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January 22: Dr. Jane Aronson
Dr. Jane Aronson; Adoption Medicine Specialist and Founder of Worldwide Orphans Foundation Hometown: Brooklyn, NY Education: Valley Stream North High School, Hunter College and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Family: Two adopted sons, Benjamin (born in Vietnam) and Desalegn (born in Ethiopia)
Dr. Jane Aronson was born in Brooklyn in 1951 and grew up on Long Island. She attended Valley Stream North High School, graduated from Hunter College in New York City and taught school for 10 years. At 31, she entered the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to fulfill her life's dream of becoming a physician. She graduated in 1986, held a pediatric residency and chief residency in New Jersey, followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Columbia Presbyterian/Babies Hospital (now Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital) in New York City. From 1992 to 2000, she was the Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Director of the International Adoption Medical Consultation Services at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York.
Dr. Aronson has been in private practice in New York City since July 19, 2000. As the director of International Pediatric Health Services, she primarily treats children who were adopted. As an adoption medicine specialist, she has evaluated well over 10,000 children and she has traveled to orphanages in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, China, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Latin America. In addition, Dr. Aronson is a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Columbia University.
Since 1997 she has provided direct services to orphaned children through her 501(3) (c) foundation, Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). WWO began its work with orphans by documenting the medical and developmental conditions of children living in orphanages abroad in order to identify and treat their immediate healthcare needs and to advocate for their well-being. The first WWO initiative, the Orphan Ranger Program, was and still is a "peace corps" for orphanages, commissioning university students and healthcare professionals to work in orphanages as volunteers. Since 1997, WWO has sent Orphan Rangers to Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, India, Ecuador, Vietnam, China, Serbia, Montenegro and Ethiopia.
WWO conducts HIV/AIDS training programs for Vietnamese physicians and provides anti-retroviral medications to care for HIV-infected orphans at Tam Binh 2, Ba Vi and Vung Tau orphanages funded by USAID/PEPFAR. WWO has a similar HIV/AIDS treatment program in Addis, Ethiopia, at the Family Health Clinic (in partnership with AIDS Healthcare Foundation). WWO has created the WWO Academy, a primary school in Addis Ababa that integrates children living in orphanages with children from the local community.
WWO has received grants from Bristol-Myers Squibb, USAID-PEPFAR, ArtVenture, Catholic Relief Services, UNICEF, Hole in the Wall Camps and Aids Healthcare Foundation. WWO's many partners include the Clinton Foundation in Ethiopia and Vietnam, Right to Play (the Orphan Soccer League in Ethiopia), Hole in the Wall Camp (Vietnam and Ethiopia) and A Child's Right to ensure clean drinking water for the orphanages, clinics and academy in Ethiopia.
Other innovative and holistic programs for orphans include the Early Intervention One-to-One Programs in Bulgaria where retired school teachers are trained and assigned young infants and toddlers to help them with attachment and developmental milestones.
Finally, WWO has spearheaded day camp and sleep away camp programs and Global Arts classes as well as sports/recreation programs for orphans in all of its sites around the world. Vietnam residential camp opened in February 2008 for 17 HIV-infected orphans, and Camp Addis officially opened on July 14, 2008, for 50 orphans and impoverished community children, half of whom were HIV-infected. Both camp programs were scaled up in the summer 2009 in partnership with Hole in the Wall Camps.
Most recently, Dr. Aronson was honored as a 2009 Glamour Woman of the Year at the annual awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall. She was featured in the London Times magazine issue of December 12, 2009, and on CBS TV in Katie Couric's American Spirit series. In October 2008, Dr. Aronson and WWO were the focus of an article in Financial Times, and in April of 2008, Dr. Aronson received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Valley Stream North High School in Franklin Square, NY. On November 9, 2006, Dr. Aronson received the Humanitarian Award with a gift of $50,000 from the World of Children. Dr. Aronson was a recipient of the Congressional Angel of Adoption Award in September 2000
She is a parent through adoption and has two sons: Benjamin, who was born in Vietnam and Desalegn, who was born in Ethiopia.