Board Members

Board Members

Michele Atlan, President
Michele Atlan is a 7-year breast cancer survivor and a patient & research advocate. In 2015, she graduated from Project LEAD, the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) scientific training program, and subsequently took part in the Advanced Project LEAD pilot program. Michele now participates as a frequent Project LEAD mentor to help her fellow patient advocates understand the science of breast cancer. She has participated as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program, and is a member of the California Breast Cancer Research Program’s (CBCRP) Advisory Council. Recently, Michele was a finalist and the Audience Award winner for the CBCRP’s “Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer” competition. She coauthored an article expanding on this contest submission that was subsequently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2019. Since 2018, she has been an alternate board member of the NBCC as well as participating in their 2020 Artemis Project research think tank.

Lori Petitti, Vice President
Lori Petitti is a former television and documentary producer in Santa Monica. Along with her engagement with the Breast Cancer Care & Research Fund, Lori is on the steering committee of a new group of survivors working to raise awareness on the unique aspects of lobular breast cancer. Lori also volunteers with the Cancer Support Community and is a mentor for ABCD, an organization that provides support and guidance for those newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Lori is working to be involved as a research advocate to insure that the perspectives of survivors are united into the decisions that effect our efforts to eradicating breast cancer. She loves to hike, swim, and craft in her spare time.

Kim Tankersley, Secretary
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.

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 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 graduate of Project LEAD. Melanie is a 26-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. She has a 28 year old daughter and a 23 year old son, and owns and operates a cookie shop, Cookie Good, with her husband in Santa Monica, CA.

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.

Mayra Serrano, Community Engagement
Mayra Serrano is the Manager at the Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education (CCARE) at City of Hope. Her work at CCARE focuses on partnering with community advocates and multi-sectoral partners to develop and implement community participatory programs and interventions to reduce the risk and burden of chronic illnesses, including cancer, obesity and diabetes. She develops, plans, and implements health education programs targeting underserved populations and conducts health disparities research. She also develops health education materials and resources. She is active in several cancer and health related boards, organizations and committees and has presented her work and research at many national conferences. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter. Mayra is fluent in both English and Spanish. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Whittier College and received her Master’s in Public Health in Community Health Sciences from UCLA and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and medical interpreter. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Public Health degree at UNC Chapel Hill. 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.

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


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 serving as a member on the California Breast Cancer Research Program’s (CBCRP) Advisory Council, she was a CBCRP community research collaborative grant recipient. Michele has participated as a peer-reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (DoD BCRP) and holds a seat on the California Teachers Study Scientific Task Force, 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 in California.