Stefania Magidson – President
Stefania Magidson was born in Romania and in 1983 immigrated with her family to the United States. After receiving degrees in Health Education and Applied Psychology, she founded Blue Heron Foundation (2002), one of the largest non-profit organizations in the Romanian diaspora. The organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life of Romanian and Moldovan orphaned youth by providing them merit based college scholarships and a mentorship program. To date, the organization has raised over $2,800,000, has awarded over 400 college scholarships and has touched the lives of over 2,900 kids.
At the onset of the Ukrainian war, Stefania quickly pivoted and expanded Blue Heron’s efforts, raising over $380,000 and developing 12 refugee relief programs. These initiatives vary in complexity, from transportation at the border and organizing caravans of medicine to Ukrainian hospitals, to their most complex effort to date: Blue Heron’s Cancer Care Program.
In December 2018, Stefania presented Blue Heron at INK Talks in Hyderabad, India’s foremost platform for the exchange of inspiring stories and cutting-edge ideas.
In April 2022 she reeived the South East European Film Festival Legacy Humanitarian Award during the opening night of the 17th Annual Film Festival.
Stefania lives in Los Angeles with her husband Mark and their two sons.
Alex Bâcu – VP Fundraising & Community, East Coast
Born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, Alex came to the United States on a scholarship to study at Amherst College in Massachusetts. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Economics and Fine Arts in 2003. After a brief stint in Investment Banking at Lehman Brothers, he moved to his current position as a Senior Research Equity Analyst and Associate Portfolio Manager at Neuberger Berman in New York City with a primary focus on the Technology, Media and Telecom sector. Alex is also involved as an advisor to and/or investor in several early stage start-ups in the Internet and Beauty Products sectors. Alex Bâcu is a CFA(r) charterholder.
Simona Bot M.D. – VP Fundraising & Community Outreach, West Coast
Simona graduated from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Timisoara, Romania, with an M.D. degree in 1993.
She worked on the treatment of autoimmune diseases, on DNA vaccines against the influenza virus and RNA based immune modulating agents and has held positions at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Alliance Pharmaceutical Company, Multicell Therapeutics and other biotech companies.
Simona has published over a dozen scholarly articles and presented her work at international conferences.
She has always been passionate about helping others, and when she met Stefania in 2011, it was only natural for her to begin working as a mentor for Blue Heron Foundation. Since then, she has taken on an increasingly intensive role in advocating, recruiting, and fundraising for the foundation.
Anne Cherian – Writer/ Content Manager
Anne Cherian was born in India to an American mother and Indian father and came to UC Berkeley where she received Master’s Degrees in Comparative Literature and in Journalism. She is the author of A Good Indian Wife (she says the title tells you it’s definitely fiction!) and The Invitation. She is currently writing a coming of age story told from the perspective of a servant woman’s daughter.
Anne grew up watching her mother work with Mother Theresa, the Sisters of Mercy, knit socks for soldiers, teach poor people English, etc. Anne met Stefania at their sons’ school event, and when she heard about Blue Heron, offered her services as a writer/editor/content manager.
“I’m thrilled to be part of a team that is helping those who are truly in need. My mother used to take me to a village once a year so I could know, first-hand, how lucky I am. Blue Heron lifts the underprivileged and I’m grateful to be a small part of this selfless organization.”
Irena Tocino M.D. – Medical Program Director
Yale professor, Dr. Irena Tocino is taking a sabbatical to coordinate Blue Heron’s Medical Program in Romania (Suceava & Iasi) starting April 7th . Her years of administration experience as Vice chair, leading teams, creating solutions and responding to challenges within the health care system will be invaluable on the field;
“It is difficult, as a doctor, to watch so much human suffering and not to be able to help. I really wanted to make myself useful and thought of the incredible work Blue Heron has done for years. I contacted Stefania Magidson and learned that BH has been able to quickly redirect funding efforts, infrastructure and volunteers to meet the urgent needs of refugees and hospitals. I immediately offered my experience and resources to help BH on the ground with coordination, assessing needs, both acute and long term for the millions affected by this devastating and senseless war.”
Irena Tocino MD, FACR
Department of Radiology, Yale School of Medicine
Horia Vulpe M.D – Director, Cancer Care Program
Dr. Vulpe spent his early childhood in Romania before moving to Canada, where he completed studies in medicine and residency training in radiation oncology. Dr. Vulpe practiced at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, at Columbia University in New York, and at the Queen’s Cancer Center in Honolulu, where he was also director of quality and patient safety.
With the onset of the war, Dr. Vulpe relocated to Europe to better help displaced Ukrainians in Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, get the quality cancer care they deserve. He manages an international team of coordinators, translators, and partner clinics that operate for the benefit of Ukrainian cancer patients. Dr. Vulpe is also an advisor to the director of the Institute of Oncology in Chisinau, Moldova, collaborating on research, education, and quality improvement.
For his work in global oncology, Dr. Vulpe was awarded the ASCO Global Oncology Young Investigator Award, the McGill Medicine Young Alumnus Award, and the Robert Sheppard Award for Health Equity and Social Justice. Dr. Vulpe enjoys teaching residents and medical students and received the ‘2019 Educator of the Year’ award from the American Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology. He remains affiliated with the Queen’s Cancer Center as a part time radiation oncologist and patient safety officer.
Cristina Porsega – Director, BH Scholarship Program
Cristina graduated from the Western University of Timisoara with a degree in Sociology and Psychology and continued her graduate studies in Management & Human Services.
Cristina was a Blue Heron scholarship recipient herself (2005 – 2010), until graduating and obtaining her M.A. degree. She understands thoroughly how the program works, first as a grantee and then as a member of the Foundation’s team.
Antoaneta Andreea Muraru – Director, Mentorship Program
Antoaneta Andreea Muraru (PhD) studied Psychology at the University of Iași. She is working as a therapist, trainer and supervisor in the field of couple and family therapy and she is one of the founders of Family and Couple Psychotherapy Association in Iași. Her interest in postmodern therapies grew over the recent years and now she is specialized in narrative therapy, a therapy of solidarity. Through her work, she is aiming to make marginalized and isolated voices heard. She is working with individuals, couples and various groups who have experienced discrimination and marginalization.
With a large experience in child protection state department, private practice and many NGOs, she is passionate about the narrative approach, social justice issues, curious and respectful when interacting with persons, always looking for HOPE.
I am honored to be part of the Blue Heron team and humbled by their work, dedication and generosity. I have been working for many years in supporting people to gain agency in their lives and I wish to offer my experience and my joy of living in order to build, together with these young adults and their mentors, new stories of possibilities and new solid places on which to stand.
Valentina Ostap – BHF Scholarship Program Director, Chisinau, Republic of Moldova
Vlentina Ostap was born in Sukhumi, Georgia and currently lives and works in Chisinau, Moldova. As a teenager, she pursued her passion for painting and acting at the Calarasi Art School. Valentina was admited at the Ion Creanga University where she received a B.A. and an M.A. in psychology and also her teaching credentials. Upon graduation, she continued to pursue her artistic vocations studying at the Andries Puppet Theater. Valentina was also a volunteer for various social causes. Between 2008-2012 she worked at the Moldovan NGOs Aliance Secretariat dedicated to the Social Protection of Children and Families. For three years afterwards she was employed as a Psychologist at the Community Association CCF-Moldova.
Horatiu Schiopu – Law & Accounting Consulting
Horatiu Schiopu was born in Campina, Prahova County, Romania. He spent his childhood in the countryside, in Valea Doftanei. From an early age he came to understand the hardships that the impoverished have to endure and he resolved to do something to ameliorate their situation when the time came. That time was 2008, when Horatiu joined the Blue Heron Foundation as a mentor. Since then he has been an active participant in the foundation’s programs.
Valedictorian of his promotion, Horatiu majored in law at the University “Al.I Cuza” from Iasi. He then pursued further studies in the field and obtained an M.A. from the University “Titu Maiorescu” in Bucharest. He has built a career in banking law and is, at present, a senior partner at the the law firm Schiopu & Associates, SCA. He strongly believes that every adult can and should support children and young people by getting involved in their education.
Daniela Tordoi – Coordinator, BH Mentorship Program
Daniela majored in Psychology and Education Sciences at the University of Bucharest and then specialized in Integrative Psychotherapy.
She is an accredited career & personal development coach. Daniela’s professional experience has expanded in accessing and managing development funds, a specialty that has enabled her to initiate and coordinate educational projects, including summer camps for young people and adults.
Daniela’s professional interests are complemented by her passion for writing, traveling and sports.
Catalina Neculau – Staff Psychologist/Group Coordinator
Born in Iasi, Romania, Catalina started her carrier as a nurse in an OR facility. Partly as a result of this work she became interested in helping people not simply with their physical ailments but with their mental and emotional ones as well. Consequently she obtained a degree in psychology from The Alexandru Ioan Cuza University and continued her studies in psychosocial intervention and psychotherapy. Catalina specializes in Ericksonian therapy and hypnosis and in narrative therapy.
As a Blue Heron Group Coordinator she oversees the mentor-mentee relationships and the progress of a group of Blue Heron students based in Iasi and Suceava.
Catalina is an avid photographer and an enthusiastic traveller and mountain climber.
Lucian Mustata – IT Consulting
Lucian Mustata graduated from The Cybernetics Faculty in Bucharest and received M.A diplomas from the National School of Political and Administrative Science and the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. Shortly thereafter he founded Lucian & Partners SRL-D, an IT company offering a broad range of services, including web design, online security, branding and search optimization.
Lucian became a Blue Heron scholarship recipient in 2011 and, after graduation, has remained an active alumnus overseeing Blue Heron’s creative and web design. He recently launched the global platform Note About Life, a site that allows people to share their life story and inspire others through their advice and example.
Alexandra Arnautu – Coordinator
A linguist by education, an entrepreneur by opportunity and a networker by vocation, Alexandra Arnautu is a humanist of the XXI century. Born in Romania, she grew up in Lebanon at that time when bombs fell so often it was no longer news. From this early life experience she retained a ”seize the moment” attitude and a will to make things happen against all odds. Back in Romania, she pursued an education in humanities. She has an MA in foreign languages (French, English and Arabic) and an academic specialty in public relations and communication. She studied in Tunisia, Syria and Jordan.
Alexandra has been working with the Blue Heron team since 2008, and has been committed to the cause ever since.
“I feel so proud and inspired to be involved in the projects of the Blue Heron Foundation. Our students are the very manifestation of one of my favorite sayings: “Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.”
Ada Lungu – Coordinator
Ada Lungu was born under the sign of diversity. She lived, worked and studied in six cities and three countries, on two continents. She experienced her academic specialty, intercultural communication, in every practical way. She could probably find a way to talk to an alien. Ada pursued academic and professional courses in communication, journalism and project management in Cairo, Bordeaux, Paris, Brussels and Berlin.
Ada joined the Blue Heron team in 2010.
“Sometimes, during Valentine’s Day Charity Ball, or while writing a press release or preparing my workshop for the Blue Heron Summer Camp, I would stop and think: I have the best job in the world! If, somehow, I manage to contribute even 1% to what the Foundation achieves to the benefit of these young people, I would have made my mark on the world.”