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Mridha Foundation
Founding Board
Dr. Donald Bachand

Dr. Donald Bachand was appointed Saginaw Valley State University’s fourth president in February 2014. He first joined SVSU in 1978 as an assistant professor of criminal justice and rose through the ranks of the faculty and academic administration. Prior to SVSU, Bachand served 10 years with the Detroit Police Department, where he spent several years on patrol, in investigation, and in supervisory positions including press relations officer for the Chief of Police, and also as a member of the strategic planning division. Bachand earned his bachelor's degree at Mercy College, a master's degree at the University of Detroit, a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, and he completed an executive management program at Harvard University. President Bachand is active in various professional and community service organizations. He is a member of the boards of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, Michigan Baseball Foundation, Saginaw Future, Midland Center for the Arts, and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. He is also a member of the Community Affairs Committee and the President’s Council of Michigan Public Universities.

Mark Brashear

Mark Brashear is a lifelong entrepreneur who enjoys creating value for clients, colleagues and shareholders. Mr. Brashear previously served as the President and CEO of John Varvatos Enterprises. Prior to that, Mr. Brashear served as Global President of Michael Kors Menswear, Chairman and CEO for HUGO BOSS of the Americas, and President of Façonnable. Mr. Brashear was EVP/General Manager at Nordstrom for the Southwest Group, including all Nordstrom stores in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. In this position, he was accountable for leading a team of regional managers, operational functions and merchants with twenty-eight full-line stores in four states, producing a projected volume of approximately $2 billion annually. Mr. Brashear earned a B.S.C. in Finance from Santa Clara University and completed the Retail Studies Program in 1983. Mr. Brashear actively serves on the Board of Directors for God’s Love We Deliver, serves on the Mentorship Program with Parson’s School of Design and continues to serve on the Advisory Board of Directors for the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University.

Garry Prigg

Garry Prigg brings nearly 40 years of experience in the business world as a dynamic agent of change, Board Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, successful business owner, business advisor, author, community volunteer, disability advocate, and philanthropist. He is the recipient of major awards for community service, particularly for children with cerebral palsy and their families. In 2021 he was appointed as a Global Ambassador for Peace.

His depth of business acumen is complemented by his ongoing journey of self-realization gained from infusing many of the philosophies, principles, and practices of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. He is also an experienced practitioner in quantum physics, neurocognitive development, and brain entrainment. Garry is dedicated to the service of the Divine Creator through his daily ritual of prayer and meditation. 

Garry believes in and lives the practice that with clarity of a life purpose and defined Life Plan, the power of the mind and heart can manifest miraculous milestones that will enrich all people so they can live with love, happiness, passion, freedom, and fulfillment in all areas of their lives.

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer, the director of the  Eisenhower Media Network  (EMN), a senior fellow at the  Center for International Policy  (CIP), contributing editor at Antiwar.com, and co-hosts the podcast Fortress on a Hill. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Hill, Salon, The American Conservative, and Mother Jones, among other publications. He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and taught history at West Point. He is the author of three books, “Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge,” “Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War,” and “A True History of the United States.” Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet.

Danny Sjursen
Dr. Ernest Thiessen

Dr. Ernest Thiessen is president of iCan Systems Inc., the developer of the Smartsettle eNegotiation system. Dr. Thiessen has led iCan’s research and development efforts since 1993 to implement the ICANS patent, creating the world’s first secure multiparty collaborative negotiation support system on the Internet. Dr Thiessen also directs the International eNegotiation Exhibition and was a lecturer in 2010 for UNESCO-IHE’s Negotiation and Mediation for Water Conflict Management course. Dr Thiessen has been a guest speaker at many of the Annual International Forums on Online Dispute Resolution since they began in 2002 and is on the editorial board of The International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution. Prior to founding iCan Systems Inc., Dr. Thiessen worked for 17 years as a consulting engineer and researcher in Canada and in Nepal.


Dr. Thiessen received his Ph.D. degree from Cornell University in 1993, majoring in Water Resource Systems Planning and Analysis in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. While at Cornell University, Dr. Thiessen developed an efficient methodology to solve very complex negotiation problems. This methodology has been patented and implemented in the form of eight algorithms that are fundamental to collaborative negotiations seeking fair and efficient resolutions. The resulting intelligent engine now powers both Smartsettle ONE (for the simplest possible cases) and Smartsettle Infinity (for the most difficult multiparty cases).

Jenee Velasquez

Jenee Velasquez became the first Executive Director for The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation in October of 2005. She served as Chief Executive Officer of Midland County’s Economic Development Corporation, Midland Tomorrow, beginning in 1999. Two years prior, she served as Midland Tomorrow’s Manager of Economic Development Services. She was Midland’s first Downtown Development Authority Coordinator. Prior to living in Midland, Velasquez worked for the Manhattan, Kansas, Convention and Visitors Bureau. She earned a B.S. in business administration from Kansas State University and her M.B.A. from Michigan State University, as well as completing an executive education course at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Community activities include serving as a member of Huntington Bank Community Advisory Board, Vice Chair MidMichigan Health Board, Chair of Midland City and County Joint Building Authority, Michigan Municipal League Foundation Board, Council of Michigan Foundations Board, Chair of Midland Entranceway Initiative Task Force, Past Chair and current Member for Michigan Non-Profit Association Board, Greater Midland Community Centers Trustees Board, Past Chair for Leadership Michigan Advisory Board, Midland Business Alliance, Midland Rotary Club, Local Development Finance Authority Board, Past Chair of Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control, Past Chair of Delta College Foundation Board, Past Chair of Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Authority, Past Vice President and Assistant Secretary for Michigan Baseball Foundation, Midland Blooms Volunteer, Dow Community Advisory Panel, Junior Achievement Volunteer, Michigan Humanities Council Grants Committee, Leadership Midland Alumni, and 1000 Leaders-Leadership Saginaw Alumni. 

2022 MIIPH - Mridha International Institute of Peace and Happiness
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