We are a committed group of passionate people, whose life’s mission is to help build a kinder and happier world for ourselves and our children.

Executive Director

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Amit Sood, MD MSc FACP

Dr. Sood is a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He is also the director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, chair of the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative, and chair of the Student Life and Wellness Committee at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and fellow of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Sood has developed an innovative approach to mind-body medicine by incorporating concepts within neurosciences, psychology, philosophy and spirituality. His clinical work and research encompasses a wide range of topics, including improving resiliency; decreasing stress and anxiety; enhancing well-being and happiness; cancer symptom relief and prevention; tobacco cessation; and wellness solutions for caregivers, corporate executives, health care professionals, parents, and students.

Dr. Sood has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed original articles, as well as editorials, book chapters, abstracts, letters and books. He has received several NIH and foundation awards to test and implement integrative and mind body approaches within medicine. He also developed the first Mayo Clinic iPhone app, an introductory meditation program. He is a highly sought after speaker teaching over 50 workshops every year, and has mentored several hundred fellows, medical students, instructors, physicians and residents.

Dr. Sood received the 2010 Distinguished Service Award, the 2010 Innovator of the Year Award and the 2013 Outstanding Physician Scientist Award from Mayo Clinic. The Ode Magazine nominated Dr. Sood as one among top 20 intelligent optimists helping the world be a better place. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Rochester, MN.

Read Dr. Sood’s full bio


Administrative Director

Carla Paonessa
Carla Paonessa

Carla Paonessa lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband of 40 years, Russ Paonessa.  They have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

Carla is a benefactor of the Mayo Clinic and on its Steering Committee for the Leadership Council of Mayo Clinic in Arizona.  She is also active on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Transplant House which provides temporary housing for patients awaiting or recovering from solid organ and blood marrow transplants.  She serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for LeaderShape, a 25+year old organization that has trained more than 60,000 young people how to lead with integrity and a sense of possibility.

Prior to retirement, Carla was Managing Partner of Change Management for Accenture, the $48b global consulting company.  During her 25 year career there she held several positions, including global responsibilities for client service in multiple industries and working with the CEO and the Executive Team during their successful IPO in 2001.  Prior to Accenture, Carla had 12 years in government service with IRS and FAA retraining air traffic controllers who had to leave their jobs for health reasons.

She holds a BA in English from the University of Oklahoma and a MA in English from the University of Kansas.

Carla describes her life’s work as “…reminding other people how good they are.  Sometimes they forget.”



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