- Conservation through Art, Education and Science -





Board of Directors

bullet Wendy Blakeley: Founder/Director
bullet Dr Barry Blakeley
bullet Pamela Michael
bullet Brian Jones
bullet Joe Hollstein
bullet Patsy Jones
bullet Ruta Rakutis

Advisory Board and Technical Support

bullet Kathy Getty
bullet Diana Marto



Wendy Blakeley is a resident of Oakland, California. 

Until 1991 and her first trip to Africa, her life focused the performing arts.   She studied acting and various movement disciplines in college, San Francisco and New York.  After a number of years performing in New York and Los Angeles, she settled in the San Francisco Bay area and developed a deep love of wilderness.  Here she began teaching performing arts at Full Spectrum Studio and in 1981 was a founding member and partner of Eighth Street Studio in Berkeley, which became her home base for 16 years.  In addition to teaching Airborne trapeze dance, she was a performance artist and coached other artists in movement.  As a member of the Performance Alliance she produced the annual Works in the Works dance showcase series.  During these years she was also raising her son, and Africa was not on her mind.

Then in 1991, her son off to college, she made her first trip to Africa a safari billed as the Ultimate Primate Safari.  This trip took her overland through 5 countries in East Africa and brought her face to face with Jane Goodalls chimpanzees at Gombe Stream Reserve in Tanzania.  Having followed Goodalls work for years, she realized she was seeing chimp faces she could put names to whose life stories she knew.   And then there were those life-shaping moments looking a gorilla in the eye! 

This trip was a change of focus in her life.  She immediately began to seek out ways to become involved in African wildlife conservation and, in particular, aid in education of African children.  She has now made 5 trips taking her to Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, 4 visits to Zimbabwe, one a year spent at the Painted Dog Research Project there.

With no formal training in any of the life sciences, she has put to use her experience and skills as an artist, administrator, teacher and advocate.  She has created unique projects to help organizations and individual field researchers as well as local artists, craftspeople and rural communities.  

Inspired by Africa, she has turned her artistic expressions to photography and writing.  Her photographs have been in juried shows.  She also continues to work as a theatrical movement consultant in local productions.   

Now she has moved on to the obvious next step by chartering AFRICA MATTERS non-profit. 

She is always available for talks and slide shows to groups, classrooms and organizations.

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Barry Blakeley 

Professor of Chinese History, Retired

Seton Hall University
World Traveler

1998, made extensive cultural and wildlife tour of Zimbabwe

Resident of Oakland, California

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Pamela Michael

Watershed activist, writer, and radio producer Pamela Michael has spent decades working to integrate environmental and arts education into the lives of children and their communities. Co-founder, with Robert Hass, of the much-honored River of Words organization, her Watershed Explorer curriculum has been used to train thousands of teachers, park rangers, youth leaders and other educators how to connect kids to their watersheds and their imaginations, inspiring them to create stunning art and poetry. She has served as the organization�s executive director since its founding in 1995.

Her collection of children�s work, River of Words: Images and Poetry in Praise of Water, won the 2003 Skipping Stones award for Best Nature or Ecology Book. A member of the award-winning Wild Writing Women, Michael has taught writing and poetry to both children and adults, throughout the United States and abroad. She is the travel editor for San Francisco Bay Area�s KPFA-fm, the first listener-supported radio station in the country, and wrote and produced a four-hour series on Buddhism in the United States, narrated by Richard Gere. Michael lives in the Curry Creek watershed on the eastern slope of Mt. Diablo in Northern California.


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Brian Jones

Brian Jones has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1972. After spending over 7 years as a practicing CPA, he entered into private industry in the late 1970's. Brian's experience includes large publicly traded companies and smaller emerging growth companies, acting as the company's controller or CFO. Brian first met Wendy Blakely when she shared studio space with Brian's childhood friend, and subsequently was reintroduced to her when she & Brian both worked for a major Civil Rights law firm in the 1990's.


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Joe Hollstein

Joe was born in Germany and came to the US when he was 6. He grew up in the Bay Area and graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering from San Jose State University in 1972.

For the last 28 years Joe has been the Director of Public Works in Ceres, California. Ceres is located in the Central Valley adjacent to Modesto.

He loves travel and met Director Wendy Blakeley on my second trip to sub Sahara Africa in 1991. It was a 4 week overland trip through East Africa. Since that time, I have supported the work Wendy has done in Kenya and Zimbabwe and am happy to be newly elected to the Board of Directors of Africa Matters.


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Patsy Jones

Patsy's Bio coming soon!

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Ruta Rakutis

Ruta is a polymer chemist with a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. She has spent most of her working life in California. Ruta is an avid world traveler and since her first trip to Zimbabwe and Botswana in 1998, she has become an active conservationist and supporter of wildlife. She has been a volunteer for the Oakland, CA, and Pittsburgh, PA, zoos and supports the Painted Dog as well as the Ethiopian Wolf Project through Wildlife Conservation Network (www.WildNet.org). She met Wendy in 1998, after reading series of articles in the Montclarion by Wendy on her travels in Zimbabwe and Kenya. In 2012, Ruta was honored to be elected as a board member of Africa Matters.

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Picture Coming Soon

Kathy Getty

Kathy Getty is currently designing unique jewelry, selling unusual beads and taking on design and display projects.

Kathy's career includes creating very large paintings and fifteen years of working from her own lithographic press room, Mirage Press.

She has made various trips abroad including artist's residencies and exhibitions in Europe and Japan.

Kathy has assisted Africa Matters as our designer-in-chief at our annual fund raisers. (kgjewelrydiva@comcast.net)

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Diana Marto

Visual and Performance Artist whose Canto series, an epic spirit play with paper and dance, has been presented around the world

Participant in Art Safari One 2000

Resident of Emeryville, California

Website: www.dianamarto.com

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Contact: africamatters2@gmail.com All photos by Wendy Blakeley
Webmaster: Leonard Young
Last Updated August 30, 2013