Who We Are

Medicine In Action Staff Bios


Karolynn Echols M.D.is a native New Yorker. She completed her medical training at Temple University School of Medicine and finished her OB/GYN residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami where she first met Debbie. She went on to complete a Urogynecology fellowship at LSU in New Orleans and then worked as an Assistant Professor and Chief of Gynecology at LSUMC in Lafayette, LA for three years. She is now on faculty at Cooper University Hospital (UMDNJ) in Camden, New Jersey. She travels annually to Niger, Africa and Jamaica as a medical volunteer.  Karolynn also heads the Executive Medical Board.

Vice President

Deborah Chong M.D. was born and grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. She completed her medical degree at Boston University and her residency in OB/GYN at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, FL. She then worked at the University of California, Davis for three years as Assistant Clinical Professor in the department of OB/GYN. While at UC Davis, she founded MIA in 2005 with Karolynn Echols, M.D. After leaving UC Davis, she started donating most of her time to the organization. She currently works in California, where she is the head of Gynecology at Highland Hospital in Oakland while maintaining responsibility for the administrative aspects of MIA including heading the Executive Administrative Board.  She envisions expanding the program to include additional countries of extreme poverty as well as improving the care in the countries MIA currently serves.


Resident and Student Advisor for the Sugar Scholars Program:
Chimene Liburd, MD was born and raised in Rosedale, Queens NY, graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed an internship in Internal Medicine. She has been practicing medicine since 2000. Dr. Liburd is Board Certified and a member of the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians. Volunteering on MIA's Jamaica missions since 2008, Chimene has recently joined our Board as our Resident and Medical Student Advisor for the Sugar Scholars program. Chimene says that her first exposure to global health care was with MIA. She enjoyed it so much she was hooked.  We are very happy to have her expertise and our patients are happy to have her excellent and thoughtful care.  Married with three children and two dogs, Chimene still finds leisure time to enjoy sewing, jewelry design, gardening and shopping.  She has created some beautiful MIA logo jewelry to benefit the organization. 


Ann Leber M.F.T. When Ann met Debbie Chong as a patient at UC Davis, she immediately wanted to help support Medicine in Action. Ann had always wanted to be part of a group that had a global medical mission. She was thrilled to find out that her own OB/Gyn was the founder of such an organization. The two became friends and now Ann is an indispensable part of Medicine in Action. Ann is a psychotherapist that works for the Sacramento State University teaching and  supervising MFT interns but she divides her time between Sacramento and Mechanicsville, Virginia where she lives with her husband and plans her next trip with MIA.She is an active participant on our Executive Medical Board as well as an active volunteer in Jamaica and Haiti. She is tireless in her devotion to Medicine in Action.

Director of Development and Communications

Suzanne Tindall has been working for MIA for the past three years and participated in her first mission to Jamaica in November 2010. Suzanne has a B.A. in Art History and Museum Exhibition and Design from UCSB and California State University, East Bay as well as a M.A. from Holy Names University in Culture and Spirituality. She is active on the board of the Friends of Ruwenzori, another nonprofit healthcare organization that built a holistic HIV/AIDS program and also a maternity hospital in rural Uganda and has been active in fundraising and event planning for many years. She also has a Certificate in Spiritual Direction and enjoys spending time with her almost adult kids, painting and singing.

Development Officer and Grant Writer

Jenny Yap In addition to working at MIA, Jenny teaches in the English Department at CSU East Bay. Prior to receiving her MA in English, she worked at a statewide non-profit advocacy organization and she also has a BA in anthropology and theatre. She enjoys spending time traveling, rock climbing, biking, and writing short stories, creative non-fiction, and book reviews for an Asian American arts, culture, and politics magazine.




Executive Medical Board

Director of Missions Development

Lise Rehwaldt, M.D. grew up in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, Wisconsin and completed her Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City in 1993. Since completing her residency, she has worked at Queens Hospital Center in NY. Dr. Rehwaldt was the Director of the Department of Ob/Gyn at QHC and the Residency Program Director of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Jamaica Program. She recently decided to step down in order to have more time to devote to international medical work. She is currently an Attending at Queens Hospital Center and Mount Sinai but continues to travel extensively to Jamaica, Nicaragua, Niger, Liberia and Tanzania. She has been involved with Medicine in Action since the inaugural trip in December 2005 and is currently co-leading the September trip to Tanzania with Ambereen Sleemi.


Ambereen Sleemi, M.D. grew up in Maryland. She graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine with an MD and she also completed a Master's in Public Health concurrently in Maternal and Child Health. She completed her residency at Louisiana State University-Charity Hospital in New Orleans in Obstetrics and Gynecology and moved to New York City as a US Public Health Scholar Physician. She subsequently completed a fellowship in Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY where she is currently an attending physician. She has traveled and worked extensively in medical settings in Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras, Niger and Nigeria with various medical groups. She has been involved with the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) over the last 5 years with projects in Northern Nigeria and Eritrea. She joined MIA in Jamaica in February 2008 and is currently co-leading the September Tanzania mission with Lise Rehwaldt.


Mary Jo O’Sullivan, MD,F.A.C.O.G.is Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Miami. The author of countless journal articles, research studies and textbooks, it is Dr. O’Sullivan’s  compassionate attention to patient care that makes her work so impressive. Dr. O’Sullivan’s honors and accomplishments are too numerous to mention and MIA is fortunate to have had her support and untiring dedication on eight missions both to Jamaica and Tanzania since 2008. 





Executive Board

The newly formed Executive Board is headed by Deborah Chong, MD, and includes:

Chair of Fundraising Committee

Tracy Powell, VP of Outreach for Episcopal Senior Communities in Walnut Creek, CA has a background in art, business ownership and jewelry design as well as nonprofit management. Tracy has two children and a thriving jewelry business and lives in Piedmont, CA





Julie Beck, PhD received her doctorate in Sociology with a designated emphasis in Women’s Studies in 2006 from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a professor at California State University, and has for the past fifteen years engaged in research and community work in the areas of women and drug addiction, drug treatment, domestic violence, and poverty. She has worked with adolescent girls in and outside of a drug treatment setting. She volunteered with Medicine in Action in November, 2009 and looks forward to serving communities in developing countries with MIA in the future as a volunteer and board member.




Legal Counsel

Mike Burns, JD went to Boston College for his undergraduate studies.  After graduation, looking for a way to feel like he was making a difference in the world, Mike went to Jamaica to teach.  Mike taught high school in Kingston, Jamaica at Debbie Chong's old high school as part of the International Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  He spent a year there and became friends with Sugar Chong and the entire Chong family.  His interest in Medicine in Action stems from this time he spent in Kingston and his affection for the country and its people.  After he left Jamaica, Mike went to law school at the University of San Francisco and is now a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP in San Francisco, California.  Mike has been working with MIA since 2008 and now sits on their Board of Advisors.  In addition to doing pro bono work for Medicine in Action, Mike specializes in the practice of traditional labor and employment law.

Honorary Board

Elaine Chong: Volunteer Coordinator
David Chong: Creative Director
Scott Hughes: Webmaster