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Members of the Board

Stephanie Crane, MD, Founder and President        

  • Dr. Crane is Director Global Health, Associate Program Director Internal Medicine and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. It's Dr. Crane’s vision and commitment to working with underserved communities to empower them to improve their lives that is the heart, soul, and founding of Community Empowerment. Dr. Crane initially and independently searched for a community in which to work and organized the first medical trip to Peralta in 2000. Now there are over fifteen trips a year providing critical primary and surgical care, infrastructure improvements, and community leadership training.

Jeffrey Freed, MD, Secretary

  • Dr. Freed, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Gastroenterology, is an Associate Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Associate Attending at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Section Chief of Surgery at Bronx Veterans Hospital.  Dr. Freed has participated in over 40 medical missions.  He brings vast experience in providing care, training and educating local providers.  It's his vision that only by ensuring proper training and instilling true professionalism, will providers in underserved communities be able to provide sustainable quality medical care.

Babs Waldman, MD, Treasurer

  • Dr. Waldman is an Assistant Professor Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical College and Northwestern Medical Center. She is the Volunteer Medical Director of CommunityHealth, which is located in Chicago and is the largest free clinic in Illinois. Dr. Waldman has been working in Haiti and the Dominican Republic since 2010 leading trips, implementing infrastructure improvement projects, and expanding the work of Community Empowerment. 

Soo Kwon, MD, Vice President

  • Dr. Kwon is the Division Director of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Rush University Medical Center. She is a national expert in female pelvic reconstructive surgery and the repair of obstetric fistulas. She is responsible for the education of medical students and residents in the care of female patients with pelvic floor disorders.  She is also appointed as a co-chair  to structure the on-site Female Pelvic Surgery Fellowship Program sponsored by the International Urogynecological Association. Dr. Kwon has been participating in medical missions and training of local providers in Female Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery since 2004 in Liberia, Ghana, Niger, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.  Most recently Dr. Kwon led a female pelvic surgery/colorectal surgery team to the Democratic Republic of Congo to successfully treat 60 women with obstetrical fistulas. This mission also accomplished identifying  the requirements of sustainable fistula surgery in the developing world.  

Joel Augustin, MD, Board Member

  • Dr. Augustin is Board Certified in Family Practice and is an Assistant Professor Department of Family Practice Rush University Medical Center and is past Co-chair of Community Based Health Section of Family Practice at John Stroger Hospital. He has been active in the Englewood Health Council for many years. Currently, Dr. Augustin is a physician at Oak Street Health.  Dr. Augustin moved from Haiti to the US in 1986. He has spent many years working with local and national organizations to improve the lives and empower the people of Haiti. He is past Chair of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti and is current Secretary of the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora. Dr. Augustin has been an important member of the medical teams working in Haiti from the outset providing care, training, and leadership.

Cynthia Waickus, MD, Board Member

  • Dr. Waickus holds a Ph,D. in Biochemistry and is Board Certified in Family Medicine.  She is an Associate Professor, Associate Chairman for Educational Programs, and Program Director of the Family Medicine Leadership Program in the Department of Family Medicine, Rush University Medical Center.  Dr. Waickus' first medical trip to Haiti was as a team member with the International Medical Corp immediately after the 2010 earthquake.  She has been involved as a provider and leader of medical teams since.  Her strong background in medical education and training provides academic leadership in addition to her commitment to improving the health of underserved communities.