Volunteer Spotlight: The Tech Squad


In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 21-27, 2013), each day, Direct Relief will highlight dedicated volunteers who help make the work possible. Learn about some of the wonderful people behind the scenes.

Humbly tapping their keyboards alongside Direct Relief’s information technology (IT) team,  Lisa Breyfogle and Shailja Trivedi are a part of a cutting-edge undertaking to more efficiently improve the health and lives of people in the U.S and around the world. The two are helping Direct Relief build a premiere repository of national and global health data that will allow the organization to better direct medical resources to people most in need.

“They’re helping create a rich and deep picture of where poverty and disease patterns are most affecting folks who can’t afford to pay,” said Ross Comstock, IT Director. “If this data is prepared in advance, we can better respond in times of emergency.”

Nearing graduation from the University of California Santa Barbara, Lisa uses her knowledge as a statistical sciences and economics major to find, download, clean, and create spreadsheets that explore national public health data. Though she hopes to find a career in finance, she was drawn to helping Direct Relief because “they are focused on helping other people.” With a Japanese heritage and a study abroad experience in Japan – where she helped rebuild homes after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami – the Orange County native said it’s very rewarding for her to be a part of an organization still helping long-term recovery efforts in the country.

Shailja began volunteering at Direct Relief after her professor at Santa Barbara City College told her, “It’s the place you want to be.”

A health care professional by training, the 27-year-old earned both her pharmacy license as well as her Master of Business Administration in her home country, India.  Upon moving to the States to be with her husband two years ago, she decided to go the tech route and began taking computer information systems classes.

“Thankfully I’ve landed in an organization where health care is the main thing,” said Shailja, who utilizes her background to easily follow medical terminologies when analyzing trends in third party data using Palantir software. “I’m so happy here. I’m really satisfied for what I do.”

Direct Relief is equally thankful for the time and talent both of these women have given to the organization. “They’ve  had a huge impact on our tech team,” said Comstock.


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