George Basch, Chief Cook
Born in Vienna, George immigrated to the United States as a small child, ahead of Hitler’s Hordes, and holds dual US and EU citizenship. He grew up in Chicago and graduated from MIT in 1959 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, and earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1961.
After graduate school, while living in New York City, Curious George operated a consumer photographic products division for a Fortune 500 company. He discovered that large corporate life did not suit him, and seeking something more stimulating and rewarding he moved to Denver in 1968 and embarked on his adventures as a serial entrepreneur. These endeavors took him from Denver to Anchorage, Tucson and Phoenix.
Curious George currently devotes his energies to a wide and diverse array of pursuits. He is President of Property Tax Relief Specialists; a Phoenix based Property Tax Consultancy which he founded in 1987. He serves as Managing Director of Bentley Financial, Worldwide, a financial consulting firm, and is the principal of Basch Photography, a creator and marketer of adventure pictures and films.
He is Managing Trustee of the Paul Basch Memorial Foundation; an organization devoted to providing humanitarian aid to the impoverished people in the Himalayas, and has served on the Boards of Directors / Trustees of a number of Not For Profit Organizations including schools, hospitals, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in the various communities where he has lived.
Curious George was inducted into the Explorer’s Club in 2010, and is a member of The Royal Geographical Society, The American Alpine Club and Rotary International. Between his irrepressible travels all around the world, George currently divides his time between Phoenix, Arizona and Taos, New Mexico.
Shyena Venice, Chief Ambassador
Shyena is a resourceful, multi-talented, multi-faceted, empathetic person who cares deeply for people and connects with them, masterfully, in a natural and charming fashion – whether one-on-one or in a group setting. She is our perfect “Chief Ambassador.”
She was born in Rhode Island and grew up on the rugged Maine coast, where she spent hours as mate on her father’s lobster boat (when she wasn’t snatching blueberries from the bears). Tragically her parents both died when she was 20, so “big sister” had to drop out of college and raise her two younger sisters and brother and got them successfully launched in life.
Shyena is a true “citizen of the world”, having traveled extensively on all the continents (except the big, icy one) and lived, for years, in London, the Canary Islands and New Zealand (where she has “permanent resident” status).
The ultimate “survivor”, she has a terrific and varied skill set earned in the “school of life.” She is a graduate of the London-based European School of Massage and Aroma Therapy and has more than 20 years experience in the natural healing arts, as an intuitive healer and educator. She has a passion for helping women around the world improve their health through her lectures, workshops, personal counseling and the “model” she presents so beautifully of her own natural, holistic lifestyle. Her passionate love is music (Music is the language of the soul.) and is a gifted drummer and percussionist who has performed internationally for many years.
Shyena is an active adventurer who travels around the world snow-boarding, trekking and climbing. Her extended visit to Nepal and Bhutan in the summer of 2011 brought her into the world of the Himalayan Stove Project. We are truly fortunate to have her as our dedicated “Chief Ambassador.”
Sandy Lilley, Line Cook
She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, and obtained her Bachelors Degree in Political Science with an emphasis on Economics and French. Sandy earned her law degree from Santa Clara University. She practiced law for over 20 years in Colorado, helping individuals overcome obstacles to improve their lives.
Sandy is an avid hiker, cross-country skier and photographer. She has traveled extensively and describes her treks in Nepal and Bhutan as life-changing experiences. She visited Nepal in 1998, confirming a gut feeling that she would feel a strong connection to the High Himalayas. While trekking in the Everest region, Sandy experienced first hand the smoke-filled tea-houses, and witnessed the limitations and negative impact this primitive method of cooking has on ones quality of life. She was moved by the spirit and kindness of those villagers she met on her trek, and has become dedicated to helping Himalayan Stove Project improve indoor air quality in the High Himalayas.
Jeff Blumenfeld, Sirdar of Sizzle
Jeff Blumenfeld, president of Blumenfeld and Assoc. PR, LLC, (blumenfeldpr.com), an outdoor recreation and travel public relations agency in Boulder, Colo., has dedicated his career to adventure marketing.
He is editor and publisher of Expedition News (expeditionnews.com) which he founded in 1994 to cover news about exploration and adventure travel. A Fellow of The Explorers Club in New York, he also belongs to the American Alpine Club, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
He is author of Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would-Be World Travelers (Skyhorse), and speaks on the subject often to outdoor adventurers and explorers.
He has studied the world’s most historic expeditions and adventures to understand how modern-day travelers planning a “trip with a purpose” can gain funding, gear and in-kind services for their own projects.
In January 2010 he was a chaperone on a students educational trip to Antarctica (studentsonice.com). In May 2013, he was communications director for the Dooley Intermed “Gift of Sight” Expedition to Lower Mustang, Nepal. A team of doctors provided quality eyecare to over 700 impoverished villagers. He is currently a featured speaker in the World Explorers Bureau.
A graduate of Syracuse University and native of the New York State Catskill Mountains, he was once an imposter on the classic TV game show To Tell The Truth, and attended the Woodstock Festival, held near his hometown (he left after an hour; “too crowded,” he says).
An avid sea kayaker, hiker, fly-fishing angler, downhill and cross country skier, he’s also fluent in Morse code, although he’ll be first to admit it doesn’t come up too often in conversation.