December, 2020
Global ARCH News
As 2020 winds down (thankfully!!) we want to wish everyone a very happy holiday and a much better new year. Let's hope that most of the world's population can get vaccinated quickly and we can get back to our regular lives. Who knew that we'd miss crowded places and our routines so much?!
Despite the monumental interruptions and new adjustments, Global ARCH has continued to grow and thrive. We've created new and wonderful partnerships with allied organizations, and have collaborated with outstanding individuals who are doing great work in the CHD and RHD communities. Fortunately for us, some of those people have joined our board!

On December 13, 2020, we held our second Annual General Meeting and we are delighted to announce the addition of five new board members and one returning board member: Ruth Ngwaro, Grace Jerald, Lavinia Ndinangoye, Mehwish Mukhtar, David La Fontaine, and Bistra Zheleva.
Ruth Ngwaro is originally from Kenya but is now living in the United States. As a congenital heart disease (CHD) patient, Ruth founded the non-profit organization Kenya Mended Hearts Patient’s Association (KMHPA). Through her impressive leadership, the organization continues to successfully advocate for CHD and RHD rights, policy changes, and creating awareness in the community.
Grace Jerald was the first CHD patient in Malaysia to undergo the switch operation for Transposition of the Great Arteries. With a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Malaya in Malaysia, Grace has held numerous positions in database management, event planning, and empowering and running volunteer teams. Throughout 2020 she has been a valued member of the Global ARCH communications committee.
Lavinia Ndinangoye is a nurse, musician, and an RHD ambassador in Namibia. At the age of 9 she was diagnosed with RHD but for many years was lost to follow up. As a person with health challenges, Lavinia developed a great passion and desire to help and serve others, especially those with health-related issues. As a musician, Lavinia recorded the RHD awareness song “GET BACK YOUR CONFIDENCE”, which was launched during a local RHD campaign. She is currently running a project called ‘RHD IS NOT A DISABILITY’ to create awareness of rheumatic fever prevention.
Mehwish Mukhtar is a radio broadcaster, teacher, social activist, motivational speaker, and blogger in Lahore, Pakistan. As the mother of a son with CHD, she is a tireless advocate for CHD patients, helping other families find proper cardiac care for their CHD children. Mehwish is a committed volunteer and someone who will bring creative and advocacy skills to the Global ARCH team. 
David La Fontaine graduated from Haverford College near Philadelphia in 1983. He has worked in community-based urban redevelopment, and currently heads a non-profit organization that develops affordable housing and mixed-use properties in partnership with local neighborhood leadership in Philadelphia. David is also committed to health equity and helping people with CHD and RHD access the care they need to live healthy lives.
Bistra Zheleva, the Vice President of Global Strategy and Advocacy at Children's HeartLink, has been welcomed back to the Global ARCH board with open arms after a brief hiatus. She is an International development expert with close to 20 years of experience in program implementation and advocacy for improved access to care for children in need of pediatric cardiac services. In her year away from the board Bistra continued to contribute her expertise to our advocacy efforts.
Our Board Members
President: Amy Verstappen (US)
Vice-president: Disty Pearson (US)
Secretary: Shelagh Ross (Canada)
Finance: David La Fontaine (US)
Farhan Ahmad (Pakistan)
Flavia Kamalembo Baturine (Africa)
Dr. Vikas Desai (India)
Noémi D. de Stoutz (Switzerland)
Grace Jerald (Malaysia)
Mehwish Mukhtar (Pakistan)
Ruth Ngwaro (US & US)
Lavinia Ndemutila Ndinangoye (Namibia)
Dominique Vervoort (Belgium & US)
Claire Wilby (France)
Bistra Zheleva (US)
Medical Advisory Board
Kathy Jenkins, MD, MPH
Disty Pearson, Board Liaison and Vice-Chair
Christopher Hugo Hamman, MD
Babar S. Hasan, MD
RK Kumar, MD
Sivakumar Sivalingam, MD
Liesl Zühlke, MD
Please keep us in the loop!
We’d love to hear about what you and/or your organization is doing, and we will help spread the news. Please contact us at

If you have a colleague who might like to join please ask them to visit our website.

To see our current list of members please click HERE.