Meet the Board

Karen Kayser

Founder and Board Chair

While on faculty at Boston College, Karen led groups of social work students on service-learning trips to the region of India that was most devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Kalangarai, an ngo established by a group of Jesuits, hosted the students and provided an educational program about disaster relief, trauma, and social justice. Since 2005, she has continued to collaborate with Kalangarai on research projects, student trips, and fund-raising. While other organizations left soon after the Tsunami, Kalangarai was committed to stay indefinitely and to attend to the needs of the most marginalized persons, namely, the low-caste widows and abandoned women. Karen is professor emerita of social work from the University of Louisville where she held the Dr. Renato LaRocca Endowed Chair of Oncology Social Work.

Chrisann Newransky


Chrisann is an associate professor at Adelphi University (AU) School of Social Work. At AU, Chrisann focuses on teaching social welfare policy analysis, policy advocacy and about the social work role in healthcare. She is currently directing a federally funded training grant for Master’s level social work and psychiatric nurse practitioner students in integrated behavioral health for children, adolescents and transition-aged youth. Chrisann has led student service learning and short-term study abroad trips to India and Japan.

Jane O’Rourke


Jane is a clinical social worker in private practice. She has worked in health care primarily with HIV and women’s cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s Hospital. She is devoted to women’s issues and empowerment. Her daughter spent part of a summer working with the widows and their families at Kalangarai-India.

Barbara Honthumb


Barbara is a retired healthcare executive, who served as Executive Director of a non-profit organization focused on microlending and microenterprise development with low-income women in Ohio after completing her masters in public administration. Barbara has experience in program development and grant writing and is interested in self-sufficiency for women.

Praveen Kumar


Praveen is an associate professor at the School of Social Work, Boston College. Dr. Kumar’s research and teaching aligns with the mission of Friends of Kalangarai. His research intersects the two areas of the physical environment and development with the focus on poor communities in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Examples of his research projects include the adoption and sustained use of cleaner cooking fuels in rural India and the impact of dissemination of solar lamps on the well-being of poor households in India.

Winston Langley


Winston is professor emeritus of Political Science and International Relations at University of Massachusetts- Boston where he served as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. He has a broad interest in South Asia. He also has literary interests and has been doing work on the national poet of Bangladesh, Kazi Nazrul Islam. His most recent book on that poet, published in January, 2023, is: Moral Courage and Truthfulness: Kazi Nazrul Islam. He is associated with the W & B Center for Peace, in Cambridge, is a world federalist, and works with a number of other peace-advocacy groups.

Gokul Mandayam


Gokul joined the faculty of Rhode Island College School of Social Work (RICSSW) in Fall 2019 where he teaches macro practice in the MSW program. Prior to joining RICSSW, he worked at the University of Buffalo School of Social Work on the interdisciplinary social innovation and social entrepreneurship initiative. He has consulted on a variety of social development projects in India including topics such as non-land-based income generation, evaluation of fish harvesting practices in coastal communities and government nutrition programs, and female infanticide.