Our Team

Executive Committee

Rebecca Arnold

Rebecca is a global public health professional specializing in health communication and behavior change. She works for Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs and has a master of public health degree in community and behavioral health. This active Rotarian and her 9-year-old son have lived in Bangladesh since 2012. Rebecca is originally from Rock Island, Illinois – home of The Blues Brothers! She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar and has lived and worked in Tanzania, Indonesia, and Turkey.

Gina Gabel

Co-founder, Vice President
Gina received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from John Carroll University and master’s degree in special education (LD) from Michigan State University. She began her teaching career in Detroit’s inner city. Gina moved to Bangladesh in 2012. Little did she know that two months after her arrival, the baby stroller she had brought to cart her young children through Dhaka’s bumpy streets would be used to deliver Thrive’s first meal! These days Gina lives in Michigan. She consistently uses Thrive’s stories to get her daughters to eat their veggies.

Kanwal Bhagat

Kanwal has an undergraduate degree in physics and a postgrad in computer science. She’s lived in Dhaka for the last 17 years with her husband and two teenaged boys. A wearer of many hats she’s worked in banking, as the registrar of American International School of Dhaka and, most recently, as an entrepreneur. Kanwal runs a wellness studio that incorporates her reiki and yoga training. She’s been supporting ABC School, a space for the underprivileged, for the last eight years and been a board member for the last three. Kanwal has always had a knack for getting people (and their money!) to support worthy causes. She’s honored to be part of the board and excited to take Thrive to another level.


Arsalan Ali

Board Member
Arsalan is a Bangladeshi national. He attended Shrewsbury School in the UK followed by an undergraduate degree at University College London in construction management. Ali is the Bangladesh country manager of Swiss-based commodity trading firm ECOM Agroindustrial Corp Ltd., and since 2006 has overseen sales of raw cotton to Bangladesh. In 2010 Ali opened the Japanese fine-dining restaurant, Izumi, in Dhaka. Next, he and his friends and the Izumi team launched Holey Artisan Bakery and O Kitchen, both Dhaka-based eateries. Ali is a director of Bangladesh’s first and largest digital ad network, Green & Red Technologies Ltd. It serves over 5 million ads daily on local websites. An avid supporter of Arsenal F.C., Ali loves to golf and DJ in his spare time.

Priscilla Heffelfinger

Co-founder, CEO
Priscilla moved to Dhaka in 2012. Her A-ha! moment? It came unexpectedly when she and her friends felt genuine joy at seeing the impact made by giving a banana to a hungry child. Priscilla feels crazy lucky that Thrive took root; she can’t imagine a better way to spend her time than by helping Thrive thrive. Having worked in the development sector for more than 20 years, Priscilla is ready at the Thrive helm in Manila now. When not handing out bananas you’ll catch her hiking with her family of six (plus two big furry dogs). Make her day: Ask how you can join Thrive.

Adele Millard

Board Member
Adele is a mother of two (with one on the way) and a supportive wife of a Foreign Service Officer. She has a background in music, dancing, fashion, and art. Working with Thrive provides a wonderful outlet for her passion for volunteer work, which she first developed delivering meals to the homeless in the United States as a young girl. She is excited to facilitate linkages between the children in Bangladesh and those around the world to help them to learn and grow. She has an undeniable affection for the Bangladeshi children. Adele truly believes in their potential and will work tirelessly to ensure that Thrive continues to bring much needed nutrition to these growing children.

Sadia Moyeen

Board Member
Sadia was born and raised in India. She married a banker and moved about the Far East before coming back to Bangladesh.  Sadia operates a beauty business and has been writing a beauty-related column for Dhaka’s Daily Star newspaper for over a decade. Her family’s tea and garment businesses sponsor Operation Cleft (Australia) in Bangladesh. Along with a local charity, Jaago, they’ve created an online school at their tea garden in Sylhet for 300 students. Sadia’s family’s businesses also help Children of Hope, a Dhaka charity that gives free education to deserving students and free medical care to their families. Sadia hopes to use her talents at Thrive and reach out to society’s most vulnerable. “Life is a test for us all – we can fail, score average marks, do well or, if we are lucky, get a distinction!”

Amna Rahman

Board Member
Amna is a retired school teacher and has been living in Bangladesh for the past 33 years. She was born in India, a descendant from the ancient Rajput Suryavanshi warrior Bargujar clan. She loved her work with children and being a part of Thrive is a dream come true. There are hungry children in Bangladesh every where and working with Thrive gives her the satisfaction of knowing that she is doing something to give them a chance. It’s not only nourishment for the body but the hugs and smiles that are integral for the children to help them to break the cycle of poverty. She lives in Bangladesh with her husband Kamran and has two sons, Farhan, who is in Bangladesh, and Faraz, who is in the US.

Shannon Young

Board Member
Shannon is a population, health, and nutrition officer with the United States Agency for International Development. She has her master of public health in global health, specializing in program design and quantitative research methods. Shannon lived in Bangladesh from 2011-2014 with her husband and two daughters. She now lives in Tanzania (for the sole purpose of adding another time zone to Thrive board meetings. Just kidding.) Originally from New York, Shannon has also worked in Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, Namibia, and Myanmar. She’s passionate about good food – which causes her to be equally passionate about exercise!

Advisory Committee

Zulfikar Ali

Zulfikar is a Bangladeshi national and a true entrepreneur at heart. He is the Managing Director of Ezzy Group, which is a group of companies spread across several industries. He is also the Honorary Consul of Guatemala in Bangladesh. Besides being an entrepreneurial spirit, he has always been passionate about giving back to the society and supporting everyone around him. For Zulfikar, joining Thrive is a means to direct this passion into creating the most positive impact possible. On a typical day, you will find Zulfikar at one of the three places: at work, at the gym, or at home with his family.

Rose Blanchard

Rose is a public health professional specializing in water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion. She received her master of public health degree in environment and health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Earlier, she worked for USAID in the Bureau for Global Health and also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa. While living in Bangladesh for two years, Rose worked for Population Services & Training Center (a local NGO) as a technical adviser for a project focusing on improving environmental health in poor urban communities. This Raleigh, North Carolina, native and her family have since left Bangladesh for Morocco. Rose is an outdoor enthusiast and loves exploring the wonders of the world with her husband and three children.

Louie Gabel


Louie, a former federal prosecutor and experienced trial lawyer, is a partner at the international law firm Jones Day. Louie regularly counsels Fortune 500 companies and executives facing government investigations and high-stakes civil litigation. From 2012 to 2013, Louie served as the Resident Legal Advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh, where he trained lawyers, judges, and investigators on advance trial skills, anti-money laundering, and the detection and prosecution of terrorist financing. Louie graduated from John Carroll University and obtained his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. Today, Louie lives in Michigan with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys golf and basketball, and loves taking adventurous trips across the globe with his family.

Shelley King

Shelley is an entrepreneur and marketer. She’s grown companies, products, and teams and is passionate about connecting brands to their audiences via innovative channels. Shelley is currently co-founder and CEO of a technology startup, Mobile STIR, a cloud platform built for marketers to deliver engaging, customized content to their mobile audience. Shelley and her family live in Atlanta, Georgia. Both her sons are Thrive fan club members. Shelley gets giddy thinking about a strenuous hike in the mountains and dreams of living in Montana (home to plenty of strenuous hikes!)

Debbie Pfeifer

Debbie is a communications consultant with more than 25 years of experience helping companies with media relations, corporate positioning, and community relations. She began her career at a Los Angeles-based public relations agency, headed communications at companies including PowerBar and Wesabe, and served as a consultant for numerous start-ups and established corporations. She has volunteered and provided strategic counsel for nonprofits focused on literacy, gender equality, and education. She is a board member of the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado and Durango PlayFest. A recent Colorado transplant, Debbie and her husband enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, and trying to keep up with their twin boys on the ski slopes.

Archana S. Raj


Although she grew up and completed her post graduate studies in Dress Designing in India, Archana has been living in Dhaka with her family for almost 30 years. She originally moved to Dhaka to work with a major apparel company before becoming a brand manager for several multinationals for few years. Eventually, she branched off as an entrepreneur in the same field. In 2017, she and her family moved to New Delhi, but she still goes back to her home in Bangladesh, where her business is located.

“Thrive is a perfect fit not just for my schedule but also in its founding, I can see exactly where my contributions go and the impact that they have. I love that it was founded by mothers who wanted to help children have access to nutrition everyday, and that doing something that’s so small for me can be so big for the kids on the receiving end. Having worked in Bangladesh’s primary industry for so many years I know just how impactful access to meals are for these children.”

Dana Zarzycki

Dana graduated from James Madison College at Michigan State University. She has a background in non profit fundraising in the areas of politics, health research and education, and higher education. She spent nine years living in Australia and Brazil with her husband and son. While in Brazil, she volunteered in a orphanage close to her home, where she snuggled babies and worked with toddlers to develop fine motor skills. Today, she is a photographer living in Michigan.

Thrive Team

Priscilla Heffelfinger

Co-founder, CEO


Sharmin Akhi (SpaceDawg)

Operations Manager


Bianca Caugma

Marketing Consulant


Ara Vergara

Communications Consultant


Dana Abueg
(Vexter Co.)

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Thrive 501(c)(3) connects global donors and local volunteers to schoolchildren living in the poorest areas of the world by providing nutritious food and promoting healthy habits to give them a chance at a better life.

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