Who We Are
Woontanara Aid aims to sustainably improve the lives of people in need in West Africa by providing educational opportunities, vocational training, food and medical support for women, orphaned children and people with disabilities.
Woontanara Aid relies upon its board members and staff as well as donors, sponsors, friends, benefactors and volunteers to support our work in Guinea. It is only through your generosity that we are able to touch the lives of so many in Guinea. Please join in and support us today.
Woontanara Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Board of Directors
President and Founder. Daria first visited Africa in 2002 and has lived part-time in West Africa since 2006. A highly-trained performing artist, Daria was initially inspired to help relieve poverty as she witnessed the needs of the local people she met while drumming and dancing in Africa. After years of providing the assistance she could afford personally, she felt she could do more by establishing a formal organization; she founded Woontanara Aid to expand her reach. Her commitments in Africa became large enough that she applied for non-profit status and received that recognition in the fall of 2009.
Daria is fluent in French and is also able to communicate in some West African languages including Susu, Bambara and Twi. She has a deep understanding of the West African people and their culture through dance and drum not to mention the many years she has spent living among them.
Daria has over 30 years of teaching experience, including program and curriculum development, staff training and management. She has held various titles in non-profit organizations including the position of Artistic Director of a non-profit dance organization.
Daria is a long-time resident of Jackson, WY and Victor, ID. She is excited that the organization she founded is gaining support and affecting the lives of more people in need. She is committed to providing immediate food and medical help even as she develops programs with long-term, sustainable development in mind.
Board Member. Wendy lives in Woodacre, CA with her husband and two boys. She is a graduate from West Chester University with a BA in Studio Arts and Instructional Media. Wendy has a passion for the culture and people of Africa. In 1992, Wendy traveled to Africa as a volunteer with American Friends Service Committee where she helped build a shelter on a refugee camp on the border of Kenya and Uganda. She also assisted local doctors test famine levels among the women and children in that community.
In addition to her humanitarian interests, Wendy is a lifelong student of dance. Over the past 12 years she has focused her studies on West African dance. All together, Wendy has visited Africa three times, most recently to study traditional West African dance with master Guinean dancer/teacher Naby Bangoura. Currently, Wendy dances and performs with Rhythm Village, a premier Afro-fusion performance ensemble in the Bay Area.
Wendy also sits on the Board of Directors of LEAP, a non-profit foundation that develops, cultivates and sustains resources to benefit all children in the Lagunitas School district.
Board Member. Shawna lives in Winnipeg, Canada with her husband and two young adult children. She has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Winnipeg and has taught children of all ages for the past twenty years. In her teaching, one of Shawna's passions is to integrate lessons on multiculturalism, inclusion, and environmental awareness. Shawna has come up with many creative ways that spread awareness and fundraise for WA. She has encouraged her family, friends and students to get involved with whatever their passion is and make a difference. Shawna has instigated the ever growing "WE Team" at Carpathia School in Winnipeg where her students work together to raise money to support the causes they are drawn to or moved by.
Shawna enjoys time with her family and friends. She loves the outdoors and nature.
Previous Board Members
Secretary. Jon grew up in Minnesota on the outskirts of the Twin Cities. His love of the outdoors eventually pushed him west, where he fell under the spell of the Tetons. His spirit of exploration has led him to set up camp for extended periods in Breckenridge, Park City, Boulder and Cambridge, MA. He spent June of 2009 on a solo backpacking trip across Sweden and Norway.
Jon worked as the Membership and Public Relations Director for the Jackson Hole, WY Chamber of Commerce from 2001-2003 and as National Sales Manager for Wyoming-based Terra Resort Group from 2006-2009. He currently works as the Programs and Communication Director for The Murie Center in Grand Teton National Park, encouraging people to explore and connect to wild places, valuing a relationship with the land and wildlife.
Jon earned a B.A. in professional writing at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota and has earned 16 graduate level credits in Sustainability and Environmental Management, with a concentration on environmental politics, from Harvard University’s Extension School. He has long been interested in sustainable development in Africa and has devoted much of his academic attention to development efforts on the continent.
Secretary. Linda Miller has spent time in Africa and has first hand knowledge of the need for poverty relief. While in Kenya, she volunteered at Nymbani, an orphanage for children with AIDS. She has also volunteered for various local, non-profit organizations, including the Board of Directors for the Teton Valley Humane Society. Miller has also involved herself in the humanitarian efforts of the Tetons Episcopal Church in Alta, Wyoming and she currently sits on the Advisory Board of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center.