Board of Directors
Carey was born and raised in a small coastal community in Northern California. She received her BA in Education from Emory
Ben Thrower M.D. is a neurologist and has served as the Medical Director of the Andrew C. Carlos MS Institute at Shepherd since 2001. Prior to that, he served as Medical Director of the Holy Family MS Center in Spokane, Washington. Dr. Thrower is the Senior Medical Advisor to the MS Foundation and has served on the boards of the Consortium of MS Centers and the Georgia Chapter of the National MS Society. He is the recipient of the Norm Cohn Hope Chest Award from the National MS Society and was the first physician inductee into the Georgia Chapter Volunteer Hall of Fame. He co-authored Navigating Life with MS and is the principal investigator on many clinical MS studies.
Born and Raised in Jupiter, Florida, Karen attended college at Florida State University where she received her B.S. in biology. After receiving medical training from the University of Florida College of Medicine, she completed her pediatric residency in San Antonio at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center. A tour of duty with the Air Force led her to reach the rank of major until her obligation was completed in 1995. After a trip to Nicaragua in 2014, Karen and her husband, Ben, immediately felt a connection with the people. This has led to a commitment of supporting the people of Los Robles, to introducing their experiences to their friends, colleagues, and family, many of whom have joined them on medical mission trips. She looks forward to continuing the goals of improving the quality of health and life for the wonderful people of Los Robles. Karen now practices general pediatrics and works part-time for a private practice in Marietta, GA
Mat lives in Oregon where he works seasonally for the U.S. Forest Service. He spent 15 summers in wildland fire, 11 of them as a Smokejumper, and the last few seasons in forest restoration. In the off-season, after getting his degree in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Oregon State University, he traveled all over Latin America. In 2010 he landed in Nicaragua as a CC volunteer, and started a long distance, long term relationship with both Nicaragua and CC. The following year he returned to collaborate with CC on a pilot community clean water program, now called Nica Agua, and has been back to Nicaragua almost every year since.
Brandon Pittman is a Senior Developer, Trainer, and Director of Business Development for Teksouth Corporation’s Huntsville Office, and currently resides in Madison, Alabama. With a technology degree in Computer Information Systems from Athens State University in 2003, Brandon has held many positions across multiple organizations in the defense industry. He got involved with Comunidad Connect after a visit to Finca el Peten and San Juan del Sur during a vacation in 2010 and has been an active board member since 2011. Brandon currently serves as the Vice Chair for Comunidad Connect. He is also a licensed Foster and Adoptive Parent in Madison County Alabama and enjoys spending time with his family, riding his motorcycle, and youth ministry in the ELCA Southeastern Synod
Daniel is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, The George Washington University Law School, and Emory University’s Goizueta Business School where he studied Entrepreneurship and Finance. An experienced negotiator, strategist, and adviser, he is a valuable new addition to our Board of Directors. Daniel’s experience includes managing complex transactions, compliance projects and corporate governance in the United States and international markets. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, flying (he holds a private pilot’s license), and hiking in the North Georgia mountains
LOLADE "LOLA" OWOKONIRAN
Lola is a passionate health professional with a Master of Public Health and a B.S. in Community & Global Health. Her experiences range from working at a local hospital to address health needs in Swaziland to managing over 14 education abroad programs in collaboration with faculty members at Kennesaw State University. Lola is driven to continue working with marginalized communities to improve health behaviors and access to health services. Currently, she is the Program Manager of CIFAL Atlanta, one of the 19 international centers for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) dedicated to advancing facilitating, and strengthening sustainable capacity through programming.
In the past few years, Adrian’s interest in the development sector and specifically social enterprise has blossomed into a more committed role. Through the social enterprise model, Adrian sees an opportunity in the sector to help improve the lives of those in the developing world. Aside from his role with Communidad Connect, Adrian serves on the board of Much Inc, a 501(c)3 with operations in Gonaives, Haiti. Adrian is a portfolio manager with SeaBridge Investment Advisors and has been with the firm for 9 years. Prior to SeaBridge, Adrian spent five years with Ernst and Young working as an auditor in the West Palm Beach, FL and Grand Cayman offices. He earned his MBA from Emory University (Class of 2011) and received his BS in Accounting and Finance as well as his Master of Accounting from Florida State University (FSU). Adrian holds a CPA and CFP license and is also a CFA charter holder
Dr. Roberto A. Vargas was born in New York City to a Dominican family and is a bilingual second generation chiropractor. Dr. Vargas graduated from John Adams High School in 1995 and was certified as a Medical Laboratory Assistant by the State of New York. He received his B.S. in biology from Bloomfield College in New Jersey. Later he moved to Marietta, GA where he graduated from Life University with his doctorate in Chiropractic. While at Life University he studied Functional
Neurology through the Carrick Institute based in Cape Canaveral, FL. He has completed over 200 hrs earning credits towards his Diplomate in Chiropractic Neurology and Masters in Neuroscience. The January 2014 issue of the ATLANTAN magazines Best of the City featured Dr. Vargas as one of Atlanta’s top health experts. He currently resides in Avondale Estates, GA with his family.