The Floating Doctors crew is group of men and women from all walks of life united in their passion for the healing arts and a desire to serve.
Dr. Benjamin LaBrot
Founder & CEO
Dr. Benjamin La Brot is a native Southern Californian with a long association with the ocean. From childhood, he worked on commercial fishing and research vessels and spent countless hours on (or under) the water off the coast of Southern California.
Ben attended the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland and worked as a medical doctor in the Irish Health Care System, eventually helping to set up and then run a long-term care elderly facility that also provided acute hospital services. Travel and private medical mission work in developing countries led Ben to combine his love of the sea and medicine to bring more help to remote rural communities, founding the Floating Doctors in 2009. In 2010, Ben led the first Floating Doctors mission to Haiti and has been continuing ever since.
Ben says that each successive time he traveled in the developing world, his backpack carried fewer personal items and more medical supplies, and that the most heartbreaking part of doing medicine in the developing world is when the backpack is empty and there are still many people in desperate need. For Dr. Ben, Floating Doctors and his crew of dedicated volunteers is “A much bigger backpack over many thousands of miles; I promised myself I would come back to the developing world with more help, and now I finally have the chance to keep my promise.” Ben married the love of his life Karine in 2013 and they continue working together to grow Floating Doctors.
Founder & President of the Board of Directors
Sky LaBrot is Ben’s little sister but shoulders a heavy load onboard the Southern Wind! Sky has a long history of helping her brother Dr. Ben—Sky became SCUBA certified in her early teens and helped Ben run the marine science field program Island Interns, which brought high school students on 6-day field biology trips to the Channel Islands off California and 1,000 miles south into remote parts of Baja California, Mexico.
Sky graduated from the Art Institute in Santa Monica with a B.S. in Culinary Management; a successful restaurant and club opener with a culinary degree, Sky’s skills in negotiation and management saw Floating Doctors through over 500 mobile deployments and helped grow the organization from its infancy.
Sky has directed missions in Haiti, Honduras, and Panama and has an extraordinary talent for overcoming complex logistics challenges. This and her courage have been the backbone of Floating Doctors. Sky now represents Floating Doctors in the US as the President of our Board of Directors and is a driving force behind Floating Doctors’ continued growth.
Karine Tchakerian LaBrot
Director of Operations
Karine Tchakerian grew up roaming the chaparral of Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains not far from the ocean. Little did she know at that time that her future husband lived only a couple miles away from her and would occasionally deliver pizza to her house.
From an early age, Karine has been involved with non-profit work—at age 10, she founded the organization CHORUS, which served to help provide food, blankets and clothing to the homeless of Skid Row in Los Angeles. She continued volunteering with Heal the Bay, Tree People, Healing Bridges, and the Save Darfur Coalition. In 2007 she directed Songs For Darfur, a concert raising funds for Darfuri Refugees currently living in Chad. Karine has a background in Environmental Studies focusing on freshwater biology and while she loves and greatly misses the fieldwork she performed for the Resource Conservation District, she recognized that she is most fulfilled when caring for others.
After being the primary caregiver for a family member and spending four months running a small village school in remote rural India, Karine decided to dedicate her life to helping bring care and services to underserved populations. She obtained a Master’s degree in Nursing from UCLA, and joined the Floating Doctors as a permanent member of the team to oversee clinical operations and to head up the development of health education and training programs. In 2013 she married her pizza delivery boy, Dr. Ben LaBrot and they are finally together working side by side.
Director of Volunteer Resources
Growing up in Arizona with healthcare professionals on all sides of her family, Jolie developed a strong desire to help others.
After earning her bachelor degrees in Spanish and Nonprofit Management at Arizona State University, she joined Public Allies, through which she helped create the operational documents for the Arizona Association for Environmental Education.
After moving to Virginia, she was the Membership Coordinator for the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, where she oversaw the transition from a closed, outdated database to a new online application, which served the members more fully.
As cousin to Ben and Sky LaBrot, Jolie had the fantastic opportunity to join Floating Doctors first in October 2011, where she assisted in revising their budget and developing a financial reporting system. She fell in love with Panama, the indigenous groups we serve, and (strangely for this desert rat) the water, and had a very difficult time leaving. Upon returning to the States, she realized that Floating Doctors and their mission are what she had been moving toward since childhood.
Given her husband’s career in the US Air Force, she is constantly moving and not always able to be in Panama. She is overjoyed that she has been able to continue her work with Floating Doctors remotely and to be the initial contact for incoming volunteers. The crew knows that whenever she gets a break between packing and unpacking, she’ll be on the next flight to Bocas.
Sam was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and spent most of her youth in San Salvador, El Salvador. In 2005, she graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in Finance and Graphic Design and spent the next few years working as a Licensed Banker and Junior Fixed Income Trader. In 2009, she decided to switch gears and become an early childhood educator at One Fifty Parker Avenue School, a well-loved private non-profit preschool in San Francisco, California and it was during this time where she began to explore her passion for education and outreach. Her love of dance spilled into the classroom as she designed and implemented an educational component that involved teaching Spanish through music and movement and her other bigger project involved strengthening Parker School’s Service Learning and Outreach program by creating a close partnership with the Fabretto Children’s Foundation in Nicaragua and leading annual teacher volunteer trips to Managua during the summers. In 2015, She invited some of her colleagues to volunteer teach in Bocas del Toro, Panama and soon after she decided to move indefinitely to the islands and join Floating Doctors as their new Operations Manager.
Ai was born in Japan, where she was raised to hold her chopsticks right. At the tender age of 9, she moved to Calgary, Canada, which she now calls home.
She worked as an RN in a post cardiovascular surgery unit for 6 years until she joined Floating Doctors in May, 2015. During her time in Panama, she has learned to float in water without assistance, a little bit of Spanish, and has made a map of all air-conditioned spots in Bocas Town.
Kellie was born and raised in Southern California, where she graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a bachelors degree in Liberal Studies. She continued her education at private nursing university and is now a licensed registered nurse. Kellie is an avid traveler and her mission is to continue to travel the world and give back to the communities and people she encounters. While traveling around Africa in the summer of 2012, she started a school for young people with developmental disabilities called New Beginnings – Maisha Iko Sawa in the slum of Kibera, Kenya. She has been working with the population of special needs for over 10 years now, as her family runs and operates a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. Kellie also volunteer coaches for Southern California’s Special Olympics when at home. She finds her happiness when she’s traveling and in when in nature.
Kinman grew up in Atlanta, GA. He later attended the University of Georgia, where he had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and Peru. He graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a Spanish minor. An aspiring medical student, Kinman is excited to gain direct experience serving populations without direct/reliable access to sufficient medical care. Kinman loves to be outside in the mountains or on the water with dogs and friends.
Erin was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated in 2012 from Princeton University with a B.S. in History. While an undergraduate, Erin played 4 years of varsity field hockey for the Tigers. Following graduation, Erin took the New Jersey Transit train straight to New York City’s Wall Street- where she worked as a strategic business consultant for some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical, financial, and retail companies and eventually went on to lead a strategy and operations team at one of NYC’s latest tech “start ups.” After three years in NYC Erin decided to switch careers and enrolled in Thomas Jefferson School of Biomedical Science’s medical Post-Baccaleaurate program in Philadelphia, PA. Currently she is applying to medical school for the 2017 cycle. With a passion for Global Health and medical strategy within developing countries, Erin was brought to Floating Doctors. Here she currently serves as our Pharmacy and Clinic Supply manager. When Erin isn’t working you can find her hiking, running, traveling, or playing with the nearest stray dog!
North Carolina, USA
Kira was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. She attended the University of South Carolina where she double majored in International Business and Finance and minored in Spanish. After graduating college, Kira moved to Panama where she now serves as the Finance Controller for Floating Doctors. When not reconciling cash flows or updating expense reports, Kira can be found perusing old pictures of her hairless cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, or reading her Kindle.
Dan Evers, DVM
Dr. Dan Evers hails from Florida, where Dan attended the University of Central Florida obtaining a B.S. Zoology before going on to achieve a DVM in Veterinary Medicine and a B.S. in Agriculture from Tuskegee University. Dr. Dan maintained a private veterinary practice for 27 years before spending over a year in Panama frequently deploying with our teams, and has a special interest in veterinary orthopedics and adipose stem cell therapy for animals.
Dr. Dan defined our Veterinary ethos and still attends field clinics when visiting Panama, treating the dogs, cats, cows, pigs, horses, and other animals that nearly all the communities have. The health of these animals is not only important for the productivity of the community, but because many parasites and diseases in these animals are transmitted to humans, especially worms. All part of creating and maintaining healthy communities–we are always looking for Veterinary assistance, so if you are a veterinarian please contact us to learn about volunteering with our service in Panama.
Dr. Ryan McCormick
Founding Crew Member & CME Partner
Dr. Ryan McCormick grew up in Los Angeles, and was actually a high school student of Ben’s many years ago. Over the years, they developed a close friendship and became a founding member of Floating Doctors and working as the Vice President for 5 years while with the crew. After working for a year rebuildingSouthern Wind, he worked in the clinics in Haiti and Honduras before going to medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. While there, he took the lessons he learned in providing patient care and expanded on them completing additional education in Emergency Medicine, Wilderness Emergency Medicine, and Trauma Management. During school he continued to assist in fundraising and logistical planning. After graduating he returned home to Los Angeles working with Ben’s father, Dr. George LaBrot, at UCLA and doing clinical research at LA County/USC Hospital for a year. He is currently completing his Medical License Exams and working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Neurological Emergency Treatment Trials at the University of California San Francisco, and plans to apply to start a residency in Emergency Medicine in July 2017. He is one of the founders of RemoteCareEducation, a CME Project with Floating Doctors to train clinicians to function remote medical mission environments and works actively to coordinate live CME events in Panama.
Founding Crew Member and Rural Telecom Developer
New Jersey, USA
Noah has a background in construction as well as holding B.S in Biology from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Noah is a New Jersey boy and the ultimate handyman with a background in personal training and physical therapy. Noah has been with Floating Doctors since the beginning and helped rebuild Southern Wind and run operations in Haiti, Honduras and Panama. Noah is currently based in California developing the “Give The Ngabe A Voice” Partner Project, working to give communications and solar power to Ngabe communities throughout the region.
Noah has a strong interest in philosophy, history and science and how these disciplines can be integrated to improve people’ s lives. Noah has a gift for problem solving and one of his core beliefs is that “there are no problems, only solutions”—one of the basic tenets that has brought Floating Doctors from a dream to reality.
New Hampshire, USA
Lorie is a registered nurse a mom to many, a lover of the water and helping put people back together again. Lorie has been a registered nurse for 40 years, with 20 years experience working in pediatrics, surgery, and clinical nursing and the latter 20 in clinical psychiatry and substance abuse treatment. In addition to her RN, Lorie is certified in Yoga and Soul Collage.
Lorie has learned to work in our remote jungle settings and regularly does patient intake in our clinics, as well as assisting providers. She took a huge role in managing the nursing home we support, and also maintains the morale of our staff and volunteers whenever she returns to visit–never was there a more understanding ear or a more genuine kindness performed.