Ann Medlock is the Project's Founder and now, as a gigger, its Creative Director. She writes most of the Project's website and all of the Heads Up e-zines. She created the Project's Stan Tall & Bea Tall characters for the very young, and wrote the K-2 curriculum, the Giraffe Heroes Training Kit, and much of Voices of Hope.

Her background includes editing Viet Nam Presse in Saigon; chairing the Children’s Cultural Foundation in New York; freelance writing for magazines and corporations, and media consulting for Western Union, AT&T, and the US Maritime Administration. She's been editor-in-chief of Children’s Express, a curriculum developer at Macmillan and Science Research Associates, and speechwriter to the Aga Khan. Medlock is active on Facebook and at She earned a magna cum laude in English from the University of Maryland, and has published a novel and a book of poetry.

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John Graham is the Project's Executive Director, its principal speaker/workshop leader and Director of Giraffe Heroes International—the overseas affiliates launched by the Project.

He was a US diplomat for 15 years, where his assignments included revolutionary Libya, Viet Nam, NATO, the US Mission to the UN and a stint as foreign policy advisor to Senator John Glenn. He joined the Giraffe Heroes Project staff in 1983. His degrees are from Harvard and Stanford, and his mountain climbing credits include the first ascent of the north wall of Denali, a climb that’s never been repeated. He is the author of Outdoor Leadership, It’s Up to Us, Stick Your Neck Out and Quest.



Ron Reed (Chair) served on the Board in the 1980s and returned in 2016. Now retired from a long career as an Episcopal priest, he did development work for the national church, and for parishes where he was vicar. He’s created education programs, has worked all over the world, and is a longtime supporter of the Project. He joins our meetings from Kansas.

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Melissa Ransdell (Treasurer) is a management consultant specializing in advancing the work of “small giants,” groups that emphasize impact over growth. Her background includes over 25 years in the business and nonprofit sectors, as VP of one of the top public relations companies in the US, director of creative services at a global asset management firm, and chief operating officer at a health education company.


Ann Medlock is the Project's Founder and Creative Director (see above under Senior Staff).


Peter Tavernise is a senior executive of the Cisco Foundation in California, and a long-time advisor to Giraffe Heroes. He became the Project’s volunteer webmaster in the 1990s, when he was a fundraiser for Duke University. He brings to the Project’s Board a deep understanding of the philanthropic world, of technology and education, and of the Project’s mission.

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Miffy Ruggiero holds the Education Seat on the Giraffe board of directors. She’s been a trainer for curriculum developers Roberts, Fitzmahan & Associates and the Comprehensive Health Education Foundation in Seattle. Her company, Training Wheels, LLC, provided educational consulting out of offices in Budd Lake, NJ. Before retiring, she was a media specialist for the Collier County School District in Naples, Florida. Maintaining her lifelong passion for education, she continues to foment change and forge alliances in the cause of creating great learning experiences for students.

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Tia Young is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and an integral member of the nonprofit Shirts Across America. Young started as a vocalist but later became a trusted right-hand to Giraffe Hero and former Project board member, Patrinell Wright. Young became familiar with Giraffe Heroes in that role. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Seattle Documentary Association.

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Jim Toevs, a native Washingtonian and former banker who has retired in Sonora, Mexico, has the Giraffe Hero seat on the board. He was commended in a time when coming out was a huge personal and professional risk, and advocating for LGBTQA people was yet another risk. Toevs risked his position in senior management of a major bank to declare his own homosexuality and to found Gays & Lesbians in Unity, a support group. He’s now active in charitable work in Sonora.