National Breast Cancer Coalition

Speaker Biographies
As of April 19, 2013


Michael Baum, MD
, Professor Emeritus of Surgery and visiting Professor of Medical Humanities at University College London (UCL), is a leading British surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer treatment. He is also notable for his contributions to the evaluation and support of patient quality of life. In addition to the University college of London, he has been Professor of Surgery at King's College London and the Royal Marsden Hospital. In 2007, Baum received the St. Gallen Lifetime Achievement Award for the treatment of breast cancer. Baum has been involved in numerous clinical trials and his team was the first to demonstrate the survival advantage of adjuvant tamoxifen for early breast cancer and its prevention potential. He has been responsible for the ATAC clinical trial which showed the efficacy of anastrozole over tamoxifen. He has written on the harms and benefits of mammography screening programs raising the issue of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

Amy Bonoff, MBA, is a breast cancer survivor, an NBCC Project LEAD® graduate, a Project LEAD® Institute mentor and a Team Leader for NBCC’s Artemis Project®. She is active in SHARE LEADers graduate program and the SHARE Hotline. Amy served as an ad hoc member of the Department of Defense Programmatic Review from 2007-2010, was on the Technical Planning Committee for the 2011 DOD Era of Hope Conference where she was a plenary session speaker. She was a member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Effective Healthcare Program Stakeholder Group and NCCN Patient Advocate Breast Cancer Panel, and serves on the Love/Avon Army of Women Scientific Advisory Committee. Amy has a graduate degree in finance from The Columbia University School of Business.

Christine Carpenter, Ed.S., is a 20-year breast cancer survivor and Advocacy Chair for Iowa’s Beyond Pink TEAM, which she represents on NBCC’s Board of Directors. She has been actively involved in breast cancer advocacy since graduating from NBCC’s Project LEAD® in 1996. As NBCC’s Iowa Field Coordinator, she administers the all-Iowa Breast Cancer Advocacy Network, an e-mail alert network of grassroots activists committed to advancing a breast cancer public policy agenda. She is a member of the Iowa Cancer Consortium. Upon retiring from her school psychology position, Christine co-founded Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition, an all-volunteer organization that forms partnerships to build coalitions and capacity to enhance the community’s health. Christine has served as a Consumer Reviewer for the California Breast Cancer Research Program and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.

Michael Cervino advises nonprofit organizations on their online communications, marketing, constituent data management, fundraising and organizational development efforts. He has worked with both commercial and nonprofit organizations to create effective and results-driven advocacy, fundraising, and marketing communications. Michael is a frequent speaker on Internet issues and Web development strategies. Prior to co-founding Beaconfire, Michael was the Director of Strategy for the Nonprofit Practice at Commerce One and at Focalpoint Marketing, where he developed relationship-marketing programs for Fortune 500 clients. Michael began his career with Craver, Mathews, Smith and Company directing the direct response fundraising programs for progressive and humanitarian clients.

Kay Dickersin, PhD, is Professor and Director for the Center for Clinical Trials at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, in the Department of Epidemiology. Dr. Dickersin is director of the US Cochrane Center, one of 13 Centers worldwide in The Cochrane Collaboration. Her major research interests are in randomized clinical trials, trials registers, meta-analysis, publication bias, and the development and evaluation of evidence-based healthcare. Dr. Dickersin was a founder and core faculty for NBCC’s Project LEAD® and is a 24-year breast cancer survivor. She received a BA and MA in Zoology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a PhD in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University.

Maria Echaveste, JD is co-founder of NVG, LLC, a Washington, DC consulting group, providing strategic and policy advice to a variety of corporate, nonprofit, and union clients. She served as an official with the Department of Labor and as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to President Clinton, managing education, civil rights, and immigration initiatives, as well as other domestic and foreign issues. She is a senior fellow with the Berkeley School of Law’s Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity, a non-resident fellow of the Center for American Progress, and a frequent media commentator on politics and national policy. Ms. Echaveste sits on the boards of the Alliance for Excellent Education, Mi Familia Vota (an organization focused on increasing Hispanic civic participation), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and CARE.

Beth Emery was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2008. Since early 2009, she has been an advocate and active volunteer with the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF) and the National Breast Cancer Coalition. She currently serves on the ABCF Board and on its ad hoc strategic planning committee, the development committee and the advocacy and outreach committee. Beth’s initial lobbying for ABCF included testimony before the Texas House Insurance Committee in support of legislation to bar insurance companies from denying coverage to patients participating in clinical trials. The legislation passed that year. She has participated in NBCC’s Lobby Day for the past four years and served as a Texas delegation Team Leader in 2011 and 2012. Beth is a graduate of NBCC’s 2009 Project Lead® Institute and has served as patient advocate reviewer of applications for grants from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. Beth works full-time as a partner in the national law firm Husch Blackwell, LLP.

Brunie Felding, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute. Her research focus is on the mechanisms of tumor metastasis, pursuing answers to why cells metastasize and where they migrate. Her currently funded studies are focused on breast cancer brain metastases. Her team uses innovative antibody delivery methods and stem cells as agents to deliver chemotherapy to specifically kill brain metastases, while leaving healthy brain cells intact. She received her PhD from Philipps University in Marburg, Germany.

Silvia Formenti, MD is Professor of Medicine (radiation and medical oncology) at New York University (NYU) and the first Sandra and Edward H. Meyer Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology. She is also the Associate Director for Clinical Research and the co-Leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program of the NYU Cancer Institute. Silvia has pioneered the use of concurrent chemo-radiation in the neo-adjuvant setting of locally advanced breast cancer (LABC). Generated by the clinical and pathological observation of the local and systemic effects of chemo-radiation, she has identified in preclinical models a series of mechanisms by which danger signals associated with ionizing radiation can induce an immunogenic cell death, converting the primary tumor into an in situ hub for immunization. She recently conducted a first “proof of principle” clinical trial that combines radiotherapy with GM-CSF in metastatic cancer. In addition to her role as Chairman of the NYU Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr. Formenti is currently the Associate Director for Clinical Research as well as the Leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program of the NYU Cancer Institute, where she oversees the clinical and research efforts of over 30 investigators.

Liz Frank, EDA, a nine year breast cancer survivor, is the lead patient advocate for the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) Breast Cancer Patient Advocacy Committee. She graduated from NBCC’s Project LEAD® in November 2006, the Clinical Trials Project LEAD® in November 2008, followed by Quality Care Project LEAD® in 2009. Additionally, she serves as a patient advocate for several groups, including the Patient Advocate Working Group for the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), the Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) PI3K project group, the ISPY-2 Trial patient advocacy group. and is Co-Chair of the NCI Patient Advocate Steering Committee. Liz received her BA from Boston University in economics and a Masters degree in education research and program evaluation from the Harvard School of Education.

Suzanne Fuqua, PhD, is a Professor in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, and the Departments of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Fuqua is known for her research on the estrogen hormone, estrogen receptors, and their clinical significance in breast cancer metastasis and resistance to hormonal therapies. She has recently focused on novel mechanisms of resistance which affect the estrogen receptor pathway.

Stacy Gagas, MPA, is a full time Patient Advocate/Resource Specialist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Stacy is a member of the Breast Cancer Advocacy Group at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and she is also actively involved in the Young Survival Coalition. She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD®.

Paul Goldberg is the editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter, a weekly publication focused on drug development and the politics of cancer. Since joining that publication in 1986, his reporting on the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry has triggered numerous investigations by Congressional committees and law enforcement agencies and has been recognized by the Washington, DC Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Gerald Loeb Awards, and the Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Foundation. His articles have been featured in numerous publications and he has appeared widely in the media. He is coauthor with Dr. Otis Brawley of the recent book, How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Rank About Being Sick in America.

Judi Hirshfield-Bartek, RN, MS, OSN has been on the board of NBCC since 1992 and represents the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. She serves on several NBCC task forces and is a graduate of Project LEAD® Quality Care. She worked as an Oncology Nurse Specialist for many years at the Beth Israel Deaconess Breast Care Center in Boston, and is currently at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute as a Program Nurse coordinator In the Women’s Cancer Program. Ms. Hirshfield-Bartek is the 2010 recipient of the Silent Spring Institute’s Rachel Carson Award for Breast Cancer Advocacy. She is a past president of the Boston Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society and the first recipient of the Oncology Nursing Society’s Research Award.

John Hlinko is a frequent pundit on CNN, Fox, Current, and other places and has worked with some of the web’s biggest breakout viral success stories, starting with MoveOn.org in its earliest days. From 2004 to 2009, John worked with Grassroots Enterprise, an online public affairs company where he ultimately served as President & CEO. John now runs his own social media consultancy, Hlinko Consulting, advising a range of clients, including PR firms, Fortune 500 companies, and national advocacy organizations. John is the author of the recently released book, Share, Retweet, Repeat: Get Your Message Read and Spread, ranked by Amazon.com as the #1 "hot new release" in both the "web marketing" and "retail" categories. Hlinko is also the founder of Left Action, a network of over 1,000,000 activists, built primarily through viral marketing.

Joanne Howes is a frequent advisor to both corporate and nonprofit clients in the areas of lobbying strategies, coalition building, and strategic planning. She has done ground-breaking work in the area of women’s health including breast cancer, domestic violence, and women’s health research. Ms. Howes oversees projects as a strategic advisor for the National Breast Cancer Coalition, Family Violence Prevention Fund and the National Partnership for Women and Families. Prior to forming BASS and HOWES, Joanne served as legislative director for Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and was a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Christine Jahnke is a Washington, DC-based speech coach and has a passion to help women move into positions of leadership in government, nonprofits and business. In 2012, Chris helped elect a record number of women to the U.S. Congress and had coached more women candidates and elected officials than any other trainer. She was an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and speech coach for First Lady Michelle Obama’s International Olympic Committee speech. Chris provides strategic messaging for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Economic Policy Institute, Planned Parenthood, Union of Concerned Scientists and United Nations Population Fund. Executives at Avon, NASCAR, and National Geographic have turned to Chris for presentation training. A Minnesota native and former TV reporter, Chris is the author of The Well-Spoken Woman: Your Guide to Looking and Sounding Your Best, (Prometheus Book, 2011) and has provided commentary for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox-TV, Politico and Fortune.

Keith L. Knutson, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Immunology at the Mayo Clinic. His research focuses on the immunotherapy of breast and ovarian cancers. His interests are in both basic immunobiology and clinical translation. His laboratory conducts research on cancer vaccines focusing on augmenting CD4 helper T cell immunity using peptide epitopes. These vaccine strategies are aimed at preventing patients from relapsing after optimal conventional therapies. Research is also aimed at understanding how tumors evade the immune system. In addition to his research, Dr. Knutson participates in and chairs several study sections, and is Director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Immunotherapy Program. He is a previous recipient of the prestigious Howard Temin Award from the NCI. He received his PhD from the University of Georgia in 1995.

Barrett Kramer, MD, PhD, is director of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Institutes of Health. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Dr. Kramer has extensive experience in cancer treatment studies, primary prevention studies, and clinical screening trials of lung, ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers. He was a clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, and was the chair of the NIH Continuing Medical Education Committee. Since 1994, he served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. He also chairs the Physician Data Query (PDQ) Editorial Board on Screening and Prevention and is a member of the PDQ Treatment Editorial Board.

Peter P. Lee, MD, is Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, City of Hope. His research focuses on understanding how breast cancer impacts host immune responses in patients with the goal of developing novel treatments to restore/enhance immune function to eradicate metastasis and prevent relapse. Dr. Lee’s group utilizes mathematical modeling to understand immunological parameters that a prophylactic vaccine would need to achieve to be protective against breast cancer development. The group is highly interdisciplinary, combining immunology, pathology, genomics, bioinformatics, mathematical modeling, and computer science. Dr. Lee has been involved with the Artemis Project® for the past two years.

Dr. Susan Love, MD, MBA, F.A.C.S, is a Clinical Professor of Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the President of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. She leads the Love/Avon Army of Women, an initiative partnering women (and men) who are willing to participate in breast cancer research with scientists who are conducting research on the prevention of breast cancer. She is the author of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, which is in its 5th edition. Sue received her medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York and did her surgical training at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital.

H. Kim Lyerly, MD, is the George Barth Geller Professor of Cancer Research and the Director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Lyerly is currently the principal investigator of the Cancer Center Core Grant, the Duke Specialized Program in Research Excellence (SPORE), directed toward developing antigen specific immunity in patients with cancer. He is an internationally recognized expert in cancer therapy and immunotherapy, with over 200 scientific articles and has edited 10 textbooks on surgery, cancer immunotherapy, and novel cancer therapies. In 2008, Dr. Lyerly was appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) and was named chair on the Cancer Centers sub-committee of NCAB. In 2010, Dr. Lyerly was appointed to two councils at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Council of Councils and the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council. Dr. Lyerly has served as chair of many prestigious committees including the executive committee of the integration panel of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs in Breast Cancer. He is founder and chair of the Accelerating Anticancer Agent Development and Validation workshop, co-sponsored by the FDA, NCI, ASCO, AACR and the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Musa Mayer, MFA, MS, is a more than 20 year breast cancer survivor, advocate, Project LEAD® graduate and instructor, and author of many books and articles on the breast cancer experience, breast cancer medicine, science and advocacy. Serving on FDA advisory committees, developing an online course in evidence-based healthcare for advocates, and working with researchers studying brain metastasis have been some of her long-term commitments. Through her website AdvancedBC.org and the BCMETS.org online community, Musa focuses daily on helping women with metastatic breast cancer and their families understand treatment options and emerging research.

Shirley Mertz, MA, JD, is a graduate of all three Project LEAD® courses and an NBCC Team Leader. Her research advocacy includes serving as a Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program reviewer multiple times; a Komen Advocate in Science; a patient advocate to both the University of Chicago Breast SPORE and The Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium; and a research advocate to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. Shirley represents the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network on the Board of Directors of NBCC.

Laura Nikolaides, MS, is a breast cancer survivor and the Director of Research and Quality Care Programs for the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC). Laura has represented NBCC at national conferences, on national media, and is an ad hoc programmatic reviewer for the DOD BCRP. She has served on the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee. Prior to working at NBCC, Laura worked as a medical writer and as a nutritionist. She holds a Master of Science degree from Cornell University in nutritional biochemistry and a Bachelor of Science degree from George Washington University in environmental studies and biology.

Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, FACS, is Associate Dean for Global Health, Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Genetics & Human Genetics, and Director, Cancer Risk Clinic at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Dr. Olopade is an international leader in breast cancer research and her research interests include: breast cancer treatment, especially in young or pregnant women; familial cancers; molecular genetics of cancer; cancer risk assessment and chemoprevention; breast cancer and minority populations and disparities in health outcomes. She was appointed to the President’s National Cancer Advisory Board. Dr. Olopade has spoken at many international conferences, most recently to promote breast and cervical cancer awareness in Nigeria. Dr. Olopade has received numerous professional honors and awards, including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She holds an M.B.B.S. from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, completed residency training at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and a postdoctoral fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of Chicago.

Cindy Pearson is the Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network. Founded in 1975, the Network was the first feminist health group to utilize a national membership in support of DC-based health activism. The Network is a co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, a national initiative working to make sure women’s voices are heard and women’s concerns are addressed in health care reform. Ms. Pearson is a Board Director and officer of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

Michele Rakoff is a 24-year breast cancer survivor, NBCC Board Director, Field Coordinator from California, Project LEAD® graduate and NBCC Artemis Project® member. She is the Executive Director of Breast Cancer Care & Research Fund and Vice President of CABCO. In an effort to impact breast cancer research, she held a seat on the CA Breast Cancer Research Program’s Advisory Board and has done peer review for the DOD BCRP. She is on the CA Teacher’s Study and the Love/Avon Army of Women Scientific Advisory Board.

Dana Richter, JD, is Director of Government Relations for NBCC. Prior to her current position, Miss Richter was Senior Legislative Assistant for Representative Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) with responsibility for issues including health care, the environment and education. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and a law degree from the University of Alabama.

Daniel Sarewitz, PhD is Co-Director, Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) Associate Director, Center for Nanotechnology in Society, Professor of Science and Society Professor, School of Life Sciences and School of Sustainability, Arizona State University. His work focuses on revealing the connections between science policy decisions, scientific research and social outcomes by exploring such questions as: How does the distribution of the social benefits of science relate to the way that we organize scientific inquiry? What accounts for the highly uneven advance of know-how related to solving human problems? How do the interactions between scientific uncertainty and human values influence decision making? And how can improved insight into such questions contribute to improved real-world practice? Prof. Sarewtiz has worked on Capitol Hill and on Research & Development policies and currently directs the CSPO’s Washington DC office where he focuses his efforts on a range of activities to increase CSPO's impact on federal science and technology policy processes. Sarewitz has authored numerous books, the most recent is The Techno-Human Condition (MIT Press, 2011; co-authored with Braden Allenby). Since 2009 he has also been a regular columnist for Nature magazine.

Dennis Slamon, MD, PhD is Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Executive Vice Chair for Research within the Deptartment of Medicine at UCLA. He is also the Director Clinical/Translational Research at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Director of Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program. Dr. Slamon received his MD from the University of Chicago, and his PhD in cell biology in 1975. Dr. Slamon’s papers have been published in numerous peer-reviewed top medical journals. He has been honored by many organizations for his contributions to research, including by NBCC. He was instrumental in the identification of the HER2/neu oncogene and the resulting treatment, trastuzumab (Herceptin®), hailed as the first triumph in an emerging wave of targeted therapies. His work continues to impact the breast and ovarian cancer fields with its innovative research.

Michael Sheehan, MFA has been training corporate CEOs, policy makers and political leaders for more than twenty-five years. Michael has coached more Presidents, Vice Presidents, First Ladies, Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, Mayors and Members of Congress than anyone else in the country. Since 1988, he has been called upon to coach every Presidential and Vice-Presidential debate as well as the featured speakers at the Democratic National Conventions. For the Obama and Clinton administrations alike, he has coached Inaugural Addresses, States of the Union, prime time addresses, and press conferences. One of America's leading communications trainers and strategists, his expertise embraces every format and every forum whether media interview, major speech or high-stakes Q&A. He prepares leaders to step into and withstand the media/public affairs spotlight. Nationally known for his skill in message development and spokesperson training, he has been called upon to help in critical business situations, media interviews, government/regulatory hearings, hostile takeovers and much more. His client list includes major corporations, foundations, and public interest groups; the federal government and increasingly international clients as well. Michael earned his BSFS from Georgetown University and his MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

Naz Sykes is a non-profit leader, currently serving as the Executive Director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (DSLRF). The mission of DSLRF is to eradicate breast cancer and improve the quality of women's health through innovative research, education and advocacy. At DSLRF, Naz has spearheaded several important programs and initiatives, including the Love/Avon Army of Women, with the goal of recruiting one million women nationwide to take part in breast cancer research studies. This effort has resulted in a volunteer base that exceeds 360,000 members. Naz currently serves on the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP) Council, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) Board of Directors, and was selected to participate in the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Leadership Foundation 2012-13 fellows program.

Gayle Vaday, PhD received her PhD from the University of Rochester and completed postdoctoral training at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. From 2001-2005, Dr. Vaday was a Research Scientist for the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a Research Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University, where she conducted prostate and breast cancer research. She joined the CDMRP in 2005 and became the Program Manager of the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program in December 2006.

Fran Visco, JD, is a more than 25-year breast cancer survivor and the first President of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and a member of its Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Ms. Visco was a partner in a Philadelphia law firm before leaving to focus on NBCC work. In 1993, President Clinton appointed her as one of three members of the President’s Cancer Panel and she was the first consumer to chair the Integration Panel of the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. She co-chaired the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer and served on the National Cancer Policy Board, among many other national policy-making appointments. She has testified before Congressional committees and lectures throughout the United States and internationally on the politics of breast cancer, women’s health advocacy issues, and Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®.

H. Shaw Warren, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. In addition, he holds appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Boston, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He has run a laboratory in the area of host response and inflammation at the Massachusetts General Hospital for 25 years. Dr. Warren is a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America, and member of the American Society for Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Kunkel Society, Massachusetts Infectious Disease Society, and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society. He has published over 90 articles, book chapters, reviews, and editorials relating to inflammation, immunity and infectious disease. Dr. Warren graduated from Harvard College in 1973, Harvard Medical School in 1978, and received training in Infectious Diseases at the Beth Israel Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Center and the Institute Pasteur.