Since our organization's beginnings in 2002, SOTENI International has continually expanded the ways in which we're able to help.
When a group of American and African volunteers formed SOTENI, each member was passionately committed to preventing HIV/AIDS and to reducing its effects. At that time, the mission was simple: Empower orphans of AIDS to lead the fight against AIDS and to prevent another generation from succumbing.
Led by physician-epidemiologist Victoria Wells Wulsin, SOTENI Kenya began in 2003. The group developed the model of Villages of Hope, with the goal of establishing a sustainable, grassroots community.
A locally elected management committee led this community, supporting children affected by HIV/AIDS, especially those heading families. The group found that the best way to empower those needing help was to strengthen their communities, and, in turn, the communities could empower vulnerable people.
Our dedicated Board of Trustees (pictured right) is a diverse group of professionals from around the United States, committed to fulfilling the mission of SOTENI
Advisory Council: Jerry Bedford, Cynthia Colebrook, Joseph Dehner, Judith Feinberg, Charles Hollis, Nathaniel Jones, Inayat Malik, Michael Nugent, Musa Wafula
SOTENI Kenya Board of Trustees: Ken Ramani (Chair), Victoria Wells Wulsin (Vice Chair), Martina Maleche (Secretary), Robert Wanga (Treasurer), Jane Nyutu, Randie Marsh, Lucy Nguru
SOTENI International Board of Trustees: FR: Victoria Wulsin (Founder, Vice Chair), Sandy Spinner.
BR: Joseph Ruter, Tyrone Yates, Lawson Wulsin (Secretary), Kathy Burlew, Alexandra Vrazo (Chair).
Not pictured: Lynn Deasy, Tim Deasy (Treasurer), Hema Krishnan, Andrea Schaaf, Daniel Odipo.
Board member Bios
Victoria Wulsin founded SOTENI in 2003, inspired by her life-long work in eliminating health disparities and breaking the cycle of disease, poverty, and injustice. As an epidemiologist and physician, she has worked for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati Health Department, US Agency for International Development, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, among others. She has worked in public health in 27 countries – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. As a local activist, she chaired the board of the Health Resource Center, co-founded The Africa Foundation – USA, and has fought to prevent and mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS with several local and international organizations. She ran for US Congress twice, nearly winning in 2006. She now works as the Director of Preventive Medicine and Global Health at University Health Services of University of Cincinnati, and vigorously volunteers for all the SOTENI Villages of Hope, SOTENI International, and SOTENI Kenya.
Alexandra Vrazo joined the Board in April 2014, and is currently the Board Chair. Alex works in global health with a focus in international HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs. Alex holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in Microbiology & Immunology, and carried out her postdoctoral fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. To date, Alex has worked to support infectious disease prevention programs in the United States and in over 10 sub-Saharan African countries. Her first visit to SOTENI Kenya (Nairobi, Mbakalo, and Ugunja) was in 2015.
A Consulting Psychologist at The Crossroads Center and an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Kathy Burlew received a B.A., M.A., Ph.D in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Kathy joined the SOTENI Board in 2014.
Lynn Deasy retired from Hartford Hospital in 2017 after working as a registered nurse for 32 years. During Lynn's tenure at the hospital she worked as a bedside nurse in the Surgical ICU, the Post Anesthesia Care Unit and finally in the Women's Ambulatory Center. After receiving her Masters in Public Health, she spent a number of years as the Director of Women's Health. During the final years of employment she was involved in performance improvement initiatives, as well as improving patient experience. Lynn lived in Kenya from 1976 - 1978 teaching at a secondary school. Since then she has returned to Kenya a number of times, primarily due to her involvement as a Board Member of SOTENI since 2003.
Tim Deasy joined SOTENI International in 2005 and became a board member in 2006. He currently serves as Treasurer and is a member of the Capacity Building Committee. Tim retired in 2016 after working in Engineering and Management for several large manufacturing companies. He has a BA in Mathematics, BS in Manufacturing Engineering and an MS in Organizational Management.
Daniel Odipo joined the SOTENI Board in November 2009. He is currently working as a Surgeon Assistant at The Greater Cincinnati Surgery Center, Bethesda North Hospital and West Chester Medical Center.
Daniel moved to Cincinnati in 2007 from Fort Wayne, Indiana where he was since 1996. While in Fort Wayne, Daniel along with a friend (Dr. Jerry Cooper) initiated the start of the Kenya Orthopedic Mission Project in 1998. This project that is still ongoing to date facilitates complex orthopedic surgery procedures at the main teaching and referral hospital in Nairobi (Kenyatta National Hospital) to needy Kenyans while at the same time provides instructional sessions for medical students, and general surgery registrars.
Sandra Spinner joined the SOTENI Board in August 2017. She is a native of New York City and moved to Cincinnati in 1964. She taught in New York City Public Schools and Cincinnati Public Schools. From 1977 until 1999, Mrs. Spinner held a leadership role, locally and nationally, in the movement dedicated to allow free emigration of Soviet Jews. In 2005 Spinner became a founding Co-Chair of the Cincinnati Interfaith Coalition to Save Darfur. In 2006 she was elected to the Board of HIAS, an international refugee protection and resettlement agency. Currently she serves on the HIAS Executive Committee. Since 2007 she has chaired their national and international programs oversight committee. She has served on the boards of a number of philanthropic organizations; is a member of Xavier University’s 1812 Society and the Lion of Judah society of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. In 2014 Sandra was appointed to Mayor Cranley’s committee to make Cincinnati a more immigrant-friendly community. More recently, she has been involved in creating a more welcome and effective environment for refugees in Cincinnati as part of the Refugee Empowerment Network.
Lawson Wulsin is Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the University of Cincinnati. He is the Director for the Family Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program at the University of Cincinnati and from 2010-2017 he served as Director of the Cincinnati VA Medical Center’s Primary Care Mental Health Integration Program. Since 2003 he has served on the SI Board of Trustees, as secretary of the SI Board, and as chair of the Capacity Building Committee.
Tyrone Keith Yates (born January 22, 1954) is a Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge. He was elected on November 8, 2011. He was unopposed to fill the unexpired term of Judge Nadine Lovelace Allen who was elected to the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. His new term runs until January 1, 2014. He was appointed originally by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland on January 26, 2010. The Hamilton County Municipal Court serves approximately 900,000 citizens. He has been a board member since 2012.