Board of Directors

John Whaley, Chairman

John Whaley, along with Pierre Mainguy, CFI’s Executive Director, is the founder of the Coalition for Financial Independence. He has been involved in various charitable causes in Cambodia since 2005 when he started to give and raise money from friends for the work in the villages near Siem Reap conducted by Shinta Mani.John was born and raised in Michigan, spent time in Minnesota and now resides in Southern California. He has spent most of his professional life as a consultant helping not-for-profit organizations with planning, organizational issues and fundraising. Before entering consulting, John served as Vice President and Chief Development Officer for the University of Minnesota Foundation. There he developed the concept for the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University and headed the drive to secure the capital funding for a new building.John began his consulting career in 1983. and he has led consulting engagements for many prestigious organizations and important projects, including the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island campaign. Additionally, he has worked with clients such as the San Francisco Opera, American University in Cairo (Cairo, Egypt), the Grand Canyon National Park Foundation and University of Massachusetts. He has served on the governing boards of several not-for-profit organizations; most recently he served as chairman of the Board of the California Philharmonic in Pasadena, California. The inspiration for CFI came from his involvement with Shinta Mani and their work to change the lives of impoverished families by giving them the means to become self sufficient. As Chairman of the CFI Board, John will be spending six weeks a year in Cambodia actively working with staff on various issues.


Victoria Warren, Treasurer

After a successful career in corporate finance, Victoria Warren has spent the last six years as an independent consultant specializing in financial analysis and business management projects. Victoria manages due diligence, financial analysis, accounting, and client communications for two private equity funds at the Stonnington Group. In addition to her responsibilities with the Stonnington funds, she currently manages finance, facilities, and information systems for a small corporate communications company and is a consultant for Babystyle, an apparel retailer, where she manages store payroll analysis and does other financial analysis projects. Prior to starting her consulting business, Victoria managed budgeting and cost estimating for Environmental Industries / Valley Crest, managed construction funding and financing at the University of California, Los Angeles, and managed financial planning and analysis in the retail industry, where she was Manager of Planning and Analysis at Kids Mart and Contempo Casuals.Victoria started her career as a Research Analyst at William O’Neil and Company, publisher of Investor’s Business Daily newspaper.

Victoria has an MBA in Finance from the University of Southern California, where she was on the Dean’s List and received a fellowship based on academic merit. Victoria also has a BA in Mathematical Economics from Pomona College, where she graduated with Cum Laude honors and won the Lorne D. Cooke award for academic achievement in Economics.


Pierre H. Mainguy, Executive Director & Secretary

Born in Germany, raised in France and having spent most of his youth in California, Pierre was bound to be an individual on the move; going where opportunities would lead him. After finishing high school in Southern California, he returned to France in Paris where he began law studies, to eventually develop a keen interest in Finance.

Pierre eventually graduated from the International Management Institute of Paris in Finance. For his Academic Term Paper he worked on a project plan to address poverty reduction and the alleviation of its ill-effects. The paper was well received and the man who initially thought of the project, John Whaley gave Pierre the opportunity to materialize it into what came to be known as CFI.

During his studies in Finance, Pierre worked on and off throughout his years of university with Angel Investors and other high level financiers and Venture Capitalists. He received mentor-ship from these private investors in the field of early stage private equity start-up financing. He was also a Financial Analyst for two private equity funds based in Los Angeles, California which invested in similar start-up ventures.

His skills and knowledge for start-up financing bring have enable him to instill a level of professionalism within CFI’s economic empowerment projects, based on his experience with acidulous and diligent investors and their mentoring  towards the start-up companies they would back up. Pierre intends to put in place and observe the same best practices used in the world of early stage start-up as for CFI’s philanthropic ventures and social projects in terms of reporting, due diligence and financial analysis to ensure their success and sustainability.


Martha Ambros, Director

Martha Ambros is a fundraising and marketing professional. She has worked with independent schools, non-profit organizations and packaged goods companies to develop brand identity, communication strategies and vehicles and to create and implement fundraising programs. A native New Englander, she earned her BA in Economics from Tufts University and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from The Anderson School at UCLA. After living in Germany for six years, Martha settled in Los Angeles with her husband and two teen-aged children. Martha has served as a board member and volunteer advisor to non-profits focused on issues affecting the lives of women and literacy and education. She believes strongly that the best way of helping people is to provide them with the tools to build their own futures by investing in job creation, education and healthcare. Martha first became interested in CFI while working with board chair, John Whaley on a consulting project. CFI’s mission and work in Cambodia embody Martha’s belief that people every where in the world want the same things: a safe, secure future for their children and the opportunity to better their lives.


Paolo Mara, Director

Paolo was born in Denmark and raised in France and Germany. He went to Law school both in France and Germany, before starting to work in law practice in Paris. After a couple of years working in Paris, Paolo left Paris for New York, where he graduated from the New York University School of Law in 2007 and was admitted as an attorney to the New York State Bar.

Paolo’s practice focuses on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions. During his years practicing as an attorney in London, Paolo took on pro bono projects, providing free legal advice to the less fortunate. It is during that period that Paolo begun developing an interest in non-for-profit ventures.

Paolo got involved with CFI’s community-based projects in May 2009, when he took a one year sabbatical from law practice to pursue non-for-profit interests. Since that date, he has been assisting CFI’s executive management.

Paolo joined CFI, Inc’s board of directors in 2010 and is currently based in London, England, where he is an associate of a major international law firm.