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.

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.

Nafisa Abdullah, MD

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.

Cathe Giffuni

Board Member

Cathe Giffuni has been involved with Emergency USA in New York City since its inception in 2005. She has participated in Emergency USA and Emergency conferences throughout the years. More than 20 of her bibliographies of 20th century authors including several Italian authors have been published in books and journals in the United States and abroad. She reads and speaks Italian.

Courtnay Robbins

Board Member

Courtnay Robbins is photographer based in Los Angeles. She received her BFA in Photography and Media from the California Institute of the Arts. Courtnay’s work has been published in TEMA,Tricycle, OURS Magazine, and more. She was on the shortlist for the 2017 Lucie Foundation’s Emerging Photographer, was awarded honorable mention in the 2017 International Photography Awards and was recently featured in the Emerging Women in Photography Exhibit, sponsored by Canon, at Gré Gallery in Palm Springs. In addition, Courtnay was on the film crew of the award-winning documentary about the resilience of Kurdish refugees, Resistance Is Life.

Angela Porcarelli

Board member

Angela Porcarelli is a Senior Lecturer at Emory University, where she teaches Italian language and literature. Her research focuses on Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature as well as Italian cinema and modern and contemporary literature. In her approach to literature she is interested in highlighting the way literature is able to produce socially transformative changes and therefore become a tool for building social justice. At Emory, Angela Porcarelli has organized events to give exposure to Emergency’ work and its mission bringing to campus guest speakers who are active within the organization.

Emily Farkas

Dr. Emily A. Farkas is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon and one of only 3% of cardiac surgeons who are female, also holding the distinction of being the first woman accepted to train in the specialty at Yale University. Following graduation, she spent 5 years on the faculty at Saint Louis University as Assistant Professor of Surgery. During her time there, she was honored with a Mayoral Proclamation designating August 3rd “Dr. Emily Farkas Day” in the city St. Louis due to her extensive community and international volunteer work. This passion for humanitarian surgery eventually led her to leave the University to focus on providing free heart surgery overseas, and Dr. Farkas now partners with different charity organizations to do this every 6-8 weeks, and has directed or participated in over 35 missions around the world. She spends the balance of her time as a Cardiac Surgeon on staff at the ThedaCare Heart Institute in Wisconsin, a Mayo Clinic affiliate. Dr. Farkas serves on many leadership committees and workforces for the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and Women in Thoracic Surgery, is a Featured Expert & Editor for the STS website ctsurgerypatients.org, a Deputy Editor for CTSNet, Director of Surgical Services for CardioStart’s International Mission Committee and serves on the Board of Trustees for CardioStart International & the VOOM Foundation.

Honorary and Advisory Board

Gino Strada, MD

Founder and Executive Director, EMERGENCY NGO

"In the hospitals, First Aid Posts and Health Centres that we have built and managed in 16 different countries, we have so far treated over 8 million people, with passion and competence. These results have been achieved thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers, hundreds of doctors, nurses and technicians with various skills, who have decided to contribute with their professionalism to our missions in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Iraq..."

Ataullah Zulfacar, MD

Doctor, educator and humanitarian

Dr. Zulfacar is an internist, intensive care unit and emergency care specialist. He was educated in Kabul, Afghanistan, and completed his medical degree at Freie University in Berlin, Germany. Since 1980 Dr. Zulfacar has been involved in providing humanitarian and medical assistance to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, he has been involved in the rebuilding of local medical systems since 2002, teaching post-graduate courses for Afghan colleagues as capacity building in various hospitals and universities in Kabul and throughout the provinces. He writes: "after many years of experience in various hospitals in comparison, I truly admire the noble ideas and the humanitarian work of Emergency, and their system of medical and hospital management in Afghanistan."

Hollie McKay

Journalist, Fox News

Hollie McKay is an Australian journalist for Fox News, best known for her work recording the human cost of the rise of ISIS in the Middle East. Her coverage has included exclusive and detailed interviews with numerous captured ISIS terrorists including leaders, female bombers and child recruits, high-ranking government and intelligence officials, Iraqi Forces and Kurdish Peshmerger counter-terrorism and military units, the training of female military units, extensive interviews with survivors of torture, sex slavery and forced child jihadist training recruits, refugees and internally-displaced people, religious minority persecution, the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) UNICEF and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Kelvin Doe

Honorary Board member

Kelvin Doe, also known as DJ Focus, is a Sierra Leonean engineer. He is known for teaching himself engineering at the age of 13 and building his own radio station in Sierra Leone, where he plays music and broadcasts news under the name "DJ Focus." He was one of the finalists in GMin's Innovate Salone idea competition, in which Doe built a generator from scrap metals. Doe would constantly use discarded pieces of scrap to build transmitters, generators, and batteries, as well. As a result of his accomplishment, he received an invitation to the United States and subsequently became the youngest person to participate in the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" at MIT. His accomplishments were documented by @radical.media and presented on their corporate YouTube channel. When the video went viral, the story was picked up by CNN, NBC News, and The Huffington Post. Doe subsequently was a speaker at TEDxTeen and lectured to undergraduate engineering students at Harvard College. In May 2013, Doe signed a $100,000 solar project pact with Canadian High Speed Service Provider Sierra WiFi. Today, Kevin Doe is one of the most respected among other young African inventors.[11] He has had the opportunity of meeting various leaders of the world including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo. He has also been able to speak to young people in Africa on different platforms. In 2017, Kelvin Doe became an Honorary Board member of EMERGENCY USA, an organization with a mission to provide free medical and surgical care to the victims of war and poverty.


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.

Michela Demelas

Michela Demelas is an Intern at Emergency USA and a columnist for La Voce di New York. She helps the non-profit organization in fundraising and public relations, and she reports news from the UN Headquarters for the Italian newspaper. She was born in Sardinia, Italy, and she obtained her Bachelor's degree in International and Diplomatic Affairs from the University of Bologna in 2017. After living in Spain, she moved to New York in order to continue her studies in gender equality and women's rights.