Annie is the spouse of a leiomyosarcoma survivor. After her husband was diagnosed in 2011, she became committed to research as much as possible about this disease, and joining the ranks of patient advocacy. Annie graduated from college with a double major in psychology and human resource management, followed by a masters degree in human resource management. She worked for the Federal government for 20 years, with 12 of those years as the Chief, Personnel Officer for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) covering a 6 state region. She has extensive volunteer experience, including presently serving on the Board of Directors of the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation. She and her husband also created a website dedicated to Leiomyosarcoma patients.
Mitchell D. Achee, M.D
Mitch is a leiomyosarcoma survivor, diagnosed in 2011. He is a Board Certified Diagnostic Radiologist in private practice for over 25 years with Diversified Radiology of Colorado, P.C., a subspecialty radiology group of 60 radiologists in Denver, Colorado. He received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and his M.D. from the University of Virginia. He completed his internship in Internal Medicine and his residency in Diagnostic Radiology at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Colorado. He has served on both Active Duty and in the Reserves in the Army. Mitch has served in many leadership roles throughout his career including Vice-President and Chief of Hospital Operations of his Radiology Group for many years, Chairman of two different hospital imaging departments, Chief of the Medical Staff at a hospital, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Denver Medical Society and the Medical Advisory Board of United Healthcare in Colorado. Since his diagnosis of and treatment for leiomyosarcoma, Mitch has developed a strong interest in cancer patient support and advocacy and sarcoma research. He and his wife Annie have created a website for LMS patients and helped establish a new Rocky Mountain LMS Network. Mitch has become a member of the Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS) and currently serves on the board of the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation. He is honored to have been selected to serve on the Board of the Sarcoma Alliance, an organization which over the years has truly shown its commitment to helping patients and caregivers dealing with sarcoma.
Jeff grew up with the Leider family and has been a long-time friend of the Sarcoma Alliance. In 2001, he raised money for the Alliance by running in the Marathon des Sables, a 150-mile race across the Sahara in Morocco. In 2005, he was the moving force behind the successful Spirit of Survival walk/run in California. He is currently a product manager in the semiconductor industry.
Gina D’Amato, M.D.
Gina D’Amato is a board certified medical oncologist and former sarcoma specialist at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Emory University. She received a BS in biology and MD from the University of Miami and did her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami. She completed her fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. The role in her current job as the global medical director for TRM Oncology, a medical communications company allows her to attend the majority of international oncology conferences and keep her up to date on the latest research findings on sarcomas and other cancers. Gina lives in Atlanta, Georgia and her hobbies include running, biking, swimming, volunteering and playing poker.
Joan Darling, Ph.D.
Joan’s daughter was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a pediatric sarcoma, in 1996 at the age of 13. She successfully underwent a year of treatment that included twelve rounds of chemotherapy, 28 doses of radiation, and five operations at Omaha Children’s Hospital and at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Joan is a biologist and works as an environmental consultant in Nebraska. Since 2001 she has volunteered as a Patient Advocate with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the cooperative group that designs and implements clinical trials for childhood cancers. She also volunteers in a variety of other patient advocacy roles, including: co-managing the ACOR Rhabdo-Kids mailing list; serving on the board of Lincoln Candlelighters and facilitating the adult support group; and contributing articles to ESUN (Electronic Sarcoma Update Newsletter). On the Sarcoma Alliance Board she represents pediatric sarcoma patients, who make up roughly 15% sarcoma patients diagnosed each year in this country.
Kellie found her way to the ACOR (Association of Cancer Online Resources) list while battling Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) in 2000. It was there she met Dave Murphy. In 2001, Kellie served on the Board of Directors for the LMS Foundation. In 2002, Dave introduced Kellie to Sharon Leider, the mother of the Sarcoma Alliance Founder, Suzanne Leider. Although Kellie never had the privilege of meeting Suzanne, she is honored to serve on the board and hopes to continue supporting and building on Suzanne’s legacy of offering support to the sarcoma community. Kellie received a B.A. in Psychology from DePaul University and has her own practice, specializing in long-term care planning.
Deb Gates is the “three-fer” on the Sarcoma Alliance Board. Counting both her late husband’s family and her own family, three different family members are fighting, or have succumbed to, the following sarcomas: leiomyosarcoma, angiosarcoma and a Desmoid Tumor. Deborah is pictured with her late husband, Stephen A Gates, MD. Deb received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary, her J.D. from the University of Virginia, and an LLM from the University of Washington. She has served on the Board of Directors of a variety of non-profit organizations, including serving as President of the Board of Directors of a hospice that was the second in the state to receive JCAHO accreditation. Deb enjoys running marathons and triathlons in her spare time. During these events, she wears sarcoma colors to remember and honor all who have had to fight this terrible disease.
Active in organizations such as the Lymphoma Foundation for years, Jim was excited and honored to join the Sarcoma Alliance Board of Directors in 2010. He serves on the Marketing and Fundraising Committees and hopes to build on the lasting legacy of the Alliance founder. After earning a B.A. in Film and Television from UCLA, Jim returned to receive his J.D./MBA from the UCLA School of Law and UCLA Anderson School of Management before relocating to New York. Jim is an entertainment and marketing attorney and partner in the New York law firm Davis & Gilbert LLP. He currently lives in suburban New York with his beautiful wife and three energetic children. When not trying to keep pace with his kids, he enjoys hiking and scuba diving.
Ade Lawal is the Chief Operating Officer of Atlantic Medical Imaging, an operator of medical imaging centers. In addition to the Sarcoma Alliance, Ade is on the development board of St. Raphael Elementary School in Los Angeles. He has previously served on the boards of other nonprofits such as DEAF-Reach and St-Aemilian Lakeside that help families and children cope better with life’s challenges. Ade has a BSc. from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He enjoys running, cooking and performing arts. Although he once performed in a Broadway style show, he generally sticks to his day job.
Dave Murphy is an active figure in the online sarcoma community, devoting his energy among various lists but especially to the sarcoma list for the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR.org). His wife, Piera, died after a 15 month battle with Leiomyosarcoma, later diagnosed as malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma in 1999. Because of his strong personal belief in supporting this underserved community, he is well-known and loved by the many people who go to these lists seeking information and resources. Dave joined the Sarcoma Alliance Board of Directors in October of 2002. He has represented the Sarcoma Alliance at conferences like American Association of Cancer Research, Oncology Nursing Society, Society of Gynecologic Oncology and the Connective Tissue Oncology Society. Dave currently works as a Computer Lab Specialist at El Camino Community College in Torrance, California and is in charge of nearly 400 computers in 9 computer labs on campus. He is conversant in Italian, French, and Spanish.
Kevin Plottner is a graphic designer in the San Francisco Bay area. He graduated from Tulane University with an Architecture degree in 1984. In 1998 he created the original Sarcoma Alliance web site when his wife, Wendy, a sarcoma patient, and Suzanne Leider, first conceived the idea of a sarcoma support organization. He is the creator of our original logo seen on the “Our Founders” page and the artwork for Sage Cuisine. Today he helps maintain the Alliance web site and oversees the production of our newsletter and various printed materials for the organization.
Marites met Suzanne Leider, founder of the Sarcoma Alliance, early in their respective nursing careers at the University of California, San Francisco where they formed a lifetime friendship and commitment to helping the community of people affected by sarcoma. Marites earned her BS in Nursing from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1992. A dedicated Bruin, she obtained her Master’s degree in Nursing from UCLA in 2006. She is currently a Nurse Practitioner at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, a county facility which provides health care to the uninsured, indigent and medically underserved population of Los Angeles. As a founding board member, Marites remains dedicated to advancing the mission of the Alliance in honor of Suzanne and all those affected by sarcoma.