Karen Leonard OAM – President
Karen Leonard is an Australian who has resided in her home town of Essendon in Victoria all of her life. For the past 42 years she successfully ran a small business, the Karen Leonard Music School, which has afforded her to be able to volunteer her time to Lifestart Foundation projects.
Several years ago while backpacking in Vietnam, Karen met a young street kid and they had an instant connection. He introduced Karen to his world; his fellow street kid-friends and their families. It wasn’t long before Karen was supporting a number of these street kids by encouraging them back to school and paying their education costs.
After returning home from her first trip and deeply affected by the plight of these people, Karen made a commitment that she would return to Vietnam and support this young boy along with a few others. Read full story >
Richard Brown – Vice President
Richard first became involved in the Lifestart Foundation through his professional association with Karen Leonard. After an invitation to the annual dinner dance he expressed interest in the work of the Foundation, which lead to a family trip to Hoi An. The trip involved a visit to the Lifestart Foundation Free School, a day out with the children, and involvement in the educational scholarship interview process. As a passionate advocate of education and development, Richard has extended his involvement to become a Lifestart Foundation board member.
Richard Brown holds a Bachelor of Business in Accounting, is a certified practicing Accountant and a certified financial planner. Richard is a senior financial adviser and has extensive experience in accounting, tax and financial planning matters. He is one of the founding directors of Abound Financial & Lifestyle Planning . He has been involved in his own business in accounting and financial planning since 1993.
Ken Hopkins – Treasurer
Ken was conscripted into the Australian army in 1969 and spent one year in Vietnam during the war. His interest in Vietnam developed in the 1990′s through tourist visits back to Vietnam. In 2005 he saw a television documentary on Lifestart Foundation and made contact with Karen. He made a commitment to support the Lifestart Foundation after a visit to Hoi An to view first hand work being done by the organisation. Ken is a chartered accountant who is now easing out of the workplace to spend more time in support of Lifestart Foundation projects and its financial and administrative matters.
Larissa Tyler – Secretary
Originally from Australia, Larissa has lived in Vietnam for the past 5 and a half years. Larissa has a background in hospitality and the service industry. Larissa initially became involved with Lifestart Foundation as a volunteer in early 2013 and accepted a full time position as In Country Manager on a 12 month assignment in August 2013. Covering the development of projects, administration, capacity building local staff and overseeing, guiding volunteers and much more. Since completing her placement and still passionate about the work Lifestart Foundation is doing Larissa wanted to stay involved after the arrival of her twins. At home in Malaysia she continues with administration support for Karen and the team of dedicated volunteers.
Sherry graduated from Moore College of Art & Design with a BA in Communications Arts. She started her career as a graphic designer and branding supervisor for KYW-TV3, CBS Television. After 7 years, Sherry left the business and began traveling. The experience offered a mind opening perspective of life in relation to the lives of others around the world. Since then, Sherry has explored over 40 different countries, immersed in their cultures and customs, many of which lack the freedom of artistic creation and expression. Recognizing the many opportunities she was afforded in life, like an art education, would become the driving force behind her motivation. Sherry started volunteering in 2004 with Cross Cultural Solutions in Costa Rica as an Art & English teacher for underprivileged children. She began local community projects, blogging, and fundraisers that share the impact of cultural exchange. She later expanded her experience and worked with numerous charities based in Costa Rica, India, Africa, Scotland, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and South America. Sherry founded the (no name) Art Group in Philadelphia to help other artists promote positive change in our world. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where she continues her career as freelance designer and branding consultant for small businesses.