Jeff Whisenant, President and CEO
Jeff is an experienced leader in the nonprofit sector, with more than 20 years of global experience in international development and relief. He has held high-level executive positions at Lutheran World Relief in Baltimore, Pact Inc. in Washington, D.C., and Orbis International in New York.
Most recently he spent nine years at Lutheran World Relief, which works to provide solutions to international poverty and injustice. He led finance, fundraising and governance programs, and served eight months as interim president and CEO.
Jeff also served as chair of the board of ActionAid USA. The organization works to advance human rights and reduce world poverty.
He has a chemistry degree from the University of North Carolina and a master’s degree in international political economy and development from Fordham University. He earned a second master’s in public and nonprofit management from New York University, and he went back for a year to teach a class on how to run an international NGO.
An East Coast transplant, Jeff is living in California for the first time in his life. His immediate goals include visiting wine country, exploring Yosemite and other national parks, and biking across the northern part of the state.
Jeff is an experienced traveler. He has worked assignments in 29 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. He has also visited 80 countries in six continents. Next on his list is Nepal, which happens to be one of the countries where ReSurge has an especially talented local team.
He is fluent in French and Spanish. He can also speak a bit of Catalan, Portuguese and Haitian Creole.
Sara E. Anderson, Chief Advocacy Officer
Sara has more than 25 years of extensive experience in journalism,
advocacy and all aspects of public relations. Most of her career has
been based in Washington, DC, where she worked on Capitol Hill and for
nonprofits lobbying the government, including as a: writer and public affairs
consultant for a leading international humanitarian organization; director of
public relations and marketing for a national trade association; managing
editor of a national nonprofit’s magazine; congressional press secretary; and
media consultant for a presidential campaign.
Sara now lives in Palo Alto with her family and their golden retrievers, Scooter and Charlie. She is a volunteer with the Ragazzi Boys Chorus and was a member of Human Rights Watch’s California
Committee North. Originally from Texas, Sara received her master’s degree
from Georgetown University, focusing her studies in political philosophy and
media and ethics.
Christiaan Canter, Chief Development Officer
As chief development officer, Chris is responsible for all channels of fundraising, including the annual fund, major gifts, planned giving corporate and foundation relations, and events. Chris has dedicated his career to serving disadvantaged families and youth, and brings more than 20 years of experience to the role. He has held executive positions at InnVision Shelter Network, the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, Larkin Street Youth Services and Healthright 360 (formerly Walden House).
Chris is certified through The Fundraising School at the University of Indiana School of Philanthropy. He serves as a trustee of the GGS Foundation, which supports community-based, nonprofit organizations building self-reliance in at-risk or disadvantaged children and youth in San Francisco and Marin County. He currently resides in San Mateo, California with his family.
Jim Chang, MD, FACS, Consulting Medical Officer
Dr. Jim Chang, professor and chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University Medical Center, assesses and refines ReSurge's medical program strategy for safety, quality assurance, effectiveness and impact. His relationship with the organization dates back to 1998, when he served on the ReSurge volunteer surgical team to Quang Ngai, Vietnam. Chang also is an attending surgeon at Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, where he also serves as director of the plastic and hand surgery laboratory.
Renowned for his expertise in hand surgery, Chang currently serves as treasurer of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) and was previously its research director. Chang also served as editor of the Hand Volume of Converse's Plastic Surgery (the authoritative textbook in plastic surgery), editor-in-chief of the Yearbook of Hand Surgery and an associate editor of the Journal of Hand Surgery, Annals of Plastic Surgery, Hand, and Microsurgery. Chang also is a director of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Surgical Association. Chang received his bachelor's degrees from Stanford University. He graduated from Yale Medical School and completed his residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University Medical Center and hand fellowship at UCLA Medical Center.
Beverly Kent, Chief Operations Officer and Medical Programs Officer
Beverly, a native of northern California, received her bachelor’s degree from
the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in psychology from
California State University, Fullerton and a master of business administration
degree from San Jose State University. She lived in France, Belgium, and
southern California before returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1996
with her three sons. After several years of teaching English as a second
language, Beverly studied to become a psychotherapist.
Her responsibilities include supporting the organization's CEO, staffing medical personnel on team trips, acting
as liaison between ReSurge and the medical specialty committees, and overseeing
the patient care improvement program.
Suzanne Barron, Assistant Director of Annual Giving (Pacific Southwest)
Suzanne joined the ReSurge development team in December 2014. As the Assistant Director of Annual Giving for the Pacific Southwest, she works with donors, volunteers, partners and other constituents in Southern California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Suzanne's professional background includes executive positions in the entertainment industry, where she licensed films, television programs and music content internationally for companies including MGM, HBO and ABC.
She has a bachelor's degree in French from UC Berkeley and a master's degree in communications management from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Suzanne is passionate about ReSurge's mission and has also been active with community organizations including the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica, My Bridge 4 Life, Violence Policy Center and School on Wheels. She resides in Santa Monica.
Marcella D. Brawley, Assistant Director, Annual Giving
Born and raised in the Bay Area and with a background in East Asian international relations, Marcella joined ReSurge's development team in August 2013. For the last five years, Marcella has combined her passion for International affairs, humanitarian work and fundraising in a nonprofit setting, and is coming to us most recently from the American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter. Marcella received her bachelor's degree from Hawaii Pacific University and her master's from the University of San Francisco.
She has lived and worked in China and is proficient in Mandarin, French and Italian. As the new assistant director of annual giving, Marcella is excited to collaborate with her team in raising funds to support the mission of ReSurge.
Jim Dirck, Director, Medical Supply Services
Jim Dirck was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has more
than 25 years of experience in supply chain management and medical
support services. He is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz,
where he studied literature and philosophy. He met the late Jim Warych,
former ReSurge medical supply services director, in 1981 when both worked
for Alexian Brothers Hospital in San Jose, California. In 1999 he began working with
Jim Warych in a part-time role at ReSurge.
He rejoined the ReSurge team on a full-time basis in July 2005, and in 2012 transtioned to part-time in the same capacity. He also currently serves as manager of central services at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City. Jim’s interests include old radios,
collecting movies and rooting for Bay Area sports teams—especially the
Giants. He lives in the redwoods with his wife and five children.
George Gregory, MD, Anesthesia Director
A world leader in pediatric anesthesiology, George joined ReSurge as anesthesia
director in 2004. Working part-time, George focuses on education and
training for international medical partners, as well as recruitment of volunteer
anesthesiologists. He is also an ex-officio member of ReSurge’s anesthesia,
medical services and quality assurance committees. George has
volunteered with ReSurge since the 1980s, leading volunteer surgical teams to a variety of
George founded the pediatric anesthesiology program at the University
of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the 1960s and he remains at UCSF
as a professor of anesthesia and pediatrics. He is the author and editor of
hundreds of medical articles and books, including Pediatric Anesthesia, the
leading textbook on the subject. George has received numerous awards from
the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), including the Distinguished
Career Award for Critical Care in 1998.
“I have spent my life teaching. I
teach anesthesia residents and medical students and nurses in the United
States...but it’s not the same thing. The students in the United States can
get this information from lots of people,” said George. “By teaching medical
professionals in developing countries, I know I’m actually doing something for
somebody that couldn’t be done otherwise; something that makes a difference
in their lives and the lives of their patients.”
Woodrow Covington, Associate Director, Medical Programs & Impact
Woodrow is a California native whose interest in global development and social justice has taken him from West Africa to East Asia. He comes to us from Freedom House, a Washington-based organization that works to improve human rights and governance around the world. Prior to that he worked on natural-resource issues in Sierra Leone and taught English in South Korea. An avid outdoorsman, he also spent seven years as a river guide near Lake Tahoe, where he led rafters through sections ranging from challenging Class III sections to hazardous Class V rapids.
Woodrow graduated from the University of California, San Diego. He has a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in French literature. He also has a Master of Arts in conflict resolution from Georgetown University. He is proficient in French and also speaks some Spanish and Korean.
Ken Nessel, Medical Supplies Associate
Ken was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After having lived in
Humboldt for 25 years, he recently moved to Sunnyvale, California, and is
quickly getting familiar with his new home. Prior to ReSurge, Ken worked for
years at St Joseph’s Hospital in Humboldt as a sterile processor,
experience which he brings to our organization. Ken feels very fortunate to be
able to apply his medical skills to help the less fortunate around the world.
Dora Rusin-Gomez, MD, Associate Director, Volunteer Services & Medical Supplies
Dora was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. In 1998, she graduated from
the Escuela Colombiana de Medicina, Universidad El Bosque in Bogotá and
became a licensed practitioner of general medicine and worked in the university’s
pharmacology department. After obtaining her degree, Dora moved to
the San Francisco Bay Area where she worked to help the local Hispanic
community as a medical interpreter at Stanford Hospital.
Concurrently, she studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz and obtained a certificate in
clinical trials design and management. In 2000, Dora began working with the
National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy, which combined her passion
for working with children and horses. Dora began working for ReSurge in
Emelyn C. Erickson, Medical Programs Coordinator
Emelyn graduated with honors from Duke University with a degree in global health. In school she participated in study-abroad programs that took her all over the world, including Japan and Jerusalem. She also assisted with projects involving AIDS awareness in Morocco and neonatal health issues in China. Emelyn enjoys learning new languages, a passion she developed in middle school when she tried to imitate Eliza Doolittle’s Cockney accent and realized how much she enjoys exotic sounds. She has gone on to learn Spanish, French, Chinese and beginning Arabic.
Emelyn volunteers as a doula in her spare time. She also enjoys dancing West Coast Swing, and she might have become a famous gymnast if it weren’t for that fateful week as a 12-year-old when she decided to keep practicing even though she had stress fractures in both wrists, and ended up with a broken toe.
Cessie Spearing, Assistant Director for Communications and Advocacy
Cessie is a native of Huntsville, Alabama, and joined ReSurge in October 2013. After obtaining a bachelor's degree in digital media from the University of Alabama, she served as a health education volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Tanzania, where she worked with local leaders to develop and implement HIV/AIDS programs in her community. Upon completion of her service, Cessie accepted a position with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, as the communications advisor where she worked until 2013.
Having spent the past four years in East Africa, Cessie is happy to be closer to stateside family and friends while being able to continue international work with ReSurge.
Amanda Thomas, Manager of Annual Giving & Stewardship
Amanda joined ReSurge after completing her M.S. in International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. While in graduate school, Amanda worked for a refugee resettlement agency and spent a summer studying in Seoul, Korea. She earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science from Armstrong Atlantic State University and interned with the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Amanda looks forward to collaborating with the development team and streamlining database management processes and procedures to better serve the mission of ReSurge. When not in the office, Amanda can be found exploring local hiking trails and beaches with her dog.