Skip to Content
We work toward health and justice for all.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Hope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH, FACP, FACPM


read more

Hope is president of Phoenix Zones Initiative. Over two decades, as a double board-certified internal medicine, preventive medicine, and public health physician, Hope has cared for individuals who have experienced displacement and violence, while she has also worked on policy to address structural inequities and human, animal, and environmental exploitation. Her public health expertise covers climate change, hunger, chronic diseases, emerging infectious diseases, poverty, forced migration, and conflict.

Her work across six continents has included the development of medical, public health, and educational resources for nongovernmental organizations, national governments, and intergovernmental organizations. As a result of her work in these areas, Hope was named a Humanitarian of the Year in the American College of Physicians in 2017.

Hope has authored highly cited publications and has spoken at academic institutions and through media outlets across the globe. Her work has been featured through Scientific American, HuffPost, the Times Literary Supplement, the BBC, Voice of America, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), and other international news outlets.

Many of Hope’s publications, including her book, Phoenix Zones: Where Strength Is Born and Resilience Lives, focus on ethics, global public health, and the links between human, animal, and planetary health and wellbeing. In 2019, she co-founded Phoenix Zones Initiative.

Hope received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern California, a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, and a master’s degree in public health from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She completed a medical internship at Yale University/Griffin Hospital, a preventive medicine residency at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and an internal medicine residency at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

She served as faculty at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Georgetown University School of Medicine, and she now serves as a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Nik Kulkarni, MD

Vice President

read more

Nik is a board-certified anesthesiologist. He has served on several hospital committees throughout his career and has led anesthesiology teams for Operation Walk, a charitable organization that provides joint replacement surgeries for patients in the United States and abroad. He has staffed free back-to-school clinics for children in the northern Virginia area, and he has also volunteered with a national organization that helps military veterans.

Over the years, Nik has provided philanthropic support to a number of organizations focused on the promotion of human rights, animal protection, and compassionate conservation. As a result, he has become increasingly interested in the combination of grassroots action, systems-level change, and measurable impact.

Nik is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and he completed his physician anesthesiology training with an advanced clinical track in pediatrics at the State University of New York Downstate Medical School in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently a partner at an independent anesthesiology practice.



Kavita Rajasekhar, MD, MPH


read more

Kavita is a board-certified preventive medicine physician. After completing medical school at the University of Florida College of Medicine, she worked in Washington, DC. Kavita later completed a preventive medicine residency at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and she also practiced occupational medicine for several years at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

After a fellowship in public health practice at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Kavita joined the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment. She works with the Worker Health Protection Program, joining several other Commoner Center physicians in reviewing medical screening results from former and current workers at US Department of Energy nuclear facilities.

Kavita first became aware of the interdependence of human-animal-planetary health as an undergraduate student, and she carried her interest in this area into her medical studies. She has also completed the chef training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, which specializes in plant-based, health-supportive cooking.

Sonia Silva, MPA


read more

Sonia is director of International Students and Programs at California State University, Bakersfield, where she is also on the faculty in the Department of Biology. Her responsibilities include international student and scholar services, cultivation of community partnerships, leadership on campus immigration policies and procedures, and coordination with the US Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security; she also collaborates with the university’s Title IX Coordinator. She is chair of the Behavioral Health Board of Kern County.

Prior to her current role, Sonia served as a student programs advisor at the University of Southern California, and as an adult school teacher and substitute teacher for elementary, junior high, and high school students in the Compton Unified School District.

Sonia serves as a member of the Kern County Behavioral Health Board, a founding member and treasurer for the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society Theta Theta Chapter (for international scholars), and as a board member for the California State University, Bakersfield, Center for Global Outreach, and the Alumni Association.

She is a graduate of the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, and she received a master’s degree in public administration from California State University, Bakersfield.

John Gluck, PhD

read more

John is currently Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico and Faculty Affiliate of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. 

The roots of his professional path began as a youth concerned about the mentally debilitated lives of older adults and the dearth of useful behavioral and medical interventions available for treatment. In college in the 1960s, he became attracted to the possibilities of scientific advancement promised by a rigorously researched experimental psychology.

In that context, he earned a PhD in psychology and experimental psychopathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was there he was introduced to psychological research using nonhuman primates as research subjects.

However, as his experience progressed, he became increasingly concerned about the validity of animal research and the soundness of its ethical foundation.

He followed up his concerns with a clinical postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and later, a fellowship in Bioethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and the National Institutes of Health.

Since then, his scholarship reveals how research traditions, including animal research, and a narrow conception of health can stagnate progress and harm a scientist’s development of an ethical identity.     

Our Board of Directors is an all-volunteer board, with an uncompensated president/CEO, and 100% of Phoenix Zones Initiative’s officers and directors generously support Phoenix Zones Initiative.

Add Impact To Your Inbox

Get our emails to stay up to date.