Board of Directors
Mark Ely founded Pura Vida in 2002 after a series of long stays at an orphanage in Guatemala beginning in 1999. He now runs day-to-day operations at Pura Vida, administering programs and leading occasional work trips. Mark formerly provided IT consulting to Compassion International, National Science Foundation, Swiss Telecom, and various agencies of the United States federal government.
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Founder; Executive Director
With degrees in accounting and economic development, Lyle SmithGraybeal has worked in the areas of social justice ministry and Christian formation for most of twenty years. He is currently the vice president of Community Impact for United Way of Weld County, Colorado where he oversees a staff that increases education, income, and health outcomes.
Richard N. Ely brings extensive nonprofit experience to Pura Vida as a former executive director of Ruritan National, a national civic organization based in Dublin, Virginia. He also served as chair of the Community Relationships Committee of the Boy Scouts of America, board member and executive committee member of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley, and as a partner of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
Jennifer Watson is the principal of Elephant PR, a strategic communications firm based in Denver. Prior to that, she provided executive communications counsel to Lockheed Martin and served as vice president of public relations for MGA Communications. She made her first trip to Guatemala with Pura Vida in 2010 and has sponsored two students. In the United States, she tutors in the public schools and volunteers for her local church.
Bill Cook has been a geological/geophysical consultant for the last dozen years, after 21 years with Texaco. Bill handles all stock donations for Pura Vida. His wife Joanna has helped organize multiple trips for teaching an intensive English camp for junior high school students for Pura Vida, and they sponsor two students.
Ken Fong retired as a Vice President from Lucent Technologies in 1999. At Lucent and its predecessor, Bell Laboratories. He graduated with a BS in Engineering from the California Institute of Technology and an MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He is on the board of trustees of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and Performing Arts Academy. He has been active with Pura Vida since he first traveled to Guatemala in 2005 and fell in love with the people there. He has traveled to Guatemala with Pura Vida at least once a year since then.
Bill Mistretta has sponsored students through Pura Vida since 2008 and took his first trip to Guatemala in 2009. Since then he’s gained a real connection with the Guatemalan people through his continued student sponsorships and Pura Vida work trips. He leads technology operations for Pacific Metrics, a software company that develops online software for student learning. Bill brings his corporate experience to Pura Vida to help in its educational and development programs.