Meet Our Founder

Christopher Lewis, M.D.
Founder, Village Life Outreach Project.

After his first trip to Tanzania in 2003(link to beginning section), Dr. Christopher Lewis completed his residency and began building his practice with the group that became UC Health’s Primary Care Network, but his urge to return to Tanzania grew stronger and stronger. He began planning a service trip with a core group of volunteers to accompany him. Chris’ idea quickly transformed from one person’s vision of helping into a full-fledged non-profit, non-government organization.

Board of Directors

  • Christopher Lewis, M.D.
    Founder
    Vice Provost for Academic Programs,
    University of Cincinnati
    Family Medicine Physician, UC Health
    Associate Professor of Family Medicine,
    University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • Deb Gerdes, M.D., MSc, DTMH
    Board Chair and Medical Director
    Internal Medicine Physician
    Faculty, Christ Hospital Internal Medicine Residency Program
  • Stewart W. Wright, M.D., MEd, FACEP
    Board Vice Chair
    Physician, UC Department of Emergency Medicine
    Associate Chief Medical Officer, UC Health
    Co-Director of Global Health
  • Richard Kay, CPA
    Treasurer
    Tax Manager,
    Mellott & Mellott, P.L.L
  • Sharon Grenberg
    Life Committee Chair
    Principal Engineer, Procter & Gamble (Retired)
    Mentor, Engineers Without Borders:
    University of Cincinnati Chapter
  • Michael Zaretsky, Architect
    Building Committee Chair
    Associate Professor and Director of architectural engineering, University of Texas at Arlington
    Director, MetroLAB Design/Build program
  • Jennifer Morris, Ph.D
    Education Committee Chair
    Professor of History,
    Mount St. Joseph University
  • David B. Haire, CFP
    Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor, CAPTRUST
  • Jennifer Krivickas
    Assistant Vice President: Integrated Research,
    University of Cincinnati Office of the Vice President for Research
  • Richard Lofgren, M.D., MPH, FACP
    President and CEO, UC Health
  • Curtis Eaton
    Director of Development, University Initiatives
    The University of Cincinnati Foundation

Staff

Susan Casey-Leininger
Executive Director

Sue joined Village Life in May 2015. She has a B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University and a M.A. in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University. Her master’s thesis was focused on the intersection of development economics and public health in sub-Saharan Africa. Her study of foreign aid and development is what drew her to Village Life.

“I’ve learned through travel and study that development solutions don’t work when we tell people what to do and how to do it. Village Life provides the expertise and support for Tanzanians to find their own solutions. That’s what drew me to Village Life and why I love this work.” (Sue Casey-Leininger)

She has spent significant time in East Africa, including travel to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Sue lived and work in Kenya as a grant writer for a small clinic for a year between her undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Sue was born and raised in Cincinnati.

 

Buthaina Karaman, MPH
Program and Development Director

Buthaina joined Village Life in May of 2017. She has a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Cincinnati and continued her higher education at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, graduating with her Masters of Public Health focusing on health services management and global health.

She has studied global health and infectious disease extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, including travel to South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. Her mater’s work focused on studying income generating activities within HIV/AIDS support groups in rural Kenya. She is dedicated to ensuring Village Life’s programs are as sustainable and community driven as possible.

 

Richard Elliott
Design Build Lead
Co-founder, Delta Design Build Workshop

Richard Elliott and his wife Emily Roush-Elliott live and work in the rural Mississippi Delta. The pair co-founded Design Build Solutions and the Delta Design Build Workshop (an LLC and a non-profit) to work at the intersection of traditional market forces and public interest. The team values process as much as product, believes that waste is a social construct, and prioritizes a sensitive translation between unique local challenges and design in all of its projects.

Richard is a carpenter, teacher and entrepreneur. In addition to his work in Mississippi, he is currently leading the construction team in Roche through drawing review, material selection, budgeting, financial tracking, and coordination of construction techniques. 

Richard graduated from Jacksonville State University with a Bachelors in Business Management in 2003. After completing a Master of Design Build at Auburn University in 2007, he relocated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast where he managed volunteers and dozens of post-Hurricane Katrina home rehabilitation projects in partnership with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio until 2010. From 2010 through 2013, he became Project Manager and eventually Executive Director of Village Life Outreach Project.