Advisors & Faculty


Michele Griffiths

Founder, President & Principal Consultant
Community Development and Consulting, LLC

30+ years specializing in Fundraising, Organizational & Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Life Coaching, Non-Profit Incorporation, Mediation, Family & Individual Therapy, Public/ Private Social Investment, Workforce Development, Board Development, and Strategic Planning.

Michele Griffiths is the founder, president and principal consultant of Community Development & Consulting (CDAC). She has an MBA and and MFT, and this has been helpful to her in both the Fortune 500 field and in the past twenty years working with non-profit communities and NGO environments.

Yvona Smith-Williams and Michele Griffiths
Yvona Smith-Williams (left) with Michele Griffiths

Yvona Smith-Williams

Principal Consultant- Academia, Organizational and Leadership Development, Evaluation, Financial Reporting, Curriculum Development, Mentorship Development

Yvona has great strengths in workforce development, leadership development, training /instruction, curriculum development, retention, mentoring, and student academic/life services. Her  responsibilities include, strategic development, educational reform consulting, training, and human resource and community service development.

Michael Gornik

Michael Gornik co-founded and currently co-directs Polestar Gardens along with his wife, Ann. He is a primary teacher for Polestar Collaborative. Michael brings with him over 36 years of experience in  education, apprenticeship, youth mentorship,  and sustainable living.

Michael has a rich history as a leader, successful businessman, community planner, builder, educator, athletic coach and musician. Throughout the years, he has worked directly with public, private and charter schools creating workshops, apprenticeships and mentoring programs.

He has a deep and sincere respect for people of all ages and from all walks of life. Michael has personally mentored hundreds of students in “skills for living” and  has provided students of all ages with life- long educational and personal growth opportunities.

Jeannine Noel Baker

Jeannine Noel Baker has been living on the Big Island of Hawai’i for over twenty years.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and has a Master’s in Education. For the past sixteen years, she has been a teacher in the Puna district.

Jeannine believes that knowing oneself is the key ingredient to meaningful education. She believes the way to this knowing is through self-discovery and self-expression via the arts. She uses the arts and body-based inquiry to help channel self-expression, which allows students to understand what truly brings them joy. This, she believes, is the highest service we have to offer; doing what we truly love and sharing this with the world.

Patrick B. Baker

Patrick holds a BA degree from Humboldt State University and his MA degree from Naropa University. He received his teaching license through Chaminde University in Hawaii and has been working with Youth for over 20 years.

Patrick has been a paraprofessional/counselor, a therapeutic foster parent, an administrator, and is currently a special education teacher. He is also the head cross country coach for Pahoa High School and is a certified ocean and water safety surf instructor for HAAS PCS. Patrick enjoys working with youth on a daily basis and he loves to encourage youth to reach for their personal goals through mentorship.

Matt Schindler

Matt inspires and organizes the community kitchen at Polestar Gardens, and for good reason. He has sharpened his knives and deepened his culinary skills at two James Beard Foundation Award winning restaurants: The American, in Kansas City, Missouri and Janos, at the Tucson Museum of Art in Tucson, Arizona.

Notorious for his endless lists of foods, tasks, and creative activities, Matt loves “Farm-to-Table”.  He gets his hands dirty every week in the Polestar gardens, learning more about the power of organic foods and permaculture, and learning how to integrate available, wild natural foods into daily diets.

Matt enjoys working directly with people, and no educational workshop happens at Polestar without him joyfully training groups of young and old in the ways of Polestar cuisine and kitchen etiquette.

Voice…Body…Spirit, Awakening Joy!