For over 25 years, hundreds of dedicated and hard-working volunteers have donated their time, professional expertise, and resources to VHI’s mission of restoring the gift of sight for tens of thousands of adults and children in Latin America.
Dr. Rottman has been in private practice since 1989 and was Board certified in 1991. He has been actively involved with the St. Mary’s Hospital Family Practice Residency Program in Grand Junction since 1992.
Dr. Rottman joined VHI in 1990, following his first field program to San Isidro, Costa Rica. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors since 1996. His duties with VHI include trip and medical director for the Piura, Peru field programs since 2005.
“VHI has allowed me to realize my professional dream of making a difference in the World and continually reaffirms my decision to pursue a career in medicine.”
Mr. O’Rourke is the author of numerous magazine articles, essays, VHI newsletters, and two histories of Colorado. He has been a volunteer participant—with wife and ophthalmologist, Melinda C. O’Rourke, MD—since 1999, following his first trip with VHI to Leon, Nicaragua. He has served on the VHI Board of Directors since 2005.
“On each trip with VHI, the patients remind me, through their words and actions, what humility and gratitude and strength of character truly mean.”
Mr. DiFolco has been affiliated with VHI since 1999 and has served as a member of the Board of Directors since 2005.
“VHI performs much needed work for the blind and under-privileged in Latin America. It is important for me to contribute, as best I can, in any way I can, to that effort.”
Ms. Burns has pursued a career in public health nursing since 1990. She has developed skills in individual and community assessment, team building, clinic and staff coordination, and adult and child education.
She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador in 1987 when she first participated with VHI, during the Cariamanga field program. Ms. Burns has served as a member of VHI’s Board of Directors since 1994. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.
“VHI brings into focus why I chose nursing as a career. Even with modest resources VHI accomplishes a great deal, for in just one trip, in just one week’s time, many lives are profoundly changed for the better.”
Dr. Whitten attended UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. He is Fellowship trained in oculoplastic surgery. Dr. Whitten is in private practice, specializing in pediatric ophthalmology and oculoplastic surgery at the Eye Medical Center in Fresno. He serves on the boards of Fresno State Foundation and UCSF Fresno Foundation.
Dr. Whitten is a founding member of VHI and has been a volunteer participant on over 35 field programs since 1985.
“After numerous VHI trips I can say with great satisfaction that our work has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people. My work with VHI affirms, both personally and professionally, my decision to go to medical school.”
Mrs. Whitten’s career includes positions as staff nurse, OR nurse, and Manager of Surgical Services at Fresno Community Hospital from 1970 to 1991. As a Registered Nurse she has been associated with the California Eye Institute since 1991.
Kay is a founding member of VHI, and has been a volunteer participant and Director of Nursing since 1985. She also served as Equipment and Supply Director from 1985 to 2009.
“Post-op rounds on VHI trips are so special. When the eye patch is removed and the patient can see her family for the first time in years, the look that comes over her face is, well…it’s hard put to the emotions into words. Let’s just say, it’s why we do what we do.”
Dr. Bates began his private practice in ophthalmology in 1965. He retired in 2003. He is a retired Navy Captain with 34 years of active and reserve duty. Dr. Bates now serves on the Board of Directors of IDignity, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting in the process of obtaining legal identification for the homeless and poor in central Florida. Dr. Bates performs eye exams for the Orange County Health Department and Grace Medical Home. He served on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church from 1997 to 2003.
Dr. Bates has been associated with VHI since 1990, following his first field program to San Isidro, Costa Rica. He has been a volunteer participant on two dozen field programs and has worked in every country served by VHI.
“I believe that God has given me a special gift and I am lead to share it with those who would otherwise be blind. With VHI I have found the perfect vehicle with which to do this.”
Mr. Bourns is a community activist and volunteer in the Hartford area. He has been a member of VHI’s Board of Directors and a volunteer participant since 2009. His first VHI trip was to Limon, Costa Rica.
“I am committed to community involvement and I believe in the notion of thinking globally and acting locally. My experience with VHI has allowed me to witness—first hand—the impact of the organization’s good work in Latin America, performed as it is by a fine group of talented, professional, and dedicated volunteers. VHI has afforded me the opportunity to work with highly motivated people for a good cause and to fulfill my desire to act globally as well as locally.”
Annie Chang, MD—Board Member
Ophthalmologist. Denver, Colorado
Annina Griggs, RN—Board Member
Registered Nurse. Lutherville, Maryland
Annina Arthes-Griggs, RN, BSN is a graduate from The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. She is currently an Alumni Association board member.
Mrs. Griggs has worked for Dulaney Eye Institute since 1995 as both an OR and PACU nurse and as a nurse educator. She also coordinates the Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement Program. She joined the Vision Health International team in 2006 following the completion of her first field program in Guatemala. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors since 2010.
“As an American woman with strong Latin American roots I feel VHI is exactly where I belong. This organization has made it possible for me to utilize my nursing skills to help patients in need in Latin America.”
Dr. Kinnick has been in private practice since 2006 as a staff Anesthesiologist at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. In 2009 he participated on his first field program with VHI to Piura, Peru. He has been “hooked” ever since. Dr. Kinnick joined the VHI Board of Directors in 2012.
“Helping others, through my work in medicine, has always been my goal in life. Being able to enhance the lives of others through my work with VHI is—and will continue to be—a truly meaningful and spiritual experience for me. Helping others is what makes one’s life whole.”
Dr. Prince in an Optometrist in private practice in San Diego. She served two tours of active duty as a Navy Optometrist before returning to civilian practice. Dr. Prince is a member of the American Academy of Optometry, American Optometric Association, and the San Diego Optometric Society.
Dr. Prince has been a VHI volunteer participant since 2000, her first trip being to Leon, Nicaragua. She has been a member of VHI’s Board of Directors since 2010. Dr. Prince is the Director of VHI’s Eyeglass Distribution Program.
“Being a member of VHI’s Board of Directors has given me insight into the tremendous amount of behind the scenes work that goes into a successful medical field program. As a volunteer, I’ve had the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of people with very limited or no access to eye care. Something as simple as one pair of glasses can have such a great impact on an individual’s ability to learn or gain employment. I can honestly say that my experiences with VHI have been some of the most personally rewarding of my life.”
Dr. Stern has been in private practice for over 30 years. He is Fellowship trained in cataract and corneal surgery. Dr. Stern is the Medical Director of the Connecticut Eye Bank.
He has been a VHI volunteer participant, with wife Cyndi, since 2001 and has served as Medical Director for field programs to El Fuerte, Mexico and Chinandega, Nicaragua. Dr. Stern joined the VHI Board of Directors in 2006.
“Every mission trip is memorable and changes the lives of the people we treat as well as the lives of the volunteers who are part of the team. VHI is one of the finest organizations I have worked with in over 30 years of ophthalmic medical practice.”
Vincent J. Whelan, CFP®—Board Member
Principal and Founder of Whelan Financial. Fresno, California
Mr. Whelan began his business career in 1988. He is the founder of Whelan Financial, an independent Registered Investment Advisor. Mr. Whelan received his BA from the College of the Holy Cross in 1972 and his Certified Financial Planner designation in 1994. He is Past President of the San Joaquin Valley Health Consortium.
“My position on VHI’s Board of Directors is an opportunity for me to make an impact in the world and to be part of a team that dedicates itself to assisting those who are without medical and vision care.”
International Advisory Council
Javier Córdoba Umaña, MD
San José, Costa Rica
Frank J. Huezo
Nicole Fedoravicius has conducted grass roots as well as tree tops research since 1995. She has extensive experience working with school districts, non-profit organizations, hospitals and governmental agencies. Nicole is well-versed in a variety of methodogical techniques including interviews, focus groups, and surveys. She has spent the majority of her career working in diverse environments and with a wide array of populations (i.e., including but not limited to school-aged children, youth in foster care and immigrants). Nicole became a VHI volunteer in 2005.
“VHI, as an organization, just makes a lot of sense to me: work with countries who formally invite you; collaborate with governments, local ophthalmologists and hospitals/surgery centers who want you; volunteer with people who share the same desired outcomes as you and provide care to people who wouldn’t receive it, if not for you. Makes for the most productive, and gratifying week of work!”
Ms. Goodale has thirty years experience in public health and community-based health programs in Northern California, with a principal focus on primary and prenatal health care. Her work is dedicated to improving access to high quality health care for low-income, uninsured individuals. She is affiliated with numerous charitable organizations, including The Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valley, Amigos de las Americas, Clinic Ole, and Healthy Moms and Babies.
Cindy is a founding member of VHI. She was a volunteer participant on VHI’s first surgical program with Dr. Rodney Abernethy to Guaranda, Ecuador in 1985. She served as VHI’s Executive Director from 1985 to 2011. As Chief Program Officer she is responsible for developing new field program locations and implementing three annual field programs with government ministries and health care agencies in Latin America. She is bilingual in written and spoken Spanish and English.
“When I think of the work VHI does and why it is a privilege for me to volunteer with the organization, I am reminded of a quote from Helen Keller, “There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.” If VHI can help just one person regain their vision, their life’s work, and their hopes and dreams for a brighter future, then we have done our job.”
Grand Junction, Colorado
Effective September 6, 2012