MEET THE TEAM BEHIND ACCO
Since 1970 American Childhood Cancer Organization has been respected as an essential and integral provider of programs and services required by families of children and adolescents with cancer across the country. Together with our local affiliates we address the critical needs that families face today. We believe strongly that families need accurate information, advocacy, and support from the first day of diagnosis through the rest of the child s life. As a grassroots leader in the childhood cancer community, it is our responsibility to speak for the needs of the families and survivors, and to help shape policy, research and programs on the national level that impact the lives of families today and tomorrow.
Our organization was founded by a talented and committed group of parents of children with cancer, and we have placed a priority on ensuring that those making policy decisions today understand what a family goes through when their child has been diagnosed with cancer. Over two thirds of our organization s Board of Directors and staff are either survivors or a direct family member of a child or adolescent who had cancer. We understand personally that this is a family disease and it is a disease that impacts the family for life. The board and staff of ACCO are committed to serving our community until the day no child dies, or is left with life-long effects from this devastating disease.
Naomi Bartley, BSc, BEd works as a Clinical Research Associate at the pharmaceutical company MedImmune, and is a biotechnology master’s candidate at Johns Hopkins University. Naomi brings over 10 years of clinical and pre-clinical research experience and intends to use this knowledge to help advance childhood cancer therapies. Naomi is also a two time cancer survivor and brings a personal perspective of childhood cancer to the Board of Directors. Diagnosed at the age of 7 with acute myelogenous leukemia, Naomi represents one of the first groups of childhood cancer survivors to have undergone a bone marrow transplant. Her second cancer which was a direct result from her first cancer treatment turned her into a powerful advocate for the development of new targeted therapies to treat childhood cancer. In that role, Naomi founded her organization, Naomi’s Hope for a Cure and hosted a gala event in Washington DC in 2007 which raised $250K for the integrated pediatric cancer data portal project with ACCO. Naomi is also the proud mother of her own little miracle, Hope Isabella. Hope was born in 2008 at 25 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound 7 ounces and is now a healthy and happy 4 year old.
Janine Lynne, Vice President
Janine has been a board member of ACCO since 2003 and is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the largest national grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with cancer. Her teenage son is a survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Janine has worked and volunteered as a child advocate in many capacities over 20 years with a special interest in children with special needs. She has a B.S. in Child Development and Family Studies from Montana State University, and pursued graduate work in psychology and education. She currently lives in Hawaii.
Ken Phillips, Treasurer
Ken is a retired Air Force Officer of 23 years and following that retired from Computer Sciences Corporation after an additional 20 years of service. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA. Ken as been on the Board of Directors of CCCF since 1994, and has held the office of Treasurer since 1995. He and his wife Marie were active on the Board of Directors of Candlelighters affiliate Candlelighters of Southern Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO from 1990 to 2004, at which time they moved to Spirit Lake in North Idaho. Currently Ken also attends and supports the monthly Board of Directors meetings of Candlelighters of the Inland Northwest in Spokane, Washington, in addition to supporting their activities throughout the year. Ken and Marie are bereaved grandparents. Their precious granddaughter died from acute myelogenous leukemia.
Judy Mendoza, Secretary
JudyJudy Mendoza grew up in Lafayette, IN, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Indiana University in May 1993. Subsequent teaching jobs led her to the corporate world of an education publishing company and then to the formation of her own free-lance education business. In February 2007, Judy and her husband Michael’s lives changed forever. It was then when they learned that their three-and-a-half year old daughter had Stage IV neuroblastoma. After supporting her daughter Abigail through six cycles of high dose chemotherapy, followed by a stem cell transplant, twelve radiation sessions, and a very rough clinical trial with monoclonal antibodies, Judy now regards herself as a proud Cancer Mom on a Mission. Judy lives by the premise that she continues to teach her children to never give up! Judy is active in raising awareness of the gold ribbon for childhood cancer.
Steve Payne, Member
Steve Payne is an active board member and father to Kristin, a stage IV neuroblastoma survivor diagnosed at a mere seven months old. Being an active part of the ACCO board, he is able to support those children, families, and professionals nationwide who battle this dreaded disease until a cure is found. Steve works for IBM and served as president 2003 & 2004.
Jeff Walters, Member
Jeff Walters is a Senior Director in the Commercial & Consumer Products division of Acumen Solutions where he is responsible for the delivery of business and technology consulting services to the Educational Services and Non-Profit Sectors. In his professional career, Jeff helps organizations to maximize their efficiency and impact and he brings that same passion to his work with ACCO. Jeff holds a Masters of Business Administration from the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Jeff and his wife Valeria live in Chantilly, Virginia with their two daughters.
Jennifer Cullen Meyer, PhD, MPH, Member
Jennie earned her doctorate in Epidemiology from UC Berkeley in 2000, with emphasis in cancer risk assessment and bio-statistics. Her professional positions have included her current role as Director of Epidemiologic Research for the Department of Defense Center of Excellence, the Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR); Director of Research at the American Legacy Foundation; and a faculty appointment in Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is a co-author on roughly 40 peer-reviewed scientific publications. She has presented her work at a variety of national scientific conferences.
In March 2011, Jennie and her husband Reggie learned that their daughter, Alexandra, had an aggressive pediatric brain tumor, known as a medulloblastoma. For 13 months, Alexandra fought bravely undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to her head and spine. On New Year’s Day 2012, Alexandra completed her treatments and the future seemed bright. Sadly, only two months later, nearly one year after the cancer diagnosis, a follow-up MRI revealed new tumor growth. Alexandra was now deemed terminal. Little Alexandra passed peacefully on April 6, 2012 in her home.
For thirteen long months, Alexandra was a fighter. She will forever be a hero. Her loss has left a gaping hole in the hearts of those who loved her. No parent should ever have to watch their child die from cancer. Alexandra’s experience can serve a greater good. Critical progress needs to be made to provide a cure for every child with cancer. There is so much room for improvement.
Abhishake Chhibber is a Finance Manager at Medimmune in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he helps to make key investment decisions within the oncology franchise. He is very passionate in helping to advance new upcoming cancer therapies. He received his MBA from the Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University, and Bachelor of Science in Biology from Salisbury University.
Ruth I. Hoffman MPH, Executive Director
Ruth is the mother of eight children, including 34 year old Naomi, who is a 27 year survivor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (M5), and a radiation induced secondary cancer. Since 1999, Ruth has been the Executive Director of the National office of the American Childhood Cancer Organization. She also serves as the Vice-chair of Childhood Cancer International where she works on global childhood cancer initiatives.
Ruth has participated as a patient representative for the FDA where she has served on ODAC as well as the pediatric subcommittee of ODAC. She represents childhood cancer on C-Change, serves on the Alliance for Childhood Cancer and is a member of the steering committee of My Child Matters—an international initiative helping children with cancer in developing countries.
Ruth’s leadership has resulted in the publication of twelve books for children with cancer, their family members and school teachers. She is author of three journals―one for children diagnosed with cancer, one for teens and the other for parents. She is editor of three comprehensives books including Educating the Child with Cancer, Understanding the Journey, A Parent’s Guide to DIPG and A Parent’s Guide to Enhancing Qualify of Life in Children with Cancer. More than 10,000 copies of these books are provided without charge to children with cancer and their families across the U.S. each year.
Ms. Hoffman has personally responded to thousands of requests for childhood cancer information. She is co-founder of America’s largest childhood cancer awareness event entitled “Light Up the Holidays with Hope.” Ms. Hoffman is the proud recipient of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Tree of Life Award which honors an individual who has played a major or lasting role, with national impact in improving the quality of life for patients with cancer and their families.
Ruth received her BA in psychology, and her Bachelors of Education from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and is a graduate of the Masters of Public Health Program at George Washington University’s School of Medicine.
Mary Anne Ruddis, Division Director
Mary Anne Ruddis has a deep passion for children with cancer and a unique understanding of the obstacles that families face as they navigate a childhood cancer diagnosis. Mary Anne’s daughter was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in 1986 at 16 months old. Unfortunately, the cure came with the cost of a secondary cancer, acute non-lymphocytic leukemia. The same drugs, although in altered protocols, are still being used today. She passed away in 1994 after an unsuccessful bone-marrow transplant just 4 months after Mary Anne’s husband also passed from cancer.
Mary Anne moved with her two remaining sons from Southern California to Spokane, Washington. Childhood cancer struck again when her middle child was diagnosed at age 10 in 1997 with a brain tumor (ependymoma). At this time, Mary Anne was introduced to the American Childhood Cancer Organization. Having known childhood cancer treatments without a parent support group, she recognized the unique, subtle support that only someone who has been there can provide. When her son passed away after 2 years, it was ACCO Inland Northwest that provided a continuous support that she credits to this day with her and her surviving son’s ability to thrive after such devastation. She volunteered with the ACCO Inland Northwest for five years before serving as Executive Director for ten years.
Mary Anne has a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Gonzaga University with concentrations in human resource management and pastoral counseling. It is with the intent to ensure that no child or family ever faces childhood cancer treatments alone that Mary Anne is committed to providing an integrated ACCO network to support children and families across our nation.
Liz Dicus, Program Director
Liz Dicus is a Texas Native. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. While in college, she was involved in several organizations her favorite was Camp Kesem A&M, a summer camp for children who have/ have had a parent with cancer. She was the Camper Care Coordinator for Camp Kesem and was involved and recruiting kids for camp. This was one of her most impactful experiences which impassioned her to work which families affected by cancer.
Upon graduation, she spent a year in California interning at Shakespeare Santa Cruz and South Coast Repertory Theaters. It was an interview with a theater in DC which sparked her move to the area in the fall of 2011. She began working with ACCO in early 2012 and has loved being able to help children and families affected by cancer.
Kathryn Murphy, Administrative Coordinator
Kathryn was born in and adopted from Poland, but has lived in the MD/DC area her whole life. Music has been a part of her life since the age of 4 when she picked up the violin. After graduating from Walt Whitman High School in 2005 she was sure she was destined to continue her life with music as her main focus and goal. After hardship and injury to her hands through the years she was unable to finish her music education degree at The Catholic University of America, but was offered a new opportunity and path working as the Administrative Coordinator of ACCO.
Since she became a part of the ACCO family in August 2014 she couldn’t think of doing anything else. Helping to bring any kind of light or hope to the amazing families and childhood cancer warriors who we serve brings her immeasurable amounts of joy and fulfillment.
Christy Perry, Director of Marketing and Social Media
Christy is a passionate and committed advocate in the fight against childhood cancer, and has devoted her energy, creativity, and expertise to working with a number of non-profit organizations dedicated to ending childhood cancer. In addition to her position as Director of Marketing and Social Media for the American Childhood Cancer Organization since June 2013, she was a founding executive and Board Member of Talia’s Legacy and a long-time volunteer for Angels for Talia and BASE Camp Childhood Cancer Organization. As Director of Marketing and Social Media at ACCO, Christy helps build national awareness about childhood cancer by creating compelling original campaigns and content about childhood cancer for the ACCO website and social media profiles, organizing national social media initiatives in support of childhood cancer issues, and working closely with large and small business partners to implement fundraising efforts and awareness campaigns.
In addition to her work with ACCO and childhood cancer advocates, Christy is a creative/art director, internet and social media marketing manager, email marketing and branding strategist. She also provides project management for website development, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts. As such, she works closely with businesses and medical practices to develop and implement advanced e-marketing and branding solutions, institute best practices required to comply with complicated medical and legal regulations, and build, manage, and support long-lasting, positive customer relationships. In the past, Christy was a medical practice manager and first assistant in the operating room. Christy studied at St. Petersburg College, Seminole State College and University of California Irvine Extension and currently lives in Florida with her husband and son. (Visit Christy’s LinkedIn)