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MEF Leadership

Michelle's Earth Foundation Leadership

Gail Fendley

President, Board of Directors

Gail Fendley is Broadcast Producer for the PBS program, “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.” Her career in television news spans more than twenty-five years as a producer in Charleston SC, Roanoke VA, Washington DC, San Diego CA, Los Angeles and New York City.

Her awards include two Emmys, two Angel Awards, two Chicago International Film Festival Awards, International Film and Video Festival Silver Screen and Certificate for Creative Excellence Award and Unity Award in Media, Wilbur Award. Gail was selected by her peers to receive the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmy) Silver Circle Award for service in November 2008.

She has returned to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast more than 50 times since Hurricane Katrina, either to produce segments or work toward MEF’s goal of eradicating childhood lead poisoning in New Orleans.

Gail graduated with a BS from Auburn University in Communications and a MA in American Literature from the University of Charleston. She lives in Falls Church, VA with her husband Navy CAPT Lane Willson. Their son Ian is 29 years old and daughter Erin is 24.

Georgeanne Michelle Usova

Board of Directors

Georgeanne Michelle Usova, one of the founding members of Michelle's Earth Foundation, graduated with a J.D from George Washington University Law School. She now works in the Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, DC.

Gus Rassam, PhD

Board of Directors

Dr. Rassam has been Executive Director and CEO of AFS since 1999. AFS is a nonprofit 501c3 scientific and professional society with more than 9000 members from countries around the world. Its mission is to disseminate scientific information and develop the professional capabilities of its members. It accomplishes that through publishing journals and books; holding meetings; certification programs; and developing position papers on various issues relevant to the public and policy makers.

Previously, Dr. Rassam worked in management positions with the Optical Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and American Geological Institute. He also has taught at several universities in the Midwest and the Washington, DC, area, and has worked in oil companies in Iraq and France and as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission of Iraq.

Dr. Rassam has a PhD in Geosciences from the University of Minnesota, an MS from Miami University of Ohio and a BS from the University of Baghdad.

Ian Reid Willson

Board of Directors

Ian Reid Willson is one of the founding members of Michelle's Earth Foundation. As the program director for the MESUNOLA project he has organized volunteers, tested and retested soil for lead, cleared lots, planted seeds, and pulled up plants. He currently grows organic vegetables for La Petite Grocery in New Orleans, LA. Ian is a 29-year-old graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a BS in Sociology and a minor in Spanish.

John-Charles Quinn

Treasurer, Board of Directors

John-Charles Quinn, father of Michelle, is a consultant for the trucking industry. Prior to that he was VP and Chief Technology Officer at the American Trucking Association.

Sophia Vinogradov, MD

Board of Directors

Sophia Vinogradov, M.D. is a Professor of Psychiatry in Residence; Interim Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health, Associate Chief for Education and Research, Mental Health Service, at the San Francisco VA Medical Center; and Research Co-Director of the Prodrome Assessment, Research, and Treatment
program at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California, San Francisco. She received her M.D. from Wayne State University School of Medicine, obtained her psychiatry residency training at Stanford University School of Medicine, where she served as Chief Resident, and completed a Psychiatric Neurosciences Research Fellowship at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center and Stanford University.

T.H. Culhane, PhD 

Board of Directors

T.H. Culhane began his career, after graduating from Harvard in Biological Anthropology and spending a year doing rain forest research in Borneo on a Harvard project team, working as a science writer, publishing in Science Digest and Reader’s Digest Magazines. After attending the British American Drama Academy in London and Oxford, he returned to the U.S. and started teaching science in the inner city schools of Los Angeles. There he combined his skills in scientific research, writing, music, acting and film and theatre production and created a program called “D.E.M.M.O” Productions (Digital Engineering for Multi-Media Occupations). The federally funded “Chapter I” program helped at-risk youth engage with and personalize their education by giving them the ability to combine art and science in the service of an exciting end product. Science furnished the topic, Art furnished the medium, Science Fiction was the outcome.

The program was successful at Crenshaw, Jefferson and Hollywood High Schools, and Mr. Culhane went across America (and often to other countries) doing workshops for the NSTA (National Science Teacher’s Association) and other organizations (JPL Teacher Training Program, UCLA Teacher Education, LEARN, Impact II Teacher’s Network, CalState Space Science Program, Challenger Center) sharing his methods and enthusiasm for “bringing the textbook to life”.

As a teaching fellow in the UCLA Global Environment Class in 2002-2003, T.H. employed the same methods to help undergraduates appreciate and take an active role in improving our urban ecology.

From 2004 – 2006 Culhane taught similar workshops at the American University in Cairo and the Wadi Environmental Science Center bringing sci-fi fantasy and real world science together to keep kids motivated to study science.

From 2006 to 2012 Culhane and his wife, Dr. Sybille Culhane, founded Solar CITIES (Connecting Community Catalysts Integrating Technologies for Industrial Ecology Systems) — a real-world education NGO that trains residents of very poor communities in inner-city Cairo how to build solar hot water and other renewable energy, water and waste management systems.

Culhane is now a Visiting Faculty Researcher and Professor at Mercy College in Ferry, New York, Essen, Germany and parts of the Middle East and Africa. This is a dual appointment position that involves working primarily with immigrants and students from underprivileged backgrounds on innovative approaches to education.