Rural Health Care Initiative
  • Partnering with Sierra Leone to save lives

Sarah Cassell Accepts Role of RHCI Board Chair

At the July 8th RHCI Board meeting, long-time board member Sarah Cassell was voted in as the new chair, taking over from Carol Nelson who will now be the Executive Director.

Sarah has her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Augsburg University and Masters in Leadership and Management from Metropolitan State University. She is employed at HealthPartners Regions Hospital as Manager of one of the Cardiology Units. Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, she recently visited family and friends in Sierra Leone.  While there, she traveled to Tikonko, met with local community members and RHCI staff, and toured the Birth Waiting Home.

In her message to the Board, Sarah stated, “It is an honor and a privilege to be the newly elected Chair of the Board of Directors of RHCI. As I reflect on this very important assignment, I couldn’t help but to playback our initial community meeting few years ago at the home of Gary Johnson and Jeanne Ayers. It has been a challenging but amazing few years and I give credit to our founding members including Alice Karpeh, who like many of us had a dream to better our communities. Alice had a dream and she was relentless. With all of your individual commitment to RHCI we have a building!

I have a dream that RHCI will be recognized not only as a high performing non-profit organization in Sierra Leone, but also in Minnesota and beyond. I have a dream that each of us will put our best foot forward to continue to serve the women and children in Tikonko.”
 Sarah has a background in hospital administration and leadership and will be a valuable asset to RHCI as we start the operations of the Birth Waiting Home. She’s an adjunct faculty at Metropolitan State University, where she has taught intermittently since 2007. Sarah is excited about her new role because she’s looking to engage more members of the Sierra Leonean community in Minnesota on the work of RHCI. She’s looking to partner with key stake holders in expanding the vision of RHCI to include:
  • Full operations of the Birth Waiting Home
  • Creating a sustainable program to include nutrition and health education for the community
  • Expanding our outreach programs to other areas of the Tikonko chiefdom.

Sarah is asking all the donors who have supported RHCI with contributions to see how they have made an impact on the lives of the people of Tikonko. She also wants to challenge them that the journey is just starting. She’s appealing to all of you to support our Fall fundraising event that is coming up on October 29th.

There’s an African phrase, “If you want to go fast, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk with others.” With RHCI, we do want to go far; so we are inviting all our friends and supporters to walk alongside us, as we journey to make a difference in lives of women and children of Tikonko.

Carol Nelson

Board Chair

Carol Nelson MD is a retired physician from the U of MN Boynton Health Women's Clinic and St. Paul Primary Care Clinic with 38 years of primary care experience. In 2013, 2015 and December 2016-January 2017, she traveled to Tikonko in Sierra Leone. During the recent trip, she facilitated a Helping Babies Breathe training session for the Traditional Birth Attendants in Tikonko Chiefdom. Dr. Nelson is currently pursuing her Master's of Public Health at the U of MN School of Public Health, with a focus on Global Health.

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