Our Team

Ellyn M. Ito, Executive Director and Trustee 

For almost 20 years, Ellyn Ito has used her background in human resources management to mitigate risks and enhance operations in organizations experiencing growth and contraction. Having worked with start-up and mid-sized telecommunications, technology, and healthcare companies, as well as Fortune 500 corporations, Ms. Ito has held multiple leadership positions helping companies leverage their human capital.

As well, she has led programs in training and development, employee relations, international recruitment and relocation, and relocation of “commodity” labor (such as call-center activities and manufacturing) both domestically and abroad. Having served in executive roles, Ms. Ito has had broad operational experience including sales/marketing, business development, mergers and acquisitions, and business restructuring. From her experience in management, Ms. Ito has the keen perspective of how seemingly small business decisions impact the human element and how this, in turn, directly impacts the success or failure of a work community. Ms. Ito believes that it is important to create opportunities for those less fortunate — particularly women and girls whose sphere of influence is so critical to the well-being of their children, their children’s children, their homes, and communities. Ms. Ito has long been active in working with non-profit organizations with missions to serve underprivileged, at-risk women and children. Ms. Ito is SPHR certified and holds a dual-major Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and English Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She lives in Hopewell, New Jersey with her husband, Daniel Sigman, and her two school-aged children.

Janice E. Ito, Trustee

Janice Ito has been in the teaching profession for 30 years. She has worked mainly with first and second grade children as she has enjoyed teaching younger children. Through her years of professional studies she has a strong background in classroom management techniques, assessing student needs and providing strategies and instruction to increase student achievement. She has played a key role in her school in implementing programs in math, reading and writing. She has participated in leadership roles in staff development and recently served as a representative in the development and implementation of culturally relevant instruction for the district. Mrs. Ito was also selected to be a Mentor for first year teachers and provided instructional support and guidance to her teachers on an individual basis. With her mentor team, she developed and provided instruction in assisting new teachers during their first years. As a mentor, Mrs. Ito received training in Cognitive Coaching and Critical Friends. Both courses emphasize communication through protocols and reflective questioning skills. Mrs. Ito holds a dual-major Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. Mrs. Ito retired in 2009 and remains active in her school by volunteering to help kindergarten students with reading. She is also a volunteer at her church, serving in many different capacities. Sewing has always been an interest and necessity for Mrs. Ito. Though she did take a sewing class in high school, her mother, as an expert seamstress, had been her teacher. Mrs. Ito often sewed clothes for herself as well as for her children when they were younger. Now she enjoys sewing as a hobby and sews for her grandchildren. Mrs. Ito lives with her husband in Pennington, NJ.

Lianne Aoyagi, Trustee

Lianne Aoyagi has been involved in education for thirty four years. She taught first, second, third and fourth grades at Eaton Elementary in Eaton, Colorado, and at Roosevelt Elementary and Columbia Elementary in Colorado Springs. While teaching, Ms. Aoyagi was involved in both building and district committees – Language Arts, Staff Development, Standards Based Education, Alternative Structures, PTCO (Parent, Teacher, Community Organization), Accountability and Finance. She also was trained as a facilitator for GESA (Gender/Ethnic Expectations and Student Achievement) and was a trainer in the district Cultural Diversity workshops. Ms. Aoyagi was also involved in professional organizations such as Colorado Education Association, Colorado Springs Education Association and Phi Delta Kappa. Within the community, she served on the Children’s Museum Educational Committee. She received her Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado and her Type D Certification for Elementary Principals from the University of Denver. After Ms. Aoyagi’s retirement from teaching, she participated in the Senior Sounding Board for District 11 and the Colorado Springs Retired Education Association. Currently she is active in the Assistance League of Colorado Springs and serves on the following committees: Finance, Steering and Capital Campaign, By-Laws, and Education. With the Assistance League, she enjoys volunteering in School Bell, the Bargain Box, Fun Fair, Auto Show, Bridge and the Book Club. Her hobbies include quilting, knitting, bridge, and reading. Ms. Aoyagi lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Blair Turner, Board Member

Blair is a Certified Professional Executive Coach through the CAPP Institute (Coaching and Positive Psychology) and a member of the International Coaching Federation. She is a certified member of the Center for Applied AxioMetrics which enables her to administer the Thinking Pattern Profile assessment. She holds a BS in Organizational Behavior from Rider University and serves on the Executive Board of the Rider Woman’s Leadership Council where she participates in the Mentor/Protégé Program for senior girls that fosters leadership and career advancement.

Blair has over 30 years of experience working in small family owned businesses, midsized telecommunications companies, large public corporations, and international companies in administrative management roles. She founded The Blatie Group, a coaching practice that provides motivational and mindful guidance while incorporating the science and application of positive psychology in a solutions-based approach. Her clients make positive change by determining ways to maximize their career, improve relationships, overcome a fear, or push beyond their comfort zone to challenge themselves.

Blair has been involved in Seeds to Sew International since its inception and is a strong advocate for women and girls in compromised communities seeking an opportunity to live the life they have imagined.

Gopi Sundaram, Board Member

Gopi Sundaram has over 20 years experience in investment banking and private equity. An engineer and an MBA, Mr. Sundaram brings unique perspective as he evaluates businesses and considers the synergies that exist between various companies and organizations. Mr. Sundaram has long had an interest in developing ideas and platforms for those less fortunate, and with a teenage daughter of his own, is keenly focused on the support of women and girls. Mr.Sundaram has built a storied career in Private Equity with a combination of Investment and Operational Turnaround experience, in addition to public company M&A expertise, pre-investment due diligence and KPI-based performance management. Mr. Sundaram brings a range of international experience as well, having held transactional and operational responsibilities across the world. Mr. Sundaram holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, an MS in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University, and a BS in Electronics Engineering, Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute, University of Mumbai. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife and daughter.