Who We Are


Ellen Boneparth, President
Barbara Friedman, Secretary
Michael Rosenthal, Treasurer

Board of Directors

Ellen Boneparth, Ph.D., Chair
Ellen Boneparth has had a number of rewarding careers: university professor in political science and university administrator; U.S. diplomat; director of a coalition of U.S. women’s organizations; writer of fiction and nonfiction; founder and director of the International Women’s Studies Institute.  She was a university auditor in global health; senior adviser, Center for Health and Gender Equity and Cure Cervical Cancer.  She founded Light My Fire in 2014 and transformed it into an independent 501(c)(3) in 2022.  Many Light My Fire grantees are organizations she encountered on international travels.

BARBARA2_joinusBarbara Friedman, Member
Barbara Friedman enjoyed a long career in higher education and then served as a career consultant working closely with international development and foreign service professionals associated with the U.S. Department of State and the World Bank. She is particularly interested in how individuals become invested in their own futures and communities and empowered to defend democracy and the rule of law. Light My Fire gives her a global context and insight into how much women and girls can do with a little support.

MICHAEL2_joinus(1)Michael Rosenthal, Ph.D., Member
Michael Rosenthal has a Ph.D. in Physics and long experience in international affairs, including national security issues such as nuclear non-proliferation and international development.  He has held positions at the Department of State, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  At the IAEA, he was instrumental in founding its Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy, which is designed especially to bring radiation therapy to developing countries in the context of national cancer control programs.

Lydia Austin, JD, Member
Lydia Austin is a tax attorney in Palo Alto, California. She holds a law degree from U.C., Berkeley and an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. Light My Fire provides her an opportunity to learn more about women and children across the world and the functioning of nonprofits in the field of international development. Lydia also serves as a Trustee of the Austin Memorial Foundation.
Kimberly Weichel, Member
Kimberly Weichel is a long-time champion and advocate for women’s leadership and advancement, social entrepreneur, NGO leader, citizen diplomat, author and educator. She has over 25 years’ experience directing international projects and organizations, including conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives, women’s leadership, civil society programs, social justice projects, education programs and advocacy campaigns. She teaches at the Lifelong Learning Institute at American University and is the author of Beyond Borders (2016), Our Voices Matter (2019) and Uncovering New Possibilities: Insights from Our Time (2021). 

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