Advisory Board

To strengthen its professional expertise and programmatic impact, CBM has established an Advisory Board. This new body consists of renowned international experts with different professional backgrounds. The regular exchange and consultation with members is intended to help CBM increase the quality of its programmatic work and thus improve the lives of persons with disabilities in the poorest communities of the world. 


Currently, the following experts form CBM's Advisory Board: 

Bhargavi V. Davar

Bhargavi V. Davar is the Executive Director at Transforming Communities for Inclusion (TCI), the largest representative voice of persons with psychosocial disabilities worldwide, with members in 50 countries. A child survivor of psychiatric institutions in India herself, she identifies as a person with a psychosocial disability.  Starting her career as an academic, she worked for several years in the women's movement. In 1999, she founded the Bapu Trust for Research on Mind & Discourse to give life to the idea of 'community inclusion' of persons with psychosocial disabilities from a rights-based perspective. She has worked on program designs in the Trust ever since, taking it towards compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). In 2013, she founded the idea of Transforming Communities for Inclusion of persons with psychosocial disabilities.  

Bruce E. Spivey

Bruce E. Spivey, MD, MS, MEd, trained as an ophthalmologist and medical educator and serves as Secretary Treasurer of the Ophthalmology Foundation.  

Dr Spivey served as an ophthalmology departmental chairman and CEO of California Pacific Medical Center. He was the Executive Vice President and founding CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the founding CEO of multi-health care systems for 15 years, in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Dr Spivey was President of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) from 2006 to 2014 and served as ICO Secretary-General from 1994 to 2006.  

His past positions include President of the American Board of Medical Specialties, President of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, President of the Society of Medical Administrators, and President of the American Ophthalmological Society.  

Dr Spivey received his bachelor’s degree from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and his M.D. and Master of Science from the University of Iowa, and a master's in medical education from the University of Illinois. He has published over 170 refereed publications, given over 45 named lectures, as is the recipient of over 50 medals and awards in ophthalmology and medicine.  

Facundo Chávez Penillas

Facundo Chávez Penillas is the Human Rights and Disability Advisor of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva. He has held the position since 2013. He is a lawyer by training, completing his graduate studies in business law and human rights law. Before his current position, Facundo worked in the Disability Department at the Ombudsperson Office of the City of Buenos Aires in Argentina and in a corporate law firm. He has been a member of organizations of persons with disabilities at national, regional, and international levels before working for the United Nations. 

Irène Esambo Diata

Irène Esambo Diata, a lawyer registered with the International Criminal Court, is currently Minister Delegate in charge of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She is a defender of women's rights and those of vulnerable people, including persons with disabilities. She is a researcher in gender and security reform and contributed significantly to both the development of the Action Plan of Resolution 1325 and the initial report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in DRC. 

Senait Gebregziabher Bayessa

Senait Gebregziabher Bayessa is the International Director for the Eastern and Southern Africa Region of SOS Children’s Villages International. She holds a Master of Science in International Economic Development from South New Hampshire University. 

A determined children’s and women’s rights advocate, Senait has over 30 years of experience managing complex and large-scale humanitarian and development programs in Asia and Africa. Her high-ranking roles include work with Plan International, under the capacity of regional director as well as country director. Similarly, she worked with Oxfam as country director, and with Save the Children as deputy country director. She has held senior positions working in numerous countries such as Bangladesh, Somalia, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sri Lanka. She has also consulted the World Bank on gender and land rights issues, which resulted in policy reform.  

She has extensive field experience in disaster risk reduction and emergency and relief, as well as direct programming experience in poverty reduction, education, protection, health, HIV and AIDS, governance, livelihoods, and community development.  

Sheila West

Sheila West, Ph.D. is the El-Maghraby Professor of Preventive Ophthalmology and former Vice Chair for Research at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine. She also holds a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  

Dr West’s research interests include trachoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and vision and function in older persons. She has published extensively on visual impairment in different populations. Her research has informed all aspects of the present World Health Organization guidelines for trachoma control. She currently has over 400 publications and has mentored over 40 students and young faculty in her career.  

She served as the first female President of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). ARVO has presented her with the JoAnn Angle award for her service and the 2019 Mildred Weisenfeld award for her clinical research career. Among other awards, she is the 2017 recipient of the American Academy of Ophthalmology International Blindness Prevention award, and 2020 recipient of the Helen Keller Vision prize for Vision Research.   

Reverend Wati Longchar

Dr Wati Longchar currently serves as the executive director for the Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia, a role he has held since January 1, 2023. Prior to this role, he has been serving as a theological educator since 1986 in different capacities: from 1986 –2001 as Professor of Systematic Theology at Eastern Theological College, Jorhat, Assam; from 2001-2007 as Consultant for Ecumenical Theological Education at WCC and CCA; from 2008-2014 as Dean of Senate of Serampore College, India; from 2014-2019 as Professor at Yushan Theological College & Seminary, Taiwan; and from 2019-2022 as Regional Consultant for Theological Education of American Baptist Churches.