Dr. Ajay Manchandia, Executive Director, Medical Director
Dr. Ajay Manchandia graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Molecular Biology and continued his training in Philadelphia, completing his ophthalmology residency at Temple University. He then completed his fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus at the prestigious Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA. He is passionate about supporting underserved populations, having organized several mission trips as a resident, and having led surgical mission trips with Volunteer Eye Resources International since 2017. As a VER International board member, he hopes to continue Bob Martin’s legacy to provide adult and pediatric eye and surgical care to underserved communities and to educate and train local providers for long term sustainability.
Meghan Martin, Board Chair
Meghan’s passion for volunteering and helping others came from her dad, Robert G. Martin II, and she serves as a board member for VER International to honor his legacy and bring the gift of sight to underserved communities. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received her Master’s Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. Meghan works in consulting; advising technology companies on their people strategy. Meghan has joined VER International on trips to Nicaragua and Peru and has led additional volunteer trips to Panama with Global Brigades. Meghan resides in Chicago with her husband, Mark, and French bulldog, Gus.
Charissa Nelson, Programs manager
Charissa joins the VER board after numerous volunteer service trips throughout her life to Latin America with health and environmental non-profit foundations. Her love for Spanish began in school and was accelerated with her 7 summers of volunteer experience in health and community development projects in rural Central and South America with Amigos de las Americas during high school and college. Charissa and Bob directed a tuberculosis detection project in the Amazon region of Ecuador with Amigos. She has volunteered extensively in Central America with environmental groups and has done translation for several international non-profits. Charissa has a BA in Latin American Studies from UC Berkeley and an MA in Teaching from Pacific University. She is currently teaching in a Spanish Immersion elementary School in Oregon.
Lynn Scuri, Board Secretary
Lynn is the chairperson of the Board and a longtime public health advocate. She is currently employed with a non-for-profit managed Medicaid plan serving over 500,000 low-income individuals living in 14 northern California counties. Lynn is a graduate of the University of California, Davis where she earned a degree in Nutrition Science and later a Masters of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. While in college (many years ago) she met Cindy Goodale, now President of VER, and began a long-term friendship with Cindy, serving as an armchair companion on her many ventures leading vision health programs in South America. She is also the mother of three beautiful girls, now in college, and is ready to lend her organizational and analytical skills to further VER’s mission.
Wendy Russell, Board Treasurer Wendy joins the board after volunteering with VER on 2 service trips to Peru September 2019 and September 2023. Wendy’s passion for Spanish language and Latin American culture began with studying Spanish from age 12 and participating in a student exchange program in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico her senior year of high school. After graduation she returned to live and work in Mexico for 8 years. Upon returning to the States, Wendy pursued her university degree, followed by a 20-year career in import/export of wood products based in Eugene, OR. During the 20 years, she traveled to, and worked with, locals in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Her goal was to volunteer internationally once retired. Fortunately, she was introduced to VER in 2019 and participated in her first service trip as a volunteer interpreter in Peru. Most recently she volunteered in 2023 for a 19-day service trip covering both surgical and vision screening projects. Wendy joins the board with a passion for culture, communication, serving and genuinely caring for others. She holds a BA in International Business from Linfield University and currently works for Levi Strauss & Co.
Renee Johnson, Fundraising Chair
Renee’s experience with travel and service started with her first trips to Japan and Denmark with 4-H. Her older brother, Robert G. Martin II inspired her to go out in the world and serve others. She completed her Master’s Degree at IIT in Financial Engineering and ran her business for 25 years at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Later in life, she has had time to pursue her passion for helping and empowering underserved children and their families in Nicaragua to reach their full potential. She is also proud to be the mother of 3 amazing young men that are also dedicating their lives to serving others. VER is very near and dear to her heart, in honor of her brother’s legacy. “The eyes are the windows to the soul” is an expression that is often used to describe the deep connection one feels when looking into another’s eyes. Renee is committed to aiding VER in improving and restoring sight to individuals living in extreme poverty.
Colleen Martin, Surgical project manager
Colleen grew up admiring her father, Robert G. Martin II, for his passion for providing assistance to those in need. Currently, she is a board member for VER International. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Master’s degree in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University. She currently serves as an emergency room department R.N. in Phoenix while studying for her Family & Emergency Nurse Practitioner at Vanderbilt University. She’s participated in multiple volunteer trips over the years and is eager to continue on in her father’s legacy.
Michelle Sheehy, Vision Screening project manager
At an early age, Michelle’s family taught her the importance of giving back to others. At Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, she was taught the importance of having compassion towards the needs of others. When she was a high school junior, she was inspired by her cousin Bob, who introduced her to Amigos de las Americas. Thanks to Bob, she had the honor of participating in her first medical mission trip during Amigo’s initial visit to Oaxaca, Mexico. Michelle immediately developed a deep passion for charitable work and for Latin America. For over fifteen years she has volunteered weekly at a hospital in Chicago devoted to serving chronically ill children. She has continued to participate as a volunteer on mission trips to Ecuador, Peru, and Nicaragua, and looks forward to volunteering with VER International to bring the gift of vision to many more children and adults in Latin America.
Ryan Martin, Vision Screening assistant project manager
Ryan grew up hearing about service trips from his father and how desperately individuals in Latin and South America need ongoing eye care. It was his trip to Guatemala with his father in 5th grade that convinced him of this mission. He now serves as a board member for VER International, since 2015. Ryan graduated from Marquette University, majoring in Finance and International Business. Ryan has gone on service trips with VER to Nicaragua and Peru, thus far.
Dr. Brian Hudson, optometrist, began his interest in international health care as a volunteer with Amigos de las Americas as a young person. He has participated in many international service projects to Africa and Latin America. He has provided necessary care to patients on our VER projects. Mountain climbing is a passion. You can find Brian appreciating nature in beautiful Minnesota.
Cindy Goodale, Founder Cindy brought decades of passion and experience for creating access to health care and sight restoration programs for women and families both domestically and internationally to the creation of VER International. She received an undergraduate degree from UC Davis in Community Nutrition and an MBA from Golden Gate University in Health Service Administration. She has provided 35 years of experience in service as a nonprofit executive director in health, human services, and vision care programs. Cindy met Bob Martin in their youth when both volunteered for Amigos de las Americas. Bob’s wit, incredible sense of humor, ability to reach out and bring joy to everyone he came in contact with serves as a source of inspiration. Throughout the years they continued their mutual dedication to serving the underserved in Latin America in numerous vision care programs. In 2015, Cindy was instrumental in bringing the team together to found VER International. VER is committed to continuing Bob’s legacy of humanitarian service: restoring hope, transforming lives, and creating futures with the gift of sight to the medically under-served and impoverished throughout Latin America. Cindy retires from VER International in 2023.