Helen Sturdy (Chairman)

Helen Sturdy is a UK qualified accountant.  After working as an accountant in industry, she specialized in charity accounting in 2004 and gained the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) qualification in Charity Accounting (DChA). Before moving to the Philippines in 2013, Helen was the Finance Director, Treasurer or Chair of a number of UK charities, working in environmental protection, mental health, overseas grant making, hospice care and children in care. She has also carried out independent examinations of UK charity accounts.  Her strengths are in maintaining a clear focus on delivering the best value from the donors’ money to the actual beneficiaries of charities, and ensuring that organisational best practice cuts out waste and inefficiency in achieving this aim.  Helen joined the Board of Trustees in 2014 and became Chairman in July 2017.

Iris Stella Gokeelao (President)

Iris joined The Purple Centers Foundation in July 2016 and brings a background in education, neonatal and child health, human resources, and administration to implementing and expanding Purple Centers programs in the Philippines. Previously, she spent three years as Deputy Coordinator of Administration/Human Resources Manager at Action Against Hunger International. She was also the Country Director for East Meets West Foundation (Thrive Networks) for almost four years. Prior to that, she taught college-level English, economics and management and worked as a human resources and training consultant. She began her professional career in the banking industry. Iris earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a major in Economics & Management and a minor in Japanese Studies, from Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.

Steve Wolstenholme (Vice President)

Following 26 years of management and executive roles in the entertainment industry, Steve achieved his MBA from the Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario, Canada in 2008. Since then, he has carried through Chief Operating Officer roles in bringing major projects for the entertainment industry to fruition, from the design and construction phase to full operational status. He has worked in Macau, Canada, the USA and the Philippines. His success in these roles has stemmed from his knowledge of construction and engineering as well as of the commercial operations which the projects are designed to deliver, and his unique abilities to communicate with all parties to complex projects in their own specialisms, whether they be architects, site managers or marketing specialists. He brings to The Purple Centers Board his ability to listen carefully to different specialists, to understand what they are talking about, to see what needs to be done, to pull together agreement on how this should be achieved, and to see things through to successful completion.  His drive and experience will be invaluable. Steve joined the Board in April 2017.

Atty. Melva Valdez (Secretary)

Melva is the Senior Partner of the law firm Bello Valdez Caluya and Fernandez (JGLaw), which she joined in 1986 on her admission to the Philippine Bar. She graduated from the University of the Philippines with degrees in both Law and Political Science. She practices in most aspects of company and commercial law, notably in corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions, with a strong experience in international transactions. She serves on the Boards of several Philippine companies and is Corporate Secretary of the Asian Institute of Management. Melva takes an active part in legal training programs, both in the Philippines and internationally, especially through her work for the Inter-Pacific Bar Association and her connections with Singapore and Japan. She provides a steady knowledge of the legal and compliance issues facing a charity like The Purple Centers, as well as the wisdom and experience gained from over thirty years of commercial law practice. Melva joined the Board of Trustees as a trustee and  Corporate Secretary in April 2017.

Ramon Abejuela (Treasurer)

Ramon has a business MBM from the Asian Institute of Management and is a Chartered Engineer (De La Salle University). A seasoned and highly experienced Asian businessman, he brings corporate, financial and governance expertise to the PCF Board, where he also acts as Treasurer with overall responsibility for financial management and probity. He is currently Independent Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee for Keppel Philippines Properties Inc., and Vice-Chairman of the Board and Treasurer of the Philippines Nutri-Foods Corporation and of the NCP Publishing Corporation. He also serves as Chair or Board Member for several Philippine charities. He has previously worked as an international executive for substantial companies, including a term as Managing Director of Ayala International, Hong Kong, Ltd. Ramon has a deep commitment to the service of the last, the least and the lost, which is why he joined the PCF Board.

Pete Malvicini

Pete Malvicini has consulted for international development institutions in Asia for more than twenty years.   He has worked in 18 countries in five continents on development projects, programs, and policies. He specializes in transformational change: organizational systems, strategic planning, policy review, evaluation, capacity development, and results management. He consults across sectors including health, infrastructure, governance, and agriculture and works in thematic areas such as gender, environment, and indigenous peoples. He recently led design and implementation of an agricultural advisory program for women farmers in Central Asia, training a team of facilitators and agricultural production specialists. He is currently capacity development lead for a five-year 24-country program to build the capacity of regional M&E organizations. He is adjunct faculty at the National University in Manila, his base for 15 years, holds a PhD from Cornell University, and has held Fulbright, Kellogg and Salzburg Seminar Fellowships, building on his research on government policy in the Philippines. He has worked with the PCF since 2007.

Mercedes Zobel

Mercedes is a highly experienced international businesswoman with over three decades of achievement in both the successful development of new businesses and the turn-around of older businesses. Her university qualifications, gained in London, were in art and design; and good design, especially in furniture, architecture and the commercial environment, has been a major driver in the success of her businesses. Her business interests range from London to Sydney, and she also holds significant directorships in her native Philippines, including the Ayala Corporation. Mercedes was the second director of the Purple Centers Foundation after its founder, and is a director/trustee of an international women’s charity, a Spanish senior citizens’ charity and six other Philippine charities, two of which are concerned with the education and care of disadvantaged children, and include the Rockefeller Foundation for the Arts in the Philippines (ACC).  She brings to the board her compassion and understanding of the issues faced by the foundation and the children it helps, her “cut to the chase” ability to identify and resolve important problems and opportunities, her long experience of best business practice, and her wide network of international contacts.

Melissa Howell Alipalo (President Emeritus)

Melissa Howell Alipalo, has worked for PCF in a variety of capacities since 2007 before taking on a daily operational role as Executive Director in April 2015. Melissa has worked across the Asia and the Pacific region as a social development and safeguards consultant on poverty-reduction projects supported by the Asian Development Bank. Ms. Alipalo has an M.S. in Social Development from Ateneo de Manila University and a B.S. in Journalism from Evangel University (U.S.A.). An American national, she has lived in the Philippines since 2000.

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