The seed for Alison’s career was planted early on, when her father was Peace Corps Director in Brazil and the Congo. This was her first exposure to other cultures and the riches that come with learning new approaches to life and helping others who are less fortunate than yourself.
It wasn’t until much later that Alison got the “gotta give back” bug which led to be Volunteer Director of the AIDS walk picnic for 30,000 people. As a result, she started searching for a more meaningful career. After selling her catering & special event business, Alison set out to sea as a deck hand and coordinator of the Soviet-American sailing exchange on board HMS Rose (in Master and Commander).
At sea she learned about how to work as a team to raise the sails in gale force winds, but instead she came away forever changed by the magic of cultural exchanges which occurred on board. From there she founded Pacific Rim Foundation (PRF), an international nonprofit, which allowed her to recruit and host international tall ships from around the world while also working as a diplomatic liaison to embassies, naval attaches and their ex-pat communities. PRF’s mission was to foster international understanding through sailing exchanges.
Now as CEO of Alliance for Smiles, Alison feels right at home running a nonprofit organization which is dedicated to transforming lives and to creating international friendships and understanding as a platform for peace. She is buoyed daily by the community of support surrounding AfS; this has allowed her to strategically plan for a successful future by implementing new programming and fundraising practices:
Alison was educated at Massachusetts College of Art and Design as well as Presidio and Stanford Graduate Schools. She lives in Sausalito, CA with her Mexican-born husband and son and loves to sail on the weekends. Alison is a Rotarian.