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The Combat Blindness International Family
Melissa Kuecker Witte
Melissa brings several years of international non profit work to Combat Blindness International, partnering and networking with multiple organizations around the world. In her world travels from Brazil to India to Kenya she has seen first hand the effects of blindness on a person and their community. She desperately wants to change the course of history through bringing sight to all and is excited about the innovative ways CBI is tackling this problem.
A Balkan girl married to an American, blending two cultures and taking the best from both, Vanja’s work at CBI is driven by seeing the effect of avoidable and non-avoidable blindness in her own family. She is a life-long learner, a person attentive to details, and a leader committed to both project- and relationship-oriented excellence with years of work experience in international program management, program administration, and leadership development. In her free time, Vanja enjoys long walks anywhere, reading, traveling, and cooking/hosting.
A local Wisconsin native, Lee is a graduate of UW-Madison with a passion for learning more about different people and cultures. He is excited to continue this study, all while helping people and reducing the inequalities in the developing areas of the world. He feels it is unacceptable for people to remain blind when the only barriers to sight are access to care and a modest cost. All humans deserve their right to sight. On a lighter note, Lee enjoys seeing live music and exploring the outdoors.
Wisconsin born and bred, Brandon has been a dedicated public servant. Right out of grad school Brandon began a year of service with the National Corporation for Community Service as a VISTA in service to Milwaukee Public Schools; a volunteer experience that led to him becoming a District Coordinator of Parent Involvement and Title I funding. Following that, Brandon went on to the Wisconsin Senate where he served as both an Outreach Director and culminated his time there as a Policy Director to one of Wisconsin’s longest running State legislators. He brings with him a vast knowledge of policy and outreach and a strong background in Development and fundraising both in not for profit and political arenas.
Suresh Chandra, MD
Reena Chandra Rajpal
Reena Chandra Rajpal is the Director of Development for the School of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Medical Advancement Group at the University of Wisconsin Foundation. She was the Director of Development for 6 years for Combat Blindness International (CBI). Reena joined the Board of Directors in 2013.
Gordon Derzon served as the CEO of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics for 25 years. He is currently an emeritus clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin. Gordon joined the CBI Board of Directors in 2002.
Anant Baliga is the Director of Business Development at Symphony Corporation where he is responsible for the sales and business development success of the company. Prior to Symphony Corporation he worked with SSI Technologies. Anant joined the CBI Board of Directors in 2013.
Susan Axelrod earned her MBA in finance from the University of Wisconsin and worked as an investment advisor and financial planner serving individuals and organizations for more than 25 years. She has been a volunteer for CBI for several years and joined the Board of Directors in 2013.
Michael Altaweel, MD
Michael Altaweel completed medical school in Canada and came to the University of Wisconsin in 1998 to complete a two-year fellowship in diseases and surgery of the retina and vitreous. He then joined the UW Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences as an assistant professor. Mike joined the CBI Board of Directors in 2002.
Choton Basu, PhD
Choton Basu is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He works closely with startup companies and consults on business innovation. His passion resides in social entrepreneurship, and he specializes in technology-enabled projects. Choton is also the founder and CEO of Slipstream, LLC.
Luxme Hariharan, MD
Luxme Hariharan is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist who completed her Medical Degree at the University of Wisconsin and her MPH at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has completed a number of fellowships in Pediatric Ophthalmology and her goal is to advocate for children worldwide and to create effective programs & policies to help prevent avoidable causes of childhood blindness both locally and abroad.
Peter Holm, MD
Peter Holm, MD is a General Ophthalmologist and the senior member of the Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic, Chippewa Falls, W.I.. He currently practices Ophthalmology in Northern Wisconsin. Peter has been involved in surgical missions in India and the Philippines with CBI, and St. Lucia. Peter joined the CBI Board of Directors in 2013.
Richard Langer, JD
Rick Langer is a partner at Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP, where he concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, trusts and marital property. He has extensive teaching experience as a lecturer to the University of Wisconsin Law School and various bar organizations. A founding member of the CBI board from 1984-2002, Rick rejoined the CBI Board of Directors in 2008.
Keshav Rajpal is the Principal of Bio-Mass Solutions. He was a management consultant for nine years in the high tech, media, entertainment and communications practice for Accenture, an internationally-known consulting firm. Keshav joined the CBI Board of Directors in 2004.