Buddhist education he received growing up has helped shape a unique, worldly perspective on how we as people must approach all of life’s challenges in this rapidly changing world. And while he was fortunate enough to not be burdened like others with the harsh realities of the refugee experience, he has been determined to take everything he has learned and go back into these communities to solve the problems that he so intimately understands.

Laura Pellati

Vice President - Italy

Laura has worked in the fashion industry for 12 years. She has collaborated with well-known Italian and foreign brands, travelled widely, and developed her own personal accessory brand in Japan and Korea. Her life took a major turn in 2003 when she became the director at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute, one of the most well known Buddhist institutions in Italy. She also held the position of the President of FPMT Italy from 2009-2012. Since 2012, at the end of both mandates, Laura has been working for non profit organizations in managerial, organizational, and coordination positions. She currently holds the role as Vice President of I Saved A Life.

James Rausch

Vice President - Canada

James studied finance and has over thirty years of career in the finance, banking, technology and energy sectors. He currently leads a business at one of Canada’s largest banks. James is a committed diversity advocate – he is a visible leader in the LGBTQ+ community and chairs the diversity leadership council at his place of employment. James also serves as a Board member of the Canada China Business Council and local charity, DAREarts. Over the past few years, James has pursued training in coaching, mindfulness and positive psychology. It was through this training he met Gomo Tulku and discovered ISAL.

Annalisa Lirussi

Treasurer - Italy

Annalisa has worked in various sectors including the family printing press business, publishing, music, and in the natural products industry, in an administrative, commercial, organizational and coordinator capacity. She is currently employed in the private health sector. Over the years, Annalisa has volunteered with various non-profit organizations and Buddhist centers, collaborating in fundraising, organizing events, and in the publishing of texts. She holds the position of General Secretary for Italy at I Saved A Life.

Carma Rosonina

Treasurer - Canada

Carma Rosonina has worked as an elementary school educator for over 20 years. Beyond academic skills, she’s watched children gain self-confidence, self-knowledge, and skills for navigating life’s challenges during their school years. She sees schools as places where children can be nurtured and supported through the meaningful relationships they develop with peers and teachers, through acquiring knowledge and skills as they learn about the world around them, and through extra curricular activities where they can explore and grow as human beings. Carma has also spent some time learning about migrant issues and experiences with the Scalabrini Missionaries whose mission it is to serve migrant peoples. Having worked with children of refugee and migrant families in her classrooms, Carma became especially sensitive to the adjustments they need to make and challenges to meet. As we reflect on the abhorrent failure of schools to care for the indigenous children of this land, Carma believes school can be reimagined as places where “all children matter”, and where they receive a meaningful education based in valuing and respecting self, others, and the life around us.

MARCELLO MACINI

Administrator

In 1983, as a member of the Agricultural Cooperative, Marcello participated in the purchase of a village in Tuscany where he established his home. In 1988 he founded Longeva, a successful and award-winning company specializing in the production of olive oils, operating mainly in the international market until 2004, when he sold his shares. From 1989 to 2004 Marcello was director of the Ewam Center in Florence and from 2009 to 2012 he was deputy director of Lama Tzong Khapa Institute, in Pomaia, Italy. Since 2008, Marcello has dedicated himself to the study of Buddhist philosophy and doing meditation retreats.  He is a Dharma teacher, certified by the FPMT Registered Teachers. Marcello holds the position of Administrator at I Saved A Life.

TEAM

Boris Simončič

Chief technology officer

Boris earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and has always worked in various fields of information technology, with a professional focus on software development and graphic design as a sideline interest. Early on he discovered Buddhism, which fascinated him with its deep philosophy, practical meditation and unconditional emphasis on core values of kindness, compassion and wisdom. Seeing living examples of these principles in various Lamas and other practitioners, Boris was inspired to use his expertise and offer his share in supporting the activities of various Buddhist centers and non-profit charity organizations. He currently holds the position of Chief Technology Officer at I Saved A Life.

ANAÏS HENRY

Fundraising director

Born in a Buddhist centre, Anais grew up among Tibetan refugees and learned the importance of caring and compassion. She has always been committed to defending the most vulnerable and recognizing the dignity of the human being. Anais has worked for more than 8 years in associations and humanitarian NGOs in both fundraising and communication roles. She currently holds the position of Communication & Fundraising Director at I Saved A Life.

Tenzin Chagzoetsang

Digital Marketing Director

Born in the United States to Tibetan immigrant parents, Tenzin has seen first hand how refugee communities are developed, acclimated and positioned to succeed in foregin lands as his parents were instrumental in growing the Tibetan community in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tenzin graduated from Stanford University in 2010 with a Bachelors and Master in Psychology. He has since been working in creative and digital marketing for some of the biggest media entertainment companies such as Sony Pictures, 20th Century Studios and The Walt Disney Company.

Nataliya Velykanova

Graphic Designer

Nataliya Velykanova is the founder and art director of Gate22, a Museum of Digital Arts & Design in virtual reality. An architect, designer and visual artist, she is a citizen of the world and dreamer too, working to foster inspiration and imagination in our daily lives. Since 2010, she has been studying Dharma and participates to meditation retreats, helping several community projects as a designer.

Jeff Starrs

Staff Editor

Jeff has worked as a news boy, a farm hand, a psychiatric hospital attendant and a quarry worker before co-forming the band Interview and recording two albums for Virgin Records. In the 1980’s he became resident at Vajra Yogini Institute, in France, where he met his teacher, the 22nd Gomo Tulku.  After a pilgrimage to India in the 90’s, he returned to France, as webmaster for the Institute which he continued to do whilst working as International Sales Manager for a small hi-end tube amplifier company in Toulouse. He kept in touch with the 23rd Gomo Rinpoche over the years and they finally met up in Toulouse in 2007. Now retired, he is a Buddhist prison chaplain, runs Lettre à un ami, an association of correspondants writing to prison inmates interested in Buddhism and continues to make music.

Vittoria Luppi

Copywriter

Vittoria is a cultural anthropologist specializing in Oriental studies. She trained at the Holden school of creative writing in Turin and at the Fundraising School in Forlì. Over the past two years she has specialized in direct response copywriting. Currently, she works as a freelance marketer and copywriter with various companies and advertising agencies. She has followed and created marketing campaigns in different sectors, from education to luxury brands, to Tedx Talk, and has supervised event management. Passionate about reading and writing, she lives in Italy with her family, including cats.

Rita Strummiello

International Relations Specialist

Rita is an expert in International Relations. She studied in Turin, and in 2018 earned a B.A. in International Relations and Development and Cooperation. This was followed by a double M.A. program in International Relations and Chinese Studies, concluding in 2021. During her academic path she took various courses on the internationalization of enterprises and export management, and in 2020 wrote specialist articles concerning export in Southeast Asia for the Torino Chamber of Commerce. Having grown up in a Karate Dojo, she is now a Karate Coach and active in the management of Karate competitions. Passionate about reading, music and good company, she believes in the power of conversation and observation as a tool to better understand the world.

Valentina Flachi

Community Manager

Born in Reggio Calabria, Valentina strongly believes in the transformative power of education and is now studying at university to become a teacher. She first met the Dharma when she was 13 and, from that moment on, started to follow Buddhist teachers’ and Lamas’ teachings, with the hope of seeing the Dharma continue to flourish in the West. From the age of 5, Valentina has practiced various sports, above all artistic roller skating. She loves good music, drawing, being surrounded by nature and living with her pets.

Isabella has been a devoted student of Dharma from a very young age and has lived and served as a volunteer at ILTK, Pomaia, Italy for two and a half years, running the reception and working as assistant to the director. After graduating as a translator and conference interpreter from the University of Trieste, Italy, she has travelled and lived in the UK and France for several years and served as a volunteer at Jamyang Buddhist centre in London. During her career in the language and communication market, she has translated numerous texts and interpreted for many precious teachers over the years, including His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama on the occasion of his last visit to Italy in 2017. Isabella lives in Milan with her three children and continues to translate and interpret with joy for many Dharma teachers, including Gomo Tulku.

Interested in joining our team?

Let us know how you can help I Saved A Life save more lives!