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MEDICC Names New Executive Director

Nassim Assefi, a physician serving vulnerable communities, human rights advocate and former content director at TEDMED, will lead organization to expand US-Cuba health cooperation.

Oakland, CA (October 13, 2016) – The non-profit MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba) today named Nassim Assefi M.D., as its new executive director. Dr. Assefi was most recently the director of stage content for TEDMED, the health and medicine edition of the TED conference. She is a board-certified internist with women’s health training and has a long history of serving vulnerable urban populations.

“We are excited to welcome such an inspiring and accomplished person to lead MEDICC at this pivotal moment of renewed ties between the United States and Cuba,” said Dr. Peter G. Bourne, chair of the MEDICC Board of Directors. “Nassim is the ideal choice to take MEDICC to the next level of influence and impact. She brings to us her passion for health and justice, considerable medical experience and her enthusiasm for mutual learning in health between our country and Cuba.”

MEDICC’s mission is to promote cooperation among the U.S., Cuban and global health communities to improve health outcomes and equity, offering the Cuban experience to inform global debate, policies and practice. It plays an increasing and unique role in the U.S.-Cuba policy arena, cultivating key relationships in both countries and governments, and producing important briefs on policy changes essential to greater cooperation in health.

“I have been studying global health systems for the past 25 years and have traveled to and lived in many countries, including Cuba. The Cuban health system is a model to the world for how to achieve health for all on a relatively small budget,” said Dr. Assefi. “MEDICC has earned a reputation over 20 years as a valued, trusted bridge-builder between U.S. and Cuban health professionals, institutions and communities in initiatives that benefit health and health equity in both countries. I am honored to join a talented team of staff and board members in a new era of expanding diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba. This is such an exciting time to grow and accelerate MEDICC’s vital work.”

As a practicing physician and human rights advocate, Dr. Assefi has defended prisoners’ rights to medical care and the rights of asylum-seekers. She also designed and implemented training for healthcare providers in Afghanistan, working with Management Sciences for Health and JHPIEGO, a Johns Hopkins University affiliate. Earlier, she was a women’s health clinician, teacher and researcher at Harborview Hospital and faculty at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She maintains a small clinical practice at Country Doctor Community Health Clinics.

Dr. Assefi is a graduate of Wellesley College, the University of Washington School of Medicine and Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital residency program in internal medicine. She has received numerous recognitions, including a TEDGlobal Fellowship and the University of Washington’s Woman of Courage Award; and was named a Top 40 Under 40 Feminist by the Feminist Press and one of the best area doctors by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.

About MEDICC

Since 1997, MEDICC has worked to disseminate the approaches and outcomes of Cuba’s public health system, as a contribution to the global quest for universal health and greater health equity. MEDICC facilitates mutual learning opportunities in several ways: its documentary film ¡Salud!; the open-access, MEDLINE-indexed English journal, MEDICC Review, that publishes research by Cuban and other scholars from the Global South whose work touches on health equity; insightful trips to Cuba for US health policymakers, educators and practitioners; a national network of US communities whose leaders have been inspired to innovate for better health, thanks to their MEDICC-organized experiences in Cuba; and by serving as an institutional bridge-builder between US, Cuban and global health institutions and organizations. MEDICC also assists US students and graduates of Havana’s Latin American Medical School to return home to practice in provider-shortage areas, and supports US policies that facilitate greater health cooperation with Cuba for the benefit of people in both countries.