Dr. Mehret Mandefro, President & Producer

mehretDr. Mehret Mandefro is an interdisciplinary scholar and producer who draws from her background as a medical anthropologist and public health physician to craft textured narrative that explore the social determinants of health.  Her research uses clinical medicine, public health, anthropology, and film to examine the health outcomes of vulnerable populations and create what she calls “visual medicine”. She has led innovative research collaborations between academic, government, and relevant stakeholder organizations on an array of domestic and international health policy issues.

Dr. Mandefro began her career as a physician and public health practitioner working extensively with HIV infected and affected communities in Botswana, South Africa, Ethiopia, and New York on issues of prevention and treatment. She subsequently joined the research faculty of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University Pennsylvania as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar where she received a pilot grant to create the nonprofit production company Truth Aid. Her HIV research is the subject of a full feature documentary called All of Us that premiered on Showtime Networks 2008-2010.

Appointed by President Obama as 2009-2010 White House Fellow, Dr. Mandefro worked on behavioral health policy issues for returning Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan War and co-chaired the health systems and life experiences sub-committee of the Federal Inter-agency Health Equity Team, which was responsible for developing the nation’s first public health strategy to eliminate health disparities. Upon completion of her fellowship, she joined the Obama administration and served as a health policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

She is currently Chief Medical Officer of Amida Tech and on faculty in the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services. Dr. Mandefro also serves on the Board of Directors of the international reproductive health organization EngenderHealth as the Chair of Public Affairs and Development.

She received her BA in Anthropology and her MD from Harvard University, and a Masters of Science in the Public Health of Developing Countries at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar. She completed her internal medicine primary care residency at Montefiore Medical Center.

Lacey Schwartz, CEO & Producer

Lacey Schwartz has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit and media sector. Lacey has served as a production, development and community consultant for a variety of production companies, networks, and organizations including MTV, BETJ, @radical.media, Institute for Jewish Community and Research and NASCAR.

For her clients, Lacey has been involved in all levels of production, business and creative strategy, from the initial development of creative ideas to physical production and the editing process through distribution. Lacey has worked on projects in conjunction with various entities, including the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Pepsi, GM, L’Oreal, Red Bull, PBS, BMW, BBC, Universal Studios, Universal Music Group, Warner Brothers and the Sundance Channel.

Originally from Woodstock, NY, Lacey graduated cum laude in 1998 from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and a minor in Studio Arts and received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2003.

Previous to her career in television and film production, Lacey worked in corporate, civil rights and entertainment law at Brown and Wood LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton and Garrison LLP, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and MTV Networks.  She also worked as a New York City Public School teacher teaching math and theater while she DJed on the side for an arts organization, band and private parties.

Sara Menker, Chair of Board

Sara Menker is the Founder and CEO of Gro Ventures. As an Africa-focused commodities business, Gro Ventures consists of two arms: Gro Intelligence and Gro Energy.  Gro Intelligence is a data business focused on using timely data as a conduit to and catalyst for agricultural market development. Gro Energy is a knowledge business made up of regional and industry experts that work with governments and private institutions to identify issues and opportunities within the African energy landscape.

Prior to founding Gro Ventures, Ms. Menker was a Vice President in Morgan Stanley’s Commodities Group in the Fixed Income Division. Ms. Menker attended Mount Holyoke College and the London School of Economics for her undergraduate studies in Economics and African Studies and received an MBA from Columbia Business School. She is also a trustee of the Mandela Institute of Development Studies.




Trina DasGupta, Advisor

Trina DasGupta is a Marketing and Strategy Consultant working with consumer brands, non-profits, and political organizations to provide strategic clarity and breakthrough marketing concepts, particularly in the digital space. Trina has specific expertise in leveraging the ubiquity of cell phones to further social change in the developing world.  Currently, Trina is working with GSM Association, which represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry.  As the GSMA mWomen Program Director, Trina manages an unprecedented global public-private partnership between the mobile industry and the international development community. The program aims to close the mobile phone gender gap and bring women life-changing services, such as health care and education, via the mobile channel.  Key to this effort, Trina is leading the design of the women’s consumer segment for the mobile industry in emerging markets.