About Us

About Us

EMERGENCY is an independent and neutral humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in Italy in 1994 to provide free-of-charge, high quality medical and surgical care in countries affected by war and poverty.

EMERGENCY runs over 60 hospitals, clinics and first aid posts around the world. All medical facilities are designed to last for generations. Patients are guaranteed entirely free, high-standard medical and surgical care without discrimination. EMERGENCY’s experienced international staff provides national staff with in-depth on-the-job training, with the goal of handing over medical facilities to local health authorities as soon as sustainability is achieved.

EMERGENCY USA was founded in 2008 and is a member of an international network that supports EMERGENCY’s healthcare projects through advocacy, fundraising, and recruitment of medical staff.

International network

EMERGENCY USA is an independent, non-profit organization with 501(c)3 tax-exempt status from the IRS. Our Federal EIN is 26-3321828.

Meet Our Founder

Gino Strada was born in 1948, and graduated as a surgeon from the University of Milan. After working in hospitals in Italy, South Africa and the US, Dr. Strada left a lucrative career to serve as a war surgeon. He worked for the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) from 1989 to 1994 in eight countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Pakistan and Somalia.

In 1994, he and his wife Teresa founded the NGO EMERGENCY. While Dr. Strada spent most of his time abroad performing surgery at EMERGENCY facilities, Teresa managed EMERGENCY’s administration and developed the organization’s support base in Italy, where it now has 4,000 volunteers. Following Teresa’s death in 2009, the Stradas’ daughter Cecilia assumed the post of President of EMERGENCY.

Having experienced first-hand the civilian casualties and human misery brought by wars and landmines, Dr. Strada has taken an unwavering moral position against the root causes of war. EMERGENCY helped ban the production and use of antipersonnel landmines by Italy.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. The acknowledgment of this principle “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
"Paris, 10 December 1948, Article 1 and Preamble"

EMERGENCY believes

Healthcare is a basic human right.

Therefore, EMERGENCY supports the implementation of medical projects according to the principles of equality, quality, and social responsibility.

“War cannot be humanized. It can only be eliminated..."
Albert Einstein

How We Work

Providing free, high-quality medical and surgical care

EMERGENCY works in areas of active armed conflict- where civilians bear the burden of war- and in communities with limited or no access to healthcare. EMERGENCY provides all care free to anyone in need of assistance.
EMERGENCY’s approach goes beyond the provision of basic medical care, as we believe every human being has the same right to access high-quality healthcare. We run surgical centers, offer access to specialists, and adhere to high standards of care.

Care we provide:


Building healthcare infrastructure

Many of EMERGENCY’s programs are in conflict and post-conflict regions, where healthcare facilities have been destroyed through war and lack of investment. By building or renovating hospitals, EMERGENCY contributes to the healthcare infrastructure, to the livelihoods of local communities, and ultimately helps to strengthen healthcare systems and foster sustainability.

  • hospitals dedicated to war survivors and surgical emergencies
  • physical and social rehabilitation centers
  • first aid posts (stabilization and referral centers)
  • primary healthcare centers
  • pediatric clinics and hospitals
  • maternity hospitals
  • outpatient clinics and mobile clinics for migrants and underserved communities
  • regional specialty hospitals
Training medical professionals

In our hospitals we give great importance to the training of local staff as doctors, nurses and midwives. This is because for us providing treatment also means fostering expertise in the countries where we work. Indeed, our objective is to hand over our hospitals to national staff and authorities as soon as self-sustainability can be achieved. In addition to medical training, we also run vocational training programs for individuals who have been maimed or left without social and financial support due to war.

By working with national health ministries to provide training and supporting local communities, we help ensure that we are fostering individual agency and empowerment.

About Our Team

Board Members

Larry Crickenberger

Board President

Larry has worked as an administrative law judge, attorney and as Vice President-Senior Account Executive at Fidelity Investments in Burlingame, CA. His community involvement spans organizations concerned with hunger, wildlife, the environment and LGBT rights. He previously served as treasurer and vice president of Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco and is a graduate of the University of Virginia (BA) and New England Law School (JD).

Kyler Hunter

Board Vice President

Kyler is a perfusionist focusing primarily in adult cardiac surgery in Los Angeles. He has participated in humanitarian cardiac surgery for adults and children in public hospitals in Perú, Uganda, Ghana, Ukraine, Brazil, India and The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of North Florida and a Master’s degree in Pharmacology & Toxicology from The University of Arizona, where he also completed his training as a perfusionist.

Amira Resnick

Board Secretary

Amira is a non-profit management professional with ten years of cross-cultural experience in project management, staff development, and community engagement. Highlights of her career include coordinating international partnerships in a foreign higher education institution, managing program implementation and family engagement with 17 bilingual Head Start centers, and facilitating professional development and organizational change management with out-of-school time providers to create healthy environments for youth.

Firuza Rakhimova

Board Treasurer

Firuza is an accounting professional with experience in the not-for-profit field. She was born in Uzbekistan and came to the United States in 2006. She graduated from Butler University with a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business in 2008. In 2015 she received her CPA license. Currently, she works at Selfhelp –– a community based organization in New York City that provides services to seniors, low income families, and other at-risk people. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family.

Courtnay Robbins Bragagnolo

Board Member

Courtnay Robbins Bragagnolo is a photographer based in Los Angeles. Her primary focus is documenting social and humanitarian issues, working with non-profit organizations to create visually compelling storytelling. Courtnay’s photography has been published both locally and internationally.

Jill Rickman

Board Member

Jill is a consultant in the public sector focusing on workforce development, learning, and strategic communication. Previously, Jill was the senior manager of training operations for a large telecommunications company. Her community involvement spans organizations concerned with leadership, education, and social justice. She is a graduate of the Miami University (BA) and Duke University (M.Div).

Nafisa Abdullah

Board Member

Born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan and earning her medical degree from Kabul University, Dr. Nafisa Abdullah is an Ob/Gyn who has extensive experience in Endocrinology and Infertility. Nafisa spent decades of her career at West Los Angeles Kaiser, brought her expertise to numerous hospitals in Afghanistan and is dedicated to aiding the most vulnerable civilians impacted by war: mothers and infants.

Mimi Yu

Board Member

Mimi was McKnight Presidential Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota when she retired in 2009 from 30+ years in academic medicine. She also sits on the board of Orchestra Santa Monica, a community orchestra in the town where she and her husband have resided since 1983. Mimi has been part of the Emergency USA Family since 2009. She writes: “social justice, human rights and pacifism are central to my world view.” She has two grown children who reside in Rhode Island and North Carolina, respectively, with their spouses and children.

Cathe Giffuni

Board Member


Elie Rubinstein

Executive Director

Elie Rubinstein is a non-profit professional and humanitarian with over 20 years of leadership experience working for the advancement of underserved individuals, families and children locally and internationally. A skillful fundraiser, Elie Rubinstein most recently served as the Executive Director of H.E.S., a community center in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Under his leadership, the agency’s annual operating budget rose from $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. Elie Rubinstein earned his Bachelor’s degree from Belorussian Polytechnic Institute in Minsk, Belarus, his Master's degree in Management from the Heller School, Brandeis University, and most recently he started Horizons University's online Doctor of Business Administration program. In his spare time, Elie likes to play chess and run marathons.

Lillian Barnes

Development and Operations Manager

Lillian is a creative administrator with four years of experience in non-profits and education. She is well versed in event coordination, research, and grants programs. Previously, she worked at Arts Mid-Hudson, administering the NY State Council on the Arts grants program for Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange Counties. Lillian studied French and Theatre at Vassar College and the Institut Catholique de Paris. She is passionate about advocating for cultural diversity, environmental sustainability, and worldwide education equity.

Volunteers & Interns

George Wolf

Special Projects Volunteer

George Wolf was born in Brno, Czech Republic, in 1927. After the German invasion, he escaped with his parents to Switzerland, but the rest of his family perished in Auschwitz. George moved to the US by himself at age 19 and built a business. He is a writer, lecturer, marathon organizer, and is involved in social and cultural affairs of the survivor community, particularly the Austrian emigre diaspora.

Anabelle Basterrechea-Jones

Social Media Intern

Anabelle is a student at Barnard College in New York City, where she hopes to pursue a joint major in Human Rights and Economic and Social History. Anabelle has a particular interest in reproductive/maternal health, women's empowerment, and gender equality. She has participated in humanitarian projects focused on equity, sustainability, and education abroad in Uganda and Rwanda, as well as locally in Washington, DC and New York City. After graduation, Anabelle hopes to embark on a career in global health to advocate for human rights and increase cultural sensitivity.

Emily Ward

Volunteer Grant Writer

Emily volunteers her time to Emergency USA’s fundraising efforts. As a not-for-profit professional with eight years of experience, Emily assists with grant research and writing. She has a Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of Delaware and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A born and raised Brooklyn native, Emily enjoys spending time with family and friends and exploring new places to brunch.

Nelli Ghazaryan

Volunteer Coordinator

Nelli Ghazaryan is a recent graduate of George Washington University, where she earned a Master’s in Public Health. She is specifically interested in strengthening global health care infrastructure and advocating for culturally competent care. Nelli has been a supported of EMERGENCY since 2012 and has worked on the University Advisory Council. Currently she works as a Business Intelligence Programmer and Analyst for the UCLA Health system.