Board Members

Board Members

Lori Petitti, President
Lori Petitti, a former television and documentary producer, was diagnosed with pleomorphic lobular breast cancer in 2010 and now focuses her efforts on research advocacy. Along with her engagement with the Breast Cancer Care & Research Fund, Lori was a founding member of the Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance and stays active in the international lobular community. Lori also volunteers as a mentor for ABCD and SHARE, organizations that provide support and guidance for those newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Lori is a graduate of Project LEAD and serves as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program. She loves to hike, swim, and craft in her spare time.

Mayra Serrano, Vice President
Mayra Serrano recently joined the Anthem Blue Cross California Medicaid team as Health Equity Director. In her role, she assists with the strategic design, implementation, and evaluation of health equity efforts for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Her work focuses on collaborating and engaging with members, providers, local and state government, and community-based organizations to impact health disparities at a population level. Her work as a scholar activist is focused on amplifying the voices of underserved populations through coalition building, advocacy training, and capacity building. She is active in several cancer and health related boards and coalitions and has presented her work and research at many national conferences. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter. Mayra holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Whittier College and received her Master’s in Public Health in Community Health Sciences from UCLA. She is currently a doctoral candidate at UNC Chapel Hill pursuing her Doctor of Public Health degree. Mayra is fluent in both English and Spanish, a certified medical interpreter and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She is passionate about her work to improve health equity and working with underserved communities as well as mentoring the next generation of public health professionals.

Michele Atlan, Secretary
Michele Atlan is a 10-year breast cancer survivor and a patient & research advocate. She is a graduate of Project LEAD, the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) scientific training program, a member of the Advanced Project LEAD program and has served as a Project LEAD mentor. Starting in 2018, Michele has been an alternate board member of the NBCC and has participated in their Artemis Project research think tank. As a research advocate, Michele frequently collaborates with scientists on research grants and has participated multiple times as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program. She has served on the California Breast Cancer Research Program’s Advisory Council (CBCRP), the Dr. Susan Love Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council, and the Program Committee for the Accelerating Anticancer Agent Development and Validation (AAADV) Workshop.

Melanie Canter, Treasurer
Melanie Canter has been a breast cancer advocate and BCCRF board member since 2008. Previously, she was a board member of the Los Angeles Breast Cancer Alliance (LABCA) from 2007-2012, and completed the Young Survival Coalition’s breast cancer mentor training program. She has attended the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Advocate Leadership Summit and Lobby Day on Capitol Hill and is a 2018 graduate of Project LEAD. She has participated as both a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program, and as an advocate observer on the review panel for the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP). Melanie is a 28-year breast cancer survivor, understands the vital role of advocacy in eradicating breast cancer, and loves helping fellow breast cancer patients who need guidance and support during their diagnosis and treatment.

Kim Tankersley, Education/Communications
Kim Tankersley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 at the age of 37. She has served on the board of BCCRF since 2008, and is a National Breast Cancer Coalition Project LEAD Graduate and mentor. Kim’s ongoing advocacy activities include working as an advocate advisor to researchers on grant proposals through the CA Breast Cancer Research Program and as a Community Leadership Committee member for the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program at City of Hope. She has participated in the NBCC Leadership Summit since 2009, and is a Lobby Day Team Leader. Kim is a public school educator in Los Angeles at a small high school serving at-risk youth.

Karren Ganstwig, Public Policy
Karren Ganstwig is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She was first diagnosed in 2001 and then again in 2004. In 2003 she became actively involved in breast cancer advocacy, when she joined the Los Angeles Breast Cancer Alliance Board of Directors. Karren is a National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) Project Lead graduate and has a strong interest in public policy issues exhibited by her successes as an NBCC Team Leader. She sat on the Advisory Council of the California Breast Cancer Research Program and currently is a member of their Policy Research Advocacy Group, which she previously chaired. Karren served on the Providence St Joseph’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and currently serves on the UCLA Iris Cantor Women’s Health Executive Advisory Board. Additionally, she coauthored an article on the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) guidelines for skin toxicities.

Shirley H. Brown, M.S., J.D, Community Engagement
Shirley has been a consumer peer reviewer since 2006 for Department of Defense panels and Susan G. Komen for the Cure for breast cancer research grants. She is a National Breast Cancer Coalition [NBCC] 2001 Project LEAD graduate, as well as Project LEAD Quality Care, and Clinical Trials graduate and has participated as a consumer advocate and navigator on City of Hope’s Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education and the Department of Population Sciences breast cancer projects. Shirley is a 29-year Stage III breast cancer survivor. She has also been on the board of directors for the Women of Color Breast Cancer Survivor’s Project, the National Breast Cancer Coalition and a Scientific Advisor Committee member to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

Barbora Stankova, International Advocate
Barbora earned her RN with the highest honors from Palacky Medical School, Czech Republic, and her BA, Summa Cum Laude from UCLA. She moved to the United States in 2003, and at that time patient advocacy was not practiced in Barbora’s native Czech Republic. When she volunteered for her very first BCCRF event, Barbora was amazed to learn about patient advocacy. These ideas resonated with her deeply, and Barbora felt immediately that patient advocacy gives medicine the right focus and tireless energy. Barbora has always felt honored to serve on the BCCRF Board of Directors and her focus and interest is patient education and empowerment. After many years of work experience in the field of clinical research, including First in Human and Phase 1 trials at City of Hope, CA, she has returned to her native Czech Republic. These days she works as a research nurse in the Department of Cardiology at the General University Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic.


Advisory Board

Dolores Beilenson
Congressional Spouses member

Leslie Bernstein, PhD
Professor, Division of Cancer Etiology, Department of Population Sciences, City of Hope

Jessica Clague deHart, PhD
Assistant Research Professor, Division of Cancer Etiology, Department of Population Sciences, City of Hope

Pamela Kaizer
Food Forward, Board Director

Susan Love, MD, MBA
Chief Visionary Officer, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

Lori Marx-Rubiner (deceased)
Metastatic Breast Cancer Research Advocate

Josh Neman, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery, University Southern California

Lupe Salazar, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Tumor Vaccine Group, University of Washington

Sen. Alan Sieroty
California State Senator (Ret)

James Waisman, MD
Clinical Professor, Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research, City of Hope

Staff

Michele Rakoff, Executive Director
Michele, a 30-year breast cancer survivor and patient and research advocate, spent 20 years working in the clinic directly with patients and the community, developing mentoring programs to help newly diagnosed patients, consulting on the development of survivorship programs for women with metastatic disease, and continues to collaborate with scientists on research grants. She is a National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) board director, NBCC Artemis Project member and Project Lead graduate and mentor. In addition to having served as a member on the California Breast Cancer Research Program’s (CBCRP) Advisory Council, she was a CBCRP community research collaborative grant recipient. Michele participates as a peer-reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (DoD BCRP) and holds a seat on the UCLA Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) and Institutional Scientific Peer Review Committee (ISPRC), as well as on the Love Army of Women Scientific Advisory Committee. As a research advocate, she collaborates on a NIEHS Breast Cancer and Environment Research Program grant, several DoD BCRP, CBCRP and Komen grants, and is member of the NIH California Precision Medicine Consortium and the PCORI Wisdom Study. Michele also focuses on public policy issues as NBCC Field Coordinator for California.