Chas Salmen is the Founder and first Director of OHR. He is a medical anthropologist, Rhodes Scholar, and aspiring Family Physician.
Chas grew up in the mountains of western Colorado. Chas’ HIV/AIDS experience in Western Kenya began in 2007, as a Community Mobilizer within the Prevention Department of AMPATH (Academic Model for Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS) in Eldoret, Kenya. His life changed one day while backpacking through a bus stop in Homa Bay, Kenya, when he met Lauren Friedman, Adam Sewall and Richard Magerenge. They invited him to visit Mfangano Island, and he’s been hooked ever since.
As an Oxford student of medical anthropology, Chas conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork on Mfangano Island through a Rhodes Scholarship at the Oxford University Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Chas’ award winning anthropological research focused on the unexplored relationship between the introduction of Nile Perch to the Lake Victoria Basin in the 1960’s and HIV epidemiology among Suba fishing communities on Lake Victoria. His distinguished dissertation takes an original look at the way ecological change has powerfully influenced the epidemiology of HIV in Western Kenya (see our Papers and Publications section to read Chas’ dissertation). Today, Chas is an aspiring Family Physician and a Dean’s PACCTR Research Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.
Chas has also served on the executive leadership team of MicroClinic International since 2009, as the Senior Vice President of Special Projects. He leads the MCI-OHR Initiative for HIV/AIDS, directing staff, volunteers and researchers to implement the world’s first microclinic program for people living with HIV/AIDS. He is the Lead Investigator in the Field for the Mfangano Island Healthy Networks Impact Study (MIHNIS), an 18-month cohort study evaluating the impact of the Mfangano Health Net Microclinic program on community HIV-stigma, linkages to care, clinical outcomes, and anti-retroviral adherence.
Mfangano Island and the people of Lake Victoria remain Chas’ daily passion and long-term mission. OHR serves as an important platform and living demonstration of the “relational” health philosophy that Chas and his team have developed together over the past 5 years. Chas is honored to serve OHR in a full-time capacity as OHR’s Chief Executive Officer, powerpoint guru, and crazed native tree planter.
“Every Atom that belongs to me, as good belongs to you”- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself.
“Be Safe. Be Honest. Drink Plenty of Water”- Nancy Reinisch (Chas’ mom)