Our mission is to build the capacity of the people of Lwala to advance their own comprehensive well-being.
Click here to view our staff structure.
Julius Mbeya – Managing Director
As Managing Director, Julius is responsible for driving the mission of the organization guided by the 2020 Strategy and keeping in line with Lwala’s key identity as a Kenyan-first organization working with at-risk populations in western Kenya to achieve holistic development. He brings more than 17 years experience in international development. Prior to joining Lwala Community Alliance, he worked with MS ActionAid Denmark as a Regional Training and Development Advisor offering capacity development across the world, with UNDP Kenya as a Grant Manager, and as an M&E Officer with World Bank-funded Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project. He has an MA in Political Science & Public Administration from the University of Nairobi, a post-graduate diploma in Healthcare Management (Kenya Institute of Management), and a post-graduate diploma in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution (University of Fribourg – Switzerland). Julius is a co-founder of I Choose Life Africa, where he sits on the board, and is a Member of Kenya Evaluation Society, African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM) and African Evaluation Association (AfrEA).
Robert Kasambala – Hospital and Operations Director
As Hospital and Operations Director, Robert directly supervises the team leads, works with the board, and provides the day-to-day leadership for all programs and financial controls in Lwala. He has been with Lwala since 2010 and has overseen rapid program growth during his tenure. Robert has more than 20 years of healthcare management experience. His previous positions at Kijabe Hospiltal included Resource Director, Clinical Support Services Director, and Community Health Coordinator. He also served as the Director of the AIDS Division at AIC Health Ministries.
Mercy Owuor – Community Programs Director
In this role, Mercy oversees the Kenya program team leads and directs the execution of the annual program plan. Prior to serving in the capacity, Mercy worked for the Lwala Community Alliance as the Community Health Manager.She has a background in managing community-based programs, community mobilization, and holds a Masters degree in Community Health and Development from Great Lakes University and a BA in Sociology. Mercy was previously employed by University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences as a Field Study Coordinator.
Emily Mbolo – Education Coordinator
As Education Coordinator, Emily manages education staff and all education programs in the 15 local schools around North Kamagambo. She works with LCA staff, local schools and community members to design and implement effective programs, and monitors and evaluates these programs. Emily’s background is in sociology and political science, community health and development. She previously worked with the Kisumu Medical and Education Trust as community development facilitator, Nairobi University as a research officer, and Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programme as a project officer.
Mark Barasa – Operations Coordinator
As Operations Coordinator, Mark manages operations including transport, security, and buildings and grounds. He is also responsible for procurement, catering and IT. Mark has worked in Lwala since 2011 and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Kenya Methodist University and CPA II section IV. He previously worked with Bethany Kids at Kijabe Hospital and Ultimate Vetserve ltd as Program Accountant. He has over 7 years of experience managing donor funds.
Wycliffe Okoth Omwanda – Head Clinician
As Head Clinician, Wycliffe is responsible for supervision of clinical staff in the facility, including counseling, laboratory, pharmacy, nursing and clinical officers and also works in collaboration with the M&E Officer to conduct monitoring and evaluation activities to ensure continued success of programming. He is registered with the Clinical Officers’ Council of Kenya and experienced in HIV care and treatment, trainer of trainers in TB-HIV co-infection, and trained in Counseling and Programming for Infant and Young child Feeding from Cornell University in collaboration with UNICEF. He previously worked with AIDS Relief at Kendu Adventist Hospital and Kenya AIDS Response Program as the lead clinician. Wycliffe has more than seven years of experience in health care/ clinical management.
Mackenzie Opiyo Okun – Finance Manager
As Finance Manager, Mackenzie is responsible for financial planning, financial record-keeping, financial reporting, and the management of financial risks. He has 14 years of progressive financial management, grants management and office administrative experience in both the private sector and for large NGOs. He has conducted training for 8 affiliates on USAID financial management rules and regulations, contracting and procurement processes and is engaged in the design of costing of strategies, financial and grants management.
Vincent Okoth – Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
Vincent ensures that all grant-specific data as well as department and organizational data is accurately and efficiently collected and analyzed. In addition, he develops and utilizes monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools for the organization’s grants and programs, and educates staff on M&E tools. Vincent previously worked with the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society as a Data Officer and as a Data and Information Officer with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Meshack Wafula – Community Health Nurse Supervisor
As Community Health Nurse Supervisor, Meshack coordinates all public health programming, including programs in maternal health, family planning, WASH, and Youth Peer Providers. Meshack oversees all community health staff, including community health nurses and Community Health Workers. In addition, he coordinates scheduling, training, materials and resources for all community health-related activities.
Catherine Omollo – Nursing Officer in Charge
The Nursing Officer is Charge coordinates the clinical staff in Lwala including Clinical Officers, nurses, lab techs, pharmacy techs, and various aides. Catherine oversees administrative aspects of the clinical care operations and is a leader in the department for building and maintaining high quality clinical care programming.
Winnie Oyugi – Economic Development Officer
The Economic Development Officer manages income generating activities including the sewing cooperative, soap making cooperative, youth groups, and agricultural work. Winnie also works to engage vulnerable groups such as HIV-positive community members and young mothers in income generating activities.
Gilbert Were Okinyi – Human Resources Manager
James Nardella – Executive Director
In his role as Executive Director, James leads program strategy and new business development. Since 2009, he has overseen the expansion of the hospital to serve 3,000 patients per month, school programming that serves 6,000 students annually, and employment opportunities for over 160 Kenyans. Under James’ leadership, annual revenue has tripled through partnerships with a diverse group of corporations, implementing partners, and foundations (such as Ronald McDonald House Charities, USAID, Johnson & Johnson, and the Segal Family Foundation). He holds a Bachelors in Fine Arts from Boston University and a Masters from the department of Leadership, Policies, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University, where he is a frequent guest lecturer. James is married to Jena Lee Nardella, the co-founder of Blood:Water Mission. The Nardellas have a young son and split time between Nashville, TN and their mutual work in East Africa. James sits on the boards of the Shared Trade Alliance, a coalition of social enterprises focused on lifting women out of poverty, and Project Pyramid, an initiative that brings together future leaders of business, education, law, medicine, and religion to learn about global poverty. James enjoys writing and speaking on vocation, global health, and community development.
Katherine Falk – Partnerships and Communications Manager
As Partnerships and Communications Manager, Katherine works on partner and donor development, organizational content and messaging, grant and report writing, event planning, and keeps track of all things related to fundraising. Her background is in education and counseling with at-risk children, and she holds an M.Ed. from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the Lwala team in 2009, Katherine conducted and published educational research and coordinated a federally funded research center at Vanderbilt University. She also has extensive grant writing experience. Katherine has worked with under-resourced communities in Romania, Northern Ireland, and Kenya. Specifically, she has been involved in holistic development efforts in the Turkana region of northwest Kenya and currently serves on the board of Share International. In addition, Katherine leads an afterschool reading program for inner-city children in Nashville, TN.
Kelli Ross – Communications Officer / Special Assistant to the Executive Director
In this role, Kelli manages organizational communication and work flow; conducts donor research and donation tracking; supports the U.S. board; and manages day-to-day details of the office operation. Kelli’s background is in journalism, public relations and peacebuilding. She holds a BA in communication arts from Union University (Jackson, TN) and an MS in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University (Arlington, VA). Prior to joining Lwala, she worked as a freelance writer and photographer, a news reporter at The Jackson (TN) Sun, director of communications for faith-based microfinance organization Five Talents in Vienna, VA, and for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in Washington, DC. She has also worked and studied in Kenya, South Sudan, Liberia, India, Peru, and Israel.
Liz Decker Chamberlain – Impact Manager
As the Impact Manager, Liz coordinates donor reporting, oversees development and implementation of the organization’s M&E strategy, supports partnerships from the Kenya office, hosts visitors to Lwala, and assists with proposal development. Liz’s expertise is in rural development in Africa; she holds an M.A. in international development and international economics from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in communications from George Washington University. Previously, she worked in program management and research in the international arena at the World Bank, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the German Marshall Fund. Liz has first-hand community development experience, living and working in rural Ghana and Liberia. When in Washington, DC, Liz volunteers with Higher Achievement mentoring middle schools students.
Kevin Chamberlain – Systems Officer
In his role as the Systems Officer, Kevin works with LCA’s staff in the Kenya office to enhance information management, analysis, and reporting to improve outcomes for the hospital and outreach programs. As part of this role, Kevin helps manage and implement technology-related partnerships. Kevin is also working to strengthen and institutionalize business processes across the organization. Kevin’s background is in technology solutions with an emphasis on geographic information systems (GIS). He is working on finishing an M.S. in GIS from the University of Maryland, and holds an M.S. in engineering management from George Washington University and a B.A. in psychology from Auburn University. Previously, he worked as a technology and management consultant for ICF International, a technical analyst with the U.S. Navy, and as a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service.
Elizabeth Carr, MBA (Board Chair)
Elizabeth holds a B.A. in Economics and a B.S. in Finance from the University of Richmond. A Michigan native, she returned to her hometown to earn her M.B.A. in 2012. Her professional experience includes the Commodities division of Goldman Sachs and five years as Director of Development at New York Road Runners in New York City. She lives with her husband and two daughters in New York City. She is currently a member of the Diaconate at Redeemer Presbyterian Church and writes for several parenting-related websites.
Cole Barfield, MD, MBA
Cole Barfield, MD, MBA desires to bring his medical and business knowledge together in order to improve the healthcare delivered to patients. Dr. Barfield is a board certified Internal Medicine Physician and cares for patients in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. He completed medical school and medical training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In addition, Dr. Barfield completed his MBA in General Management with a specialization in health care from Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. He enjoys patient care and in particular loves the development of relationships with his patients and their families through trying and critical times in a patient’s life. Furthermore, Cole has interests in preventive care, complex chronic disease management and end of life care, as well as the need for better care coordination both inside and outside the hospital. Outside of clinical practice, Dr. Barfield is currently interested in innovations in healthcare technology that enable operational improvement for physicians and better, more coordinated patient care. Dr. Barfield has experience in both Kenya and Sudan and is interested in multi-dimensional approach to community development in impoverished areas. Dr. Barfield is married to his beautiful wife and blessed with three wonderful children.
Susan Rae Douglas
Susan Douglas, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, consultant, and part-time faculty at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. She received her doctorate at Vanderbilt University with pre- and post-doctoral training at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. Over the past 20 years, Susan has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, community agencies, military facilities, and international aid programs. For the past decade, she has focused on evaluation and development efforts to improve practice in health and mental health care organizations. She has expertise in evidence-based assessment including the integration of routine outcome monitoring and feedback technology into clinical routines. Her passion is collaborating with agency partners to implement innovative practices that are evidence-based and organically grown to enhance sustainability. Susan lives in Nashville, TN, with her family.
Dave Eilers (Board Vice-Chair)
For over 25 years, Dave Eilers has been an enterprise leader in the consumer, B2B, and healthcare industries. A graduate of Syracuse University, Dave began his career in marketing management leading key accounts at Eric Mower Associates, Cowley Associates, Tenaz Import/Export and Syracuse China Corp. In 1998, Dave entered the healthcare industry as the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at B.G. Sulzle, Inc., a member of the Marmon Group of companies. Over the course of nearly 15 years, Dave pioneered new products, opened new international markets (50 country visits) and developed new business models for the healthcare industry through his work with InterV Medical Group/Roundtable Healthcare Partners and NextTech Consulting. In 2008, Dave applied his interest in Open Innovation business models to the co-founding of Blue Highway (originally a Welch Allyn company). With over 40 master research agreements worldwide, Blue Highway is dedicated to creating innovative, intellectual capital regarding early detection and diagnosis of adverse health conditions. Dave’s interest in generating the most cost-effective care models has lead him to currently become involved in remote patient monitoring and mobile health. Throughout his marketing career, Dave has lead two start-up enterprises, raised capital for a number of acquisitions and been involved in a business turnaround and successful exit. Outside of the office, Dave is active in the American Telemedicine Association, serves on the MedTech Board of Directors, and often speaks to groups interested in open innovation and commercialization of emerging technologies.
Caitlin Glover, MPH (Secretary)
Caitlin is the Senior Program Manager for Family Planning with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Prior to this, she served Clinton Health Access Initiative as the Global Program Manager for the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV. She also worked as the Kenya Program Manager at the Lwala Community Alliance for 2 years and served on the board of the organization from 2005-2008. Caitlin received a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University and a bachelors of arts degree in history and education from Dartmouth College. She has worked with a number of global health organizations including the International Family AIDS Program and the Millennium Villages Project and is the recipient of the 2010 Award for Excellence in Global Health from Columbia University. She is based in Tampa, but spends about 30% of the year in the developing world.
Chris Hobday, MBA (Treasurer)
Chris serves as Program Leader for Equifax, driving strategic growth initiatives focused on the company’s consumer credit business. In previous roles with the bureau, he worked as senior financial officer for several sales organizations, led the Sarbanes-Oxley controls program, and completed technical accounting research and SEC filings. Chris began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a financial statement and controls auditor. Serving a three-year term on Hope International’s Financial Advisory Board, Chris helped the organization with financial consolidation and presentation. He earned his BS in Accounting from the University of Richmond, his MBA from Georgia State University, and was an actively-licensed CPA in the state of Georgia for almost ten years. He now lives in Nashville with his family.
Fred Ochieng’, MD (Co-founder, Lwala Community Alliance)
Fred is the third born of Margaret and Erastus Ochieng’s six children born in Lwala. He attended Alliance High School in Kikuyu, Kenya (just outside Nairobi) and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2005. He graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in May 2010 and completed residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at VUMC in 2015. He is currently pursuing a cardiovascular medicine fellowship training at St. Louis University in Missouri. Family, faith, community support, and his friends in Kenya and abroad have helped him immensely in dealing with the painful loss of his parents. He and his brother, Milton Ochieng’, founded the Lwala Community Alliance and built the Ochieng’ Memorial Lwala Community Health Center to honor their parents who died of AIDS.
Milton Ochieng’, MD (Co-founder, Lwala Community Alliance)
Milton Ochieng’ grew up in the small rural village of Lwala in western Kenya. He is the second born in a family of four boys and two girls. His parents were both teachers. He attended Alliance High School in Nairobi, Kenya then attended Dartmouth College in the United States for his undergraduate studies. He graduated from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2008. Currently, Milton practices gastroenterology with the BJC Medical Group at Progress West Hospital, having completed his gastroenterology fellowship at Brown University and internal medicine at Washington University/Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO. Milton and his wife, Laura, live in St, Louis with their two daughters, Ma’lee and Madeleine. He and his younger brother, Frederick Ochieng’, founded the Lwala Community Alliance and built the Ochieng’ Memorial Lwala Community Health Center to honor their parents who died of AIDS.
Joel holds a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College. Originally from Utah, Joel now lives in Boston, MA, where he has spent the past 15-plus years working as a researcher and consultant in the payments industry. He currently works as a Senior Research Manager for Lightspeed Research, specializing in credit and debit card payments. Previously, he spent nine years as a strategy consultant with Dove Consulting. Joel also serves on the Board of Elders for Park Street Church in Boston and has partnered with Charity: Water to help end the clean water crisis and with Kiva to help finance microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. He enjoys reading, hiking, skiing, and visiting new places — having spent time in all 50 states and over 30 countries, including time in Lwala, Kenya. Joel is blessed with a wonderful wife, two sons, and a daughter.
Lindsey Carpenter Toomey, MPA
Lindsey is a health systems strengthening specialist who has lived and worked in Africa for over 20 years. With an MPA in health policy and management from NYU, she managed hospitals in the NY and Boston areas in the 1980’s and early 90’s. Lindsey, her husband David and their three daughters, lived in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa from 1993- 2000. Following the democratic elections of 1994, Lindsey worked with the newly appointed Eastern Cape Minister for Health to establish the first Eastern Cape Department of Health for the African National Congress. Her other professional commitment at that time, was the design and implementation of a model primary healthcare delivery system at the district level, for replication throughout the country. Lindsey and her family moved to the Upper Valley of Vermont in late 2000. She provides technical assistance to a variety of health care consulting companies, funded by USAID and DfID. Lindsey works as a freelance consultant with expertise in health systems development. Her particular area of focus is maternal child health and the infectious diseases of HIV/AIDs, malaria and TB. She also provides analysis and evaluation of healthcare delivery systems and development projects in central, eastern and southern Africa. Lindsey enjoys swimming, mountain biking, hiking, poetry and music of all sorts.
Richard Wamai, PhD
A Kenyan, Richard G. Wamai is an assistant professor at Northeastern University in the Department of African American Studies. He earned his Ph.D. in international health and development from the University of Helsinki, Finland. Prior to joining Northeastern, Wamai was a research fellow at the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard School of Public Health. Before that, Wamai was a research associate at Oxford University Department of Social Policy. Wamai has previously worked in a number of institutions including the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Public Policy and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the World Bank, the London School of Economics Center for Civil Society, the Nordic-Africa Institute in Sweden, and the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Wamai conducts research in the areas of health systems and HIV/AIDS epidemiology and policy in developing countries.
Senator Bill Frist, MD
Doctor and Senator Bill Frist is both a nationally recognized heart and lung transplant surgeon and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Senator Frist majored in health policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs before graduating with honors from Harvard Medical School and completing surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford. As the founder and Director of the Vanderbilt Multi-Organ Transplant Center, he has performed over 150 heart and lung transplants and authored over 100 peer-reviewed medical articles and chapters, over 400 newspaper articles, and seven books on topics such as bioterrorism, transplantation, and leadership. Dr. Frist represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate for 12 years where he served on both Health and Finance committees responsible for writing health legislation. He was elected Majority Leader of the Senate, having served fewer total years in Congress than any person chosen to lead that body in history, and his leadership was instrumental in passage of prescription drug legislation and funding to fight HIV/AIDS at home and around the world. Today Senator Frist is focused on domestic health reform, the basic science of heart transplantation, global health policy, economic development in low-income countries, health care disparities, medical mission work in Sudan, the health of the mountain gorilla, and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Frist annually leads medical mission trips to Africa. Frist is chair of Save the Children’s “Newborn and Child Survival” campaign and the Nashville-based Hope Through Healing Hands. His current board service includes the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Partnership for a Healthier America” campaign to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Kaiser Family Foundation, ONE Vote 2010, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows, and the Advisory Committees for Global Health at Duke and Harvard. Senator Frist was the 2007-2008 Frederick H. Schultz Professor of International Economic Policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the 2010 University Distinguished Professor of Business and Medicine at Vanderbilt University. He is a partner in the private equity firm of Cressey and Company. Senator Frist’s latest book, A Heart to Serve: The Passion to Bring Health, Home, and Healing, is an inspirational treatise of channeling one’s passions to serve others through medicine, politics, and global health. Dr. Frist lives in Nashville, Tennessee
Sten Vermund, MD, PhD
Dr. Vermund is the Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health in Nashville, TN. He also serves as a Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, Preventive Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and as the Amos Christie Chair in Global Health. Dr. Vermund’s research interests lie in infectious disease control and prevention with a focus on developing countries and underserved areas of the southeastern US. Dr. Vermund’s current (2007) funded grants include projects in Mozambique, Zambia, Pakistan/Bangladesh/India, and China . He also has strong ties in Peru (clinical tropical medicine), Jamaica (public health training), Jordan (pediatric respiratory disease surveillance), and Costa Rica (ethics training). Dr. Vermund works closely with the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for AIDS Research; the VU Program in Medicine, Society, and Health; the Center for Epidemiology; and the Institute for Medicine and Public Health. He serves as Principal Investigator of a Family Health International -Vanderbilt grant for the HIV Prevention Trials Network Leadership Group. Dr. Vermund also spearheads the Vanderbilt-Meharry Global Framework Program to develop global health training and curricular content for both institutions.
Joel Vikre works on global health innovation and strategy for Management Sciences for Health in Cambridge, MA. He graduated from Dartmouth College with high honors in ecology and went on to live and work with poor communities in Nicaragua, Mexico, and Kenya. He holds an M.S. in Public Health from the University of California Berkeley, where he wrote an ethnography of changing AIDS stigma in Lwala. From 2006 to 2009, he served as the first Executive Director of the Lwala Community Alliance.
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