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, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness. At the time, the organization had four affiliate offices, 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 Initiative (ATNI) and InterAction, and formerly served on the boards of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and 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 International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Leadership Council Compact of 2025 and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ms. Spahn joined Helen Keller International in March 2005 and is located at headquarters in New York City.
Jim Cox, Chief Operating Officer, has 25 years of senior management experience in the field and in the US offices of international development organizations.
He comes to Helen Keller directly from Lutheran World Relief- IMA World Health (LWR-IMA), where he was Executive Vice President of Health and Emergency Programs. He was Chief Operating Officer for IMA World Health for nearly five years, after serving as Country Director for IMA in Tanzania for five years.
Jim’s expertise in program management includes emergency interventions, as well as livelihoods and health initiatives in partnership with vulnerable communities and major donor agencies including USAID, DFID, UN agencies, and private foundations. He has also improved global operational efficiency for IMA World Health and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), where he held various positions over ten years, including that of Executive Director.
Dr. Emmanuel d’Harcourt, Chief Program and Innovation Officer, is a pediatrician and public health expert with over 20 years of international experience.
Emmanuel has worked as a clinician, researcher, outbreak responder, and manager for organizations including the Pasteur Institute, the International Rescue Committee, and Vital Strategies. He started his international health work as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. At the IRC, he developed new child health programs in six countries, and led a team of sixty professionals providing technical support to programs serving over 20 million people. He has helped to scale child health programs in several countries, including Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Emmanuel has worked primarily in Africa but also in Asia and Latin America. His work focuses on programs that are led by communities and host governments.
Emmanuel received a comparative literature degree from Yale University, a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Public Health from Harvard University; he completed a pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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.
Susan Kotcher, Vice President of External Relations, is a seasoned senior leader, creative fundraising strategist, and external relations expert who has built, restructured, and led high-performing teams for major international development organizations, as well as for national nonprofits.
Her transformative leadership at, most recently, the Rubin Museum of Art, as well as at Pro Mujer, International Rescue Committee, UNICEF USA, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Barnard College, significantly increased revenue; rallied new donors, media, and thought leaders; and strengthened brand awareness, positioning, and market share to advance these organizations respective missions.
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 Intl’s eye health work worldwide, including Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Helen Keller seeks to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment due to cataract, refractive error, diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, and to support integrative education and rehabilitation efforts for visually-impaired children. Additionally, Helen Keller works to prevent vision loss due to onchocerciasis, trachoma, and vitamin A.
Mr. Kourgialis joined Helen Keller in December 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. Mr. Kourgialis serves on the Board of Directors of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness. 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.
Dr. Angela Weaver, Vice President of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), is a public health professional with over 20 years of experience supporting, developing, and leading domestic and international health programs and initiatives. She provides technical oversight and strategic leadership for Helen Keller International’s neglected tropical disease program.
Dr. Weaver joined Helen Keller in 2020. Previously, she served as the Senior Advisor for NTDs at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where she was instrumental in launching USAID’s NTD Program and leading its expansion from 5 to 25 countries. During her 11-year tenure at USAID, she also served as the Agency’s technical lead for lymphatic filariasis and trachoma elimination. Throughout her career she has worked to advance policies and promote partnerships to reach more people in need of NTD treatment and care. She is also an advocate for comprehensive NTD control efforts including morbidity management and disability prevention.
Dr. Weaver earned an MPH from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and a PhD in tropical medicine from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
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
Bill Toppeta, Board Chair
President, Macomber Peak Partners
New York, NY
Henry C. Barkhorn III, Vice Chair
Retired Financial Executive
New York, NY
Desmond G. FitzGerald, Vice Chair
Senior Partner, Holyoke Partners LLC
Peirce Moser, Secretary
New York, NY
David Glassman, Treasurer
President, Prince Management Consulting
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
COO, Authentic Artists, Inc.
New York, NY
Senior Vice President and CFO at Essilor
Freelance Journalist, Deutsche Welle
President, Flying Monkeys Media LLC
Cutberto Garza, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Cornell University
Daniel L. Gray
Chairman & CEO, Northstar Companies, Inc. and Providence Life Assurance Company (Bermuda) Ltd.
TV Personality and Author
New York, NY and Washington, D.C.
New York, NY
David P. LeCause
Vice President, U.S. Eye Care Sales, Allergan, Inc.
Wendy D. Lee, CFA
Managing Partner, Fairview Capital Advisors
John “Jack” Linville, JD
Attorney, Law Office of John Linville
Punta Gorda, FL
Retired Financial Advisor
New York, NY
Reynaldo Martorell, Ph.D.
Robert W. Woodruff Professor of International Nutrition, Senior Advisor, Global Health Institute, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University
Mark J. Menting
Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP
New York, NY
Bradford Perkins, FAIA, MRAIC, AICP
Principal and Executive Director, Perkins Eastman Architects
New York, NY
CEO, CP Conseil, President, Helen Keller International Europe
Retired U.S. Ambassador
Chevy Chase, MD
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
James Tielsch, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Global Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University
Barbara W. Wall
Director, Gannett Co., Inc.
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