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Organizational Leadership

Dr. Hamida Ebadi, MD

Executive Director


We can work for ourselves, but we should also think about the people. What can we do to improve people’s health?”

Dr. Hamida Ebadi is the Executive Director for Empowerment Health. She joined Empowerment Health in 2012 and previously served as a Senior Advisor for the organization based in Kabul. She has wide experience in the field of maternal and child health, having worked as the Medical Officer for Save the Children in the Peshawar, Pakistan Office and Coordinator of Maternal and Children Health clinics in Avicenna. She was also the Reproductive Health Program Director of the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan, where she was responsible for managing the national reproductive health program. Dr. Hamida Ebadi was selected to be a part of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program in Drug Abuse and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she focused on managing and developing evidence-based reproductive, maternal, and child health policies and strategies with the goal of improving maternal and child health services in Afghanistan. Dr. Hamida Ebadi graduated from the Medical Faculty of Kabul University.


Dr. H  (photo withheld)

Senior Advisor

Dr. H is a Senior Advisor for Empowerment Health and is based in Kabul. Born just outside of Kabul, Dr. H has spent nearly a decade working on a wide variety of healthcare and education projects in Afghanistan including public health, community development education, women’s literacy, community health research, reproductive health, and sanitation for organizations including Banyan Tree Network, Afshar Hospital, Afghans for Progressive Thinking, and Partnership for Academics and Development. Dr. H has been working with EH for nearly two years supporting program development.  A graduate of Kabul Medical University, Dr. H  is currently in his final year of residency in Pediatrics at Maiwand Teaching Hospital in Kabul and will be pursing his MPH next year in the United States through the Fulbright Graduate Fellowship Program for citizens of Afghanistan.


Board Members

Evan Russell

Co-Founder and Board President


Evan Russell is Co-Founder and Board President of Empowerment Health. Evan founded Empowerment Health on his fundamental conviction: that ordinary people can do extraordinary things for their health and the health of others. He envisions Empowerment Health as a vessel through which the natural talents of patients and front line providers can be unleashed against the increasingly complicated and tragic health care situations faced around the world.

Since developing an interest in International Health, Evan has lived on five continents where he has worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from health systems strengthening and performance assessment to health technology implementation to scaling up health access in urban populations. He has held leadership position in public, private, and non-profit sector organizations as well as held several fellowships including a Barbara Jordan Health Policy Fellowship (Senator Barack Obama) and Medical Scientist Training Program grant (Johns Hopkins University). Evan is currently an MD/PhD student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health where he studies International Health. He is a graduate of Brown University.


EH HeadshotMariam Mostamandy 

Board Vice-President


Mariam served as the Executive Director of Empowerment Health from 2013 until 2015. Born to Afghan refugees, Mariam was moved by her first visit to Kabul in 2006 and dedicated her life to helping the underserved. She graduated with Lambda Alpha Honors in Anthropology from Santa Clara University and will be matriculating into medical school in 2016.


Timothy Chestontim-150x150

Board Treasurer


Timothy Cheston is on the Board of Directors of Empowerment Health. Tim has wide experience in international development, having worked on issues of community building, education, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, safety nets, and economic policy. He currently serves as a Research Fellow at the Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University. Prior to joining CID, Tim worked for the World Bank in the Social Protection and Labor team for the Latin America and Caribbean region, where he led in the design, negotiation, and supervision of major social protection and labor projects and research in the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Bolivia, and Belize. His research interests focus on the intersection of social policy and economic policy. Previously, Tim led remittance research with the Inter-American Dialogue, worked on microfinance with FINRURAL in Bolivia, and lived in the Dominican Republic, serving undocumented Haitian immigrants. Tim holds a BA in the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs from Princeton University and a Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from Harvard University.


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Bhavya Gowda, MPH

Board Member


Bhavya Gowda is currently a program manager with the Global Health department of the American Cancer Society (ACS).  She provides support and manages implementation of projects in East Africa to improve cancer treatment, such as expanding access to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and pain relief.  Prior to joining ACS, she worked for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in both Lesotho and Ethiopia where she served as a technical advisor to the respective ministries of health to expand access to HIV and TB diagnostics and treatment.   Prior to graduate school, Bhavya worked for Huron Consulting Group with an emphasis on clinical research compliance and operations. Bhavya holds a Masters in Science of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a focus on international health systems and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan – Ross School of Business.


Scott Gorman, JD

Board Member

Scott Gorman is on the Board of Directors of Empowerment Health. A visit to Kabul in 2008 and a desire to assist local health care providers inspired Scott to help found Empowerment Health as an organization dedicated to facilitating community health care in Afghanistan. While in law school, Scott organized the formation of EH as a 501(c)3 non-profit. Scott continues to provide strategic advice to further development and fundraising initiatives. Scott brings a wide-range of legal and business experience to the EH team, having worked with a variety of government and non-profit organizations including the United Nations, US Navy, Native American Rights Fund, and the University of Cape Town. From serving in the prosecutor’s office at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh, to helping civil rights leader Bobby Seale establish a youth-driven non-profit in Oakland, the common thread in Scott’s career has been a focus on community empowerment. The majority of Scott’s time is currently devoted to education-based social ventures in mainland China. Scott holds a BA in Anthropology from Yale University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley Law School where he specialized in international law.


Board Alumni


Shana Platz, JD

Board Alumna

Shana Platz is on the Board of Directors of Empowerment Health. Shana joined Empowerment Health while working as a staff attorney with LegalHealth at the New York Legal Assistance Group, currently serving as an Equal Justice Works fellow focused on providing comprehensive legal services to pregnant women and women with newborns. Shana has worked for several medical-legal partnerships in addition to LegalHealth, as well as in juvenile defense and other areas of poverty law. Inspired by interest in social determinants of health and aiding vulnerable families, Shana brings a focus on the human factor of the Empowerment Health mission. Shana graduated from Georgetown Law after receiving her undergraduate degree from Cornell University in Sociology and Inequality.


Bridget Wild, MD

Board Alumna, Advisory Committee Member

Bridget Wild served as the Founding Secretary of Empowerment Health. Bridget joined Empowerment Health while a medical student at Johns Hopkins University. Bridget has worked in the non-profit sector for several years working on issues of Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault as an Emergency Room Advocate, the Juvenile Justice System in Chicago, immigration reform, and reproductive rights. Additionally she volunteered abroad in Bolivia and Honduras, and coordinated with another NGO in Afghanistan while pursuing her undergraduate degree. Bridget brings a unique skill set to Empowerment Health, as a professional with passion for the pursuit of health as a human right and pediatrics. Bridget graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Public Policy Studies and received her MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is currently a resident in Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Ferhina Ali, MD/MPH

Board Alumna, Advisory Committee Member


Ferhina Ali serves on the Advisory Committee for Empowerment Health. Ferhina joined Empowerment Health as a Sommer Scholar and MD/MPH student at the Johns Hopkins University where she studies diabetic retinopathy in developing world settings. Ferhina brings medical knowledge and programmatic experience, essential to tackling issues of maternal and child health in regions of highest need, in addition to the ability to develop models to meet vision needs in this setting. Her experience includes investigating program implementation of screening and treatment in Bangladesh, supported by a Research to Prevent Blindness Medical Student Fellowship as well as the NIH Fogarty International Framework Grant to complete a randomized clinical trial in Delhi, India, studying the uptake and cost-effectiveness of ready-made spectacles in an urban adult population. Ferhina graduated from the University of Rochester with a joint degree in Neuroscience and Legal Studies and received her MPH from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health as a Sommer Scholar.


Raoul Manalac, MD

Co-Founder and Vice President


Raoul Manalac is Co-Founder and Vice President of Empowerment Health. Raoul founded Empowerment Health based on the belief that no person should be denied health and happiness based on circumstance. His vision is that Empowerment Health will serve as a conduit for all those who share this belief and hopes that it will inspire others to believe in those that are forgotten.

Raoul brings a variety of service oriented experience including work with the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center’s suicide prevention hotline, the KIDSLINE child abuse prevention hotline, and the Louisiana State University student government. Raoul graduated with honors from Louisiana State University, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with an MD, and is currently a resident in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


Lauren Underwood, MSN/MPH

Board Secretary

Lauren Underwood is the Director of Research and Advocacy for Empowerment Health. She brings varied and invaluable experience to her work on Empowerment Health’s Board of Directors from the federal government, Capitol Hill, clinical practice, and nursing research. Lauren graduated from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with a degree in Nursing and received a joint Masters degree from Johns Hopkins University in Nursing and Public Health.


Brittany Parker

Creative Director

Brittany Parker is the Creative Director for Empowerment Health, joining the organization in spring 2012. She brings a dedicated passion and energy to her work with Empowerment Health, leveraging her diverse experiences to help EH make a lasting impact on maternal and child health in Afghanistan. Brittany has a wide range of communications experience from both the public and private sectors, having worked on several state and national-level political campaigns and for corporate clients in the healthcare, transportation, and financial services sectors. She also has experience developing outreach initiatives for non-profits such as the Roosevelt Institute, Green Bicycle Project, Arkansas State Soccer Association, and MASA Israel. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in International Area Studies, and currently handles media relations for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


Jack Hanlon

Communications Consultant


Jack Hanlon is the Communications Consultant for Empowerment Health. Jack joined Empowerment Health while working for The Epic Media Group as an Analyst. Recently named to the Forbes top “30 under 30”, Jack has diverse experience with understanding and effectively communicating business missions and needs, having worked for giants like Google, international powers such as Mercury Engineering in Dublin, Ireland, financial mainstays like Bear Stearns and Walter J Dowd on the NYSE and an e-commerce startup called Better World Books that worked raising funds for several global nonprofits (including Books for Africa, Room to Read, Worldfund and The National Center for Family Literacy). Jack has also written financial analysis for Bloomberg Radio and edited articles published in Forbes magazine. Jack is the product of a Jesuit education, high school and college, and has always followed the mantra “a man for others.” Jack graduated from The College of the Holy Cross with a degree in Music and English.

 In Memoriam


Jerry Umanos, MD

Community Health Coordinator

 The late Dr. Jerry Umanos was a Community Health Coordinator and EH volunteer based in Kabul. Dr. Jerry dedicated over three decades to improving children’s health in his hometown of Chicago and most recently in Kabul where he worked with several groups including CURE Healthcare Management Services, CURE Hospital in Afghanistan, and Afshar Hospital. In his third year with Hope Family Medicine Afghanistan’s Family Medicine Residency program and the Ferozkoh Family Health Center, Dr. Jerry coordinated one of Afghanistan’s only residency training programs and directed clinical care for under-served residents of Kabul.

Dr. Jerry was instrumental in forming all aspects of EH’s community health programs until his death in April of 2014. In addition to providing residents for community health worker training, Dr. Jerry personally led formative research efforts. A graduate of Wayne State University School of Medicine, Dr. Jerry completed his residency at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. In Chicago, Dr. Jerry was a board certified pediatrician with Lawndale Christian Health Center where he provided clinical care and worked on a variety of urban health initiatives.