France Yoli Maya Yeh Joseph
Executive Director & Lead Facilitator

A Native Evanstonian, Yoli goes by her middle name, a name given to her by her Native American Elders when she was 13. As a teenager growing up in Evanston, IL Yoli was exposed to an experiential education-based class and she was immediately inspired to follow this path into her undergraduate studies and beyond. She studied education pedagogy and learned how to self-direct learning, identify inherent skills and follow ones purpose. Following college she moved on to live and teach young people in Japan, Thailand, Jordan, Nepal & India. She decided to stay in India and began a 12-year journey of being both student and teacher. She trained in Tibetan language translation, yoga, deep meditation practices and philosophy. As a teacher, she led courses, field studies and short trip itineraries as an Adjunct Faculty of the South-Asian campus of Long Island University. Her curriculum focused on Religion & Ethics, Global Studies and Digital Literacy.

Yoli is a certified yoga teacher and yoga therapist with great experience working with children and adults. She leads education, yoga and meditation programs in traditional and non-traditional settings, bounded by northern Chicago and surrounding suburbs. She enjoys writing and plans to finish her first book later this year about parenting to the unique needs of the youth of today.  Yoli is certified in CPR, First Aid and is Wilderness First Responder(WFR) certified.

Neal Desai
President & Lead Facilitator

Neal is a lifelong resident of the Chicago area and has always called it home. That hasn’t kept him from venturing out and seeing the world. Neal has visited 6 continents with 1 failed attempt at Antarctica under his belt. During the day Neal is a Management Consultant helping to advise and guide some of the largest companies and organizations in the metropolitan area. As a certified project management expert, Neal enjoys planning out every detail and then executing on a great plan. He is also an entrepreneur, community leader and dad. He is certified in CPR, First Aid and a member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Valerie Kahan
Vice President

Valerie is the consummate networker and connector aligning partners and supporters with LumenKids. Valerie works in residential Real Estate for one of Chicago’s top firms @Properties and has been a Realtor for over 10 years.  In addition she runs a portrait and lifestyle photography business focusing on family photography.  Valerie spent 2016 heading up Chicago Woman Magazine’s business development and sales team as associate publisher and has successfully developed and led complex branding and sales strategies. Valerie sits on 3 nonprofit boards including LumenKids and has led successful fundraising efforts for a number of notable non-profits around Chicagoland every year for the past 10 years.

Susan Patel

Susan Patel is an entrepreneur and owner of Patel Handicrafts located in Chicago, IL.  Before becoming a business owner Susan committed her time and energy to the Indo-American Center (IAC) as its Assistant Director.  Her past 11 years have been dedicated to the community by supporting local candidates running for office and serving on various nonprofit boards. Susan’s passion for experiential education dates back to her undergraduate experience in Friends World College and extends into her work in ESL and cultural programs for youth.  In her spare time she is working on a community health social enterprise and raising her daughter to entrepreneur in her own ways.