Staff and Board of Directors
Staff and Board of Directors
Meredith Potts, Executive Director and Re-founder
Meredith has been the Executive Director of FIRE since 2003. Cumulatively, she has spent almost 2 years in Mongolia since 2004. She continues to split her time between Mongolia and Flagstaff, AZ. Meredith orchestrated the final six volunteer distribution trips and has established most of FIRE’s current programs. She works closely with the office in Mongolia to research, implement, lead and evaluate ongoing and future programs. She builds long-term relationships within Mongolia and the US. Meredith has a strong knowledge of Mongolian culture, politics and logistics, which allows her to navigate an often-challenging system and establish efficient and effective communication within FIRE’s programs and especially with the management of the Mongolia office. She was David Edwards’ business manager from 2000 through 2007, where she was first introduced to FIRE, eventually reorganizing and reviving it from a brief hibernation period. Meredith, who is also a yoga instructor, photographer, and filmmaker, co-directed and produced “One Steppe at a Time: FIRE in Mongolia”, a documentary about FIRE’s 2005 clothing and medical aid distribution trip. In addition to FIRE operations, she has spent eight months in India volunteering with the poor, photographing and studying yoga. Her passion for helping others, began at age seven after her first encounter with the homeless while visiting San Francisco. Volunteering has continued throughout her life.
Dr. Munkhjargal Ayurzana, Medical Director, Mongolia
Dr. Munkhjargal has been with FIRE since December 2010. She is currently supervising FIRE’s office in Ulaanbaatar and directing all of FIRE’s medical programs. Dr. Munkhjargal is a qualified medical doctor with more than 10 years of experience in diverse development contexts and settings including civil society, private and government sectors. Dr. Munkhjargal served as the Executive Director for the National AIDS Foundation, one of Mongolia’s leading reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) for more than two years prior to joining FIRE. She also worked as a coordinator for health emergencies and disaster preparedness and as a monitoring and evaluation officer at the Ministry of Health in Mongolia. Dr. Munkhjargal specializes in working partnerships with international organizations and managing and coordinating the implementation of donor-funded projects and assisting capacity building of community based organizations. She lived in England for eight years, perfecting her English and giving her an excellent understanding of Western culture which allows her to successfully bridge the cultural gap between a foreign NGO and Mongolian culture on a daily basis.
Dr. Munkhnasan Myagmarjav, Program Coordinator, Mongolia
Dr. Munkhnasan graduated from the Health Sciences University of Mongolia with advanced degrees in Dermatology and Venereology. She worked as an Emergency Doctor at the Emergency Health Care Center of Ulaanbaatar. She has also worked as a physician doing voluntary counseling and testing for sexually transmitted diseases at the Ulaanbaatar Health Center. Dr. Munkhnasan served as Program Manager for the National AIDS Foundation in Mongolia, supervising community based programs including the design, development, implementation, reporting, and monitoring and evaluation. She serves the same roles at FIRE as well as coordinating our trainings and workshops, creating curricula and building relationships. FIRE values her extensive experiences in working with patients and community-based organizations. She is committed to supporting public health in Mongolia.
Baasantsetseg Baatar, Administrative Officer, Mongolia
Ms. Baasantsetseg grew up in rural Mongolia. She moved to the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, to attend high school and University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Ms. Baasantsetseg served as the chief accountant at Boroo Mining Co. Ltd., one of Mongolia’s largest mining companies, for three years. From 2009 until 2011 she served as the Accountant and Office Manager for World Growth Mongolia, an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) working in Mongolia. She enjoys working for NGOs and feels that it gives her a greater purpose in life. She lived in London, England for seven years and Russia for two years giving her an excellent understanding of Western accounting practices and the ability to bridge the professional and cultural gap between Mongolia and the West. Ms. Baasantsetseg enjoys learning different skills. She regularly takes courses on her own time to further develop her knowledge.
Heather Swartz, Business Manager, Arizona
Heather has 15 years experience as lead bookkeeper working for companies varying in size from 15 to 150 employees. For five years she managed the accounts of a million dollar company. She has spent the last 3 years working for a nonprofit organization and is very experienced and knowledgeable of non-profit program reporting, procedures and audit requirements. In addition to her bookkeeping background, Heather has several years experience overseeing every facet of a busy office from design and marketing to the management of volunteers. Her diverse skill set and exceptional attention to detail help maximize FIRE’s resources. When she is not juggling the many balls of her professional life, Heather keeps busy with her husband and two daughters.
Board of Directors
Andy Kruse, President
Andy Kruse is the Vice President of Business Development for Endurance Wind Power. He has more than 25 years of small wind experience and was co-founder and Executive Vice President of Business Development at Southwest Wind power, the global leader of residential wind generators prior to his current position. He currently sits on the Department of Commerce’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee, and is chair of the Small Wind Committee within the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). He has traveled to 70 countries promoting and developing distributors for small-scale renewables. His background is in management, international marketing, channel development and domestic policy. Andy has written numerous marketing and technical articles on renewable energy and received a number of awards with the most recent being “National Exporter of the Year” from the Small Business Administration, the “Small Wind Advocate of 2009” from the AWEA, the President’s “E” award and ‘National Exporter of the Year’ by the Small Business Association.
Way Yuhl, Treasurer
Way Yuhl is a successful entrepreneur who has started companies in the transportation, food delivery, marketing and retail industries. Way is active in the Flagstaff business and philanthropic community. He donates his time counseling individuals about how to start and grow their businesses and is a regular speaker at the Coconino County Basic Business classes. He currently owns Fizz Bath Shop and is the Business Manger for the Flagstaff YMCA. Way and his wife Kim have been married for 20 years and have two children. An avid outdoors man, Way also enjoys reading, the study of languages, and international travel. He has explored more than 20 countries and holds degrees in Liberal Arts, Geography, Education and Geomorphology.
Kim Fawcett, RN, MS, Secretary
Kim has worked as an ICU and Recovery Room nurse at Flagstaff Medical Center for the past 4 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Toxicology. Kim volunteered as a nurse in Haiti, after the earthquake and at an orphanage in Rwanda teaching first aid. She has worked as a Grand Canyon river guide for the past 9 years. In her free time she enjoys hiking in the vast outdoors of Northern Arizona and traveling to other parts of the world especially Asia and Africa. Through the FIRE Board of Directors, Kim is able to sustainably and constructively combine her commitment to health care with her interest in international cultures for a long-term effect.
David Edwards, Founder and Board Member
David is a freelance documentary photographer and guide, having made Flagstaff his home since 1982. He has led river trips around the world and continues to lead horse trips throughout Mongolia. His story about the Kazakh eagle hunters of western Mongolia appeared in the September 1999 issue of National Geographic. Dave took his first trip to Mongolia in 1992 for a self-assignment covering the horse culture. Moved by the poverty he saw, specifically in orphanages and among the street children, Dave began carrying duffels of warm clothes to Mongolia and personally distributed them on his following trips. In 1997 he founded the Mongolian Orphans Association, which is now called FIRE.
Susan Bigley, NP, Board Member
Susan Bigley resides in Flagstaff, Arizona where she is the Associate Medical Director at North Country Health Care, a clinic designed to meet the needs of the under insured and the uninsured. Her current role as a Family Nurse Practitioner and administrator of a community health center exemplifies her commitment to delivering health care to the under served. Prior to joining North Country, she spent over 20 years on the Hopi and Navajo Reservations, first as a public health nurse then as a nurse practitioner. A majority of her work was with diabetes prevention and education. She has always been drawn to public health and working with communities, especially with disease prevention and self-management. She earned her Master of Science degree from Northern Arizona University. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio she has called Arizona home since 1989. She lives there with her beautiful daughter and a few too many pets.
Troy Levitt, MD, Board Member
Dr. Levitt is board certified in Emergency Medicine and serves as Chief of the Emergency Medicine Department of Chinle Hospital, deep on the Navajo Reservation, outside Flagstaff, AZ. She has been at Chinle Hospital since 1998 and moved to Flagstaff on a part-time basis in 2005. After more than two decades of working in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Levitt knows first hand the role it often plays as the first point of contact in patient treatment. She is currently working with FIRE to develop a First Aid training program to begin to address the almost non-existent area of Emergency Medicine in Mongolia. The cultural similarities between the Navajo and the Mongolians make her experience and expertise a great match for FIRE’s programs. She has two teenage sons who keep her busy when she is not on the Reservation.
Dawn Hatch, RN, BSN, Board Member
Originally from Chicago, IL, Dawn has lived in Flagstaff, AZ since 1979. She currently works as an outpatient surgery nurse. Dawn earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Northern Arizona University and spent 3 years working as a surgical nurse on the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona. She has also volunteered for the United States Geological Survey on the Colorado River. Dawn spends her free time outdoors with her husband Ric and canine Tahoe, hiking and skiing throughout Northern Arizona. She also enjoys traveling to Asia, especially experiencing the Tibetan culture. Dawn is looking forward to applying her understanding and knowledge of rural medicine from the Navajo Reservation to a similar culture and landscape in Mongolia.
Medical Advisory Board
Narnygerel Erdenebileg, MD
Dr. Narnygerel was FIRE’s first full time employee in Mongolia and first medical director. In November 2010, she left FIRE to begin a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington DC. Dr. Narnygerel is a Mongolian trained physician, specializing in internal medicine with a focus on preventive medicine. She remains a dedicated and invaluable member of FIRE’s team. She worked as a medical translator and logistics coordinator for FIRE starting in 2005. Dr. Narnygerel has worked for the World Health Organization (WHO), Millennium Challenge Account – Mongolia (MCA-M) and conducted research with the Health Sciences University of Mongolia. She also completed an internship for Municipal Hospital in Japan, where she studied the Japanese medical system. She is an avid reader and enjoys practicing ballet in her free time. Dr. Narnygerel is passionate about medicine and helping to improve the medical system of Mongolia.
John Tveten, MD
Dr. Tveten is an emergency and family medicine board certified physician with 19 years experience working with international health education projects. He has worked as a field trainer for the Harvard Medical School Institute for International Health, where he trained non-emergency physicians to provide emergency medical care in underserved areas. Dr. Tveten has spent 10 years working as an emergency physician on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Northern Arizona, facing challenges similar to those in Mongolia. He has been involved with FIRE since his first trip to Mongolia as a medical volunteer in 2005 and has served on our board of directors. Dr. Tveten is also a musician, artist and outdoor adventurer. He also played on the US National rugby team.
John Durham, MD
Dr. Durham is a board certified orthopedic hand surgeon. He has gained extensive experience in trauma treatment, while establishing himself as a specialist in hand surgery and reconstruction techniques. He has worked at Summit Center Orthopedic and Rehabilitation in Flagstaff, AZ, since 1992 and has been participating in medical missions around the world for over 20 years. In his leisure time, he enjoys skiing, sea kayaking, and rock climbing. Dr. Durham and his wife Lisa have two twin boys. He has built a strong foundation for this project and maintains a strong level of commitment to FIRE, the medical staff at Trauma Hospital, and Mongolia.
Scott Patlovich, Ph.D.
Scott is a Program Manager for Waste Management Health Care Solutions where he provides technical assistance to healthcare customers to effectively manage their wastes, including solid waste, regulated medical waste, pharmaceutical waste, hazardous waste, universal waste, and others. With a focus on safety, health, and regulatory compliance, in this position Scott routinely provides consultation and training to healthcare professionals and hospital support staff. Previously, Scott served as a Senior Safety and Health Manager in the Office of Safety, Health, and Environment at the National University of Singapore where his primary focus was on biological safety. He was also a Bio-safety Program Manager and Alternate Responsible Official for the select agent program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, a position in which he served for nearly eight years. He has been a technical consultant and provided training on blood-borne pathogens awareness, needle stick safety, and medical waste management in research laboratories and hospitals around the world. Scott is a Certified Biological Safety Professional as recognized by the American Biological Safety Association and a Specialist Microbiologist in Biological Safety as recognized by the National Registry of Certified Microbiologists. He holds a Master of Public Health in Occupational and Environmental Health Science from the University of Texas School of Public Health and is currently a doctoral candidate for the degree of Doctor of Public Health focusing on disease control and prevention. Scott has made four trips to Mongolia specifically for public health education. He has been instrumental in creating and leading FIRE’s Health Safety and Medical Waste Management Program.
Krista Patlovich, MPH
Krista holds a Masters degree in Public Health from the University of Texas, which has motivated her to pursue both professional and personal paths with regards to health care related preventative program implementation, monitoring and evaluation. She is currently working for a public health marketing agency helping out with target population research as it pertains to their advocacy campaigns. She has worked as a Clinical Research Assistant for the National University Hospital of Singapore Infectious Diseases Division. Through this clinical aspect of health services research, she has gained valuable insight into the importance of clear and precise day-to-day communication between researchers and hospital administration. Krista has also worked as Safety Specialist at Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. In her free time she has worked along the Texas-Mexico border educating mothers on culturally based nutritional practices. In Mongolia she has worked with FIRE providing consultation on patient safety (hand hygiene, medication safety, surgical safety, patient identification) and hospital waste management as it pertains to infection control. Krista finds the Mongolian people with whom she has worked strong advocates for change, champions for healthcare safety and is determined to improve their hospital’s culture.
Pearish Smith, MD
Dr. Smith has been a board certified Family Medicine doctor since 1998. She has worked on the Hopi and Navajo Reservations in Northern Arizona since 1999. She practiced Family Medicine for 6 years until shifting her focus to Emergency Medicine for the past 7 years. She started a diabetes clinic and served as an advisor to the Substance Abuse Program on the Hopi Reservation and has a passion for bringing medical care to the Native American peoples and remote access areas. This interest motivated her to join FIRE’s Medical Team. Dr. Smith has been involved with FIRE since 2005 when she traveled to Mongolia as a medical volunteer. Most recently she studied Acupuncture in San Francisco and has been running a clinic on the Hopi Reservation for the past year. She loves animals, the great outdoors, art and music.
Yanjimaa Bira, MD, Ph.D.
Dr. Yanjimaa has been advising and partnering with FIRE since 2006. She has more than 20 years experience in clinical and molecular biology research on Immunology and Immunity, HIV/AIDS, and TB, training health care workers and program management. Dr. Yanjimaa is one of Mongolia’s leading doctors in Autoimmune Disease and is currently working as the Director of the Autoimmune Disease and Rehabilitation Clinic, focused on research, prevention and treatment of autoimmune disease in Mongolia. In addition to founding the fore mentioned Autoimmune Clinic, she is the country representative for Project CURE in Mongolia. Project CURE is a medical commodities US based non-profit organization that collects and distributes medical supplies throughout the world. She earned her medical degree from the 2nd Moscow Medical University in Russia, a Masters of Medical Science from the Medical University of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and her PhD in Autoimmune Diseases, from the Medical School of Tokushima University, Japan.
FIRE is a registered 501c.3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.