Clay Jackson: Board Chair
Clay Jackson’s career was in the role of a senior commercial banking leader with a long term track record of successfully managing growth in the development of high quality client relationships. He is a native Californian and part of a three generation family of graduates of USC, where he received his business degree and M.B.A. with high honors distinction.
Clay has a passion for leadership, mentoring and coaching and volunteering; particularly in the area of teaching financial literacy to students and adults. He has been a volunteer mentor to women in business for the past 25 years via a connection with Menttium Corporation as well being the past Board Chair of the International Bankers Association of California, Northstar Club Members Association and the Golden Gate Wine Society. He also recently joined the Board of Zam Zam Water and is currently their Board Chairperson as well as a long time Board Member for the East Bay area for Junior Achievement of Northern California.
He is a 25+ year resident of Danville, CA and was drawn to Lazarex Cancer Foundation by its unique role in fighting cancer, its location in Danville, the loss of his mother’s twin sister to cancer, his father’s successful battle with cancer and the extraordinary level of passion, commitment and caring that the overall Lazarex family demonstrates on a daily basis.
Kenny J. Simansky, PhD: Vice Chair
Kenny J. Simansky, PhD, is vice dean for research, professor of pharmacology and physiology and professor of psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine. Previously, he served as director of the graduate programs in pharmacology and in neuroscience and as associate dean for Biomedical Graduate Studies. A native New Yorker, Dr. Simansky earned PhD in 1979 at the University of Iowa. He joined the faculty of the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1982, after a fellowship in neuroscience at Cornell University College of Medicine. He was funded by the NIH as a principal investigator throughout his academic research career. His research with his students focused on the cellular mechanisms for serotonin, opioids and cannabinoids in regulating eating. These brain mechanisms are important for understanding obesity, drug addiction, and behavioral disorders. He has been invited to present his work nationally and internationally at numerous universities and conferences, and has organized international symposia. He has chaired peer review panels at NIH for investigator-initiated research and for fellowship training in the neurosciences and was president of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, an international scientific society in his field.
Currently, Dr. Simansky is the Drexel site director for the consortium that is designated by the National Cancer Institute at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University.
Kwame Boateng Treasurer
Kwame is currently Head of Finance – US at BioLineRx USA, Inc. in Waltham, MA. Preceding this position, he was VP of Finance for at GreenLight Biosciences, and prior to that Head of US Finance and Corporate Treasurer at Oncopeptides Inc., a Swedish oncology biotech. Prior to Oncopeptides, he served as the Head of Finance Operations at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. Kwame also worked at Alexion as the U.S. controller and business partner of the U.S. Soliris and Strensiq franchises at Alexion and at Sunovion/DSPA as Head of Finance. He began his career at Roche as part of a leadership rotation program where he worked within commercial finance, corporate audit, supply chain, business strategy, and commercial areas in various positions of increasing responsibility.
Kwame attained an M.S. in Economics from the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg in Germany. He also holds an M.S. in Finance from Boston University, and an MA in Strategic Communications and Leadership from Seton Hall University.
Kwame is a jazz fan, an avid reader, enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures and watching anime movies with his sons Thabo & Thulani. He is also on a mission with his sons to find the perfect burger.
Darlene Chiang: Secretary
Darlene Chiang is a versatile corporate attorney with experience in start-up environments and multinational corporations. She is fluent with the critical business challenges clients face every day. Darlene focuses on providing counsel to domestic and international high-growth tech companies, VC firms, and corporate venture teams in a variety of areas, including corporate and securities law, formation, VC financing, mergers and acquisitions, divestiture, and pre-IPO counseling. She has worked on many cross-border transactions who advises foreign companies on the successful expansion of their business operations to the U.S. and assists with the management of legal risks while achieving business objectives. Prior to joining Hanson Bridgett, Darlene worked at Hoge Fenton, and previous to that position she worked at two Global AM 100 firms. She has also led the legal team of SK Hynix America. Before becoming a lawyer, she was an IT professional at Oracle. Darlene earned her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley with honors, and J.D. at the University of San Francisco, School of Law. Darlene served as pro-bono counsel at 501(c)(3) organizations such as the River of Life Foundation and U-Channel TV. Darlene also volunteered at the Asian Law Alliance. Darlene is a native Chinese Mandarin speaker and spent her childhood in Shanghai. In her leisure time, Darlene enjoys traveling, cooking, baking, hiking, reading history and spy books, listening to Maria Callas, and playing soccer and board games with her son.
Ahmad Alrawi, PharmaD
Ahmad Alrawi is a biopharmaceutical professional with roughly 20 years of experience. He has worked at large-cap pharma (Roche), mid-size biotech (Genentech), and startups (Alexion and RaPharma).
Ahmad brings US and global expertise in new product development, commercial operations, business development, corporate strategy, diagnostics, market research, positioning, launch readiness, marketing, and sales. Having served patients in multiple therapeutic areas including rare disease, he is passionate about advancing therapeutic solutions for people with high unmet need through cross-functional collaboration.
Ahmad earned his Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD) and his Psychology degree from the University of Michigan. In his free time, Ahmad enjoys traveling, the beach, jazz music, spending time with family & friends, and all things Michigan Wolverines sports (Go Blue!)
Dr. Frank Crnkovich
Dr. Frank Crnkovich is a graduate of University of Nebraska School of Medicine, with his residency completed at the University of Texas, Medical Branch-Galveston. He served in the U.S. Navy at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and his tour of duty included service on the hospital ship Mercy TAH-19, during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Dr. Crnkovich then accepted a fellowship in Musculoskeletal Radiology at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Crnkovich has practiced general radiology in the Denver Metro area for the past seventeen years and is currently the Medical Director of Health Images at South Park, an outpatient imaging center in Colorado.
Dr. Crnkovich’s involvement with Lazarex stems from his volunteer reviews of cross-sectional imaging studies for the initial patients treated with Rexin-G. He has seen the ravages of the disease process on thousands of patients by way of their imaging studies, and he has experienced first-hand the sense of despair when a loved one receives the initial cancer diagnosis: Dr. Crnkovich diagnosed his own father with stage IV lung cancer in 1992. His father succumbed to the cancer three weeks later.
Samira is a healthcare strategy & design leader. As a serial entrepreneur, she has incubated and operated numerous healthcare startups. She is the VP of New Ventures at Initiate Studios, a venture studio dedicated to building companies that drive change in healthcare. Previously, she was the VP of Product at Visby Medical and launched a multi-million dollar infectious disease test.
Samira founded Manta Cares, a global community of caregivers and survivors dedicated to transforming the cancer experience. Manta Cares designs and develops tangible tools and resources that enable cancer survivors to regain control and peace of mind. Our flagship product – Manta Planner, has sold to over 1200 patients and caregivers since its launch. She hosts the podcast Patient from Hell, which Spotify ranks within the top 10% of all globally shared podcasts. Manta Cares comes from Samira’s personal experiences as a cancer survivor.
She started her career at McKinsey & Company. She has degrees from MIT, Stanford University, and Wellesley College. She can be found practicing martial arts, sketching, writing poetry, and playing with her two rescue dogs in her spare time.
Greg Francisco is the founder of Healthwise Fitness & Consulting, established in 1996. His focus has been to keep people healthy through exercise, wellness and education. His 10 years of work in the medical field provided experience on the acute side of medicine, and offered critical insight as he moved to the prevention side of wellness. Whether mentoring children or working with professional athletes, Greg’s passion is people.
Greg is a long-time supporter and advocate of The Lazarex Cancer Foundation’s mission and ongoing support of cancer patients and their families. Joining the Board of Directors in 2008 was a meaningful way for Greg to help bring awareness to their mission, and the goal of one day bridging the gap between hope and a cure.
Jackie Kent is a C-Suite Executive, board director, speaker, and advisor with a passion for work towards
ALL patients having access to clinical trials. She has over 30 years of Pharmaceutical and Health
Technology experience, comprehensive knowledge of innovative healthcare technology, data and analytics, clinical trial
design & execution, as well as CT supply planning. Jackie has developed innovative, transformative capabilities; casting vision, establishing change agendas that enable effective change, managing process innovation work portfolio, building
collaborative relationships, and launching new IT platforms and strategies. She is talented in developing high performance
teams who overachieve targets and objectives, and is deeply knowledgeable around the dynamics of diverse healthcare
delivery systems, GCP / GMP regulations, Program Development and Management, Clinical and Quality Outcomes, as
well as experience with global regulatory agencies.
Elaine MacNeilly is a masters prepared nurse with 7 years of bedside nursing experience at UCSF and 13 years in various parts of the pharmaceutical industry, both in Commercial and Medical Affairs. She has been fortunate to be part of many drug launches at Genentech, Pharmacyclics, Clovis Oncology, Oncopeptides, and now serves as the Executive Director of Patient Advocacy and Engagement at Rain Therapeutics.
As a bilingual nurse, in her time in the clinic, Elaine often cared for Spanish-speaking patients where she saw firsthand the barriers to care for non-English speaking patients and patients of medically underserved populations. Elaine honors the memory of her patients by striving to provide better treatment options and better access to clinical trials. She was then and remains committed to serving cancer patients and their families.
Elaine’s true pride and joy is her family. She and her husband have two amazing kids who keep them busy and laughing.
Dr. Fabian Sandoval
Dr. Fabian Sandoval, President & CEO, has over 25 years of bench to bedside research experience. His diversified research career has been in academia, healthcare systems and the public sector. He received his Bachelor of Science in molecular and cellular biology from Marymount University, and his Doctor of Medicine from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, School of Medicine.
.Before opening the doors to Emerson Clinical Research Institute (ECRI) Dr. Sandoval’s research activities have included bench research at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) where he focused his work on Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and Cretzfelt-Jakob Disease. At the NIHs’ Clinical Center conducting research in the outpatient Oncology unit, followed by his successful support of an NIH RO1 grant on preventing epilepsy in post-traumatic brain injury patients in adults and children, simultaneously run at the Washington Hospital Center, and Children’s National Medical Center.
Dr. Sandoval served as the Supervisory Research Integrity & Compliance Officer in the Army Human Research Protections Office in the Office of the Army Surgeon General. Responsibilities included establishment, and oversight of Human Research Protection Programs across Army commands. His input has been instrumental in the review, development, and selection of protocols, in addition to education and training for resident and hospital faculty.
Dr. Sandoval holds the following esteemed positions in the following community areas:
- Four time Emmy Winner; Host of a one of kind weekly medical TV show “Tu Salud Tu Familia” (Your Family Your Health)
- Medical Contributor for Telemundo, NBC, WZDC Washington D.C News, as well as Telemundo and Univision National.
- Leadership Council member, Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS),
- External Advisor to Genentech Roche
- Renowned Invited Keynote speaker/presenter to multiple pharmaceutical and clinical trial organizations; on the topic of increasing minorities’ engagement, diversity education and participation, in clinical trials.
Lastly he started the Emerson Community Clinic, in order to support un-insured patients across the DC metro area, as well as starting the Emerson Diversity Health Foundation, whose mission is to educate patients and providers in the importance of participating in clinical research and accesses to care.
Karen Sessions is a senior executive with more than 27 years of communications leadership and expertise. Karen currently serves as the Chief External Affairs Officer for 5 Bars, LLC based in Irvine, CA. She has an extensive background in external affairs, public policy, business development and implementing complex architecture in communications technology.
Prior to joining 5 Bars, Karen spent 26 years with Verizon Communications and most recently held the position of Vice President, Public Policy, Law and Security where she was responsible for both present and emerging Communications Public Policy. In addition, Karen managed business stakeholder relationships.
Karen was the Co-founder and Board Member of the N. Donald Diebel, Jr. M.D. Good Samaritan Fund, 501(c)(3), with a specific mission to serve medically uninsured women and children in the Central Florida community. The Fund was established in memory of her late husband.
Karen served as City Commissioner and Vice Mayor (2007-2010) for the City of Winter Park, FL. The city, founded in 1887, has a $155MM budget.
Karen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s degree from the University of South Florida. Karen is married to Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32) and she has three sons, Conor, Liam and Nicholas and two stepsons, Bill and Alex.