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Executive Management Team

Kathy Spahn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Helen Keller International, works closely with the Board of Trustees, global leaders in public health, staff members throughout Helen Keller International, partner organizations, and Helen Keller International supporters in carrying out her responsibilities.

Prior to joining Helen Keller, Ms. Spahn was President and Executive Director of Orbis, a global non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of blindness in the developing world. At the time, the organization had four affiliate offices and five country programs, and a medical volunteer corps of 370. Prior to her work with Orbis, she was Executive Director of God’s Love We Deliver, a New York-based AIDS service organization dedicated to combating malnutrition and hunger among people living with HIV/AIDS.

Ms. Spahn serves on the Boards of Directors of the Access to Nutrition Foundation (ATNF), InterAction and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and formerly served on the board of the Bernadotte Foundation for Children’s Eyecare. She is a founding board member of both the North America chapter of IAPB and the Association of Nutrition Services Agencies (ANSA), and a founding partner of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control. She also serves on the 2020 and Strategic Advisory Council of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and IFPRI’s Leadership Council Compact of 2025. She joined Helen Keller International in March 2005 and is located at headquarters in New York City.

Patricia Manyari, Chief Financial Officer, oversees all fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities of the organization. In her role, she ensures that Helen Keller International has strong financial and accounting systems in place in order to provide transparency, accountability and efficiency in all financial transactions of the organization. Ms. Manyari started at Helen Keller International in January 2012. She brings 23 years of experience in financial management of international non-profit organizations, implementing sound accounting practices and high financial standards, both in the field and at the headquarters level; and has extensive experience in compliance with various governmental regulations.

She comes to Helen Keller International from the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) in Washington, D.C., where she served as Director of Finance for over six years, three of them in Bogota, Colombia. At PADF headquarters, Ms. Manyari managed the organization’s annual budget of $55 million and monitored approximately forty projects in seven different countries in Latin America.

Other prior experience includes serving as Deputy Chief Financial Officer at CHF International’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. for five years and as VP for Finance at PACT Inc.’s Washington headquarters for ten years, three of them in Peru.

Vice Presidents

Rolf Klemm, Vice President of Nutrition, has more than 25 years of professional experience in international public health nutrition with expertise that spans nutrition efficacy and effectiveness research and program design, management and evaluation.

He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (Philippines, 1979-81), Indochinese Refugee Program Supervisor (1982-84), Program Manager and Country Director for Helen Keller International (Philippines, 1986-98), Senior Technical Advisor and Technical Director of USAID’s flagship A2Z micronutrient program (2009-11), and Hopkins faculty member and principal and/or co-investigator (1998-present) for studies in Asia (Nepal, Pakistan,Bangladesh, Philippines) and Sub-Saharan Africa (DRC, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia).

He currently serves as Vice President for Nutrition with Helen Keller International and holds a faculty appointment at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Nicholas Kourgialis, Vice President for Eye Health, provides administrative and programmatic direction and oversight for Helen Keller’s eye health programs worldwide. Helen Keller’s eye health programs seek to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment due to cataract, refractive error, trachoma and onchocerciasis and also to support integrative education and rehabilitation efforts for visually impaired children. Eye health programs are currently conducted in over eighteen countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Mr. Kourgialis joined Helen Keller International in December of 2003. He brings over thirteen years of related experience to his work at Helen Keller, having spent his career specializing in public health and social service interventions addressing the needs of disadvantaged children. He is based at headquarters in New York City.

Ric Plaisance, Vice President for Information and Operations Systems, has worked with Helen Keller International since 2004. He is responsible for the development and management of systems that support the work of headquarter operations and Helen Keller International’s international network of field offices.

Previously, Mr. Plaisance served for ten years as the Executive Director for Settlement Health where he managed the operations and services of this community health center providing primary health care to the East Harlem community. In addition Mr. Plaisance created and led the NinthBridge program of EngenderHealth, providing information system consultation services to the international NGO community.

Helen Keller International, Europe

An affiliate organization

Alix de Nicolay, Managing Director of Helen Keller International Europe, reopened the Paris office in 1998 with the two-fold mission of raising funds and increasing visibility. She is responsible for positioning, developing and managing the Helen Keller International brand in Europe, which includes: identifying individual, corporate and foundation donors; establishing corporate and institutional partnerships; and writing and submitting proposals. She also manages European-funded programs, establishes media relations, organizes special events and works closely with the Paris Board of Trustees.

Mrs. de Nicolay was formerly in charge of development for the French-American Foundation in New York. She has previously worked for several French and American companies, UNICEF’s Special Events Section, and the Department of Information at the United Nations Secretariat in New York. She joined Helen Keller International in December 1998 and is located at the Paris office.

Board of Trustees

Henry C. Barkhorn III, Chairman

Retired Financial Executive

New York, NY

Desmond G. FitzGerald, Vice Chair

Senior Partner, Holyoke Partners LLC

Greenwich, CT

Bill Toppeta, Vice Chair

President, Macomber Peak Partners

New York, NY

Peirce Moser, Secretary


New York, NY

David Glassman, Treasurer

President, Prince Management Consulting

New York, NY

Randy C. Belcher

Executive Vice President, Asia Pacific Fossil Inc.

Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

D. Brooks Betts

President, Riverview Asset Consulting Inc.

New York, NY

Jennifer A. Buda

Partner, Management & Capital Partners

New York, NY

R.V. Paul Chan, M.D., MSc, F.A.C.S.

Professor and Vice Chair Director, Pediatric Retina and ROP Service, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Illinois

Chicago, IL

Anthony Dorment

COO, Authentic Artists, Inc.

New York, NY

Diana Fong

Freelance Journalist, Deutsche Welle

Berlin, Germany

Cutberto Garza, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Cornell University

Baltimore, MD

Daniel L. Gray

Chairman & CEO, Northstar Companies, Inc. and Providence Life Assurance Company (Bermuda) Ltd.

Charleston, SC

Carla Hall

TV Personality and Author

New York, NY and Washington, D.C.

Board Member Gigi Jorissen

Gigi Jorissen

Retired Consultant

New York, NY

David P. LeCause

Vice President, U.S. Eye Care Sales, Allergan, Inc.

Irvine, CA

Board Member Wendy Lee

Wendy D. Lee, CFA

Managing Partner, Fairview Capital Advisors

Redding, CT

John “Jack” Linville, JD

Attorney, Law Office of John Linville

Punta Gorda, FL

Reynaldo Martorell, Ph.D.

Robert W. Woodruff Professor of International Nutrition, Senior Advisor, Global Health Institute, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University

Atlanta, GA

Mark J. Menting

Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP

New York, NY

Beverly Miller Orthwein


Greenwich, CT

Bradford Perkins, FAIA, MRAIC, AICP

Principal and Executive Director, Perkins Eastman Architects

New York, NY

Chantal Piani

CEO, CP Conseil, President, Helen Keller International Europe

Paris, France

Bruce E. Spivey, M.D., M.S., M.Ed.

Past President International Council of Ophthalmology, Past President, Pacific Vision Foundation

San Francisco, CA

Melissa R. Thompson

President, Alcon Foundation, Head, Corporate Social Responsibility, Alcon Laboratories

Forth Worth, TX

Portrait of Dr. Jim Tielsch

James Tielsch, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Global Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University

Washington, D.C.

Barbara Wall, Trustee of Helen Keller International

Barbara W. Wall

Director, Gannett Co., Inc.

Washington, D.C.

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