Our Team

George Basch, Chief Cook

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George Basch (aka Curious George) has circled the globe as an Adventurer, Explorer, Photographer and a Creative Entrepreneurial Businessman.

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.

 

 Pam Johnston, Executive Director

Pam comes to Himalayan Stove Project with a professional background in Human Resources management combined with lifelong involvement amongst several nonprofits and  volunteer organizations.   Recognized for being the “heart and mind “  behind The Los Arcos Mission based out of her hometown of Houston, Tx., Pam led a homegrown initiative that provided thousands of backpacks, new clothes, household appliances, and holiday gifts benefiting a refugee community within the inner city. 

“ I grew up in a very large and loving, faith based family…my parents were consistently giving and reaching out to underprivileged families…that is how we spent our weekends, in fact. We were always running around apartment complexes in the Bay Area, and buying bags of groceries or clothing for single moms or young families we would meet who needed help.  My parents were encouraging  “do gooders” who taught us that to be successful in life – you give, you seek to serve. “

Pam believes in building authentic, rewarding partnerships that build on people’s innate altruism, creativity, and interest in making a difference.  She is delighted to bring her passion for people and our environment to the HSP community so that she can build on George’s history of giving. 

When Pam is not working on HSP connections, she can be found hiking in the woods, running on a path,  boarding a plane to her favorite destination: Nepal!, or hanging out with her daughter, Juliet, at home.

 

Sandy Lilley, Line Cook

sandy-lilleySandy was born in Los Angeles and spent most summers as a child in Yosemite National Park. Sleeping under the stars, her appreciation for nature and the mountains was born.

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

jabicelandwaterfallimageJeff 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.

 

Team at Debouche HSP Team at Y & Y_Cropped

 

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