Meet Our Leadership
Like our volunteer base, Refuge International’s leadership team boasts a diverse mix of backgrounds and specialties enabling them to effectively guide the fulfillment of our mission and purpose.
Their unified and dedicated approach ensures that our organization is strong and able to provide compassionate and quality care and support to our communities.
Ginia Northcutt joined Refuge International in 2019 as Executive Director. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in Zoology, moved to Washington, D.C. and worked at the National Capitol Chapter of the American Red Cross. At the ARC, she worked in Donor Development just at the time when the blood supply was being tested for HIV. She moved into the position of Assistant Director of Donor Resources Development, and when the Red Cross went through a reorganization, she chose not to move out of town which led her to Children’s National Medical Center, CNMC. At CNMC Ginia worked on an epidemiological CDC grant designed to find the rate of HIV in the nation’s blood supply before testing of the blood supply began. Her work with these two internationally recognized non-profits was the beginning of a life-long career in service to others.
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Ginia met her husband and Longview native, Gordon, in Washington, D.C. They married and had their first child, Conlan, before leaving WDC and moving to Waco, TX so Gordon could attend Baylor business school. Next they moved to Richmond, VA where their son, LeGrand, was born before moving to Longview in 1998. Ginia spent those years at home raising her family.
In Longview, Ginia worked at Buckner International as the Special Event Coordinator organizing a three-day clay shoot to raise money for local programs. Buckner was instrumental in opening her eyes to the long-term effects of generational poverty. At Buckner she learned to think critically about best practices and the healthiest methods for strengthening families.
Ginia remembers hearing about Refuge International from her church who helped build the clinic and school in Sarstún; however, it wasn’t until she received a call from Refuge International asking her to interview for the Executive Director position that she realized that Refuge was in her backyard. Ginia took her first trip with Refuge International before the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown began, going to San Raymundo. One of the highlights of her trip was observing nurses, nursing students from different universities, doctors, and volunteers from diverse backgrounds coming together in common cause.
Outside of work, Ginia loves to spend time with her husband and adult children who live in Washington, DC and Richmond, VA. She is also an active member at Longview EPC and serves as a trustee on the Longview Independent School District Board.
board of directors
In the summer of 2018 Refuge International excitedly announced the appointment of Carroll Greenwaldt as president to the Board of Directors. At the time of appointment, Carroll had actively served on the Board for over 3 years and was a longtime member of the Refuge International family. He has been instrumental in building upon our work in the Petén region helping build a collaborative relationship between Refuge, Rotary International and the National Hospital in San Benito.
“From my earliest trip to Sarstún in 2008, I have been “hooked.” I know that we will grow and strengthen Refuge, building on the solid foundation that Deborah Bell and so many others have laid,” Carroll commented to the Board.
An individual with a servant’s calling, Carroll has been a Rotarian for over 30 years and has served on Refuge/Rotary teams to Guatemala to help in medical clinics, deliver school supplies, and distribute parasite-eradicating medicines to children.
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He led the development of two large Global Grants. The first provided 4-million doses of Albendazole that Refuge volunteers distributed throughout Guatemala through the Ministry of Education in 2011. The second culminated in delivering over $100,000 of much-needed Nursery/NICU instruments and equipment to the Hospital National de San Benito in 2017. The same grant also enabled Deborah Bell and Dr. Kimberly Garcia to train over 192 midwives across the Petén Department. Carroll has served in several Rotarian leadership roles, serving as President of both the Longview South Rotary Club in 1984-85 and the Rotary Club of Longview in 2009-2010. In terms of local projects, Carroll was most pleased to lead a team that established a backpack program in the Longview Independent School District that fed as many as 800 children each weekend over several school years, serving all 13 campuses in the District. In 2011, Carroll was honored by his club as Rotarian of the Year. He served as Rotary District 5830 Governor for 2014-15 and is the Current District Foundation Chair. He is also currently a Board member of the Lone Star P.E.T.S. organization that trains over 700 Rotary President-Elects each March. He received the Rotary International Distinguished Service Award in 2017.
Born in Central Texas, Carroll attended Southern Methodist University and earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1975. He later earned a MBA from Stephen F. Austin University and has been employed by Eastman Chemical Company in Longview, TX, for over 43 years, serving in a variety of leadership positions. He is currently the Director of Utilities, a Cogeneration Power Generating Plant, and Environmental Services at Eastman.
Active in his community, Carroll has served as a Board member of the Greater Longview United Way and as President of the Founding Board of Artsview Children’s Theater in Longview. In Scouting, he has served in a number of leadership roles, culminating as District Chairman in Longview serving over 2000 scouts in Gregg and Upshur Counties. He served on the Executive and Advisory Boards of the East Texas Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. He currently serves on the East Texas Food Bank Development Board in Tyler. He and his wife, Mary, are active in First United Methodist Church of Longview, where he has served in a number of positions through 40+ years. Carroll and Mary enjoy life with their three adult children and seven grandchildren, ages 3 to 13 years old.
Debbie Mahoney, Ph.D, CFNP
Debbie Mahoney began her service with Refuge International in the early 2000s and has been on at least 35 trips volunteering her time and skill to those in need around Guatemala. Debbie currently holds the Vice President seat on our Board of Directors.
Debbie started volunteering in the medical field as an aid when she was fourteen years old and just knew she wanted to go to nursing school. Once a certified nurse and her career underway, as well as having met her husband and started a family, Debbie turned her sights on the field of education. Debbie returned to school to get her master’s degree in nursing and later received a fellowship from Kellogg to attend nurse practitioner school, an honor bestowed on only four applicants from Texas that year.
In 1999, while in Lubbock, Texas for a nurse practitioner convention, Debbie overheard some other attendees talking passionately about volunteer work in Guatemala and she soon found herself on her way to San Raymundo, Guatemala …
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with First Baptist Church and as they say, the rest is history. Debbie was determined to help improve those living in underserved communities in Guatemala and soon started serving with Refuge International and has done so now for more than 20 years.
One of Debbie’s most memorable experiences while on a Refuge International mission trip happened in a remote village called Picayas in December, 2005. It was three o’clock in the morning when a man began frantically kicking on their door, yelling that his wife was having a baby. Three volunteers, including Debbie, followed the man through the jungle for 25 minutes, getting separated at one point when crossing various rivers but all eventually each finding their way. Once at the couple’s hut, Debbie noticed several pairs of eyes glowing in the darkness. There were animals everywhere in the house and no matter how many times she shooed them out they kept returning, trying to comfort the woman crying out in labor. Once the baby boy was delivered, the family said they’d be honored if Debbie and the other volunteers named the baby, and after finding a family name in common, they decided on James. It wasn’t until after, when on her plane ride home thinking about Christmas that Debbie realized the similarities between the birth of Jesus and the birth she had witnessed on that trip: the three kings each wandering just like the three volunteers had, the barn in which Jesus was born paralleling the straw and bamboo hut, the animals all around awaiting the birth in both instances, and finally, after telling her church about the story, Debbie was told that some scholars believe Jesus had a little brother named James. All of these similarities are what make Debbie look back at this night as one of her most meaningful experiences as a volunteer. She is grateful to have had the opportunity to go back and visit James and his family three years later.
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Science, Chemistry, and Biology. She became a Registered Dietitian in 1995 and Board Certified in Nutrition Support since 1997 and served on the Education and Research Committee and the Self-Assessment Committee with the American Society of Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition. She has also been Board Certified in Pediatrics (2004) and holds a Certificate in Obesity Treatment and Health Promotion. She is currently employed as the Education Program Manager at Central Health in Austin, Texas planning education and research initiatives and providing care to patients at 200% below the Federal Poverty Line. Leslie previously was employed as an Inpatient Dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Teaching Hospital located in Boston, Massachusetts and Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center. She has a passion for teaching patients and students and has also taught at the college level at Kilgore College for several years. Leslie also is a nutrition blogger and provides community education on the online platform www.GoodBitesCH.com in English and Spanish.
Providing care to all patients, particularly those with challenges and barriers to health care, is at the center of Ms. Goudarzi’s practice. Leslie has been on several trips to Guatemala, serving as an instructor and preceptor to graduate students from Stephen F. Austin State University. She is passionate about diagnosing and treating malnutrition in the US and in Guatemala.
Leslie grew up in East Texas and became involved with Refuge International after hearing its founder, Deborah Bell, speak about the healthcare needs in Guatemala in 2005. Leslie originally became involved in Refuge International by collecting diapers, feminine hygiene products, and supplies for Guatemalan patients. In 2016, she went on her first trip to San Raymundo with her friend, Deborah Bell, and the medical team. Goudarzi collected data on diagnosis, medical needs, and patient treatment and presented the findings at the 2018 National ASPEN conference in Las Vegas.
“One of my favorite parts about going to Guatemala is the team approach to collaborate and provide the best care possible for our patients. We become one unit and these trips truly make a difference in the lives of individuals and families”.
Refuge International mission trips are life-changing!
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and full career as a general surgeon in 2005, Dr. E decided that while that chapter of his life was behind him he was not ready to end his service to others and began looking at various mission organizations that would enable him to put his skills to use helping underserved populations. Through a colleague he had met during residency he was introduced to Deborah Bell, founder of Refuge International. Dr. E’s first trip to Guatemala with Refuge was in 2006 and in fact was not a medical trip but a water well digging project. But the connection was instant and Dr. E fell in love with Guatemala. “God puts different countries on different people’s hearts. I got Guatemala. I love the people, the culture and the beautiful geography,” he often says.
When Dr. E first began volunteering with Refuge International, there were only two service trips a year to the same location in Guatemala. Back in Texas, Refuge International’s “headquarters” was the pool house at Deborah Bell’s house in Gilmer. Over the course of the past 14 years, Refuge has grown to serve in four remote communities in Guatemala at least three times a year each. As a general surgeon, Dr. E’s typical surgery schedule includes gallbladder removals and hernia repairs. He is fascinated by the cross-cultural practice of medicine in an underserved country, and enjoys the challenges of performing surgeries without all the technology and instrumentation available in the USA (although Refuge International does have laparoscopic capability). Dr. E finds the practice of medicine in Guatemala extremely rewarding because it is not complicated by a sense of entitlement. Rather it’s medicine as it was intended to be: mutually rewarding to both patient and doctor.
As Medical Director, Dr. E strives to be a part of all mission teams to Guatemala and is responsible for managing all surgical services from pre-op to post-op, the OR and instrument sterilization. He is also responsible for maintaining and managing the inventory of supplies for both primary care and surgery. Dr. E is committed to assuring that each team member has the supplies they need to do their best work as he recognizes the time and resources they have devoted in volunteering with Refuge International.
Dr. E has been a guiding force for Refuge International since day one. His kindness and passion for helping others is not only apparent in his patient care but also as a mentor to new volunteers and a role model for many in the importance of serving others.