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home Who We Are Our Team

Board of Directors



Christopher K. Payne, MD

Chair

Christopher K. Payne, MD, currently serves as WFF Board Chair and has made several trips to Africa to provide treatment and conduct research in obstetric fistulas. He is currently an elected Trustee of the International Continence Society and a member of the ICS Fistula Committee.

Originally from West Virginia, Dr. Payne graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia. He earned his MD at Vanderbilt University and completed his urology residency at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Following his fellowship in Female Urology, Urodynamics, and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery at the University of California Los Angeles, Dr. Payne joined Stanford University in 1993 to launch their program in Female Urology and NeuroUrology. He left Stanford in 2014 as Emeritus Professor having published over 100 articles and book chapters during his tenure there.

Dr. Payne has since co-founded Vista Urology and Pelvic Pain Partners in San Jose, CA where he continues to focus his work in Female Urology with a special interest in urinary incontinence, chronic pelvic pain, and pelvic reconstructive surgery with a special interest in native tissue repairs.

Michael R. Wittek, MSW

Vice Chair

Michael R. Wittek, MSW, joined the WFF Board of Directors in late 2012 and serves as current Board Vice Chair. Securing services for women in need of fistula repair provides Mr. Wittek an ongoing opportunity to continue his career-long work of advocacy for access to preventive services and effective health care interventions.

Prior to his semi-retirement in May 2012, Mr. Wittek worked for decades to ensure patient access to health care from a number of perspectives. He managed employee health benefits for a large international computer firm and served on the management team of one of Minnesota’s largest health plans where he was a member of the plan’s health technology assessment committee. Most recently he was responsible for the health policy and planning function for the gastroenterology and urology area of Medtronic’s Neuromodulation Division. In his capacity with Medtronic, Inc., Mr. Wittek was responsible for paving the way for patient access to a number of new and novel therapies, including some with humanitarian use device designations. Medtronic, Inc. is a multinational medical device manufacturer that uses technology to transform the way debilitating, chronic diseases are treated.

In his semi-retirement, Mr. Wittek owns and manages a small commercial vineyard in southern Minnesota. The vineyard produces cold-hardy grapes for local wineries.

Theresa “Tracy” Monaco Spitznagle PT, DPT, MHS, WCS

Treasurer

Theresa “Tracy” Monaco Spitznagle PT, DPT, MHS, WCS, is currently an Associate Professor in the Program in Physical Therapy, and Coordinator of the Residency in Women’s Health Physical Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis.

A graduate of Marquette University, Dr Spitznagle next earned her Master’s Degree in Health Science and her Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). In the inaugural class of board certified Women’s Health Clinical Specialists (WCS), she was recipient of the Section on Women’s Health Elizabeth Noble Award in 2011.

For the entry level doctoral program at WUSTL, Dr Spitznagle teaches gender related health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, pregnancy, urinary incontinence and musculoskeletal pelvic pain. Her clinical practice also focuses on gender-related health and she conducts research into abdominal wall, pelvic floor muscle and fascial changes associated with pregnancy, incontinence and pelvic pain.

Affiliations: Chair of the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists, Member of American Physical Therapy Association and Section on Women’s Health (SOWH), Chair of SOWH Diagnosis Dialog Task Force Committee, Abstract Reviewer for SOWH programming, past Director of SOWH Education and Board Liaison for the SOWH Post Professional Education Task Force.

Rahel Nardos, MD

Secretary

Rahel Nardos, MD, was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.A Yale School of Medicine graduate, she completed her residency in obstetrics-gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis. Following her residency and with a Worldwide Fistula Fund grant, Dr. Nardos spent one year as staff surgeon at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital and its multiple satellite medical centers in Ethiopia . She then returned to the United States and completed her fellowship training in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, as well as her master’s degree in clinical research at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Currently Dr. Nardos holds positions as Lead Urogynecologist at Kaiser Permanente Northwest and Director of Global Health at OHSU. In collaboration with her colleagues at OHSU, Dr. Nardos founded Footsteps to Healing, a global women’s health initiative originally focused on providing surgical services to rural Ethiopian women with pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence. Under Dr. Nardos’ leadership, Footsteps at OHSU expanded its mission and joined Worldwide Fistula Fund’s broader vision in sub-Saharan Africa: increase access and capacity for expert care by training local OB-GYNs. Footsteps at OHSU provides expert subspecialty training to care for women with pelvic floor disorders.

Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming joined the WFF Board in May of 2016. A lifelong Westchester, New York resident, Melissa, her husband Gregory and their three children live in Bedford, New York. She attended the Millbrook School and Colgate University. Melissa became involved with WFF upon meeting its founder, Dr. Lewis Wall, in 2008 and learning of his desire to build Danja Fistula Center. Melissa was moved by Dr. Wall’s description of young woman and girls suffering from devastating injuries suffered in childbirth and wanted to support Dr. Wall’s efforts to help transform these woman’s lives into those of hope and dignity.  Melissa and Greg’s advocacy and support were instrumental in raising the capital funds necessary to build Danja Fistula Center in Niger, which opened in 2012.

Lynette E. Franklin, MSN, APRN-BC, CWOCN-AP

Lynette Franklin is an experienced advanced practice nurse with over 20 years’ experience in medical, surgical and educational nursing.

Originally from Canada, she graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, ON with a BNSc. After moving to Charleston, SC, she became active in the wound, ostomy & continence nursing specialty. In 2002, she received her Masters of Science in Nursing from Medical University of South Carolina. Currently, she is an instructor/clinician at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and the Emory Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing Education Center. Her practice includes providing education to new WOC nurses and maintaining a robust clinical practice. She is a consultant for the Emory Clinics (TEC) at the main Emory Clifton Corridor campus with prior work as the clinical nurse specialist in the Bladder & Pelvic Health Program at Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), in Charleston, SC. She has had speaking opportunities around the world and has published in peer-reviewed journals and textbooks.

Quinton Friesen

Quinton Friesen retired after serving more than four decades as a healthcare executive, most recently as Executive Vice President Chief Operating Officer at Greenwich Hospital/Yale New Haven Health System.  During his tenure at Greenwich Hospital, Greenwich was awarded the prestigious Press Ganey Summit Award for five consecutive years. He also led planning, construction, and activation of a new 500,000 square feet replacement hospital.

Quinton is a Life Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a recipient of the ACHE's Regents Award, and of the Distinguished Service Award. Quinton is also a member of SIM USA and has served on international assignments in Nigeria, Niger, Dominican Republic, Ghana and Fiji.  

Patrick Guilbaud, PhD, MESE, MBA

Patrick Guilbaud, PhD, MESE, MBA, originally from Haiti, currently serves as Director of Extended Education and Summer School as well as Associate Professor at Winthrop University. Dr. Guilbaud earned his graduate degrees in Business, Systems Engineering and Instructional Technology at the University of Virginia and also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

Dr. Guilbaud currently leads the development and roll-out of academic programs that meet the needs of post-traditional students seeking to advance their careers. Prior to this role, he spent over 15 years leading, developing and supporting global human capacity building both in the public and private sectors.

Mary Rose Keller

Mary Rose Keller has demonstrated success in all operational aspects of global clinical trials from preclinical through post-marketing stages for drug, biologic, and diagnostic products across multiple therapeutic areas.

Mary Rose attended the University of California, Davis, accepted a research position with the School of Medicine, Cancer Research Institute, and spent ten years working to bring community physicians into clinical research.  She transferred to UC San Francisco to work with the first clinicians to research opportunistic infections as part of the AIDs crisis. She has worked with biotech companies such as Agouron and Sangart, as well as pharma companies such as Pfizer and Shire.

Mary Rose completed a leadership program at the Wharton School in Philadelphia and she has been a featured speaker in a number of drug development and clinical trial conferences.  She is on the Editorial Board of Life Science Leader Magazine and continues to work in drug development for Heron Therapeutics in San Diego.

Lynn Nye, PhD

Known in the industry for her sound strategic thinking, Lynn Nye, PhD, has directed multiple national and international promotional and educational initiatives in almost every therapeutic category. Her Medical Minds clients include diagnostics, device and pharmaceutical companies large and small. Patient advocacy is one of Lynn’s interests, she and her team have an ongoing 18-year relationship with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) with whom they were instrumental in creating the award-winning Cancer Survival Toolbox®. She is also a member of the board of directors for the National Association for Continence and she serves as the Global Committee Chair, Chapter Programs for the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.

Lynn began her career in England, earning an MS in biochemistry and a PhD in immunology. After working at several of the major London teaching hospitals, she joined the diagnostics division of Corning Medical in the UK and subsequently relocated to the US, where she was promoted to Worldwide Marketing Manager. From 1996 to 2003, Lynn directed promotional and educational campaigns at BioGenesis/Torre Lazur McCann Healthcare West, where she was promoted to Executive Vice President, Managing Director, and from 2003 to 2007, she was Managing Director of Helix Medical Communications in San Diego. She founded Medical Minds in 2007.

Holly E. Richter, PhD, MD

Dr. Richter is the J Marion Sims Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Urology & Geriatrics at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She is Director of the Division of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery as well as of the Urogynecology Care and Genitorectal Disorders Clinics. She is also past President of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons.

Dr. Richter was the recipient of a mid-career award (K24-NIDDK) in patient oriented pelvic floor research and has received the CREOG national teaching award and directs a research initiative through an accredited fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. She is also the ACOG representative to the Section for Enhancing Geriatric Understanding and Expertise among Surgical and Medical Specialists (SEGUE) council of the American Geriatrics Society/Hartford Foundation. She has a strong interest in treating vesicovaginal fistulas and has visited Africa regularly over the past 12 years.

L. Lewis Wall, MD, DPhil

Director Emeritus

L. Lewis Wall, MD, DPhil, currently serves as a consultant & Director Emeritus after founding the Worldwide Fistula Fund in 1995. He has a long history of researching and addressing the health challenges faced by women in Africa.

Dr. Wall earned a BA in History & Anthropology and his MD at the University of Kansas. He completed his OB-GYN residency at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina and his fellowship in female urology and urodynamics at The University of London (St. George’s Hospital) and St. Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children in Manchester, England. Dr. Wall additionally holds a master’s degree in bioethics from the Center for Human Bioethics at Monash University in Australia. He is both a former Rhodes Scholar and Fulbright-Hayes Fellow and has authored or co-authored two books, 24 book chapters and over 90 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The National Association for Continence named Dr. Wall their national 2005 “Continence Care Champion” and the St. Louis Ethical Society named him the 2012 James F. Hornback Ethical Humanist of the Year. In 2014, he was awarded the University Gold Medal for his contributions to medical education at Mekelle University College of Health Sciences in Ethiopia. Dr. Wall was named the first holder of the Selina Okin Kim Conner Professorship in Arts and Sciences for Medical Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis in July 2015.

Soja Orlowski

Executive Director

Soja Orlowski is the Executive Director of the Worldwide Fistula Fund. She originally joined WFF as Director of Communications & Marketing in November 2014. Prior to joining WFF, Soja had served both the business and non-profit sectors as owner of Orlow Marketing Solutions LLC since 2006. Previously Director of Marketing & Development for the Chicago domestic violence agency, Rainbow House, Soja secured $400,000 in funding annually. She founded a memorial scholarship fund in 2008 that has awarded over $25,000 to date. Her prior corporate experience includes Marketing Director positions at both FTD.com in Downers Grove, IL and the Reader’s Digest Association in New York. Soja holds a BS in Advertising from the University of Illinois and an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University.