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Mkrtich Khrimian

Surgeon, Missionary Dr. Tom Catena Named Chair of Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

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The Co-Founders of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative have announced Dr. Tom Catena, an American physician and Catholic missionary from Amsterdam, NY has joined the organization as Chair.

The appointment was announced during the Aurora Dialogues in Berlin. Catena joins the organization during a period of significant growth and will be responsible for engaging key humanitarian stakeholders, working with global partners and overseeing Aurora’s educational and outreach projects, including the internationally recognized, Aurora Prize. Aurora was established three years ago, and has impacted the lives of displaced individuals, children in conflict zones, refugees, migrants and vulnerable citizens around the world. Since 2016, the Aurora Prize has awarded over $3.3 million to unsung heroes and has supported 23 projects in 11 areas of humanitarian assistance globally. This year, the Aurora Prize supported over 375,000 Rohingya refugees. A further 62 students from conflict areas have been recipients of the Aurora Gratitude Scholarships program to study at United World Colleges around the world and the American University of Armenia.

In May 2017, Catena was named as the Aurora Prize Laureate for his courageous work in the Nuba Mountains. Since 2008, he has served more than half a million people as the sole surgeon at the Mother of Mercy Hospital, an institution he has been dedicated to since. He has been based in Sudan’s war-ravaged territory for the last decade where humanitarian aid is restricted. Known as “Dr Tom” by locals, he provides treatment for people suffering ailments and war wounds. He will continue his role as medical director at the hospital working with a team of doctors, sourced by the Catholic Medical Mission Board in cooperation with the African Mission Healthcare Foundation, to work in the Nuba Mountains in parallel with his new responsibilities with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.

According to a joint statement from the Co-Founders of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative: “We are delighted to welcome the first Chair of the organization. Dr. Tom Catena truly embodies the spirit of Aurora and will be a driving force in taking our global vision forward by helping to empower individuals to embrace our shared humanity and express gratitude to those making an impact. It is gratifying that the 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate is also the first chair of this organization.”

Catena said: “It is a true honor to chair the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative – I am grateful for the impact of the Aurora Prize on my life and the financial support provided to the Mother of Mercy Hospital that has helped transform the lives of the Nuba people in Sudan. I believe in the simple yet powerful force of humanity in addressing today’s critical humanitarian challenges and will remain committed to elevating the Gratitude in Action philosophy in my new role by supporting Aurora’s work empowering those in desperate need to create their own futures.”

In 2015, Catena was recognized by Time magazine as one of its “100 Most Influential People” in the world. He has been recognized with Honorary Doctorates from Brown University and Yerevan State Medical University. He also formerly served as a flight surgeon with the US Navy.

As part of the leadership team changes at Aurora, the Executive Board has also appointed Dr. Hayk Demoyan, former director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute as the Chief Operating Officer of the Initiative.

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