Kletjian Foundation Creates Global Health Network

There are still 5 billion people in the world today who can’t access safe, affordable surgical care,” says Mack Cheney, MD, executive director and a co-founder of the Steven C. and Carmella R. Kletjian Foundation Inc., which provides grants to entrepreneurial leaders who are tackling this issue head on.

With a gift of $1 million this past spring, the foundation created an endowment in global surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital under the direction of Robert Riviello, MD, MPH.

“We scout really talented people, like Robert, who are deeply committed to global surgery and to training caregivers across the globe,” says Cheney. “Not every good surgeon is necessarily a good teacher, but Robert stands out as an excellent surgical educator.”

As director of global surgery programs in BWH’s Center for Surgery and Public Health and an associate surgeon in the Division of Trauma, Burn, and Surgical Critical Care, Riviello divides his time between Boston and countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

“My goal is to help caregivers around the world design systemic changes in surgical care and delivery, while building local capacity that’s sustainable for future generations,” Riviello says. “I’m profoundly grateful to the Kletjian Foundation for sharing this vision and supporting this work.”

When the foundation launched in 2012, co-founders Carmella Kletjian, Mack Cheney, and John Freeman sought to honor Kletjian’s late husband, Steven, and to build a collaborative network of global health leaders at institutions in the Boston area.

Today, Riviello is a core member of this network, known as the Kletjian Cabinet, which meets every few months to share information and ideas. Ultimately, the foundation foresees creating endowed chairs at several organizations, including BWH.

“One of our main philosophies is to coordinate communication and learn from each other to strengthen our global health efforts,” Cheney says. “Robert has a real passion and vision for increasing capacity in surgical care, and we’re pleased to invest in his work.”