Board of Directors

Board President Lisa Schnellinger is president of NearMedia LLC, an international media development company specializing in Asia and the Middle East. She has worked in media for more than 30 years, as a reporter, photographer, editor, trainer, project manager and program designer, and has worked in 21 countries. Her lifelong volunteer work in the United States has focused on the arts, education and technology. She started Verista’s predecessor, Baraka Foundation, as part of fundraising for a girls’ school in Afghanistan.

Board Secretary/ Treasurer Tom Willard is a master data scientist with Hewlett Packard. His career spans 30 years in high technology, management and international development. He is a cofounder of the Baraka Foundation and has served on the board since its inception. He supports initiatives and organizations that advance free and open source software, and independent media in emerging democracies.

Board Vice President Michelle Betz is a senior media development consultant, manager and trainer, with expertise in media in conflict and post-conflict countries, military-media relations and election reporting. She was a network journalist with the CBC and university lecturer in the U.S., and is the author of numerous book chapters. As one of 43 people convicted in the Egypt NGO trial in 2013, she is a frequent speaker on press freedom and fair trials. Betz has lived and worked in more than 20 countries, predominantly in Africa and the Middle East, where she has supported rescue work of children and animals.

Board Member Arnold R. “Skip” Isaacs is a writer, a former reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor for the Baltimore Sun, and the author of two books about Vietnam. As an international educator and trainer, Isaacs taught journalism in more than 20 countries in the former Soviet Union, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and has written papers on traumatic events. He is a supporter of refugee agencies and Chesapeake Bay land conservation organizations.

Board Member Ann Ravenstine is a Vice President of the Segal Company and a compliance consultant in the administration and documentation of pension plans. She is the manager of the Compliance Department in the New York region for Segal, and is a member of Segal’s Compliance Leadership Group. She recently completed a nine-year term as a member of the Vestry and Warden for the historic Church of the Transfiguration (the “Little Church Around the Corner”) in midtown Manhattan. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the cultural life of the city.