Founder & President - Sangita Iyer

Sangita is a native of Kerala, India and the director/producer of "Gods in Shackles". She is also an award-winning journalist, and a three-time international award-winning nature and wildlife documentary filmmaker. After producing two award winning series, and an award winning documentary, Sangita embarked on a journey to retrace her cultural roots in Kerala, India, and film the commercial and cultural layers that fuel corruption, and perpetrate torture and exploitation of elephants.

More About Sangita

 Board of Directors

Ravi Manian

Ravi’s mission and calling is the protection and conservation of the Asian Elephants. He has been supporting multiple NGOs around the world (including VFAES) in their tireless efforts to conserve Gorillas and Elephants.

Ravi is an IT professional with 30 years experience. He has been associated with a local charity in Sydney, Australia for over nine years, working in various capacities such as Treasurer, Vice-President and Executive Committee Member (Projects). He shares the vision of VFAES and is committed towards helping achieve the Society's goals.


Staci Paley

Development Director

Staci Paley is our Development Director. Staci, the founder of SoInterviewMe.Solutions, has been solving complex problems and leading global projects with distributed teams for over 2 decades. With a Masters in Theater Management from Yale University and a B.A in Philosophy from Wellesley College, Staci integrates her private sector expertise in strategic program management, and technology operations with her not-for-profit experience in staffing, marketing and fundraising to galvanize teams in support of the terrible plight of the elephants.


Ganesh Hariharan

Director of Business Planning & Marketing

Ganesh is a vegan and passionate animal rights activist who is involved in various outreach & activism events supporting AR and freedom. Having been aware of the acute issues & plight of elephants in India for some time now, Ganesh is committed to provide a meaningful contribution & support to VFAES to end the practise of capturing elephants and their use for religious festivities & other human entertainment activities.

Ganesh is a business & IT strategy professional with over 20 years of experience and his talents, energy & passion will be invaluable to VFAES.

Meredith MacCracken


Meredith MacCracken became an animal welfare activist in 2002 when she joined the PETA campaign to end the use of elephants by the Ringling Brothers Circus. Since then she has been a tireless volunteer with local and national groups devoted to helping animals. 

Her expertise as a professional accountant, along with her experience as an animal rights advocate, makes her uniquely qualified to sit on the Board of VFAES and serve as Treasurer.

Alexandra Ward


Growing up in Hawaii, Alex was immersed in and developed an appreciation of wildlife and the environment from an early age. This passion developed into a lifetime of volunteering and advocacy and inspired her to work with wildlife organizations in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Sumatra, and in Los Angeles, where she currently lives.

Alex brings with her a background of marketing, community development, and project management which, along with on the ground experience, allows for a broad perspective on the issues pertaining to elephants in captivity and human culture that they currently exist within.


Advisory Committee


Hariraj is an activist-Lawyer practicing at the High Court of Kerala and spearheads the litigations pending before the said court demanding better deal for elephants in general and captive elephants in particular. Having witnessed disturbing cruelty meted out to the captive elephants in South India he and his friends have taken on to themselves the duty of alerting the law against such misdeeds. While multi pronged attack is waged in various courts he was deeply moved by Sangita Iyer's efforts to sensitize and educate people regarding the illegality and immorality of the system of maintaining captive elephants in South India. Founder and President, Sangita Iyer said, ``Being a native of Kerala, and one who understands animal welfare laws, Hariraj would be a great asset to Voice for Asian Elephants Society in guiding us with a strategic and methodical approach in ending elephant torture.

Leslie Lakatos

Leslie Kane holds a doctorate in Mental Health Counseling and currently works in private practice working with adults in outpatient treatment. She appreciates her work as a facilitator to growth and change and finds her work deeply satisfying.

When Leslie isn't practicing therapy you will often find her devouring literature from well established scientists on Asian and African elephants. In 2013, she was honored to work in wild elephant research with world renown scientist, Caitlin O'Connell,whom has dedicated over 25 years of her life to this work. In Namibia, Leslie research duties included behavioral observation, telemetry, and dung collection for DNA analysis and parasitic investigation.

Dr. Raman Sukumar

Professor of ecology at the Indian Institute of Science

Raman obtained his PhD from the same institute in 1985 for his pioneering research on the ecology of interactions between Asian elephants and people. While he continues to work on the ecology, behavior and conservation of elephants, he has expanded his research interests to tropical forest ecology and climate change. His primary conservation interests lie in promoting sustainable landscapes for elephants and biodiversity.

Sukumar has also contributed extensively to Indian government policy on conservation, and has been a member of the Indian Board for Wildlife (chaired by the Prime Minister) and the Project Elephant Steering Committee. He was Chair of the IUCN/SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group during 1997-2004.

The author of four books on the elephant and over 120 scientific papers, Sukumar is the recipient of several national and international awards including the Presidential Award of the Chicago Zoological Society (1992), Order of the Golden Ark (1997, The Netherlands), the Whitley Gold Award for International Nature Conservation (2003, UK), the International Cosmos Prize (2006, Japan), and the JC Bose National Fellowship (2011, India). He also contributed for over a decade to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that shared the Nobel Peace Prize (2007).

Dr. Susan Mikota

Director Veterinary Programs and Research for Elephant Care International

Dr. Susan Mikota is the Director Veterinary Programs and Research for Elephant Care International (, a non-profit organization that she also co-founded. Elephant Care International is dedicated to the healthcare, welfare, and conservation of elephants. Their open-access website provides an extensive elephant bibliography, medication formulary and other resources. Dr. Mikota has worked in Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. She has written numerous scientific articles and book chapters and co-edited Biology, Medicine, and Surgery of Elephants, the first modern veterinary textbook dedicated to elephants. Mikota is a member of the IUCN Asian Elephant and Wildlife Health Specialist Groups. In 2017 she became a Diplomate of the American College of Animal Welfare, a specialty acknowledged by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Margrit Coates

Margrit is the world’s leading animal healer and communicator, and the author of & internationally acclaimed books translated into several languages. Her trailblazing books Healing for Horses and Hands-on Healing for Pets were the first publications in the world to cover the topic of healing energy (including communication), with animals.

Margrit has experience of working with a wide variety of animals and is a highly sought after writer, teacher, and speaker worldwide, as well as offering private consultations, workshops, clinics, retreats, and spiritual coaching sessions related to human-animal relationships. 

Over the years Margrit has been a featured expert in several TV programmes and given numerous radio interviews about her specialist topics. Margrit’s TV experience including as a featured expert in Animal Roadshow (Animal Planet), Pet Nation (Sky HD 1) and Animal Allies (BBC).

6 CD’s of music suitable for playing to animals have been produced to Margrit’s concepts, as well as a meditation CD and a DVD ‘ Animal Healing ‘. The CD ‘Music for Pets was chosen as a must-have Christmas gift, by ITV’s This Morning.


Dan Richardson

Dan views life as a gift, a beautiful spiritual journey. He meditates frequently, is a vegan and believes that we humans, as custodians of the planet, have a responsibility to live and make choices from a foundation of love and compassion.A fundamental part of who Dan is at the very core is his lifelong love of animals. He is an empath - can't help but feel what an animal is feeling. He says he cannot and will not stand idly by while they are suffering. Acting is Dan's passion and it's a career he feels truly blessed and grateful to have, but animal conservation is his purpose in life. Happily, one facilitates the other very well, certainly in terms of raising awareness.

Dan says, "All animals matter to me greatly, but I feel deeply moved and inspired by the apparent soul-connection elephants seem able to achieve with us by their very presence. I will always strive to protect and preserve all species, but I genuinely feel a deep and profound affinity with elephants. I humbly and sincerely thank VFAE for the honour of allowing me to support and be involved with their truly great cause."


Katie Cleary

Katie is one of our esteemed Patrons.As a model & actress who has taken major action in the preservation of our planet and its species, Katie Cleary is the founder of the animal welfare organization, “Peace 4 Animals.” Giving a powerful voice to the most critical animal issues from Africa to India to Australia to across the U.S. and around the world.  Katie is the creator & producer of “World Animal News” covering breaking news stories in the animal world. Katie is the Executive Producer & Writer of the award-winning documentary, “Give Me Shelter” documentary that premiered on Netflix. 



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  • commented 2017-07-03 21:16:14 -0700
    Wonderful now through education and dedication I have every faith that the captive elephants world will slowly change and the free elephants can be protected
  • commented 2017-06-07 03:42:01 -0700
    Thank you all for your compassion and dedication to working so hard to rescue the suffering elephants.