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Board of Trustees

Currently, the Board of Trustees has two vacancies awaiting to be filled. The Vihara Foundation’s community suffered the loss of its founding board member Sunil Kant Kar, Senior Economic Advisor to the Eastern European States.

Subhash Palekar, Member of the Board

Shri Subhash Palekar is considered one of Indian’s foremost and respected Agricultural expert on the concept of Zero Budget Natural Farming. Over the last 30 years, he has trained an unprecedented 3 million Indian farmers on this concept.
Shri Palekar has dedicated his life to helping the farmers of India overcome the capital intensive and harmful/polluting ways of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and that which is contributing to a wave of farmers suicides, amongst diseases such as cancer. Through his research and teachings, he has shown hundreds of thousands of farmers how to increase production and quality of harvest with no use of fertilizers, harmful pesticides, or genetically modified seeds. His work is novel and all based on the principles of nature having the ability to care for itself.
Shri Palekar has turned away from many proposal of awards for his work, citing that these generally distract from the true mission of the cause. Of the awards he did accept, was the prestigious “Basava Shri” given in the name of a revolutionary Saint Basava. Before him this award was given to His Holy Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Anna Hazare, and others.
Currently, Shri Palekar is sought after for advice by State and foreign governments which included recently, Bihar State Government, the United States Government, and the Government of Mauritius.
Shri Subhash Palekar’s role on the Vihara Foundation is to support the mass propagation of knowledge of zero budget natural farming to the many struggling farmers of India, and other developing parts of the world, in particular poverty stricken Republic of Haiti.

Ambassador Byron Blake, Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder, VF

Serving as the United Nations Ambassador for Jamaica and the former Senior Advisor to the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Byron Blake is an Economist with over thirty-five years experience, working at different levels in institution building, policy development and promotion, planning, program and project development and promotion in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM – 1970 -2004).
Ambassador Blake has developed projects and programs in agriculture; industry services including tourism, maritime and air transportation; energy; technology and the environment. His interests include regional integration, development economics, environmental issues as well as international trade and the role of business in national development.
Twice, Ambassador Blake has been responsible for the economic and environmental negotiations for the G77 (Group of 77 and China, a negotiation group for 131 developing countries and member states of the United Nations). Currently, he serves as the CARICOM Chair for the redevelopment of Haiti.
Ambassador Blake has experience serving on a number of Public and Private Sector Boards, including: The Caribbean Consultancy Group (Chairman since March 2006); The Board of Directors of The Caribbean Tourism Research Center/ Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTRC/ CTO) (1974-2004); The Board of Directors of The Caribbean Food Corporation (1979-1982); The Board of Directors of the Community Enterprise Organization of Jamaica (1977 -1979); and representative to the Annual Shareholders Meeting of LIAT (1974) Ltd. (1979-1982).

Dr. Ebony G. Kirkland

Ebony G. Kirkland is the founder, President and CEO of Ebony Marketing Research, Inc., one of the nation’s foremost marketing research firms specializing in multicultural research for businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations within the United States and Central America. Under Dr. Kirkland’s direction the firm has garnered an array of fortune 500 companies with clients such as Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s. Her firm has established offices in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Miami and Costa Rica.
Prior to forming Ebony Marketing Research Inc., Dr. Kirkland taught and lectured at New York Technical College where she served as Director and Chairperson of the Women’s Program. She later served as the assistant to the Dean at York College. She has traveled extensively under the sponsorship of the Atlantic Council of U.S., The United States Information Agency and the Inet Foundation conducting training programs to inspire women entrepreneurs in Russia, Poland, China, South Africa and other countries. Her lecture portfolio includes: “Starting and Managing Your Own Business-A Primer for Budding Entrepreneurs” presented and published in Beijing, China and “Changes and Opportunity”-presented in Taipei, Taiwan. Dr. Kirkland’s most recent publication has been “The Power of a Woman, Embracing the Woman Within”, recently released by Professional Women Publishing. Dr. Kirkland has been featured as a guest on a number of TV and radio programs and has contributed to numerous magazines and publications where she has addressed the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship.
Despite her success in the business arena, Dr. Kirkland felt drawn into the ministry. She often cited a need to serve God in a more profound way, sharing her talents and expertise in expanding and working on behalf of “The Kingdom.” In 2003, she became founder and senior pastor of the Church of the Living God, International. In the second year of her ministry she expanded an international ministry through which she was able to adopt and minister to churches in Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Egypt, India, and Africa. Her vision is to expand her ministry to serve small grass-roots communities within Spanish speaking countries throughout Central and South America. Her innate bilingual language ability enables her to reach out and minister to Spanish communities spreading the gospel.
Dr. Kirkland has pioneered the “Worldwide Association of Small Churches”. The mission of the organization is the empowerment, mentorship and training for small churches (especially in poverty regions of the world). In addition, the organization seeks to collaborate and bring forth peace and understanding among the various interfaith denominations, and she is an affiliate advisor to the UNESCO Center for Peace New York State.
Although Dr. Kirkland became an established well-respected entrepreneur, she continues to share her knowledge and experience by designing training programs, market courses and workshops for governmental and non-profit organizations. Her professional affiliations are as follows: Board member Bronx Initiative Corporation, Chairman of the Bronx Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Advisory Board of the Women Presidents” Organization, Chairman of The Christian Chamber of Commerce, and Chairman of the Multicultural Health Chamber of Commerce. She was consecrated into the office of Bishop by the College of Bishops of the Council of International Charismatic Bishops (CICB) to serve as the Presiding Bishop of the Living God Ministries Worldwide in November of 2009.
Born of Hispanic heritage and descent in San Jose, Costa Rica, Dr. Kirkland graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Queens College, City University of New York. She furthered her education graduating with a MBA in Administration from New York University. Pursuant to her Masters Degree she received a degree in business management from Harvard University Business School. In addition, she received a Master of Divinity (M. Div) from U.T.S. Dr. Kirkland completed her Doctorate of Ministry (D. Min) degree from U. T. S.

Gourisankar Ghosh, Honorary Member of the Board (non-voting)

Gourisankar Ghosh was the former Head of Water, Environment and Sanitation at UNICEF, New York, and former Executive Director, World Health Organization Geneva, and former Chair, United Nations Water.
Now retired after a full career spanning 30 plus years, Gourisankar serves in a continued consulting capacity to governments, and in his own capacity as a true humanitarian, benefitting society and the environment. In this context, Gourisankar served as Chief Executive Officer for FXB India Suraksha, a powerful global NGO working on the issues of HIV prevention and intervention, women empowerment and child welfare and health (in particular those ophaned by AIDS).
As a committed humanitarian, Gourisankar has joined the Vihara Foundation as an honorary member of the board to help its noble mission of advancing its creative solutions for the cause of poverty alleviation and climate mitigation.