Our foundation and board team consists of deeply committed elephant and environment professionals and business leaders who believe that by helping captive elephants, we can improve the health of the planet and each other. The expertise of our team paired with our passionate supporters provides a new model to change the environment for captive elephants in Thailand.
Ava Lalancette, Founder and Executive Director
Ava has been in awe of the majesty of the Asian elephant her entire life. After spending time with elephants in their natural jungle habitat, she knew she had to show up to help cultivate a model where elephants and humans could thrive together in a biodiverse habitat. Ava founded Never Forget Elephant Foundation in early 2019 together with a team of passionate individuals from around the world. She believes broad change for captive elephants will start at the grassroots level and is inspired to have an opportunity to be present to help motivate change. Ava has a rooted connection to nature, believes in protecting our most vulnerable and inspiring each other to move together through our lives with a compassion‐forward agenda.
Kittisak “Yo” Pornpipatkun, Project Director
Yo grew up in an elephant keeper family in a small, remote Karen Hill Tribe community in Northern Thailand. Elephants have been a mainstay in Yo’s life since he was young. He first experienced being with them in their natural habitat with his grandfather who owned six elephants and has loved elephants his entire life. He has worked in different sanctuaries and sees new opportunity for great change with Never Forget Elephant Foundation. Yo is our resident elephant expert, believes elephants belong to nature and looks forward to inspiring supporters from around the world.
Holly Kwan, Outreach Director
Holly has loved elephants all her life. As a youth she would go to the circus and zoo and marvel at these majestic animals, not thinking much about the unnatural behaviors. During her first visit to Thailand, Holly learned the devastating treatment of captive elephants. Holly is proud to be involved in bringing elephants home to a jungle environment where they can roam and forage as they wish. She believes knowledge has the power to affect great change so it is necessary to educate the traveling public, as well as a broader global audience, about the harsh treatment of elephants for the benefit of the tourist.
Jessica Brocanelli, Development Director
Jessica grew up on a small family farm with a variety of animals where she developed a strong connection to and desire to help them. She was devastated to learn the truth of the captive elephant industry after traveling and volunteering throughout the world and knew she had to be involved in the effort to stop the exploitation of these special creatures. Jessica is passionate about returning elephants to their natural habitat and educating people on the realities of the tourism industry.
Board of Directors
Maria Palazzetti, President
Maria has loved elephants since she was a young child. She had dreams to see elephants roaming free in Asia and after her first trip to volunteer in Thailand with rescued elephants her dreams became her passion. Maria is thrilled to have the opportunity to improve the lives of these incredible beings and believes education will be the catalyst for change in this industry.
Mellisa Slender, Vice President
Mellisa has been passionate about and involved in giving back to those in need for most of her life. She has volunteered and worked with several animal and human rights organizations throughout the world. After a trip to Thailand in 2018, she opened her eyes to the plight of the Asian elephant, so much so that she was unable to watch from the sidelines without getting involved. The brutality elephants endure at the hands of humans, purely for their entertainment, cannot continue. Mellisa strongly believes when we know better, we have a responsibility to do better.
Ava Lalancette, Treasurer and Secretary