Board & Officers

of the Manitou Foundation

Hanne Strong , President

Hanne M. Strong: serves as President of the Manitou Foundation, which she and her late husband, Maurice Strong, founded in 1988. The Foundation, based in Crestone, Colorado has granted land to spiritual, educational and environmental groups through the Manitou Foundation’s Land Grant Program and through the Strong’s personal land holdings.The Baca/Crestone Community currently houses many of the world’s wisdom traditions and is referred to as the “Refuge for World Truths” and accommodates thousands of visiting retreatants per year who seek to develop inner peace and balance within oneself and with nature. It is the largest intentional, interreligious and sustainable living community in North America.

Mrs. Strong, has been an advocate for environmental conservation and restoration for many decades. In 1994, she established the Manitou Institute & Conservancy in partnership with Laurance Rockefeller and placed over 1,900 acres of the Foundation’s land holdings under Conservation Easements. The Manitou Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP) protects and preserves the pristine mountain range, wildlife habitats, and fragile eco-systems above the Baca Grande development zone.

She served as a Senior Advisor, organizer and lead fundraiser for the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nations in New York in 2000. It was the first conference of its kind ever held at the United Nations.

In 1992, Mrs. Strong organized and chaired two parallel conferences to the Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) (also known as the Earth Summit), entitled, “the Sacred Earth Gathering” and “the Wisdom Keepers Convocation” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Participants of the Sacred Earth Gathering formulated the “Declaration of the Sacred Earth Gathering” which was presented to the Heads of State on the opening day of the official conference. She also launched the Earth Restoration Corps (ERC), a global environmental- educational training program she founded, designed to train young adults in ecosystem restoration and green livelihoods.

In 1983, Mrs. Strong organized a meeting between Canadian Native American Elders and Pope John Paul II to discuss Aboriginal Constitutional issues – The Pope later urged Prime Minister Trudeau to re-look at these issues and constitutional laws were changed addressing sensitive issues pertaining to Aboriginal peoples in throughout Canada.

In 1977, Mrs. Strong co-funded and organized the participation of 18 Canadian Native American elders and American Indian Movement (AIM) leaders in the first international conference of non-governmental organizations on indigenous issues held at the United Nations in Geneva.

In 1976, Mrs. Strong organized a parallel conference to the HABITAT UN Conference on Human Settlements in Vancouver, British Columbia and created a platform for children and youth to address pressing global issues at the official plenary session. At Mrs. Strong’s invitation, Mother Teresa joined her as co-convenor of the event.

Since 1972, she has travelled to over 100 countries and has coordinated numerous civil society events parallel to High Level United Nations conferences. She has been invited to numerous universities, seminars and conferences as a guest speaker to address global issues covering topics such as interreligious communities, sustainable living and spiritually based environmental education. She has also founded numerous nonprofit organizations for Native Americans and in the 1970’s, co-founded the first non-profit private foundation in Kenya with Sir Richard Leakey and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Wangari Maathai, for the disabled and street children.

Over the past 40 years, Mrs. Strong has worked with Native Americans throughout the Americas and indigenous peoples worldwide to assist in their efforts to preserve their spirituality, cultural values, and native lands. For over 40 years, she received extensive spiritual training from indigenous shamans, and masters from the Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi lineages.

Mrs. Strong’s work has been featured in international publications including Maclean’s Magazine, Reuters, Newsweek, Spirituality & Health, The Yoga Journal, New York Times and Tricycle Buddhist Review, as well as books such as, Voices of the Heart; A Compassionate Call for Responsibility and Creating Harmony; Conflict Resolution in Community Living, She has authored articles on the topics of spirituality, consciousness and environmental stewardship such as “Ecological and Spiritual Revolution,” published in UNEP’s Our Planet, and has appeared on national television in the United States, Brazil, France, Philippines, Switzerland, Denmark, Russia, Mexico, and Canada.

Mrs. Strong was born on July 29, 1941, in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she received a degree in Design and Planning. She has 2 daughters, 7 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Her husband, Maurice F. Strong passed in November 2015 at the age of 86. Mr. Strong served as Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General and was appointed as Under Secretary-General numerous times during his diplomatic career.

Patricia Taylor, Chief Executive Officer

In Loving Memory of Patricia Ann Taylor “Mother of the Forest”

It is with great sadness that we share the loss and passing of Patricia Ann Taylor. We are reflecting on the remarkable achievements and contributions that Patricia made during her life. This has been beyond heartbreaking and we hope to see her unique, pioneering spirit live on through the work she engaged in. Through your generous support, her legacy will have an enduring influence for generations to come.

This is a tribute to our beloved Patricia Taylor a remarkable woman who touched the lives of so many people and the land that sustains us all. Her work will always have a profound and everlasting influence in the world that she helped to transform.

Patricia, who served as Manitou Foundation and Manitou Institutes & Conservancy CEO was a writer, producer, fashion designer and businesswoman who later in life found her true passion as a philanthropist. She made major contributions to schools in Peru in which she transformed and provided educational opportunities to the most vulnerable population of children.

In 2018 Patricia joined forces with Hanne Strong, President of the Manitou Foundation & Institute, they instantly bonded and recognized each other as kindred spirits. Two women, who were destined to work together to create and cultivate lasting changes around the world. They shared a vision, to help indigenous tribes to reclaim their lands and sovereignty. Hanne Strong shared her life’s work with Patricia by mentoring her.

In 2018 they collaborated and initiated 2 major indigenous land “buybacks”. The first, “Kualama Sacred Site” located within the Linea Negra of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta in Colombia. Working with the Teyuna people where they secured and liberated the sacred site by returning it to the indigenous peoples of the Sierra.

Message about Patricia from the Indigenous Peoples of the Sierra
The Kogis, the Wiwas, the Arhuacos and the Kankuamos

“When Patricia passed, we knew she was leaving with Our Spiritual Fathers because she was a representative for the Earth herself, she was an embodiment of the Mother Earth – Abu Celula, Abu Mamekun, Abu Kangama, Abu Ghira, all of these names are the spiritual names of the different layers of the Earth, we used to call Patricia by all of them because she was among us on Her behalf. On behalf of Mother Earth. Every time we connected with Patricia we used to do it through the Earth.”


In 2018 Patricia began working with Benki Pianco, Indigenous Leader of Ashaninka in Brazil. An indigenous group which, Hanne Strong had been working with since the early 2000’s. He was recognized as an “Earth Warrior” and a recipient of the UNDP Equator Prize. To many it may have seemed to be an impossible dream but in 2019 Patricia secured and purchased a parcel of land for the Ashaninka tribe in Acre Brazil. She acquired 3,629 acres of land through a US based Private Foundation, half of which had been deforested and turned into a cattle farm.

The work that Patricia undertook was not only to protect the environment but to encourage education and help build a voice and create awareness for the communities that have been custodians of the earth for generations. Her work with the land will live on, a legacy that we hope to continue to keep her voice alive through the projects that she embraced.

Dena Merriam, Member

Founder and Convener of Global Peace Initiative of Women. Also, serves on the boards of the Interfaith Center of New York, AIM for Seva and Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association. Former member of the board of Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. Co-Chair of the Millennium World Peace Summit, the first summit held at the United Nations General Assembly for more than 1500 of the world’s religious leaders.

John P Milton, Member

John P. Milton is an early ecologist, one of the founding fathers of the modern environmental movement. He worked and studied extensively in many of the world’s shamanic and enlightening traditions, beginning with his first Vision Quest at age seven. Since then, starting in the 1950s, John was one of the first to bring a contemporary Vision Quest form into western culture. One of his hopes is that by introducing this profound process to the West, many modern imbalances due to disconnection from Nature can be healed. John has distilled the common ground found in many nature-connected cultures; he brings this distillation of deep wisdom and nature-connected practice into a pathway that is accessible to all. He brought this pathway together by founding an organisation, the Way of Nature, in the 1970s. This initiative provides three main goals: 1) a clear, universal way to access pure Source Awareness, 2) a way of refining our experiential connections to nature, and 3) a direct path to allow our true purpose for this lifetime to be realised.John has published numerous books, articles, DVDs and audio teachings. Some of the most relevant to our course include: the book Sky Above, Earth Below: Spiritual Practice in Nature, and four DVDs produced with Sounds True: T’ai Chi for Liberation, and the three DVD set Qi Gong for Long Life.

Suzanne Foote, Director