Dana L. Dornsife: Founder, Chief Mission and Strategy Officer
Dana Dornsife founded Lazarex Cancer Foundation, a nationwide non-profit organization, in 2006 in response to a family experience with cancer. The unique mission of Lazarex is to improve the outcome of cancer care, giving hope, dignity and life to advanced stage cancer patients and the medically underserved by providing assistance with costs for FDA clinical trial participation, identification of clinical trial options, community outreach and engagement.
In 2016, Dana expanded the mission at Lazarex to bring sustainable and transformational change to the bench to bedside process of clinical trial enrollment, retention, minority participation and equitable access with IMPACT (IMproving Patient Access to Cancer Clinical Trials). Most recently, Lazarex created collaboration around a public health initiative in Philadelphia, PA – Community IMPACT. This bold initiative is aimed at creating a replicable model to improve cancer health outcomes and associated co-morbidities for the residents of medically underserved and socioeconomically challenged minority neighborhoods throughout major metropolitan cities and beyond.
Dana is a graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is a board member of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute at University of Southern California, serves on the UCSF Cancer Leadership Council, and the MGH Presidents Council. She is on the governing board of the Yosemite Conservancy, in addition to being a council member. Dana and her husband, Dave Dornsife, a USC Trustee, support a WASH initiative – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, in 24 African countries through World Vision, an international humanitarian agency.
Karen Ambrogi: Communications Manager
Karen Ambrogi joined Lazarex Cancer Foundation in February 2009. Karen manages Lazarex’s internet presence and online community development through websites, blogs, newsletters and social media. She has a strong base in relationship building and service – from working with the mentally handicapped to a very long career incorporating technical sales, account management, technical writing and leadership skills training.
A pre midlife career change led her to establish a company that offered education and travel programs designed to encourage more conscious, authentic and creative living by exploring the mind/body/spirit connection. After losing two brothers in law to pancreatic cancer, Karen is grateful to have the opportunity to give her focus and her heart in the service of building a bridge to hope for cancer patients and their families.
Lupe Contreras: Cancer Care Companion
Lupe joined Lazarex Cancer Foundation in October of 2023. Working in Healthcare for more than 28 years, including working at Contra Costa County Health Services and Sutter Health. Lupe has always been deeply enthusiastic and devoted to the healthcare, wellbeing of and caring for her community. Being a certified interpreter has allowed Lupe to help the Spanish speaking community which has always been especially important.
Cancer first touched Lupe’s life when her father and one of her brothers were both diagnosed with Prostate Cancer many years ago. In August of 2020, Lupe was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and a second brother was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer a few of months later. After completing the treatment needed, Lupe was determined to help others going through a cancer diagnosis as well as their caregivers. Lupe’s Breast Cancer gave her the strength, determination, will, and powerful desire to help others go through similar tough situations.
Lupe enjoys spending time with her husband, their children, grandchildren, family, and friends. Cooking for them, spoiling the grandchildren, taking trips to Disneyland, camping, boating and planning our next vacation. Lupe loves all things Disney and Nature. Life is precious to Lupe, and she intends to live it to the fullest and hopes to share that mindset with everyone she meets.
Christopher Douglas: Development Assistant
Christopher Douglas is a husband, father, attorney, entrepreneur and endurance athlete. Having spent a good portion of his adult life working in international health and human rights and as a civil rights attorney, Chris launched Presidio Sports Management, a boutique sports law firm, in 2016. Of his many passions, helping others is the most important to him.
In 2013, he co-founded Team Cancer Sucks with friends AJ Jabonero, Mark San Buenaventura, Louis Sarmiento and Darren Wollrich. With the mission to raise funds to help cancer patients access and pay for treatments, they used their endurance sports platform to help others. The team made an instant splash at events due to the very “loud” race kits that they wore, which drew instant attention with its hot pink and lightning bolts design. From that point on, the Team Cancer Sucks following grew.
To date, Team Cancer Sucks has raised over $200,000 for cancer awareness and treatment.
Samantha Hernandez: Patient Intake Coordinator
Samantha graduated from San Jose State University with a major in Sociology and minor in Chicana and Chicano Studies. She knew she wanted to pursue a career where she would be able to assist various members of the community. Sam knew at a young age that she wanted a career centered around healthcare, specifically cancer related, and when she came across Lazarex Cancer Foundation she thought it would be a perfect opportunity to begin her career journey in a healthcare related setting.
At the age of 5 cancer entered Sam and her family’s life. She was diagnosed with Leukemia, and they entered a world that forever shaped their lives. It shaped Sam’s personal life and influenced her career goals. In her senior year of high school, cancer entered her life again when her cousin was diagnosed with Leukemia as well. Working with cancer patients and their families allows Sam to connect, understand, empathize with, and assist them in their time of need. This is her way of fighting back.
Amy Ikejiaku: Clinical Trial Navigator
Amy Ikejiaku, a graduate of Duke University with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience in 2020, joined Lazarex as a Clinical Trial Navigator in August 2023. Her journey in healthcare began with a keen awareness of the limited healthcare opportunities in her native Nigeria. This awareness, coupled with her experience in clinical studies, highlighted the challenge of healthcare resources like clinical trials being inaccessible or unknown to many in need.
In her role as a Clinical Trial Navigator, Amy is driven by her passion to bridge this gap. Leveraging her expertise and dedication, she is committed to assisting individuals in finding suitable clinical trials, ensuring that these valuable resources are accessible to those seeking potential treatment options and contributing to advancements in medical research.
Kathleen Ingram: Patient Services Coordinator
Kathleen Ingram joins Lazarex Cancer Foundation as the Patient Services Coordinator. As a former teacher and community service volunteer, Kathleen brings her organizational skills to Lazarex, assisting patients with financial assistance for clinical trial related out of pocket expenses. Cancer first entered Kathleen’s life two years ago when her best friend of thirty years lost her long fight with breast cancer. Guiding cancer patients through a time of need is her way of fighting back.
Kathleen is the proud mother of two college age daughters and lives in Danville, CA with her husband, 2 dogs and a cat. She is caring and community oriented. Staying fit and hiking with her husband and friends are activities that she enjoys.
Ariana Johnson: Program Coordinator
Ariana Johnson (she/her) was thrilled to join Lazarex Cancer Foundation in April 2023 after years of being a supporter of the organization and its mission. Prior to Lazarex, she worked in non-profit theatre and education, most recently as Associate Producer at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco. A Bay Area local and graduate of Pearson College UWC and Stanford University, Ariana is passionate about making access equitable for all, whether in the arts or cancer care, so that everyone has the opportunity to share their unique story.
Cheryl Johnson: Office Manager
Cheryl joined Lazarex Cancer Foundation in April 2022. With a strong background in customer service, events planning and office management, she is excited to bring her experience to the Lazarex team.
Cheryl’s father was diagnosed with melanoma in 1974 and lived until 1990. Her personal experience with cancer has created a spirit of empathy and altruism.
Cheryl has two grown sons whom she is extremely proud of; Go Dawgs and Fight On!
Irene Juarez: Cancer Care Companion
Irene Juarez joined the Lazarex Cancer Wellness HUB in July 2022 as the Cancer Care Companion. She has lived, worked, and volunteered throughout Contra Costa County for 47 years. As a local business owner, mother, and active community member she is passionate about helping the community realize all the resources that are available to support them throughout their life and possible cancer journey. She is excited to expand her role in the community while working with the Lazarex Cancer Wellness HUB.
Irene believes that every community member has a right to improve their health and general well-being. As the Cancer Care Companion Irene is a key conduit for community members to connect to the right resources, screening services and care.
Lisa Locus: Events and Development Coordinator
Lazarex welcomed Lisa to the team in March of 2022. Passion for helping others and a strong spirit for caring for those in need made her a perfect fit.
She has worked in education for over 20 years leading staff, caring for families, and teaching children. Those many years gave her the insight and skills to sharpen her effort to provide excellence in customer service. Combined with her many years of voluntary serving in the community that has trained her to listen and be attentive to the needs of others.
It has always been her goal to provide quality care with a strong customer service experience.
Lisa loves spending time with her husband, four children and granddaughter. She is passionate about photographing nature, and her favorite place to be is in a garden or on a nature hike with family or friends.
“I love that during a time of need, I can spend a few minutes to help a patient or family member when it all seems so overwhelming. Everybody has a story to tell, and I love that I get to have a small part of sharing in that.”
Keiko Masamori: Patient Intake Coordinator
Keiko Masamori graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. She first started at Lazarex as an intern in May of 2022 while still in college. Studying Public Health, she realized that not everyone has access to quality healthcare in the United States. She is hoping to use her education to further the conversation surrounding proving adequate healthcare and resources to those in at-risk communities.
Dorresa Mathis: Administrative Assistant
Dorresa joined Lazarex Cancer Foundation in April 2023, as an Administrative Assistant. She handles the Administration matters of the business such as administrative tasks.
She approaches all aspects of any job with a positive, hard-working mindset and is passionate about helping a large diversity of people. Dorresa brings with her an extensive background in customer service and organizational skills from corporate environment. She is excited to bring these experiences and enthusiasm to the team of Lazarex Cancer Foundation and to our clients.
Kaitlin Milke: Database Administrator
Kaitlin joined our Lazarex team in early December 2022 as our Database Administrator for Salesforce. She is a Graduate of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids Michigan with a double major of Sociology and Theology. She began her career in Youth Ministry- assisting in helping those in need of all ages and backgrounds. From there she transitioned into healthcare as a manager for an in-home health care company. With those diverse backgrounds under her belt- her focus turned to database importance and reporting. In order to grow and help others, one needs to have strong compassion- but also the ability for tracking and gathering information. Her strong attention to detail and troubleshooting skills led her to the software industry where she became Salesforce Certified just in time to join our team.
Kaitlin lives in Michigan with her husband and two dogs. As often as they can- they travel. They go anywhere and everywhere there is a trail to hike or a mountain to climb.
Erin Miller: Development Manager
Erin Miller is a graduate of Florida State University School of Business with a Bachelor of Science degree. After graduating, she worked as a Marketing Representative for IBM selling mid-range computer hardware and software. In 1993, she married Michael Miller. The following year they had the first of three children. In May 2003, Mike was diagnosed with stage IV, non-resectable pancreatic cancer. It was the difficult and painful journey to save Mike’s life that led them to a search for a clinical trial while undergoing traditional cancer therapy. Mike’s participation in the clinical trial resulted in 19 months of life instead of the prognosis of five months. Lazarex Cancer Foundation was founded in Mike’s memory in 2006.
In 2016, Erin and her family relocated to California. Her involvement with Lazarex Cancer Foundation as a board member, advisor and volunteer has been a blessing to her and her family, helping people whose lives have been ravaged by cancer. In 2017, Erin officially joined the Lazarex team. Erin’s passion to understand the patient journey, and help those in need, has guided her in assisting with the development of many of the programs at Lazarex Cancer Foundation. As the Development Manager she will use her experience and passion to raise the needed funds to help patients gain equitable access to the cancer resources and care that they need to have improved cancer health outcomes, across the continuum of care including access to clinical trials.
Caitlyn Miller: Project Manager
Caitlyn Miller graduated from University of Southern California in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. After graduation, she worked as an Associate Development Scientist for Bayer Pharmacology. Working in industry, she recognized how inequitable the health care system is, and decided to make a compassionate change of career.
Caitlyn joined Lazarex Cancer Foundation in 2022 as the Cancer Care Companion. Since then she accepted a position within Lazarex as Project Manager. Caitlyn’s mission is to ensure everyone has access to comprehensive cancer care regardless of their background in alignment with Lazarex mission to improve the outcome of cancer care.
In May 2003, Caitlyn lost her father Michael Miller to end stage pancreatic cancer and, therefore, understands from her own perspective just how unforgiving the cancer care process can be. Her journey with the clinical trial system brought to light the very real disparities that unfortunately exist in cancer care. Caitlyn’s compassion, kindness, and ability to validate others make her an excellent fit for the Lazarex team.
Macy Miller: Database Coordinator
Macy Marshburn joined Lazarex Cancer Foundation’s team in March of 2018. She brings a bright attitude and willingness to lend a hand wherever needed. With an extensive background in Customer Service and Retail Management, Macy loves finding ways to problem solve while keeping a smile on her face.
Macy’s mission is to search for the most comprehensive solution to any obstacle while ensuring that both patients and colleagues alike have an experience that Lazarex cares deeply for all involved in our mission of improving the outcome of cancer care.
Marya L. Shegog, PhD, MPH, CHES: Health Equity and Diversity Director
Dr. Marya Shegog is dedicated to addressing health disparities in order to achieve health equity for everyone. She is a community activist that believes that through collective action, partnership and education across all sectors health disparities will be eliminated.
Marya earned a Master’s and Doctorate in Public Health focusing on Health Promotion, Education and, Behavior from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, as well as, a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. She attained her bachelor’s degree in biology with a molecular emphasis from Hampton University and completed a post – doctoral fellowship with the Center of Health Disparities Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The narrative of cancer has often been told through the lens of a single population. Lazarex Cancer Foundation is dedicated to diversifying the story of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. After serving on the Lazarex Board of directors for over 6 years, Dr. Shegog is excited to bring her skills and knowledge to LCF, as the Health Equity and Diversity Coordinator to continue to aggressively integrate and diversify the story of Cancer. Ultimately achieving health equity. “No one wants to have cancer but everyone that does deserves every chance of successful treatment and the longest and best quality of life possible.”
Ronna Spaan: Bookkeeping Patient Assistant
Ronna was first introduced to Lazarex Cancer Foundation when she attended the foundation’s 2012 gala onboard the USS Hornet in Alameda. She and her husband were guests of a friend who is a longtime supporter of Lazarex. In 2014 she attended the “Give Cancer the Boot” fundraiser and knew then that she wanted to be a part of this organization. She loves the mission and offered to volunteer, helping out in the office wherever a hand was needed.
A year later Ronna was hired to do bookkeeping and patient assistance. It is a challenging and fulfilling role that Ronna claims is “the best job ever!”