Our Team

Shannon Fernando-Rubera,
RN, MSN-FNP-C

Founder & President of the Board
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Shannon Fernando-Rubera is a California board-certified family nurse practitioner who has devoted her career to increasing access to health care for vulnerable people and communities. She founded Alabaster International, originally Alabaster Mobile Clinic, with a vision for bringing holistic care and education to communities that have been overlooked by going where others choose not to go. She is a tireless advocate for people who live on the margins, and envisions a world where everyone has the resources they need to realize their dreams.
In addition to her work with Alabaster, Shannon serves as Chief Innovations Officer at Los Angeles Christian Health Centers in LA’s Skid Row community, providing primary care for homeless individuals and driving strategy and vision for new programming, including their street medicine initiative. She previously served the Los Angeles homeless population through the St. Vincent Cardinal Manning Center as an AmeriCorps scholar. An active member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Shannon holds degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles and Azusa Pacific University. She has lived in and visited more than 27 countries, including medical outreach trips to Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Haiti, Mexico, and Kenya.

Betsy Stewart

Executive Director
Betsy Stewart was appointed Alabaster’s first Executive Director in 2020 after six years of involvement with Alabaster, including three years on the board and an extended six-month stint in Kenya to advance several of Alabaster’s projects. She has been instrumental in expanding Alabaster’s holistic programming, having implemented several youth empowerment programs to complement Alabaster’s strong medical care and education programming. Marking a season of growth for Alabaster, this role provides focus on executing strategy, building capacity and growing relationships with funders, volunteers and partners. Betsy has worked in nonprofits for nearly two decades, primarily in connecting philanthropic donors to their impact. In addition to her role with Alabaster, Betsy works full-time creating persuasive fundraising collateral to promote giving at a national cancer nonprofit.
 
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A native of the Philadelphia area, Betsy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has been involved in short-term justice-oriented work in several urban areas around the world. Other interests include creative writing, running and hiking, live music and really good coffee.

Board of Directors

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Leela Braganza, CPA

Treasurer

Leela Braganza has practiced accounting for more than 20 years, with specific experience in nonprofit accounting. She has served as Alabaster’s bookkeeper since 2015, and joined the Board to serve as Treasurer in 2018. She runs a private bookkeeping business and works at a tax firm doing individual, corporate and non-profit taxes.

Leela holds a Bachelor’s degree from Vanguard University of Southern California and is a CPA both in California and Washington. She currently lives in Washington with her husband and two children and enjoys playing guitar and spending time with her family.

Veena Fenn, RN, MS

Veena Fenn is a registered nurse with 10 years of experience in adult critical care. She traveled on her first outreach trip with Alabaster in 2013 and has returned every year since. Veena joined Alabaster’s board in 2015, allowing her to contribute to the overall strategy, in addition to the implementation, of healthcare and health education projects.

Driven by a longstanding desire to bring quality medical care to underserved communities in Africa, Veena has grown a deep commitment to Kenya and its people, and strives to provide quality nursing care to her patients. She also enjoys partnering with local providers and educating fellow team members on key areas of health and preventative medicine. Veena holds a Bachelor’s in Nursing from New York University and a Master’s in Science from Dartmouth College. She is a proud aunt of two and enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family.

 
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Rini George, MA

Secretary

For nearly two decades and through a range of professional roles, Rini has worked to enhance the capacities of nonprofits and small businesses to effectively achieve their goals. She currently oversees business development at 5 Fold Marketing Company, a vibrant, socially conscious marketing start-up. She has been an advocate for vulnerable populations since she was young, with a special interest in developing communities, alleviating poverty, and advocating for human rights. With a bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from UCLA, and a master’s degree in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy & Management, Rini is currently pursuing post-baccalaureate training in psychiatric nursing and lives with her husband and two sons in Ohio.

Dr. Connie-Marie Lapadat MSN-FNPBC, MD/MBBS, Diploma IM

Dr. Connie-Marie Lapadat has practiced as a licensed Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner for more than 20 years and, in 2017, earned an MD/MBBS degree and Diploma in International Medicine. She currently serves as faculty at the University of Northern BC, where she teaches pediatrics, women’s and adult health in the MSN-FNP program, as well as at USC Keck School of Medicine.

At the age of 18, Connie decided to commit herself serving the most vulnerable communities, places where there is no existing care. This commitment has taken her to the Arctic Circle and rural villages in Africa, Mexico, Haiti and Panama to set up HIV and child health projects and clinics. She holds certificates in tropical medicine, palliative care, primary health care in developing countries, obstetrical nursing, ophthalmology, and HIV. In her spare time Connie competes internationally in Latin Dance competitions, rides motorcycle and instructs Zumba classes.

 
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Partner Organizations

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Girl Child Network

Girl Child Network is a Kenyan non-governmental organization that serves communities throughout the country by promoting and protecting the rights of children and young people. Alabaster’s partner since 2012, Girl Child Network connects Alabaster to communities where it has an established presence, partners in project development and implementation, and serves as cultural adviser and in-country host.

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