Founder and Executive Director
Howie Shareff founded You Call This Yoga in 2007 as an organization to share yoga that was adaptable for people with physical ailments. As a 52-year-old practicing dentist and recreational athlete, he was managing his own severe arthritis for many years with gentle yoga – using the practice to prepare and recover from surgery. Through these positive experiences, he found that the practice of yoga to enhance healing and comfort could be accessible to anybody willing to breathe, focus and move mindfully.
Howie’s goal for the organization was to serve the community in an effort to improve social, emotional and physical health. He believed that yoga should be accessible for all people, delivered by skilled, passionate and professionally supported teachers. In 2010, Howie succeeded, with help from the NC Center for Nonprofits, in having You Call This Yoga recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 non-profit organization.
He has grown in the role as Executive Director with advice from the Small Business Center at Wake Tech, the Board of Directors of You Call This Yoga, and many coaches in our region. Howie enjoys engaging prospective yoga teachers, host partners, team members for YCTY, sponsors and students. He welcomes your contact to learn more about your interests. You can find him regularly playing disc golf to stay active and laughing at Raleigh’s Cedar Hills Park.
Board of Directors
President – Kristen Rae
Kristen is a yoga therapist who has over 15 years of experience teaching a variety of classes and workshops. In addition to her YCTY classes, she offers private/corporate classes and organizes yoga events and retreats. Kristen previously served as Secretary of the YCTY Board of Directors and as the Director of Programming. When Kristen isn’t teaching yoga, she is hanging with her family at the beach. She enjoys island life, live music, eating at fancy restaurants, and traveling with her husband.
Vice President/Treasure – Max Lanning, CPA
Max Lanning is a CPA in a local Raleigh CPA firm, Norton Collar Lund Lilley, PLLC. Max brings his experience with financial reporting to YCTY. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and 2014 with a Master of Accounting. He has practiced public accounting with the firm since 2014 and obtained his CPA license in 2016. Max’s role at his firm is managing financial statement audits, reviews, compilations, and preparations. He also is the lead auditor on many audit and review engagements with the firm in many industries, focusing in not-for-profit organizations. Max has many years of experience with nonprofit tax and payroll/contractor tax compliance.
Max joined the YCTY Board in 2020, acting as treasurer. He oversees the monthly accounting, facilitates tax compliance, and helps guide organizational finance decisions. He is in charge of ensuring the monthly financial statements are sound, annual 1099s are filed, the annual 990 is prepared, and the NC solicitation license is renewed annually.
In 2015, Max began his journey to become a healthier individual with a weight loss and exercise regimen. He has seen the emotional and physical benefits of exercise and a healthier lifestyle. Max is excited to be a part of a local organization that ensures individuals, who would not otherwise have the opportunity, have access to an exercise practice.
Secretary – Celia Hartnett, CSW, RYT200
Celia Hartnett believes that yoga helps dissolve the illusion that our bodies, minds, and spirits are separate. She began practicing yoga when she needed a complement to triathlon training. She eventually stopped doing triathlons but went on to become a yoga teacher, receiving her 200-hour training at The White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara. Yoga is an excellent adjunct to her psychotherapy practice and Celia studied its role in treating trauma, sharing its wisdom with her patients. To improve her skills, Celia has studied yoga, meditation, and recovery at Kripalu among other places. She has been a student of Tracey Rich, Ganga White, Elise Browning Miller, Amy Weintraub, Cheri Clampett Borda, Arturo Peal, Leslie Howard, Bessel van der Kalk, Rolf Gates and Niki Myers. Celia teaches yoga to women in recovery from substance use disorders on Tuesday evenings at Healing Transitions.
Because of her own physical differences, Celia finds that You Call This Yoga allows her to explore more effective and inclusive teaching. She believes that everyone can find some benefit from the eight limbs of yoga and feels it is an honor to serve on the You Call This Yoga board.
Development Committee – Randy Cagan, MBA
Randy Cagan, Managing Partner of Fortune Personnel Consultants of Raleigh (FPC), brings thirty years of recruitment and business leadership experience to You Call This Yoga (YCTY). FPC is a Forbes 50 top-ranked executive and management search firm. In 2012, Randy was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Wake County Community Foundation (WCCF), which directs over 100 different charitable funds and 15 scholarships, awarding grants to an array of local community nonprofit organizations, including the YCTY veterans’ programs. Randy served as the WCCF Board Chairman from 2016-2018 and remains active in this organization.
Building on his WCCF nonprofit background, Randy recently joined the YCTY Board of Directors to lead development and recruitment efforts. He has known Howie and Barbara for 27 years and is excited to help build a strong future for YCTY and the community.
President Emeritus – Barbara Vosk, Ph.D., RYT500
Barbara is a founding member of YCTY, having served on the Board as Secretary since 2014 and as President for the first part of 2020. She has been a yoga practitioner for over 15 years, and completed her 500-hour yoga teacher training at blue lotus yoga in 2015. Barbara is a licensed practicing psychologist in Raleigh, and integrates many aspects of yoga into her clinical practice. Barbara offers training to yoga teachers and mental health professionals on ways to integrate yoga to assist those coping with anxiety, trauma recovery, and other emotional issues. She believes strongly in the healing power of yoga, and is passionate about bringing these practices to others-beyond the bounds of yoga studios. Barbara looks forward to continuing her participation in the organization as it moves into its second decade of providing accessible yoga to the Triangle community.
Development Committee – Kiesha Battles, RYT300
Kiesha (she/her) has a respected and well-deserved reputation in the national yoga community.
She serves as co-director of the Yoga Retreat for Women of Color™, as a member of the You Call This Yoga (YCTY) Board of Directors, and as YCTY Development Coordinator. A full-time yoga teacher and trainer, Kiesha joined CorePower Yoga (CPY) in 2016 as one of the original teachers that opened the Charlotte market. Kiesha continues to grow with CPY in her role as Studio Coordinator, Online YTT200 Coach, and most recently as YTT300 Lead instructor. In addition to teaching with CPY, Kiesha owns her own business, I Am Yoga, which employs several certified yoga instructors to lead a variety of virtual yoga classes. I Am Yoga is a Yoga Alliance-certified Yoga Training School and Continuing Education Provider, offering both 200- and 300-hour yoga teacher training programs and numerous impactful workshops. Kiesha has been featured in the book YES! Yoga Has Curves, and in articles in Yoga Journal. With a graduate degree in Asian studies, Kiesha brings to her offerings knowledge of Asian philosophy, religion, and language, as well as Eastern philosophy including Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Kiesha is a wife and mother who enjoys reading, meditating, and breathing.