Leadership

LHAKPA NORBU SHERPA, Ph.D., CHAIRMAN

Born and raised in Thame, Dr. Lhakpa became the first person from the Sherpa community to receive a doctoral degree (Forest Resources, University of Washington). He joined the Government of Nepal in 1980 to work as Park Superintendent in Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park. He collaborated with The Mountain Institute (TMI) in 1989 to carry out planning of the Makalu-Barun National Park, and later joined TMI as Manager of the Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) Conservation Program in Tibet, China. He also served as Co-Director of TMI's Himalayan Program from 2005 to 2009 during which he developed and implemented an integrated cultural conservation and livelihood improvement project in the Sagarmatha National Park. 


LAKPA RITA SHERPA, PRESIDENT

 Image Copyright: Sherpa Adventure Gear

Image Copyright: Sherpa Adventure Gear

Lakpa Rita grew up in Thame and began working on Mt. Everest as a teenager. He became the first Sherpa and first Nepali to climb the Seven Summits, the highest peak on each continent, and was named one of Outside Magazine's Adventurers of the Year in 2013. As a mountain guide, he has led more than 250 climbers to the summit of Mt Everest and provides employment to many Sherpa in the Thame Valley. Now based in Seattle, he returns to Thame each spring and helps non-profit organizations such as the Sherpa Education Fund to further the welfare of the community. 


KAMI TEMBA SHERPA, M.D., VICE PRESIDENT

Dr. Kami is Chief Medical Officer of the Kunde Hospital, which serves the Thame community as well as neighboring valleys. Born in Thame, he became the first person from the Sherpa community to receive a medical degree. His education was enabled by a scholarship from the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation, and upon completing his training, Dr. Kami returned to Kunde Hospital to serve his home community. For decades, Dr. Kami Temba has worked tirelessly towards improving healthcare regionally.


APA SHERPA, DIRECTOR

Apa, a Thame native, climbed Mt. Everest 21 times and held the world record for most summits until 2018 (the new record-holder also hails from Thame). At age twelve, Apa dropped out of school to earn money working as a porter for mountaineering groups.  Now based in Salt Lake City, he continues to travel regularly to Nepal. In 2009, he co-founded The Apa Sherpa Foundation, dedicated to improving education and economic development in Nepal, including the Thame School.


norbu tenzing norgay, director

Thame is the where Norbu's father, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa (the first person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary) grew up. Based in San Francisco, he is Vice President of the American Himalayan Foundation, and travels regularly to Nepal to oversee development projects, to which he brings deep awareness of the daily challenges faced by the people of the region. He is a well-known commentator on Sherpa welfare in the international press and an advocate of better working conditions for mountaineering workers on expeditions. 


VANESSA FOLKERTS, Founder & TREASURER

Vanessa founded TSHF in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes in order to improve the communal facilities available to the Thame community and help preserve local heritage in the rebuilding process.  She lived in Thame while climbing in the Himalayas between 2009 and 2010 during a leave of absence from Princeton University, where she earned a degree in East Asian History. In that time, Vanessa summited Mt. Everest (youngest European woman), Cho Oyu, and Baruntse, learned the Sherpa dialect, and found a new family in Thame.


Advisory Committee

 

Jamling tenzing Norgay

Jamling.jpg

Jamling is President of the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Foundation and a frequent speaker at conferences around the world. To honor the memory of his father, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, Jamling climbed Mt. Everest in 1996 as part of the IMAX Everest film. He also co-authored the New York Times best-selling book, Touching My Fathers Soul - A Sherpa's Journey To The Top of Everest. Jamling is recipient of the International Golden Civil Award from the Prime Minister of Nepal, His Holiness The Dalai Lama's Award, and the National Citizen's Award from the President of India.


MARC VELETZOS, Ph.D.

MarcV.jpg

Marc Veletzos (Ph.D.) is a professor of civil engineering at Merrimack College. His research focuses on earthquake engineering, particularly improving the seismic design of complex bridge systems. He is a founding member of the Massachusetts Engineers and Architects Emergency Response Committee and is a licensed Civil Engineer in the State of California. He has also been involved in ongoing efforts to improve access to clean water in post-earthquake Haiti. He traveled to Thame Valley in 2015 with TSHF, helping to assess the earthquake damage to community structures and teaching basic strengthening techniques for rebuilding. 

 


david morton

David is co-founder and executive director of the Juniper Fund, which provides assistance to families impacted by the injury or death of mountain workers in Nepal. He is a professional mountain guide and cameraman who has worked closely with the expedition workers and community of Thame for over fifteen years. Dave has reached the summit of Mt. Everest six times and successfully led expeditions to all of the Seven Summits. Based in Seattle, Washington, he spends two to three seasons per year in Nepal professionally or personally. 


Pasang yangjee sherpa, PH.D.

Pasang Yangjee is an environmental anthropologist from Monzo, a village south of Thame. Her research focuses on human dimensions in climate change, international development, indigenous peoples, South Asia and High Asia. She is a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. She recently accepted the position of postdoctoral fellow at the India China Institute at The New School in New York for their Sacred Himalaya Initiative.  


yangji doma sherpa

Yangji Doma is a staff member of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC). Dividing her time between Thame Valley and Kathmandu, she oversees communications related to the SPCC's Icefall Doctors and other operations on Mt. Everest. Yangji has been instrumental in ensuring that local waste management is done through community-based organizations, maximizing local participation and benefit-sharing through environmentally friendly practices. Her research focuses on community involvement in tourism development.


JEMIMA DIKI SHERPA

Jemima Diki is a freelance writer, interpreter, and community organizer from Thame. Her experience includes time as a radio host and journalist in Nepal; organization and event facilitation for a range of local organizations. Her 2014 essay about the impact of deaths on Mount Everest on the Thame community was published in the Kathmandu Post, Alpinist magazine and the Financial Times, translated into German for Die Alpen, and shortlisted for a Foreign Press Award in London. 


Kami Doma sherpa

 Kami Doma is an English teacher at the Thame School. Born to a farming family in Thame Teng (Upper Thame), she was educated at the Thame and Khumjung schools, and then completed her higher secondary education at New Millenium College in Kathmandu. Since 2011, she has been teaching at the Thame School and living with her family in Thame Teng.