Global Health Connections, Inc. (GHC) is an educational outreach 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing people together to solve global health issues.

Global Health Connections seeks to promote:

  • International fellowship
  • Awareness of global health issues
  • Local and global community-based learning
  • Student learning through work/volunteer opportunities

Global Health Connections believes that health care is a human right, and strives to raise global health awareness through community-based learning and mentorship.

Global Health Connections was founded by Blair Gifford, Ph.D., Associate Professor of International Health Management in the Business School and School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Denver, USA.

The Board of Directors of GHC, Inc.

  • Karen Failinger, Executive Director
  • Holly Davis, MBA-HA, Healthcare Administrator, Saint Joseph Hospital
  • Dr. Blair Gifford, Professor, Global Health Management, UC Denver (Chair)
  • Amy Johnson, MD, Obstetrician, University of Colorado
  • Sue Counterman, Teacher, Colorado Academy
  • Don Howard, Executive Director, SCOPE (Kenya)
  • Kevin Forey, MD/MBA, University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • Natalia Gayou, MPH, Colorado School of Public Health
  • Karen Markham
  • Suzanne Dircksen
  • Ligita Kraemer

Management Team

  • Water Challenge Administrator – Suzanne Dircksen


  • Taylor Gifford
  • Cameron Malby
  • Sukriti
  • Amanda Schiller
  • Jessica Allen


  • Cassie Petro

Karen Failinger. As a global citizen, Karen comes with a passion for people and cultures around the world. With a heart for community, and an observant eye, she has traveled to more than 52 countries in various stages of development, noting the skills and resources it takes to survive. As an “international social worker” her love is developing programming to meet requested needs, empowering and educating. Haiti hooked her after visiting in 2011, making more than 40 trips since then. A lifelong learner, her BA is in Psychology and Religion from St. Olaf College. She was born into a medical family and is most proud of her three children.

Holly Davis was the Executive Director of Global Health Connections 2012-2017. She started as volunteer several years prior to that and enjoyed seeing the organization grow and change. She is passionate about access to quality health care and enjoys the education and international aspect of our organization. Holly is also the Director of Medical Staff Services at Saint Joseph Hospital in downtown Denver. She received her MBA with a focus on health administration and international health from the University of Colorado at Denver. She loves spending time with her two dogs, Einstein and Shakespeare, and enjoys hiking, playing soccer and softball, and rooting for the Colorado Rapids and Rockies.

Dr. Amy Johnson is an obstetrician/gynecologist. She received her MD from the CU Medical School and is now the Chief of Medical Staff at Longmont United Hospital. Dr. Johnson is very active in the Longmont community and is an avid outdoor enthusiast. She has recently been traveling with her 15 year old daughter for kayaking competitions. Her daughter (Teegan) is currently ranked in the top ten whitewater kayakers in the world. Amy heard about GHC’s new Maternity Center and reached out to Holly Davis to get involved.

Kevin Forey will graduate with his MD-MBA Health Administration from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in May 2018. Kevin is a native of Colorado and has participated and led clinical outreach work in Haiti, the Philippines, South Africa, and Kevin. Kevin would like his medical career to include community work with disadvantaged and marginalized populations. His primary career interests are food and nutrition related illnesses, including malnutrition, obesity, and their associated chronic illnesses. Kevin has been selling photographs from his travels in developing nations and has been instrumental in helping GHC set up its website.

Sue Counterman is a master science educator at Colorado Academy middle school, where she has been engaging and advising students for 22 years. She holds a BA in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an MS in science education from Montana State University. In addition to her position on the GHC Board, Sue is active on the Seeds of South Sudan board and volunteers with the Carretta Research Project protecting nesting loggerhead turtles. Summer often finds her participating in professional development opportunities around the world, and Sue, along with her husband and children, enjoys the outdoors and travel to new places.

Natalia Gayou is currently getting her MPH in Global Epidemiology at CSPH. Born and raised in Texas, she came to Colorado in 2010 and has since fallen in love with everything Colorado has to offer. In 2013, she accompanied Dr. Gifford’s class to Haiti. It was after this trip that Natalia got the inspiration to host our now annual Run For Haiti 5k.

Karen Markham is a proud Colorado native, Karen Markham graduated from the University Colorado Health Science Center with a Master’s degree as a Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant. Prior to that, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Medical Science from the University Colorado-Boulder. As a Board-Certified Physician Assistant, Karen has been treating patients in Colorado for over 30 years. Her specialties include general Pediatrics and Allergy, Asthma and Immunology for both adults and children. As a health care provider, Karen believes in early intervention to ensure optimal health for her patients and relishes her role as health educator. In addition, Karen serves as the Clinical Lead of the Respiratory Division of Immunoe International Research founded by Isaac Melamed M.D. for several Clinical Research Trials focused on cutting edge treatment for atopic disease including allergic rhinitis, mild to severe asthma, atopic dermatitis, chronic urticaria and other immunologic diseases.

Suzanne Dircksen, MBA, has volunteered and been very active with Global Health Connections since 2011, having been introduced to the organization as a student in Blair Gifford’s International Health course at UC Denver. Suzanne is the program manager for the Center for Health Systems Research at Denver Health. She has seven years of experience in human subjects research and has contributed to studies in the fields of interventional cardiology, neurovascular intervention, and trauma and pre-hospital services; each study included subjects across a broad spectrum of ethnicities and a range of socioeconomic positions. One of her current roles withDenver Health is facilitation of and relationship building within Denver Health’s Community Advisory Panel, serving as the liaison between the Panel, the organization, and its researchers. Suzanne also has experience in Emergency and Trauma Services, and has worked with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s EMS team to provide services at emergency preparedness events and mass vaccine clinics.

Ligita Cunningham, MBA, has a Bachelor’s degree in Community Health, an MBA in Health Administration and is currently completing an MPH in Global Health Disparities. She has worked at UCHealth for 6 years in 4 different roles and is currently in the role of Manager of Employee Engagement and Retention. Prior to working at UCHealth she interned at the World Health Organization in Geneva undertaking the only pilot that has been done in HR in the UN. She loves to travel frequently including to Latvia where some of her family still lives.