Board of Directors

John C. Whaley, Chair, Board of Directors, has been a consultant for over 30 years helping nonprofit organizations raise money. He has worked with such organizations as the University of Maine, Chicago Symphony, The Hunger Project and California State University.

John has had a strong love for and interest in Asia from his first trip in 1998. Visiting Cambodia for the first time in 2000 to see the ancient temples, he also saw abject poverty.

“I saw families living in huts with three walls and just large enough to accommodate all members of the family laying side by side. To quench their thirst in the tropical heat, they had only run-off water that was often polluted by animal waste. Leaving Cambodia on that trip, I could no longer enjoy my comfortable life without thinking about such need.”

John started helping by funding wells to provide clean water, and then served as chair of an organization that rescued children from a life of scavenging on Phnom Penh’s infamous garbage dump. These children were there because their families had lost their homes in rural villages to debt collectors. So, he and Pierre Mainguy started Community First to help families stay in their villages and have a life with more opportunities.

John lives with his wife, Jun, in Pasadena, CA and travels regularly for his consulting business as well as to Cambodia for Community First.

Pierre Mainguy, President, was born in Germany and raised in France. Pierre spends the better part of his time in Cambodia ensuring that Community First’s programs have as high an impact as possible. Pierre met co-founder John C. Whaley in 2007 and shortly thereafter, the two of them came up with the idea to create and develop scalable and replicable solutions to the global problems of poverty.

In early 2008 and at age 23 at the time, Pierre, then a financial analyst for two private equity fund in Los Angeles decided to pack his things, and flew over to Cambodia with a $10,000 grant in order to create lasting solutions to help rural families raise their own livelihoods out of poverty.

“I’d always found great satisfaction in my old job each time I would sit down and help out an entrepreneur in California bring his or her dream to the next level, but when one is given the opportunity to help, and has the ability to, it is of the utmost importance to help communities as much as is humanly possible”

Today, Pierre is the President of Community First and oversees program development and implementation in Cambodia as well as fundraising and research and development in California with partners such as Cal State Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Arboretum.

Pierre’s dream for Community First is to develop a Farm School that will serve as a training site to help farmers move out of subsistence, and help their turn their own farm into successful ventures.

Christopher G. Carmona, Treasurer, Finance Committee is a forensic accountant at the public accounting firm of Laffer & Gottlieb CPAs, located in Beverly Hills, California. Part of his firm’s practice includes international tax compliance. Christopher’s international skills make him an ideal treasurer for CFI’s Cambodian activities. Before becoming treasurer at CFI, he served as the company’s outside public accountant for many years.

Christopher was a former auditor at Martin Werbelow LLP, in Pasadena California. He assisted their public practice by primarily focusing on the non-profit community. His emphasis on non-profit taxation and non-profit audit allowed him to expand his business connections throughout the non-profit community. During his time in Pasadena, Christopher was also a Rotarian. It was in this capacity that he had the pleasure of meeting many members of the CFI board. Becoming a board member of CFI has allowed him to see first-hand what an impact CFI has made on many lives in rural Cambodia.

Christopher is a frequent volunteer advisor to accounting students at the California State University, Los Angeles. He actively encourages students to participate in volunteer work and support non-profits such as CFI.

Most recently, Christopher has served as a panelist for The California Society of CPAs on the subject of diversity.

Christopher lives in West Hollywood California and spends his free time at the City Club Los Angeles where he hosts CFI committee meetings.

Thomas Hungerhurst, Director, is a mechanical engineer currently serving as the Director of Technology at a rural public school district nestled in the Kern mountain communities. He holds an R&D 100 Award from his work in cutting-edge research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and completed his master’s thesis work on ultra low-cost water transportation at California State University Los Angeles.

Thomas’ involvement with Community First began as a collaboration focused on his thesis work, and accelerated into a month-long trip in late 2012 to assist in the filming of Sen Sok, a documentary focused on Community First’s efforts in the cluster of villages by the same name. During this time, he was inspired by the powerful innovation and personal stories of success found in the Cambodian countryside, noting later that,

“There is so much ingenuity in everyday life in rural Cambodia, from competitive cell phone vendors to hand tractors, I have never seen so much done with so little. There is no longer an excuse for keeping technology out of the hands of the global majority, when there are creative solutions being built right now by the Khmer people.”

Since then, he has worked to ensure that Community First remains on the forefront of leveraging technology to produce the greatest possible benefit. He is a firm believer in the power of listening, including beneficiaries in a dialogue of co-creation, as well as learning from the ancient technologies of cultures across the globe.

Preferring the country life himself, Thomas lives in a rural community just off the Grapevine, with his wife, the accomplished director of Sen Sok, and their animal companions.

Samuel E. Landsberger, Director. Sam’s lifelong passion is studying the path of awareness and peace with friends, colleagues and students, while engaging in activities to use mind, hands and heart to be of service.  Sam trained at MIT, Princeton University and the University of North Carolina, as well as in Zen temples of Korean and Japanese lineage.

Following service on the faculties of MIT, Cornell University and Caltech, Sam directed the Rehabilitation Engineering Program at the Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center for over a decade, obtaining and overseeing a multi-million dollar grant program.

Sam then founded the MadScientists-in-Service Laboratory for Rehabilitation and Sustainable Engineering at the California State University, Los Angeles, a minority-serving institution in the heart of East Los Angeles.  The Lab’s mission is to conduct research and create technology to meet vital human needs, and guide students along that path.

Sam has served for the past 15 years as professor of mechanical engineering and kinesiology at Cal State LA, striving to create an active, hands-on learning environment that stimulates self-powered growth and concretely links education to service.  The lab focus is equally upon assistive and sustainable technology, understanding of the physical laws of nature, and learning to harmonize with others.

Honored to join CFI in 2014, Sam has served on the Boards of Mt. Baldy and Rinzai-Ji Zen Temples, and currently the Board of the Ninos Y Padres Pre-school for children with disabilities.

David Mans, Secretary, is an attorney practicing in Pasadena. California. He has his B.A. from the University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA and his law degree (J.D.) from the University of Minnesota. Dave has practiced law in South Korea and is now a named partner in a Pasadena firm.

Dave joined the Community First board in 2014, having become familiar with its work through his relationship with fellow Rotarians and CF founders John Whaley and Pierre Mainguy. He initially became involved by helping the Rotary Club raise funds for CF to drill 16 deep water wells to give many villagers in rural Cambodia their first source of clean.

“I was taken by Pierre’s and John’s intense dedication and entrepreneurial approach to bringing a better life to people on the other side of the world. When I learned more about the need and how water and CF’s other programs improved and even saved lives, I was in.”

Dave and his wife, Sunhee, whom he met while working in a law firm in South Korea, live in Altadena, California with their two dogs, Hannah and Tootie. Dave travels regularly back to Minnesota for time with his family and outdoors activities. He has been very active with a number of civic and non-profit organizations including serving as president of the Pasadena Rotary Club, University Club of Pasadena and Pasadena police Foundation.

Paolo Mara

Coming Soon!

Diana Peterson-More, Chair, Governance Committee, is a labor lawyer, and corporate officer, who left a Fortune 200 in 1996 to found The Organizational Effectiveness Group (OEG), a consulting firm that focuses on aligning employee needs with organizational goals. She numbers corporations, nonprofits, governmental agencies and volunteer associations among her vast client base, which extends nation-wide.

Diana joined the board in late 2014, having been introduced to the vital work of CFI during her term as President of Pasadena Rotary (2012 – 2013). In a major fundraising effort, led by fellow Rotarian, past president and CFI board member, Dave Mans, the Club raised over $150,000.00 and donated $20,000.00 to CFI to facilitate the building of additional wells in Cambodia.

“It was amazing how many families have been helped by the donation,”

She said, noting that the gift improved the lives of thousands, and provided them with skills essential for self-sufficiency.

Inspired by her socially-committed parents, Diana lives in Pasadena, CA where she has also served on the boards of directors of Union Station Homeless Services, The American Red Cross, the AIDS Service Center, Santa Anita Family Services, the YWCA of Pasadena-Foothills, Valley and the CalTech/JPL Child Educational Center. Diana has three children, a son- and daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. Her son, daughter-in-law and grandson live in Rome, Italy, while the balance of her family lives in Pasadena.