Meet the SAFRI Board of Directors

Board composition

The SAFRI Board consists of five external directors who are neither members of SAFRI nor of FAIMER and consists of:

  1. A representative of the Committee of Health Sciences Deans (ex-officio)
  2. A representative of the South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE) (ex- officio): Prof Francois Cilliers
  3. Three directors acquainted with higher education and training, grant funding and multilateral initiatives.
    1. Prof Debbie Murdoch-Eaton
    2. Prof Eunice Seekoe
    3. Dr Gustaaf Wolvaardt

Our Board also includes four internal directors who are members of SAFRI and /or FAIMER and consists of:

  1. Two (2) elected SAFRI members
    1. Vanessa Burch (Chair)
    2. Jacky van Wyk
  2. A FAIMER representative (ex officio: Ralf Graves)
  3. A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) appointed by the Board from the SAFRI community: Prof Dianne Manning


Our chairperson and elected SAFRI member:

Dr. Champion N. Nyoni

RN, BSc (Hons) Nursing Science, MSoc Sc. (Nursing), MHPE (Assessment & Accreditation), PhD
Senior Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the School of Nursing, University of the Free State, South Africa

Dr. Champion N. Nyoni obtained the Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Nursing Science from the University of Zimbabwe in 2009. He practiced as a Professional Nurse in Primary Health Care settings in rural Zimbabwe, before being appointed as a Nurse Educator at Paray School of Nursing in the Kingdom of Lesotho. In 2016, he was awarded the Master of Social Science in Nursing by the University of the Free State for his work on patients diagnosed with diabetes mellitus in the Free State province in South Africa. In 2019, he received the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, again from the University of the Free State following his work on designing a framework for implementing and sustaining curricular innovations in a higher education programme in Lesotho. He is to be conferred the Master of Health Professions Education with specialisation in Assessment and Accreditation from Keele University in the UK, also in 2019.

Champion has served in several committees and organisations in Africa. He is the General Secretary for the Academic Senate of Paray School of Nursing and has served as a member of the National Nursing and Midwifery Education Committee (NNMEC) responsible for the nationwide nursing and midwifery curricular transformation in Lesotho. He serves as part of the Management and Director in the Board of Directors for Sub-Sahara Africa FAIMER Regional Institute (SAFRI) and is the current Chairperson of Board and Facilitator for the Africa Interprofessional Network (AfrIPEN).

Champion has published several articles within health professions education, supervised several SAFRI fellows and master students. He serves as a reviewer for national and international journals. In 2013, he was recipient of the SAFRI Fellowship and in 2016 a recipient of the International Fellowship in Medical Education (IFME) from FAIMER. He has received several awards on his research work including the Best Educational Research Paper at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of the Free State in 2019.

He is currently a Post Doctoral Researcher and Senior Lecturer (Units) at the School of Nursing, of the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.

The CEO of the SAFRI company

Di Manning (SAFRI co-director)

BScHons(Anatomy), MEd, PhD
Di Manning has been involved in health professions education since 1976, first as a lecturer in Anatomy & Physiology and later in faculty development. From 2003 to 2012 she was the Director of the Graduate Entry Medical Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and was appointed as the Deputy Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Pretoria in 2012.

She is currently the coordinator of the Curriculum Sub-Committee of the South African Committee of Medical Deans. She was a FAIMER fellow of 2008 and joined SAFRI as a faculty member in 2009. She has been part of the SAFRI management team as the Finance Director, a Programme Director and since 2017 as the CEO of the SAFRI not-for-profit company. She also assisted in the establishment of the first FAIMER regional institute in China, the China Medical Board-China Medical University FRI, and still regularly participates as a faculty member and visiting professor.

She is an active member of the South African Association for Health Educationalists (SAAHE) and was the coordinator of the 2015 joint meeting with the Network:TUFH. She has been a consultant and external reviewer for a number of local and international health professions programmes and is a regular peer reviewer for national and international conference abstracts and journals.

Our SAFRI member:

Jacky van Wyk (SAFRI co-director)

BSc[Ed]; B.Ed; M.Ed; PhD
Academic Leader Research: Nelson Mandela School of Clinical Medicine

Dr Jacqueline van Wyk holds a PHD in Education and serves as academic leader for Research in the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is a Fellow of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Educational and Research [FAIMER-2005] and the Academic Programme Director of the Sub-Saharan African Regional FAIMER institute.

This non-governmental organization advances health professions education in the sub-Saharan African region. She has an extensive number of publications relating to teaching, learning, assessment and curricular innovations in Health Professions Education. She has supervised PhD, Masters and fellowship students both locally, nationally and internationally.

She has offered seminars, workshops and conference presentations in education was has been invited speaker to international and local conferences and seminars. She is the Deputy Editor for the African Journal of Health Professions Education and review for international journals in Medical -and Health Professions Education. She serves as educationalist, moderator and assessor for the SA Medical and Dental accrediting council and was received the Distinguished Teacher award from the South African Association of Health Educators (SAAHE).

Our FAIMER member:

Ralf Graves

Director, FAIMER Regional Institutes

Ralf is Director of Regional Initiatives of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER). She oversees programs providing advanced professional development opportunities for health professions educators in regions throughout the developing world.

Before joining FAIMER in 2007, Ms. Graves was Founder and Principal of Astrion, a consultancy group primarily engaged in creating and implementing professional development training and exchange programs by working with organizations such as USAID, Open Society Institute, World Learning, AMIDEAST, Carelift International, Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania), Center for European Studies (Temple University), and others. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the International Professional Exchange in Philadelphia.

Her more than thirty years’ experience in international education/training also includes a variety of work abroad, such as Lecturer in Communication Studies at the University of Malta, Executive Director of Young Enterprise Malta, and training consultant to clients such as Transmanche Link (the Channel Tunnel consortium), the British Council, Central European University, and Air Malta.

Ms. Graves received her B.A. in Journalism/Broadcasting from Penn State University, where she subsequently served as Community Liaison Coordinator in the College of Human Development while pursuing a Master’s degree in Education – Curriculum & Supervision.

External directors:

Prof Debbie Murdoch-Eaton

Dean of Medical Education at University of Sheffield

Deborah has maintained clinical practice as a paediatrician throughout her academic career in order to “ maintain her credibility” as a medical educator, and to reflect close contact with the purposes and challenges of working in an ever-changing health service. Her interests focus around developing students’ individuality and potential. This aligns additionally with her passion for effective feedback, and how we can better understand why the message sometimes seem to be unable to get through and alter practice! She has a strong interest in the Social Accountability of medical schools, and in the challenges posed by the globalization of health care. Her recent publications reflect conceptualization of how to develop socially accountable graduates, with competence in generic learning skills enabling them to become effective, adaptable practitioners fit for an uncertain and changing future health environment.

She has worked in substantive Clinical Medical Education posts for 25 years, and was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2004 by the UK Higher Education Academy. She has worked as a PLAB assessor, and Educational Director for postgraduate programmes. She is editor of Learning and Teaching section of Archives of Disease and Childhood, Education and Practice journal. She was elected to the executive committee of Association for Medical Education in Europe in 2011, Academy of Medical Educators on 2013, ASME executive and is currently a GMC educational associate involved in quality assurance of UK medical schools. Throughout her career she has retained her close links with Africa and attended virtually every SAAHE meeting since 2006. She was elected to the Board of SAFRI in 2017.

Prof Eunice Seekoe

BA (Cur), MSocSc, MBA, DCur
Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences at University of Fort Hare

Prof. Eunice Seekoe is a Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences as the University of Fort Hare and a Director of Albertina Sisulu Executive Leadership Programme in Health (ASELPH). She held leadership positions within the nursing professions such as the Director of Leadership Succession Committee, a Director and Pioneer of Academic Leadership Academy as well as the Director of Resources in Sigma Teta Tau International (STTI) an “Honour Society of Nursing”. She was Vice Chairperson of FUNDISA and a President of (STTI) Africa 3 Chapter. She is a Vice -Chair of SAFRI Board.

She received PROBLAC travelling grant to Australia for presenting the best conference paper. She received an Award for Chairing the Most Active Committee of Sigma Teta Tau International (STTI) an “Honour Society of Nursing”. She is a winner of the Business Women’s Association Award in 2016. She received the Cum Laude Award from the University of Free State Chancellor’s Distinguished Alumni Awards in 2016. She joined the University of Fort Hare in 2010 where she strategically and successfully turned around the Nursing Science Department and established a School of Health Sciences.

Under her leadership a Faculty of Health Sciences was established and launched at the University of Fort Hare in April 2016 as the flagship programmes of the Centenary Celebration. Prof Seekoe teaches (in Leadership, Research and Policy Transformation courses). She is a Research Niche Area Leader on “Mentoring for Sustainable Rural Community Resilience and Public Health”, She successfully supervised Masters and PhD Students. She has been invited to speak at several local and international conferences and policy and round seminars.

Professor Seekoe has been invited to be a panellist speaker on several leadership in health policy and education transformation conferences and symposiums. She published research papers in Accredited in High Impact journals and wrote chapters in peer reviewed published books. She is a member of editorial Boards and a reviewer in accredited local and international journals.

Dr Gustaaf Wolvaardt

Managing Director for the Foundation for Professional Development

Dr. Gustaaf Wolvaardt is an Internal Medicine specialist with post graduate qualifications in higher education and management. After leaving academia, he served as the first South African Health Attaché in Geneva tasked with normalizing South Africa’s international health relations.

In 1997, under the auspices of the South African Medical Association, he established FPD, a private institution of higher education with a mission to catalyze social change through developing people, strengthening systems and providing innovative solutions.( FPDs training programmes focus on management and professional development across 12 countries in Africa and has reached around 400 000 participants to date.

FPD also organises various national and international conferences and has a number of donor funded system strengthening projects in health, basic education and GBV. Dr Wolvaardt serves on a number of national advisory and governance structures and was recognized the South African Institute of Health Care Managers as one of the 25 most influential South African health care leaders.

Prof Vanessa Burch

Professor and Chair of Clinical Medicine: Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town

Professor Vanessa Burch obtained an MBChB degree (cum laude) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1998. After completing her internship in Johannesburg, she trained as a specialist physician at Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape town, and was awarded a fellowship in Internal Medicine by the College of Physicians of South Africa in 1994. She completed subspecialist training and was registered as a rheumatologist in 2001. In 1997 she was awarded a Master’s degree in Medicine by the University of Cape Town for her work on the patterns of spondyloarthropathies in South African patients. Ten years later (2007) Professor Burch was awarded a PhD by Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for her work on assessment practices in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in South Africa. In 2009 she was awarded a fellowship by the Royal College of Physicians of London in the UK.

Professor Burch has received numerous awards for her expertise as a clinician and clinician teacher. These include graduation awards for Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and both the MM Suzman medal (1994) as well as the Phyllis Knocker-Bradlow award (1997) from the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) for her outstanding performance in the fellowship examinations and a research contribution to health care in South Africa. Professor Burch has received four national awards for teaching excellence: (1) Distinguished Teacher (University of Cape Town); (2) National Excellence in Teaching and Learning (Council for Higher Education (CHE) in the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA); (3) Distinguished Educator (South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE), and most recently, (4) a Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) fellowship, jointly awarded by the CHE and HELTASA.

Vanessa Burch was appointed as Professor and Chair of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town in 2008. In this position she manages all the undergraduate training programmes in the department and is responsible for teaching, assessment and evaluation innovation and quality assurance. She also serves as a chief physician in the Acute General Medicine service at Groote Schuur Hospital and is Deputy Head of the Department of Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town.

Prof Gert Van Zyl

Member of the University of The Free State management team

Prof Gert Van Zyl is at the present the Dean on the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State and Past President of SAAHE. He has served on a number of MDB committees and on the HPCSA Council. Prof. van Zyl has contributed also towards the establishment of the PPP at Universitas Hospital in the early 2000’s. This initiative created a big impact on the delivery of Health Care in the Free State with establishment of two Netcare- Community Health hospitals in Pelonomi and Universitas Hospitals.

The third stream income generated by this initiative is in potential enormous and can create a better health for all in the Free State. With this enormous contribution towards better quality services, Prof. van Zyl has been recognized by his peers as a leader. He also started the Quality Assurance programme as one of the members that spearheaded it in the Free State Department of Health. Prof. van Zyl has contributed also in teaching, research and service delivery on an academic level and also being recognised by the University for his contributions on a national and international level. Prof van Zyl also steered a number of revisions of curricula on undergraduate and postgraduate level.

He is at the present moment an Inaugural Fellow of AMEE. He has a PhD in Health Professions Education, postgraduate qualifications in Family Medicine and Community Health and he has interest in Family Medicine, Community Health, health economics, curricula design and academic accreditation.

He serves also on the Board Council of Health Services Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) and use to serve on the Board of the Office of Health Standards Compliance. He is a senior member of the University of The Free State management team.

Prof William P. Burdick

Vice President for Education at the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER), and founder of the FAIMER Institute

He is Professor of Emergency Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine and has been recognized for teaching excellence with the Lindback Award and the Trustees' Award. A graduate of Oberlin College, Cornell University Weill School of Medicine, and University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, Dr. Burdick completed training in Internal Medicine at Boston City Hospital and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Emergency Medicine.

He is on the Board of Directors of The Network: Towards Unity for Health, a global health organization dedicated to improving health through improving health systems and health worker education.

Our representative from the South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE)

Prof Francois Cilliers

MBChB, HonsBSc, MPhil, PhD
Acting Head of Department, Department of Health Sciences Education, University of Cape Town