Our Team

Board of Directors

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Leadership Team

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With a board of directors, technical advisory team, and leadership staff hailing from around the world, We Rise International brings global expertise, innovation, and creative solutions to address health, mental health, and social obstacles. 

Technical Advisory Team

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Board of Directors

Amy Vercler, JD

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Board Chair

Karin Shank, MS, MA

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Board Treasurer

Beth Good, RN, PHD

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Board Secretary

Amy Vercler, JD

Amy  (Board Chair) is an attorney who splits her time between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Illinois, U.S.A. She also works as a consultant advising individuals and groups as they start non-profits. Her past work experience has involved non-profit program development, cross cultural instruction and managing international partnerships, including in the health sector. Outside of work and her commitment to We Rise, she enjoys spending time with her husband and adorable infant son.

Karin Shank, MS, MLS

Karin (Board Treasurer) is a Senior Research Analyst in North Carolina, with professional experience in business, economic development, pharmaceutical, health, and agricultural information research. In her full-time role at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, she tracks the outcomes of grant programs and conducts market research and competitive intelligence for start-up entrepreneurs.  Karin has a dual M.S. in Crop Science and Botany from NC State University and a Masters in Library Science from North Carolina Central University. She serves on the Alumni and Friends Society Advisory Board at NC State and previously served in volunteer leadership roles for both the North Carolina Chapter and the Food, Agriculture and Nutrition Division of the Special Libraries Association, and at International Focus Inc, where she was recognized as 2012 Volunteer of the Year. She also chairs her church leadership board. In her free time, Karin enjoys walking her rescue greyhound, and is making slow but steady progress towards the goal of reading a book from every country in the world.  

Beth Good, RN, PHD

Beth (Board Secretary) lives in Nairobi, Kenya, where she and her husband direct the Kenya office of Mennonite Central Committee (mcc.org), an international NGO working in health, livelihoods, education, agriculture, and peacebuilding. Beth previously worked as the MCC global Health Coordinator, supporting health projects in 57 countries, and she currently provides technical advisory support to MCC Maternal and Child Health programs in Kenya, Somaliland, Tanzania and Burkina Faso.  Beth’s prior experience includes serving as Director of Clinical Health Services at Hope Within Community Health Center; founder and board president of River of Life Health Center; Catalyst for a Response to HIV/AIDS with Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM); staff nurse at Hershey Medical Center; and community development worker in Kenya with EMM. She is an adjunct professor of Nursing at Eastern Mennonite University.  Beth and her family have lived in Kinshasa, DRC (1984-1985), Kenya (1989-2001) and Bukavu, DRC (2016-2018) and back in Kenya (2018-present).  Beth has expertise in health programming in the areas of HIV/AIDS, sexual & gender-based violence, trauma, and public health, especially for underserved populations. She earned her MSN & PhD from Widener University in Public Health Nursing and Nursing Science & Research and her undergraduate nursing degree from Eastern Mennonite University. Outside of work, Beth loves spoiling her grandchildren. 

Leadership Team

Janelle Bitikofer, MSW, LCSW

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Executive Director

Felixa V. de Kunkle

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 Web Manager


Michaela Thomas

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Intern: 

Videography and story-sharing

Janelle Bitikofer

Janelle has more than twenty years of social work experience, with expertise in mental illness, trauma, addictions, international health, child protection, women’s empowerment, immigration, disaster response, and poverty alleviation. She completed her undergraduate social work degree at Eastern Mennonite University, her Master’s in Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University, and graduate coursework in Public Health at the University of London. She is dually-licensed as a Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and serves as a clinical supervisor in both states.


Janelle has worked in international development, international health, maternal and child health, and disaster response, supporting projects impacting more than fifteen countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, North America and the Caribbean. She served for three years as Clinical Programs Director for Health Horizons International in the Dominican Republic where, in partnership with the National Ministry of Public Health, she co-initiated the first province-wide healthy living program and medical system capacity building plan to improve outcomes for Dominicans with diabetes and co-occurring diseases. Janelle has provided leadership in grants management for programs funded by USAID and the European Union. She teaches about global health as adjunct faculty at Eastern Mennonite University.


 As Director of We Rise, Janelle splits her time between our headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, her home office in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and our international field office in Montellano, Dominican Republic. 

Felixa V. de Kunkle

Originally from Honduras, and having also lived in Bolivia and in Germany, Felixa now hails from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. In addition to computer knowledge and a striking talent for creative problem solving and thinking outside of the box, she brings to our team more than 9 years of experience as a professional Spanish interpreter, three years working with refugees as a case worker, three years serving as office manager for a mental health and addictions counseling office, and a lifetime of service and leadership within her communities. Outside of We Rise, Felixa prioritizes her family, people, and coffee, showing great hospitality around a table covered with great food, and spending time with her husband, son, extended family, and friends.  

Project Interns

Michaela Thomas -- Videography and Story-Sharing Intern


Michaela supports the collection and sharing of important stories related to We Rise International's work with the Streetlights Project.  She is a Film and Media Studies major  and English minor, at Franklin and Marshall College, in Lancaster, PA.  She also brings to our team a passion for math, creative writing, and Japanese.


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Health Technical Advisory Team

Tracy Kaye, MPH

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Janel Lehman-Long RN, MA

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Tresor Medju, MPH, MA

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Dr. Rosalba Santana, MD

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Selena McCoy Carpenter, MEd

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Edith Rodriguez Melendez BSN, RN, MHSA

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Mental Health and Addictions Technical Advisory Team

Dr. Bobbie Legg MSW, LCSW, PhD

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Jacqueline Hill, RN

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Tracy Kaye, MPH

Tracy Kaye is a Deputy Chief of Party for Catholic Relief Services in Uganda. She provides program oversight and direction for the Nuyok Project, a food and nutrition security project funded by the office of Food for Peace/USAID. She has project management and research experience in SE Asia, East Africa, and Latin America, with expertise in social behavior change communications. Tracy has provided oversight for projects funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the USAID Office of Disaster Assistance, and has managed programs in Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDs in Cambodia, The Sudan, and East Timor. She started the first CRS activities in Darfur for the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition, and she spent two years in the Dominican Republic serving as the Public Health Director for Health Horizons International. In that role she started the first healthy living program in the area for people living with diabetes and hypertension. Tracy holds a Masters in Health Sciences from The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.



Janel Lehman-Long RN, MA

Janel Lehman Long is a nurse and anthropologist who has worked in health care for over 20 years.  Her U.S. experience includes community health, family practice, and working with the homeless.  She has served in Chad and Central African Republic with Doctors without Borders, managing clinics serving refugees, internally displaced people and the local population.  She also spent 4 years in international development as a school nurse in the country of Djibouti. Currently she works with migrant health clinics in Pennsylvania.  Janel received her BSN from Eastern Mennonite University in 1997 and her Master’s in Applied Anthropology from North Texas University in 2015. 


Tresor Medju, MPH, MA

Tresor Medju is a public health educator and special education instructor who is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He previously lived in a refugee camp in Uganda and served there in a program responding to the health, education and shelter needs of children orphaned by war and HIV. In the U.S. he has worked for AmeriCorps ACCESS and World Relief Durham as a health specialist, improving health outcomes for refugees and immigrants in North Carolina. Tresor spent several years coordinating the Centers for Disease Prevention One and Only and Antibiotics ResistanceCampaigns in Raleigh, through the North Carolina Division of Public Health. He previously conducted research on HIV incidence and treatment outcomes in the NC prison population, and has recently accepted a special education position in the Wake County Public Schools. Tresor speaks six languages including five languages of Africa. He holds a Master’s in Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Master’s of Arts in Special Education from NC State University.  

Dr. Rosalba Santana, MD

Doctor Rosalba Santana is an Internal Medicine Physician originally from the Dominican Republic. She currently works as a House Physician at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, in Brooklyn, New York.  Dr. Santana completed medical school at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, and her Internal Medicine residency at Hospital Regional Universitario Jose Maria Cabral y Baez, in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Dr. Santana is passionate about internal medicine, particularly targeting chronic illnesses. She notes that “chronic Illnesses are one of the leading causes of death around the world, and yet they are preventable. So, by helping people learn to modify their risks we can give them a better quality of life.”  


Selena McCoy Carpenter, MEd

Selena McCoy Carpenter is the Engagement Liaison for the Engagement Core of the All of Us Research Program, housed at the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tennessee. She previously served as co-country director in Kenya for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), an international NGO working in development, peacebuilding and disaster response. As co-country director she oversaw funding and provided technical support in project planning, management, and monitoring and evaluation, to Kenyan partner organizations implementing projects focused on maternal and child health, HIV prevention, food security and agriculture, sustainable livelihoods development, education, and disaster response. Prior to her work in Kenya, Selena worked in Nashville as a Research Coordinator in Pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, and in both Pediatric Neurology and on an NIH-funded pediatric obesity prevention study. Selena holds a BS in Special Education, with a focus on behavioral disorders from the College of Charleston and a Master’s in Education in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia. Her earlier professional experience includes teaching, and working in Haiti on a disease elimination project  targeting lymphatic filariasis.


 Edith Rodriguez Melendez RN, BSN, MHSA  

 

Edith Rodriguez Melendez hails from Puerto Rico where she works as a nurse in the emergency department at Javier Anton Hospital in San Juan. She earned her Bachelor’s degree and RN in nursing from the University of Puerto Rico, and her Master’s Degree in Health System Administration (MHSA) from Metropolitan University Bayamon Campus.


Edith has served in international health in medical clinics and hospitals in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and India, treating women, children and patients with HIV and Leprosy. She subsequently served in Nigeria with Mennonite Central Committee, working as a labor and delivery nurse in the HIV and high-risk pregnancies department at Faith Alive Hospital in Jos, Nigeria.  

Dr. Bobbie Legg, MSW, LCSW, PhD

  

Dr. Bobbie Legg is an international trauma expert and mental health clinician who serves as a faculty associate in the Social Work Department at Arizona State University. She is a state and national speaker on Trauma Treatment, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Adolescent Treatment, Suicide Prevention and Adolescent Self-Expression. 


Her clinical and trauma work has included over ten years of specialty work with inner-city youth and families in the United States, living and working with Native American communities, and ongoing work with child survivors of human trafficking in Nepal. She previously served as the Clinical Director for multiple residential treatment programs and is recognized as a Clinically Certified Juvenile Treatment Specialist through the American Academy of Forensic Counselors. 


Bobbie received Social Work degrees as a BSW, MSW, and PhD from Eastern Mennonite University, The Catholic University of America, and The Clinical Social Work Institute. She also completed the Post-Graduate Trauma Treatment Program at the University of Maryland. Her clinical work focuses on the treatment of child and adolescent survivors of trauma and abuse and she specializes in using neuroscience informed psychotherapy, art therapy and other therapies for trauma recovery. 


  

Jacqueline Hill, RN, BSN


Jacqueline Hill has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of addictions and mental illness. She worked for 28 years as a nursing supervisor/nurse therapist at the Wake County Behavioral Health/Alcoholism Treatment Center (ATC), in Raleigh, North Carolina. ATC is an inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment and medical detox center run by Wake County government. At ATC Jacqueline treated individuals with addictions from all walks of life, including men and women struggling with dually-diagnosed addictions and mental illness, medical issues, homelessness, and sex-trafficking. While at ATC she also worked with individuals and their families in mental health crisis at Wake County Mental Health Crisis and Assessment Services, a mental health and addictions emergency room and short-term stabilization and referral center. 


Earlier in her career Jacqueline worked with adults and adolescents in mental health inpatient treatment as a team nurse at Charter Northridge hospital. Now semi-retired, she serves as a Private Duty nurse for a Dementia client at The Cypress of Raleigh, and has served as a volunteer at Hope Reins, a horse ranch ministry providing equine therapy for abused and traumatized children, where she provided support to the children’s parents and adult caretakers. Jacqueline obtained her nursing degree from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill in 1984.