ReSurge’s Staff


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, Sr. Advisor for Advocacy and Innovation

Sara has more than 25 years of extensive experience in journalism, advocacy and all aspects of public relations. At ReSurge, she founded the organization’s advocacy program, developed its burns advocacy and oversaw its communications and strategic alliances, including Stanford University’s Design for Extreme Affordability. Sara also serves as chair of the external affairs committee and was a founding member of The G4 Alliance (The Global Alliance for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma and Anesthesia Care), an advocacy coalition of 70 global organizations working to increase access to safe surgery worldwide.

Much of Sara’s career was based in Washington, DC, where she worked on Capitol Hill and for numerous campaigns and nonprofits lobbying the government for various causes. Sara received her master’s degree from Georgetown University and also was selected as one of the first participant fellows of the Maxwell School’s Transnational NGO Leadership Initiative. She now lives in Palo Alto, California with her family.


Brieanne Auten, Medical Programs Logistics Coordinator

Brieanne, a California native, received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Francisco State
University. Prior to ReSurge, Brieanne worked for a non-profit counseling center and decided that she wanted to broaden her work experience to include international development. In her spare time, Brieanne is working towards her black belt in martial arts, enjoys exotic cuisine, and performs with a local dance troupe.

Brieanne’s responsibilities include all the logistics for getting our volunteers into the field, from
flight planning to on-site accommodations.  She enjoys international travel and witnessing first-hand the work that ReSurge is accomplishing.


Anne Cavanaugh, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer

Anne has more than 20 years of experience in communications, marketing and account management, primarily in the technology industry. Most recently, Anne joins ReSurge from Zyme Solutions, a B2B enterprise software company focused on channel data management. Prior to Zyme, Anne held senior marketing positions in several software, hardware and technology analyst companies, including E2Open, Gartner, and Jabil.

Anne holds an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, as well as a B.A. in Economics and English, also from the University of Michigan. She has lived and worked abroad in Japan, China and France, and spent a year and a half traveling in the developing world, where she saw firsthand the need for the reconstructive surgical care ReSurge provides. She is the chair of the board of Helios School, an independent K-8 school for the gifted in Sunnyvale, CA.


Jim Chang, MD, FACS, Consulting Medical Officer

Dr. James Chang, the Johnson & Johnson Distinguished 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 additionally serves as director of the plastic and hand surgery laboratory.

Renowned for his expertise in hand and microsurgery, Chang serves as President of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH). 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 was also a director of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Chang received his bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Economics 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.


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.


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 sites.

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.”


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. (show less)


Michelle Nathanson, Chief Development Officer

Michelle joins ReSurge from the Silicon Valley Jewish Federation, where she served as chief development officer. While there, she increased the organization’s endowment, and implemented a very successful legacy giving program, creating a culture of legacy giving and an appreciation for its importance.

Prior to the Silicon Valley Jewish Federation, Michelle held senior development roles in various organizations, including Hope for Housing, the Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (Denver).

Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in science in public administration from University of Arizona, and a MSW from Yeshiva University. 


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, 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 2004.