Indra Lahiri, President
Indra Lahiri, PhD is the founder of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary as well as a speaker, author, consultant, and executive coach. She has over twenty years of experience rescuing thousands of animals of a wide variety of species, in countries around the world. In addition, she has taught, mentored, coached and keynote addressed more than 10,000 people on a range of topics that are always, at their core, based on ethical leadership and compassion for all. Her award-winning blog is followed by nearly 20,000 subscribers on every continent.. Indra has been a featured speaker at both the National and International Animal Rights Conferences for the last several years. Indra is co-founder and co-organizer of the newly formed Global Coalition of Farm Sanctuaries, which creates a safety net for animals in sanctuaries, a support system for those running sanctuaries, and a simpler means for sanctuaries to communicate and coordinate with one another.
In addition to her work with rescue animals, as the founder of Global Inclusion Strategies, Indra provides expert coaching and support on communicating across differences. She is the author of an academic book chapter, a critically acclaimed manager’s guidebook, several research reports, and numerous articles on cultural competence and leadership. Having experienced firsthand the benefits of close friendships with animals, Indra has expanded her focus to helping other humans reap the same rewards. Indra is now combining her two loves by offering inspirational keynote talks, one-on-one coaching, workshops, and retreats to help humans and other animals communicate.
The sanctuary is not named after Indra, but rather she is named after the Hindu God Indra who created Indraloka (Sanskrit name for the heaven for the Gods). She has dedicated her life to helping traumatized animals rediscover joy, love, and trust.
Johnny Braz, Vice President
Johnny is a documentary filmmaker, environmentalist, and yogi. He began his filmmaking career in 1996 working as a camera operator with Clint Eastwood on “The Monterrey Jazz Festival: 40 Legendary Years.” Most recently, he has released “Play it Again,” a film about a legendary basketball tournament, “Peace, Love & Animals,” a documentary film that has been called “a lyrical message of hope” that premiered to rave reviews in Scranton and at the International Animal Rights Conference 2013 in Luxembourg, and “Truckin’”, an uplifting glimpse into the lives of animals rescued moments before their demise. Truckin’ premiered this year at both the National and International Animal Rights Conferences and is currently being translated into three languages. In 2016, “Truckin’” was awarded an Impact DOC Award of Recognition. Additionally, he has produced several short animal rescue films that have garnered a worldwide audience and has also directed a number of episodes of “Yoga Journeys,” a children’s program on PBS TV station WVIA.
Johnny holds a deep reverence for the earth. His years of experience designing and installing alternative energy systems for homes and businesses culminated in touring twice with Bonnie Raitt as her environmental spokesperson.
For the past five years, he has brought these gifts together, creating film and still portraits that reveal his reverence for all life and the earth herself, telling the story of Indraloka’s many rescues through his art. Braz is a teacher at heart. All of his work, whether it be mucking stalls, filming a rescue, feeding a once-traumatized chicken by hand, or teaching others how to meditate, is mindful, kind, and filled with lessons through example. Johnny is honored to put his skills to work raising awareness about animal sentience worldwide.
Sheila N. Cutler, Executive Founding Board Member
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Sheila studied Respiratory Therapy at Columbus State University and has been employed by numerous veterinarians. She has served on the Board of The Montessori School of Scranton and is founding Vice President of The Calligraphers Guild of Northeastern Pennsylvania. She currently sits on the board of The Jewish Family Service and was chosen volunteer of the year for 2012.
John Karas, Treasurer
John Karas is a fundraising and development professional with more than 13 years of experience in major gifts, planned giving, grant writing and foundation relations. In his new role since December, he is the Senior Philanthropy Manager at World Animal Protection, an international non-profit that moves the world to protect farmed animals and wild animals. Previously, he was a Philanthropy Officer at Mercy For Animals for 4 years, and prior to that, the Associate Director of Development at the Bloomsburg University Foundation for 9 years. He has served on the board of the Planned Giving Council of Central Pennsylvania, and remains active in the animal advocacy community. John has a Master’s Degree in Sociology and Social Movement Studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from Bloomsburg University. John, his wife Cherie, and their three children live in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, with their two dogs, Lola and Squiggie, and their three cats, Rico, Captain, and Flexi.
Craig Lukatch, Chair
Craig Lukatch is Executive Director of Lacawac Sanctuary, a nonprofit nature center, environmental education center, and biological field station. He is a Hazleton native, currently residing in Peckville PA who has extensive experience with more than 15 plus years in nonprofit administration and fundraising, most recently working as the CEO of the Greater Pittston YMCA and the Director of Development at Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, Forty Fort. Craig is a graduate of the University of Scranton with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Theology. Lukatch currently serves on the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators Board of Directors as the Development Director and has served on various boards of nonprofits from the NEPA chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, to the Hazleton YMCA and the Community Services for Sight organization in Hazleton. Over his tenure, he has raised over $6 million from foundations and for capital projects for local nonprofits.
Lisa Starr, Executive Founding Board Member
Lisa Starr, a licensed psychologist and devoted animal activist, earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s degree in Psychology from Marywood University. Her family, longtime residents of northeast Pennsylvania, established a tradition of philanthropic and civic responsibility. Lisa’s father served as a county commissioner for 16 years.
Her husband, Sam, is a prominent local business person. Lisa formerly served on the boards of the Scranton Counseling Center, United Cerebral Palsy of Lackawanna County, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, Temple Israel, and Temple Israel Sisterhood.