Dana L. Dornsife: President
Dana received her undergraduate degree in business from Drexel University, Philadelphia, Interior Design Certification from JFK University, San Francisco and her Lighting Design Certification through the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. In 1991, she co-founded Axiom Design, Inc., a lighting design and architectural electronics consulting firm.
In 2003, Dana’s focus turned to cancer as she watched a family member succumb to pancreatic cancer at age 42. In 2006, she founded Lazarex Cancer Foundation and currently serves as its President. Lazarex is a non-profit that exists to help fill the gap in resources for cancer patients seeking life through FDA clinical trials. Lazarex Cancer Foundation improves the outcome of cancer care, giving hope, dignity and life to end 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 education. Lazarex Cancer Foundation improves the outcome of cancer care, giving hope, dignity and life to end 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 education.
Dana serves on several boards; Epeius Biotechnologies, developing genetic medicines for the treatment of cancer; the USC Brain and Creativity Institute; USC Center for Civic Engagement and the Yosemite Conservancy. Dana and her husband, Dave Dornsife, a USC Trustee, are Council Members of the Yosemite Conservancy and support a WASH initiative; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in 22 countries throughout Africa through World Vision, an international humanitarian agency.
Maribel Montanez: Chief Advancement Officer
Maribel Montanez (formerly De La Torre) joined Lazarex Cancer Foundation in March 2015 as Chief Advancement Officer. She leads the organization’s development initiatives overseeing all development and fundraising programs and marketing initiatives.
Montanez is a seasoned development professional which is complimented by a unique background in government leadership, both roles span over a period of 15 years. As the CAO, she will utilize her private, public and nonprofit sector networks to ensure Lazarex’s continued growth.
Before coming to Lazarex, Montanez formulated and developed all internal and external organizational structures for the Development Department at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Northern California Chapter, turning a program with annual giving of $667,000 to $2.5 million. In addition, she was appointed by the President of LLS to serve on the Hispanic Market Steering Committee, which piloted Hispanic market strategies and served as a sounding board and incubator for new, innovative outreach approaches for both fundraising and patient program service initiatives to Hispanic markets across the United States.
Prior to LLS, Montanez was the Director of Development for Granada Hills Charter High School and before that, the Director of Development, Marketing and Communications at PADRES Contra El Cáncer in Los Angeles, California.
Montanez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley. A Southern California native who resides in the Silicon Valley, she enjoys participating in Ironman triathlons, traveling and volunteering her time to teach individuals to swim. She has been known to “encourage” new swimmers to become triathletes!
Jade Ashley Atkins-Nikolaou: Event Coordinator
Jade Ashley Atkins-Nikolaou is an event planning professional and Bay Area journalist. Previously, Jade planned various types of events for a myriad of companies around the Bay such as: Electronic Arts, Supercell and the San Francisco Symphony. She graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from San Jose State University. Most recently, Jade worked as a news reporter with Bay City News Service, a wire news outlet servicing the nine Bay Area counties and Monterey County, where she still freelances.
As a native Angeleno, Jade loves all things L.A. - The Dodgers, the Kings, the Lakers, the Clippers, the Angeles, the Chargers and even the dreaded 405 freeway. She loves all things Disney, Pirates, and Harry Potter. In her spare time, you can find her doing something adventurous with her hubs Cameron and their two children, Cami and Kion.
Erin Miller: Program Services Coordinator
Erin Miller is a graduate of Florida State University School of Business with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and a minor is sales. 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.
Since then Erin served as the Director of Marketing for a car dealership, and was Owner/Operator of a small retail business until 2016 when she 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 as a way to help people whose lives have been ravaged by cancer.
In 2017 Erin joined the Lazarex team. As the Program Services Coordinator responsible for community outreach and education, she will use her experiences and passion to improve patient access to cancer clinical trials.
Tami Keeler: Office and Patient Services Manager
A San Ramon, CA resident, Tami Keeler joined Lazarex Cancer Foundation in 2007 as Office and Patient Services Manager. With over fifteen years of customer service experience under her belt, Tami is well prepared for the most important part of her work - looking after Lazarex’s VIPs (Very Important Patients) by coordinating patient applications, reimbursements, travel logistics and clinical trial assistance. Tami applies her vast array of other skills to the administration, event planning, design, and logistical aspects of the Lazarex organization.
Titles and work functions aside, Tami is a woman of persistence, humor and compassion. These are qualities greatly needed in the daily striving to offer hope, dignity and life to those seeking assistance through Lazarex's program services. She is also an artist, photographer and mom. Her best work of art is her son. Tami is thankful to be able use her talents to help Lazarex fulfill its mission of providing hope and assistance to people with cancer who have been told they have run out of options.
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.
Jenny Grau: Executive and Program Assistant
Jenny has had two close family members affected by cancer and is pleased to be serving the patients of Lazarex Cancer Foundation as Financial Coordinator. Her main task is to provide timely and accurate patient reimbursements in order for patients to remain in their clinical trials which potentially could be interrupted by financial difficulties.
Her experience in retail merchandising, sales, marketing and community volunteering brings a variety of skills to the position. She is a graduate of Oregon State University, lives in Pleasanton with her husband and has two grown children.
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!"
Carol Meyer: Database Management and Special Projects
Carol Meyer joined the Lazarex Cancer Foundation team in the summer of 2011. Looking to serve in an organization committed to supporting others, Carol is grateful to have found Lazarex. Like so many, cancer has profoundly affected the lives of several members of Carol's family. She is thankful to have the opportunity to assist those who find themselves in a similar situation. Presently, Carol is responsible for the Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge database in addition to other database management and various special projects in support of development and fundraising.
Carol holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and California State University, East Bay, and she has over 10 years’ experience in the financial services industry. Her favorite role, however, is Mom; she is the parent of a daughter, Kristiana and a son, Jackson.
Ryan Noonan: Receptionist
Ryan Noonan is administrative assistant in charge of patient calls, inputting patient information into the database, and other inner office logistics. Ryan graduated from Auburn University in Auburn, AL in 2007 with a degree in Communications and also obtained a Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. He has a passion for mentoring youth and he is determined to bring that very same passion to Lazarex to help those who are in need.
Ryan feels a special connection to Lazarex that dates back to before its founding. Ryan lost his uncle to pancreatic cancer back in 2003, which now is one of the many reasons he wants to help others and do what he can to contribute to the Lazarex cause.
Susan Blick: Program and Events Support
Susan joined the Lazarex team in July 2015 after graduating from Colgate University with a degree in Environmental Studies and Sociology & Anthropology. She was a member of Colgate’s rowing team and over her four years she gained a passion for fitness and liquid water (it was usually frozen in Upstate New York). After taking a course on medical anthropology, she learned that there is often more than meets the eye when it comes to medical care. She’s excited to be part of an organization that makes cancer care more accessible to people of all backgrounds.
Karen Weixel: Patient Navigator
In 2005 Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was through this experience she learned the importance of being very involved in one’s treatment and the value that an outside advocate can bring to the process. It is with this personal experience in mind that Karen feels blessed with the opportunity to make use of this knowledge and expertise on behalf of others who are currently undergoing a similar life experience.
Karen has always been interested in health education and patient navigation. She received her BA in Community Health Education form CSU Chico and recently went back to school and earned a certificate in Patient Navigation from Sonoma State University.