Nicci Young Wiese
With over 20 years experience in luxury and responsible eco-tourism, Nicci is currently President of Young Safaris, focusing on authentic travel to Africa. Nicci grew up in South Africa and France and obtained a BA from Tufts University and a Masters from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in Economic Development and International Environmental Policy. In 1992 she joined andBeyond (previously CCAfrica) to establish the Africa Foundation as its corporate social responsibility program and thereafter as an independent foundation which continues to serve as a model for conservation-based community development. As CCAfrica grew, Nicci joined the Corporate Development team managing new projects for conservation and lodge development. In 1998 Nicci established and managed the Getty Africa Trust working between South Africa and London. From 2002 through 2006, Nicci was Executive Director of The Explorers Club, a centennial international organization promoting scientific exploration and field research, headquartered in New York. Following years of informally advising on travel to Africa, Nicci formed Young Safaris in 2007. Nicci served for several years on the South Africa and UK boards for the Africa Foundation and more recently on the US advisory committee. She has worked with and/or visited most of the current projects that Empowers Africa is supporting. She is based in Connecticut with her husband Richard Wiese (producer and host of the TV series Born to Explore on ABC) and three children and remains passionate about the African continent, its people and the wilderness.
Bonnie Pfeifer Evans
Bonnie is an entrepreneur, fashion model and philanthropist, as well as an award-winning associate real estate broker for the Corcoran Real Estate Group. Her passion for Africa stems from travel to 19 countries in Africa for modeling, vacation and philanthropy. Bonnie was born in Maryland, the second of seven children. She was “discovered” in high school by the Washington Post and was a finalist in the nationally televised “Model of the Year” contest, launching her modeling career. Bonnie was the Founding Director of the industry’s first non-profit organization, the “DISHES Project for Pediatric AIDS”. For ten years, she worked to generate funding and awareness for direct care supporting children and families impacted by HIV/AIDS. In 1998 DISHES merged with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the nation’s leading industry-related AIDS organization. Bonnie launched their Children & Families Initiative, still a successful part of the Broadway Cares National Grants Program.
Michele Wood Gradin
Michele Wood Gradin grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia where she received her undergraduate degree from The University of B.C. in Psychology. She embarked on a long standing career in the wine industry by working as a Sales Manager for EJ Gallo and is currently a Brand Ambassador for Chateau D’Esclans winery from Provence, France. She is a member of The Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. Michele also works in the residential real estate business for Douglas Elliman in New York City and the Hamptons.
Her love of animals led her to be involved with the ASPCA. For over five years she was on the gala committee to raise money and awareness. She has served as a former Trustee for both Africa Foundation and Empowers Africa and is passionate about the conservation of animals, land and empowering people through education. She has visited Africa several times and holds Africa dear to her.
Michele splits her time between New York City and Southampton with her two sons. Her passions include nature, art, wine, architecture, design, fashion, paddle boarding and tennis.
Dana Macy resides in New Jersey and Wyoming and was raised in Mendham, NJ and Northern Wisconsin. Dana’s husband, Eric and her three children share her passion for Africa. Over the past two years they have traveled to Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia, Egypt, South Africa and Climbed Kilimanjaro. Dana recently visited Mozambique with Empowers Africa in addition to her heartfelt involvement with an orphanage in Uganda.
Dana is a graduate from Denison University where she continues on the Denison Alumni Recruit Team. After college, Dana worked for Senator Timothy Wirth (D-Colorado) in Washington, D.C., then F. Eberstadt Investment Banking NYC for 2 years in Institutional Equity Sales, then joining Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Investment Banking Firm as VP Institutional Equity Sales where she worked for 15 years.
Her athletic interests include being an avid hiker, heli-skiing, ice hockey, running the NY City Marathon, trekking in Bhutan, Photography and most recently, twelve months traveling around the world with her husband and three children.
Melissa Morris is a Client Advisor at Neuberger Berman working with institutional investors in the Southwest. Prior to joining Neuberger Berman in 2015, Melissa focused on business development and strategy at Aligned Asset Managers (AAM), which was founded under GTCR’s The Leaders Strategy™ to make substantial equity investments in alternative asset managers. Prior to that, Melissa served in a similar role at Artio Global Investors (f.k.a. Julius Bär Americas). She holds a BS in Finance from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park and she has been awarded the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst designation. Melissa first traveled to Africa in 2017. She lives in Austin and NYC with her husband.
Journalist, tastemaker, television personality, world traveler, hostess, cook, Southerner, Sunday painter, fledgling gardener and outdoors lover, Frances Schultz is an enthusiast on a variety of topics–decoration and design, food and entertaining, culture and style. She is author and co-author of several books, including A House in the South, and was for six years on-air host of the award-winning cable television show Southern Living Presents. A contributing editor to House Beautiful magazine and former editor-at-large for Veranda, she contributes also to the prestigious travel website Indagare and has written for numerous others, including Town & Country and the New York Social Diary. Frances has appeared on such programs as The Today Show, CNN’s Open House, The Christopher Lowell Show, The Nate Berkus Show and Turner South’s Home Plate. She also maintains a very active blog www.francesschultz.com. Civic-minded and community-involved, Frances serves on the boards of the Horticultural Society of New York, and the North Carolina Society of New York. Schultz is a former trustee of Africa Foundation(USA). Born and raised in the small town of Tarboro, North Carolina, Frances graduated from St. Mary’s School with honors and from the University of Virginia with distinction. She lives in Manhattan and East Hampton, with frequent visits to the Santa Ynez Valley of California. Frances has a real passion for Africa – she has traveled extensively in southern Africa, including pre and post-Apartheid South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.