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.
Frank Varenchik: Treasurer
Prior to his retirement in 2017, Frank was a Certified Public Accountant for approximately 20 years, licensed to practice by the California Board of Accountancy. Frank and his wife Barbara, who is also a retired C.P.A., had their own accounting firm in Danville, CA, Varenchik Accountancy Corporation. The firm specialized in personal, partnership, and corporate tax and accounting matters as well as not-for-profit accounting and information returns. Before becoming a C.P.A., Frank gained more than twenty five years of finance and accounting experience in major organizations including the Atlantic Richfield Company in Los Angeles, CA; Capitol Records in Hollywood, CA; Dillingham Corporation in San Francisco, CA; and, Earthjustice, a national not-for-profit environmental law firm located in San Francisco, CA. Frank received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Business Administration with an emphasis in Quantitative Analysis, and his Master of Business Administration, with a focus on Quantitative Business Analysis, from the University of Southern California, Graduate School of Business Administration.
Frank has served on the board of directors of other non-profit organizations including Save Mount Diablo where he was Treasurer and the Markham Regional Arboretum Society where he was President. Frank and Barbara make their home in Clayton, CA. In his spare time Frank enjoys hiking, running, travel and artisanal bread baking.
Several members of Frank’s family have been diagnosed with cancer. Two fought it successfully while his younger brother Richard lost his battle with melanoma in 2010 leaving behind two sons.
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 Hoge Fenton, Darlene 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.
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.
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
Jim Murphy has 30+ years of healthcare executive experience in hospital, medical group and health plan management. Expanding access to the full spectrum of medical care services, in particular for low-income populations, was a goal of his work. At Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, Jim was recognized for his ability to create solutions that provided access to care for individuals whose complex medical cases and limited insurance and personal resources often presented barriers to accessing tertiary services. He also excelled at representing patients’ clinical needs to payors and compelling them to fund care that would otherwise be denied or underfunded. His skills include strategy, capital planning, managed care, information technology and analytics. Jim’s experience also includes organizational leadership and transformation.
He has served on the Board of Directors of JW House and Hillbrook School. Jim has served as a volunteer for Sacred Heart Community Services, an advisor for Kiva and a legislative advocate for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. His education includes a BS in Biological Science from the University of California-Irvine and a Master’s in Health Administration from Duke University. As a two-time survivor of cancer, testicular and prostate, Jim understands the literal shock, fear, and anxiety of suddenly facing an uncertain future. Jim recognizes and values the unique mission of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation and is committed to expanding its impact in supporting cancer patients in their pursuit of finding an effective treatment for their cancer. Jim joined the Board of Lazarex Cancer Foundation in 2019.
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.