Our Team

Bangladesh Trust

Amna Rahman

Amna Rahman

Chair

Amna is a retired school teacher and has been living in Bangladesh for the past 33 years. She was born in India, a descendant from the ancient Rajput Suryavanshi warrior Bargujar clan.

Arsalan Ali

Arsalan Ali

Vice Chair

Arsalan is a Bangladeshi national. He attended Shrewsbury School in the UK followed by an undergraduate degree at University College London in construction management.

Sadia Moyeen

Sadia Moyeen

Senior Advisor

Sadia lives in Bangladesh. Sadia was born and raised in India. She married a banker and moved about the Far East before coming back to Bangladesh. Sadia operates a beauty business and has been writing a beauty-related column for Dhaka’s Daily Star newspaper for over a decade.

Executive Committee

Gina Gabel

Gina Gabel

Co-founder & President

Gina received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from John Carroll University and master’s degree in special education (LD) from Michigan State University.

Amna Rahman

Amna Rahman

Vice President

Amna is a retired school teacher and has been living in Bangladesh for the past 33 years. She was born in India, a descendant from the ancient Rajput Suryavanshi warrior Bargujar clan.

Rich Watson

Rich Watson

Treasurer

Rich was born in Oakland and lives there with Marilyn, his wife of 40+ years. He started working in the photographic sales industry early in his career, during which time he was lured into a visit to Asia and his life turned inside out.

Kanwal Bhagat

Kanwal Bhagat

Secretary

Kanwal has an undergraduate degree in physics and a postgrad in computer science. She’s lived in Dhaka for the last 17 years with her husband and two teenage boys. A wearer of many hats she’s worked in banking, as the registrar of American International School of Dhaka and, most recently, as an entrepreneur.

Shannon Young

Shannon Young

Strategic Growth

Shannon is a population, health, and nutrition officer with the United States Agency for International Development. She has her master of public health in global health, specializing in program design and quantitative research methods. Shannon lived in Bangladesh from 2011-2014 with her husband and two daughters. She now lives in Tanzania (for the sole purpose of adding another time zone to Thrive board meetings. Just kidding.) Originally from New York, Shannon has also worked in Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, Namibia, and Myanmar. She’s passionate about good food – which causes her to be equally passionate about exercise!

Board

Arsalan Ali

Arsalan Ali

Arsalan is a Bangladeshi national. He attended Shrewsbury School in the UK followed by an undergraduate degree at University College London in construction management.

Rebecca Arnold

Rebecca Arnold

Rebecca is a global public health professional specializing in health communication and behavior change. She worked for Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs and has a master of public health degree in community and behavioral health. This active Rotarian and her 16-year-old son have lived in Bangladesh from 2012-15. Rebecca is originally from Rock Island, Illinois – home of The Blues Brothers! She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar and has lived and worked in Tanzania, Indonesia, and Turkey.

Priscilla Heffelfinger

Priscilla Heffelfinger

Co-founder & Executive Director

Priscilla moved to Dhaka in 2012. Her A-ha! moment? It came unexpectedly when she and her friends felt genuine joy at seeing the impact made by giving a banana to a hungry child. Priscilla feels crazy lucky that Thrive took root; she can’t imagine a better way to spend her time than by helping Thrive thrive. Having worked in the development sector for more than 20 years, Priscilla visits Bangladesh and the Philippines, and keeps an ear out for other in need of food. When not handing out bananas you’ll catch her hiking with her family of six. Make her day: Ask how you can join Thrive.

Get in touch with Priscilla!

Sadia Moyeen

Sadia Moyeen

Sadia lives in Bangladesh. Sadia was born and raised in India. She married a banker and moved about the Far East before coming back to Bangladesh. Sadia operates a beauty business and has been writing a beauty-related column for Dhaka’s Daily Star newspaper for over a decade.

Advisory Council

Mishal Karim

Mishal Karim

Senior Advisor

With over two decades of experience across multiple continents, also citizen of the UK and Bangladesh. Mishal has extensive investments in agrotech, fintech, digital marketing & PR, as well as renewable energy. This includes a stake holding in Business Research International (BRIC) a global investment company with large holdings in Renata Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in Bangladesh. A self-made entrepreneur at age 42, his diversified investment portfolio features numerous businesses, each successful in its own right.

Zulfikar Ali

Zulfikar Ali

Zulfikar is a Bangladeshi national and a true entrepreneur at heart. He is the Managing Director of Ezzy Group, which is a group of companies spread across several industries. He is also the Honorary Consul of Guatemala in Bangladesh. Besides being an entrepreneurial spirit, he has always been passionate about giving back to the society and supporting everyone around him. For Zulfikar, joining Thrive is a means to direct this passion into creating the most positive impact possible. On a typical day, you will find Zulfikar at one of the three places: at work, at the gym, or at home with his family.

Rose Blanchard

Rose Blanchard

Rose is a public health professional specializing in water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion. She received her master of public health degree in environment and health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Earlier, she worked for USAID in the Bureau for Global Health and also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa. While living in Bangladesh for two years, Rose worked for Population Services & Training Center (a local NGO) as a technical adviser for a project focusing on improving environmental health in poor urban communities. This Raleigh, North Carolina, native and her family have since left Bangladesh for Morocco. Rose is an outdoor enthusiast and loves exploring the wonders of the world with her husband and three children.

Louie Gabel

Louie Gabel

Louie, a former federal prosecutor and experienced trial lawyer, is a partner at the international law firm Jones Day. Louie regularly counsels Fortune 500 companies and executives facing government investigations and high-stakes civil litigation. From 2012 to 2013, Louie served as the Resident Legal Advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh, where he trained lawyers, judges, and investigators on advance trial skills, anti-money laundering, and the detection and prosecution of terrorist financing. Louie graduated from John Carroll University and obtained his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. Today, Louie lives in Michigan with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys golf and basketball, and loves taking adventurous trips across the globe with his family.

Leni Hester

Leni Hester

Leni is a professional photographer and volunteered with Thrive since she moved to Dhaka in 2015. Though she currently lives in London, she is still involved with Thrive and tries to get back to Dhaka whenever possible.

Cristina Imperial Carl

Cristina Imperial Carl

Cristina Imperial Carl, graduated from Yale University and built a career in the hospitality industry. She is the CEO of Worldwide Internships Philippines. Her company specializes in creating life-changing experiences abroad for university students and young graduates through professional internships. The organization aims to give young professionals the tools and opportunities to get international experience, and a chance to live abroad.

She partners with purpose-driven organizations such as “Give Life” where she and her company offer assistance and provide scholarships to underprivileged students. She lends a lot of her time by helping students attain their goals of international travel and training, and by providing them career advice.

Shelley King

Shelley King

Shelley is a repeat entrepreneur, strategist and digital marketer experienced in Consumer Goods & Services. She’s spent her career developing products and customer experiences that drive revenue for Fortune 500 clients in the cannabis, retail, communications and media industries. From taking Bravo The Real Housewives on tour across the U.S. to developing employee experiences with McKinsey, Shelley is passionate about solving problems with talented teams. Shelley recently joined Accenture on the Products team in the Atlanta office.

Joe Labriola

Joe Labriola

Joe is the Executive Director of PAWS in Atlanta. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of Second Helpings Atlanta. Second Helpings Atlanta is a non-profit food rescue organization whose mission is to reduce hunger and food waste in the metropolitan Atlanta area by rescuing surplus food and delivering it to those in need. Prior to joining Second Helpings Atlanta in May 2015, Joe was the Vice President of Product Marketing at PGi, the Chief Marketing Officer at Enterprise Information Management and spent 30 years at IBM before he retired in November 2010.

Debbie Pfeifer

Debbie Pfeifer

Debbie is a communications consultant with more than 25 years of experience helping companies with media relations, corporate positioning, and community relations. She began her career at a Los Angeles-based public relations agency, headed communications at companies including PowerBar and Wesabe, and served as a consultant for numerous start-ups and established corporations. She has volunteered and provided strategic counsel for nonprofits focused on literacy, gender equality, and education. She is a board member of the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado and Durango PlayFest. A recent Colorado transplant, Debbie and her husband enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, and trying to keep up with their twin boys on the ski slopes.

Farhan Rahman

Farhan Rahman

Farhan is an entrepreneur & professional with a passion for tech startups & socially responsible businesses. With a decade of experience working in Bangladesh, his key areas of focus are in business strategy, fundraising & management consulting, and possesses a keen understanding of innovative youth-centric marketing at scale. Farhan inherited a life-long enthusiasm for philanthropy from his parents & grandparents who have been ardent supporters of various causes particularly with regard to children’s issues such as education, nutrition & healthcare. In his personal time, he enjoys martial arts and useless trivia. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine with a degree in Government & Legal Studies specialized in International Relations with a minor in Economics.

Archana Raj

Archana Raj

Although she grew up and completed her post graduate studies in Dress Designing in India, Archana has been living in Dhaka with her family for almost 30 years. She originally moved to Dhaka to work with a major apparel company before becoming a brand manager for several multinationals for few years. Eventually, she branched off as an entrepreneur in the same field. In 2017, she and her family moved to New Delhi, but she still goes back to her home in Bangladesh, where her business is located.

“Thrive is a perfect fit not just for my schedule but also in its founding, I can see exactly where my contributions go and the impact that they have. I love that it was founded by mothers who wanted to help children have access to nutrition everyday, and that doing something that’s so small for me can be so big for the kids on the receiving end. Having worked in Bangladesh’s primary industry for so many years I know just how impactful access to meals are for these children.”

Dana Zarzycki

Dana Zarzycki

Dana graduated from James Madison College at Michigan State University. She has a background in non profit fundraising in the areas of politics, health research and education, and higher education. She spent nine years living in Australia and Brazil with her husband and son. While in Brazil, she volunteered in a orphanage close to her home, where she snuggled babies and worked with toddlers to develop fine motor skills. Today, she is a photographer living in Michigan.

Team

Priscilla Heffelfinger

Priscilla Heffelfinger

Co-founder & Executive Director

Priscilla moved to Dhaka in 2012. Her A-ha! moment? It came unexpectedly when she and her friends felt genuine joy at seeing the impact made by giving a banana to a hungry child. Priscilla feels crazy lucky that Thrive took root; she can’t imagine a better way to spend her time than by helping Thrive thrive. Having worked in the development sector for more than 20 years, Priscilla visits Bangladesh and the Philippines, and keeps an ear out for other in need of food. When not handing out bananas you’ll catch her hiking with her family of six. Make her day: Ask how you can join Thrive.
Get in touch with Priscilla!

Amanda Pierce

Amanda Pierce

Communications Manager & PH Operations

Amanda moved to Manila from Washington, DC in 2017. Being a dietitian with her masters in sustainable and resilient food systems, she is passionate about bringing healthy food to people who might not otherwise have access. When she first went to Smokey Mountain with Thrive she knew she couldn’t get enough. Helping to wash dirty hands and seeing how happy the kids were with a simple piece of fruit, it was easy to see the impact of Thrive’s work. Amanda works as a nutritionist, teaching people how to make healthy eating delicious and easy. She loves to cook for her family and friends. When she is not cooking she is traveling or hiking with her husband and two playful pups.

Sharmin Sultana Akhi

Sharmin Sultana Akhi

BD Operations Manager

Sharmin Akhi “Akhi” was born and raised in Bangladesh. Akhi received a Master’s in Computer Science at Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka.
Akhi manages Thrive, Bangladesh’s operations and donor support. She works with Direct Fresh to create nutritional menus and to ensure the meals are delivered without fail.
Akhi has always had the intention to help needy people towards the betterment of the world.