Skip to main content

John A. Moran Eye Center Names New Director of Global Outreach

Abdulkhaliq M. Barbaar, MSW, MBA
Abdulkhaliq M. Barbaar, MSW, MBA

The John A. Moran Eye Center is welcoming Abdulkhaliq M. Barbaar, MSW, MBA, as the inaugural Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Endowed Director of Global Outreach, leading a division dedicated to increasing access to sight-saving care in Utah and worldwide.

The endowed directorship—the first for the donor-funded Global Outreach Division—is made possible by a transformative $1 million gift by the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation.

A seasoned organizational and strategic leader, Barbaar most recently served as partnership director of the University of Utah's University Neighborhood Partners (UNP). During the past 14 years, Barbaar worked to increase access to health care and educational opportunities and foster community partnerships with Salt Lake City's west side neighborhoods.

Barbaar brings a wealth of experience in building partnerships, policy planning, data assessment, budgeting, and long-term visioning and management to Moran's outreach program. As the director, he will oversee operations and strategic planning, designing initiatives to support sustainable eye care solutions that empower individuals and communities locally and worldwide.

"We are excited to work with Abdulkhaliq to refine and further develop long-term strategies that will propel Moran's outreach to new levels," said Moran Administrative Director Brent Price, CPA, MBA. "His principled leadership combined with our outstanding team of physicians and volunteers is a win-win."

Background of Collaboration

Born in Somalia, Barbaar and his family fled to Ethiopia and Kenya as refugees of the Somali Civil War when he was 7 years old. He eventually resettled in the United States with his family and moved to Utah in 2003.

The experience ingrained a cultural humility in Barbaar’s professional life, which he has dedicated to working with local and global communities.

"My leadership philosophy is all about collaboration," he said. "I strive to bring those who have the resources and capacity to address a need together with people who are closest to the issues or problems because they are also closest to the solution."

Early in his career in Utah, Barbaar volunteered with various development programs as a counselor focusing on youth with refugee backgrounds. He also managed refugee services and programs and directed the Youth Program for AmeriCorps VISTA.

The Moran position presents exciting new opportunities.

"When I learned about curable blindness and so many people who are blind because they lack resources and access to health care, I knew this position was a perfect fit for me," he continued. "Just the possibility of helping a person see again excites and inspires me."

Barbaar graduated from the University of Utah in 2012, where he also received a Master of Social Work in 2014 and earned a second master's degree in Business Administration in 2019. He speaks Somali, English, and Swahili and enjoys riding bikes as a family with his wife and six children and playing soccer.

"With master's degrees in social work and business administration and his challenging life experiences, Abdulkhaliq brings a unique combination of understanding to leading an organization dedicated to impacting and improving lives," said Jeff Pettey, MD, MBA, co-medical director of the Global Outreach Division. "We have the ability to broaden our impact on curable blindness through collaboration with academic programs throughout the world. His thoughtful leadership style stands to move us forward in the fight to improve global eye health."

About Moran's Global Outreach Division

The Moran Eye Center's Global Outreach Division works to solve the global problem of preventable blindness.

Moran physicians, nurses, and medical personnel have volunteered their time in more than 25 countries, providing cataract surgeries and vision screenings while training local ophthalmologists and health care workers to increase access to care. The outreach team also provides charitable eye care locally, treating under-resourced populations in Utah and the Navajo Nation.

Funded solely by donors, the Global Outreach Division in a typical year provides about 1,000 sight-restoring surgeries, 5,000 eye exams, and 2,000 free pairs of eyeglasses while training 30 international physicians and nurses; some 120 volunteers perform 12,500 service hours.