BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Gillian Lichota

Gillian Lichota is a marine scientist who has spent two decades advancing scientific understanding of ocean and coastal science, climate and global change, and improving society's ability to plan and respond. When not being an advocate for the environment, Gillian dedicates her life to her beautiful children, Laykelyn and Kailen, and husband Boe, as well as to inspiring and empowering other young women like herself who have been affected by breast cancer to rise above their illness to achieve goals of health and wellness, once thought to be unattainable. She believes in challenging old paradigms and changing perceptions of what it means to have had - and live with - breast cancer. Gillian strives to improve the quality of life for these women through a goal-oriented, mind-body-spirit approach to health and wellness, that circle each woman, and provides the resources and strategies for sustainable healthy living - ultimately improving quality of life and long-term survivorship. She believes that women can choose wellness and rise above their diagnosis. Please read more about Gillian's Journey and her message to other young women who face the unthinkable.

Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Board of Directors Chair

Jessica Pender

Jessica Pender completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph. She continued her studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and became a secondary school teacher in 2000.  In 2004 she completed her guidance specialist and is currently the guidance counsellor at St. Joseph’s High School in Renfrew, Ontario where she resides with her husband and two children. Her interests in the iRise Above Foundation are varied: there are social reasons, philanthropic reasons, and educational reasons. However, to put it simply, her involvement stems from her desire to make a difference; to help a friend make her vision a reality.  In turn, it is her hope that this vision will help many others set and achieve personal goals, aid in their physical, psychological and spiritual well being, and further breast cancer research.

 

Board of Directors, Co-Chair

Dagan LaCorte

Dagan LaCorte is Managing Member of L&L Partners Wealth Management, LLC. He also runs a family office that owns and develops commercial real estate. From 2009 – 2013 Dagan served as Mayor of Suffern, New York. Dagan is Treasurer of the Friends of JCC Krakow an organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness in support of the Jewish Community Centre in Krakow Poland. Dagan also serves as the Treasurer of the GhostBear Foundation. The GhostBear foundation was founded by NHL Defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere and supports and encourages organizations motivating young athletes as well as helping ill and disabled children and at risk or endangered animals. Dagan is a graduate of Union College in Schenectady New York and New York University School of Law. Dagan and his wife Stacy have two daughters ages twelve and eight.

Board of Directors, Treasurer

Dr. Vered Stearns

Dr. Vered Stearns is a Board Certified Medical Oncologist in Baltimore, Maryland and serves as Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centers Breast Cancer Program.  Dr. Stearns received her M.D., from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (1992) and went on to complete residency in Internal Medicine (1995) and a fellowship in Medical Oncology (1997) at MedStar Georgetown University Medical Centre. It was during her fellowship at Georgetown University where she first began focusing on breast cancer. In addition to being an extraordinary clinician, Dr. Stearns co-leads the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, is the associate director for oncology for the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network, and associate medical director for Johns Hopkins Singapore. As a translational scientist, Dr. Stearns aims to further an individualized approach to the prevention, treatment and care for people with or at risk of breast cancer. Currently, she focuses on the utilization of biomarkers to predict response to standard regimens used to treat and prevent breast cancer and to introduce new approaches. Dr. Stearns became interested in oncology before she even knew what the word meant, and while her understanding of oncology has obviously grown more sophisticated, she hopes never to lose her childhood enthusiasm for improving the welfare of those afflicted with cancer. Read more about her complete professional biography

Board of Directors

Dr. Lindsay Voigt

Dr. Lindsay Voigt is a practicing chiropractor with more than 10 years experience in a multi-disciplinary sport medicine clinic at the Toronto Athletic Club. She obtained her doctorate in 2007 from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, and completed her internship at Sherbourne Health Clinic and The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. Dr. Voigt is a licensed member of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, and of the Ontario Chiropractic Association. The majority of her practice involves treating amateur and professional athletes. In 2015, Dr. Voigt was invited to serve as Chiropractor and Tour Wellness Director for a prominent Canadian rock band. Through 2016, Dr. Voigt was responsible for overseeing the rehabilitation of the lead singer of The Tragically Hip from an aggressive regimen of cancer treatments, for his physical preparation, and day-to-day wellness through an intensive, cross-country tour schedule. This mandate included incorporating dietary modifications, medication timing, strength and cardiovascular based exercise prescription, as well as alternative medical treatment protocols such as acupuncture, soft tissue release and joint mobilizations. Despite associated difficulties, the overall success of the tour verified the positive effects that a holistic approach can have on an individual- not only to achieve goals, and perform amazing feats, but to thrive. Watching those close to you face their cancer with courage, a desire to live well and push forward with their lives inspires her everyday to do what she can to help. Healthy body, healthy mind.  Lindsay is honoured to be a part of the iRise Above Foundation team, and excited for the opportunity to share and help engage support for an important cause. 

Board of Directors

Andrea Kassem RN, OCN, CBCN, CN-BN, NBC-HWC

A Breast Care Nurse Navigator for the Baptist Health System in San Antonio, TX, Andrea Kassem is an experienced Oncology Certified Nurse and a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She holds three additional oncology nursing certifications adding to her unique knowledge and experience. In addition, Andrea is an active member in a number of Professional Oncology Nursing Organizations. Andrea is passionate about working with women diagnosed with breast cancer not only to guide them through their treatment journey but to help them discover their personal strengths and optimal vision of health as cancer survivors.  Her role as a navigator allows her to provide one-on one personalized support to patients and their caregivers throughout their entire cancer journey.  A consistent face and voice through appointments, procedures and treatment, she empowers women with education and is available for 1:1 support. As a health coach, Andrea believes in constant curiosity, positivity, compassion and kindness. Through deep listening, she connects with patients and addresses and defines the critical components that women face before, during and after their journey. Above all, Andrea’s mission is to empower individuals to take charge of their health and wellness so they can live a life that is authentic, joyful and healthy.

Board of Directors

Matt Gembecki

Matt is a fundraising strategist with deep experience designing and implementing successful philanthropic plans that have collectively raised over $500 million for preeminent non-profit organizations around the world. Currently Matt is a Senior Director at Global Impact, an international non-profit organization focused on growing global philanthropy to help the world’s most vulnerable people. At Global Impact Matt leads the Advisory Services team and manages Global Impact’s partner engagements. Previously Matt was a Managing Director at Changing Our World, where he had worked since 2008. In this capacity he partnered with the some of the world’s largest non-profit organizations to help them achieve their philanthropic goals. Matt has developed strategies that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for mission-drive organizations and has also been a featured speaker on topics related to trends in fundraising at conferences and events around the country. Matt holds a Master’s Degree in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University. He also earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Fordham with a concentration in International Political Economy. Matt served on the Development Committee at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, MD. Matt resides in the Washington, DC area with his wife, Kristen, and daughters, Tess and Josie.

Board of Directors

Lynn Shanahan

Lynn Shanahan is passionate about empowering people and organizations to think with bold vision and act with confidence to propel consumer brands to profitable global growth. Recently, Shanahan was Chief Executive Officer of Kellwood Company, a $400M leading manufacturer and marketer of women’s and girl’s apparel. During her 15-year tenure with Tommy Hilfiger, Shanahan was integral in shaping the company’s vision, growth and future development plans serving in increasingly responsible leadership positions. Shanahan holds an MS degree from Columbia University, and a BA from the University of Michigan. She is a member of The Committee of 200, Boldcap Ventures Fund, and the U.S. Foreign Policy Advisory Council for Women at the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the Board of Women for Women International and the George Jackson Academy Board of Trustees. Lynn is interested in the iRise Above Foundation because “breast cancer is a shared experience no matter who you are. Each of us has known someone who has had this disease. I am going through the experience side by side with my best friend who was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in February 2017. We have been fighting as a team through diagnosis, chemo, surgery, reconstruction and now radiation. I thank God every day that she progresses positively each step of the way. She is cancer free and joins the ranks of Champions!”.

Board of Directors

Dyane O'Leary

Dyane O’Leary is a lawyer and an Associate Professor of Legal Writing at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA, where she also co-directs the law school’s Innovation & Technology concentration.  Prior to joining academia, Dyane practiced law in the complex commercial and intellectual property litigation groups at WilmerHale, LLP in Boston.  She holds a BA from Villanova University, where she was an Academic All-American soccer player, and a JD from Suffolk University Law School.  From coaching youth soccer to representing clients in domestic violence cases to assisting women with immigration concerns to mentoring law students with disabilities, Dyane has been a supporter of causes centered around helping young girls and women overcome challenges.  She believes in helping women find the “grit” to turn challenge into opportunity, and hesitation into celebration.  Her personal interest in iRise stems in part from the recent loss of both of her husband’s parents to cancer, and from watching their personal struggles not to let “cancer patient” become a defining label.  Dyane resides outside of Boston with her husband and three young children, and hopes to instill in each of them a determination to indeed rise above the obstacles life brings.

Board of Directors

Morgan Roth

Morgan Roth is a communications and brand strategist with experience across the international nonprofit, global education and national security sectors. Presently, the vice president of marketing and communications for a leading national defense contractor, Morgan previously led strategic communications for the USAID Soma Umenye project in Kigali, Rwanda, for the American University of Beirut and for The American University of Cairo. Her work has been recognized by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and she was named Nonprofit Communicator of the Year by PR News. Morgan is a graduate of McGill University, Montreal, Canada. She is a two-time alumna of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her interests interests include cooking, horseback riding and yoga. Morgan lives outside of Washington, DC.

Board of Directors

Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a management consultant who has worked with a variety of clients ranging from General Dynamics to SaskPower (Canada), from the Iowa Department of Transportation to Butterfield Bank (Bermuda), and from McGraw Hill to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Australia). For 30 years he has lead strategic thinking and leadership workshops on a ranch in Arizona where he incorporates the desert and horses in his experiential learning program. He holds more than 120 national awards for his work and the International Association of Business Communicators named him a Fellow in 2008. Joe’s interest in the iRise Above Foundation comes from having two relatives affected by cancer.

Board of Directors

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