Ann Rhomberg grew up in a big Iowa family, and became part of an even bigger family when she joined Solidarity Bridge as Associate Director in 2007. She has been Executive Director since 2012. What most drew her to Solidarity Bridge was our vision of helping those in need within the context of mutuality. “We all have needs and this work challenges us to think differently about who’s helping who.” Ann is passionate about expanding the message and mission of Solidarity Bridge, creating an effective day-to-day work environment, and strengthening our infrastructure for years to come. Her prior work included social work, healthcare administration and management consulting.
Megan Kennedy-Farrell first traveled to Latin America more than twenty years ago as an undergraduate student. Since then, she has accompanied delegations and immersion groups of college students and religious leaders throughout Central and South America. Megan is deeply committed to a “faith that does justice.” With a Masters degree in Religious Education from the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago, Megan’s past work included campus minister at Loyola University Chicago, Program Coordinator at the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America and Director of Peacebuilders Initiative at Catholic Theological Union. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Br. David Darst Center, Witness for Peace and Nazareth Farm. Megan lives in Evanston with her husband and two young children who provide daily inspiration for this journey of solidarity and justice.
Mary’s deepest joy draws from being part of the diverse communities of the Americas. With graduate degrees in education and literature, Mary led a technical school in a UN refugee camp at the Salvadoran-Honduran border in the 1980s, monitored peace-buildingand health projects with the American Friends Service Committee in post-war Central America, and served as a consultant to Irish Aid, CARE, Lutheran World Relief, and other agencies to advance health and poverty reduction in Latin America. An advocate for the human rights of immigrants, Mary served on leadership teams at the National Immigrant Justice Center and St. Pius V’s Casa Juan Diego Youth Center in Chicago. She loves music, poetry, and biking and hiking with her family.
Jodi Grahl’s passion for her work connects to her past. “While backpacking through southern Mexico as a college student, I found myself in a remote health clinic in the Chiapas rainforest, standing in line to see a doctor. There I witnessed a desperate scene of a young indigenous couple seeking help for their severely dehydrated child. I knew then that I was obligated to dedicate my life to understanding why such things happen in our modern world, and then, to do something about it.” Jodi has spent her adult life, mostly in Southern Mexico, working with NGOs. She is currently the Director of Solidarity Bridge’s General Surgery, Gynecologic Surgery and Pacemaker Programs. Jodi lives with her two young daughters in Evanston.
Jayleen Stolzenburg telecommutes from Minneapolis, which appropriately aligns with her Director of Communications role. Her distance from our office hasn’t impeded her effectiveness in wearing her other Solidarity Bridge hat as Director of Events. Although she is part-time, you’d hardly know it as her efficient ways of working enable her to get-lots-done! She joined our staff in 2010 and values Solidarity Bridge’s sustainable work and the fact that it makes a difference in so many lives. Jayleen and her husband have two young sons. Needless to say, family takes up much of her spare time!
Martha grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, moving to Chicago in 2000 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a Masters in Accounting. She worked for many years as a small business accountant, but eventually shifted her accountability to her growing family. Upon returning to work, it was important for Martha to find a meaningful organization that she could believe in. The people and mission of Solidarity Bridge drew her to us and we are grateful! Martha and her husband live in Evanston with their 4 kids. She enjoys running, swimming, biking and hanging out at the beach with her family.
Sofia, an Ann Arbor native, came to Chicago in 2010 to study Anthropology and Global Health at Northwestern University. As an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal where her passion for Global Health was first formed. Sofia's experiences working for community health centers and non-profit agencies have fueled her passion for helping public service agencies succeed. As our Operations Manager, Sofia's various roles include managing Solidarity Bridge volunteers and interns, overseeing supplies procurement, and growing community based partnerships. Outside of work, she loves visiting her large Mexican family, experimenting with smoothie recipes, and salsa dancing in downtown Chicago.
Rachel took her first Spanish class at age 10 and fell in love with the language and culture of Latin America. She is a proud alumna of Loras College where she continued her Spanish studies while double majoring in Public Relations, and has worked in local nonprofits ever since. In recent years she has shared her love for Latin America with others by leading small groups of parishioners from St. Clement on visiting trips to their sister parish, Inmaculada Concepción in Soyapongo, El Salvador. Rachel believes that ‘the gifts we have, we are given to share,’ and she looks forward to supporting our community of donors and friends in stewardship that bring us into community with our sisters and brothers across the globe.
Dale Granchalek, JD, values service to others. He joined our board in 2012, became Treasurer in 2013, and in 2016 became Board Chair. He is well-known at Solidarity Bridge and his home parish, St. Nicholas, as an unofficial official photographer of events, mission trips and milestones. He is a member of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and of the Committee for the Post-Detention Support with the Immigrant Justice Center. Now retired from J P Morgan, Dale enjoys photography, gardening, carpentry and law. He and his wife Erica have been married for 47 years and have been long-term benefactors of Solidarity Bridge. They have four sons and four grandchildren.
Brian Clarke recently joined our board after volunteering to take a leadership role in our Strategic Planning process. He is a versatile business executive with deep experience in helping organizations with major transitions such as mergers and acquisitions, business integration, strategic planning, litigation management, governance and more. Brian currently serves as Senior Corporate Counsel in Veolia North America, where he previously was Executive Vice President - Business Support. He has also served as Senior Vice President for Business Integration for Aegion Corporation, and a Partner at Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather and Geraldson. The mission of Solidarity Bridge speaks to Brian's sense of his life long Catholic identity. “I think the work of Solidarity Bridge is what we should be doing to meet the call of this year of mercy, as proclaimed by Pope Francis."
Nancy Churchill Matkov, RN went on her first of three mission trips for Solidarity Bridge in 2011, and later that year, she joined our Board. Over the years, we have put Nancy’s nursing skills and diverse health care experience to good use in our office and on mission trips. One of her recent projects in Bolivia included the development of a teaching curriculum for a group of Bolivian nurses. Beyond her work with Solidarity Bridge, Nancy works as Clinical Manager for United Healthcare. She and her husband, George, have five children and eight grandchildren.
Dr. Malcolm Bilimoria states that “we are all citizens of the world, and our humanitarian efforts should not be constrained by the borders of a country.” He has lived this belief in his passion for delivering complex cancer surgery to those who are most in need. Dr. Bilimoria has participated in humanitarian surgeries in Russia, China, India, and Bolivia. He has loyally served on Solidarity Bridge mission teams since 2007, has been a Board Member since 2012 and currently chairs our Professional Advisory Board. He is a renowned surgeon and current Director of Illinois Center for Pancreatic and Hepatobiliary Diseases at Northwest Community Hospital. Playing basketball, running, and spending time with his family are ways he keeps his life balanced.
Bolivia holds a special place in the heart of Alvaro Encinas, MD. As the son of Bolivian immigrants to the United States, he recalls several visits to Bolivia as a child. Encinas says "I visited Bolivia several times while I was growing up and saw lots of poverty. I always told myself that when I became older, I would give back to Bolivia in some way." Through his involvement with Solidarity Bridge, he has accomplished this goal. Alvaro is married with two children and works as a Family Practitioner in Chicago, IL. He became involved with Solidarity Bridge through his involvement with the Bolivian American Medical Society, where he serves as the President. He went on his first medical mission with Solidarity Bridge in September 2015 and says that it will be the first of many.
Paula Fernandez came to Solidarity Bridge seeking an volunteer opportunity to exercise her management skills. Having worked for several years in management consulting at McKinsey & Co and in healthcare strategic planning at U of I Chicago Medical Center, Paula’s business skills have been instrumental to launching Solidarity Bridge’s first long term strategic plan. Every week Paula contributes numerous volunteer hours to further develop our data management and inventory systems, oversee skilled interns, and support staff in their strategic plan initiatives. She and her husband, Geno, are members of Immaculate Conception Parish in Highland Park and have two daughters, Sofia and Clare. In her free time, Paula enjoys yoga, reading, and working NYT crossword puzzles.
Kurt W. Florian, JD, joined the Solidarity Bridge board in 2008 serving two terms as board chair. He is an on-the-ground leader and has made numerous trips to Bolivia with our mission teams. His passion for Bolivia began years ago when he participated in a high school year-abroad program in Cochabamba. Through that term, he became fluent in Spanish and more sensitive to people in great need. Beyond Solidarity Bridge, Kurt is the current President and Chief Executive Officer of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago and has served on their board for over twenty years. He has also been an Adjunct Professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law of the Illinois Institute of Technology teaching courses in mergers and acquisitions.
Recruited for Solidarity Bridge by a colleague in 2008, Dr. Carrie Giordano continues to feel the tug of Bolivia. Five mission trips later, the infinite needs there have hardly diminished, but for Carrie the reward of making the slightest difference and passing on her skills and insight to Bolivian peers makes each trip a wonderful seminary within itself, as well as a reality check for her daily life. Carrie confesses looking forward to the next trip before the jet lag from the previous has worn off: “I love growing with Solidarity Bridge. I can’t wait to see where we are in 10 and 20 years.” Carrie practices Obstetrics and Gynecology at Presence Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago, where she enjoys sharing her mission stories with patients and colleagues.
Dr. Jay Herrmann is a Board Certified Dermatologist who loyally serves on our multi-specialty mission team year after year. He is grateful for “the many great relationships with those in Bolivia, and friendships with others at Solidarity Bridge.” In 2013, Jay joined our board of directors and has been an advocate for Solidarity Bridge at his parish. Jay is a natural leader, and a self-described optimist. He has served as the President of both the Illinois and Chicago Dermatologic Societies, and has been on the Board of Directors of the DuPage Medical Group Charitable Fund. He and his wife, Maureen, have 3 children.
Bruce Leech is a known business leader and he currently serves as Executive Director of DePaul University's Coleman Entrepreneurship Center. He has been a loyal board member since 2001, serving two terms as board chair. Bruce was instrumental in launching our Fair Trade effort that continues to provide employment opportunities through sewing cooperatives in Bolivia. “I’ve always wanted to be involved with a small non-profit where you can really see and touch the impact.” Bruce sees himself as a connector and notes that “I have often seen a need, and I know how to connect people with each other to help that need.” In his spare time, Bruce enjoys skiing, sailing, squash and running. He’s also a private pilot.
Bishop John Manz participated in Solidarity Bridge’s very first mission trip in 1999 and shortly thereafter served on our board for three years. Despite his heavy schedule as Vicar for Vicariate IV, he returned to our board in 2014 and can still be found supporting our work in various ways. Spanning many years, Bishop Manz has served on various committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Additionally, he has extensive ministry experience in Latino communities here and abroad and has full Spanish language fluency. “Once you begin to learn a language, it becomes no longer an abstract thing. You get to know individuals, not just a social class of people and that’s how barriers are broken down.”
Pediatrician Dan Lum is a complex thinker and self-described geek: “I once memorized pi to 100 decimal places and I still use a slide rule!” But he sees an easy overlap between his profession and his desire to serve the poor in Bolivia. “I feel called by Christ to care for the least among us.” Dan has served on our board for over ten years and has participated in numerous mission trips as both pediatrician and team photographer. He is also the photographer for the Northwestern Women’s Volleyball Team, a singer in Sheil Center’s Choir, and an enthusiastic baker. He and his wife of 33 years, Mary Deeley, have two daughters and a brand-new son-in-law.
Dr. Richard Moser has been the primary leader of our Neurosurgery Program since it’s inception in 2006 and he has served on our board since that time. He is both professor and Chairman at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and has particular interest in neurosurgical oncology as well as gene therapy for neurodegenerative diseases. He got involved with Solidarity Bridge in order “to make the world a better place and to leverage relationships in order to obtain maximum benefit to the greatest number.” Richard’s love for getting to know people nourishes our partnerships with Bolivian physicians and institutions. And his love for the Art Institute and Chicago Symphony nourishes his passion for the arts!
Fr. Robert Oldershaw has been a Solidarity Bridge Board Member since inception. He has traveled to Bolivia numerous times with our medical mission teams, ministering to team members as chaplain and providing pastoral care for hundreds of patients and their families. Locally, Fr. Bob is pastor emeritus of St. Nicholas Parish in Evanston, where he served for 18 years. During that time, he also learned Spanish, became police chaplain for the City and active with immigrant justice efforts. You wouldn’t suspect that Fr. Bob is retired. If all of that wasn’t enough he is also a board member of Leadership Evanston, a member of Evanston’s Pastor’s Fellowship and past president of Evanston Ecumenical Action Council (the predecessor of Interfaith Action of Evanston.)
Dr. Enrique Via-Reque was born in Bolivia, and he, with Juan Lorenzo Hinojosa, co-founded Solidarity Bridge in 1999. He says that Solidarity Bridge “gives me the opportunity to repay my country, Bolivia, for what I have received and to do social justice.” The fact that he is both bilingual and bicultural allows him to connect very effectively with the medical community in Bolivia. He has participated in a total of 33 missions in 8 countries. At home in the United States, he participates in Cursillista meetings, is a PADS volunteer, and is a lay minister through the New Wine program. He enjoys tennis, soccer, motorcycling and Bible Study, and relaxing with his extensive family.
Sr. Donna Marie Wolowicki, C.R., has served on the Solidarity Bridge Board since 2011. She is especially impressed by the organization’s commitment not only to providing surgery, but also to educating physicians and staff of hospitals in Bolivia. Sr. Donna says, “I feel very connected and passionate about the mission and work of Solidarity Bridge. In my current leadership position at a local high school, I feel strongly about including service in the experience of my students. Sharing about the work of Solidarity Bridge helps me give the students real life examples of what people are able to do.” Her hobbies include reading, gardening and art.
Dr. Daniel Yousif, an anesthesiologist, has been an active Solidarity Bridge board member since 2007. He has participated in numerous mission trips to Bolivia including the role of team medical director. He regularly goes ‘the extra mile’ by helping us procure, sort, and pack medical supplies, so that our mission teams are well equipped. Dan feels that Solidarity Bridge has become a key component of his life’s purpose. “God’s work, our hands.” He enjoys bicycling, tennis, piano and music ranging from classical to jazz to hip-hop and rap. His origins are in Iraq, and he feels blessed to live in the United States.