Executive Team – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer

Jenny Isaacson, Vice President, Community Engagement
Donna DeDario Manross, Director, Corporate & Community Relations
Angel Montanez, Director, National Affiliate Relations & Strategy
Lisa Gilmour, Brand and Creative Officer
Bonnie Widerman, Director, Marketing & Communications

Michael Burton, Vice President, Development
Pamela Acosta Marquardt, Founder and Principal Gifts Officer

Abigail Winston, Chief Financial Officer

Megan Gordon Don, Vice President, Government Affairs & Advocacy

Cathleen Togut, Vice President, Human Resources

Tak Fujii, Vice President, Information Technology
George Hsing, Director, Applications

Lynn Matrisian, PhD, Vice President, Scientific & Medical Affairs
Anitra Engebretson, Director, Patient Services & Medical Relations
Rhonda Aizenberg, PhD, Director, Grants Program

President and Chief Executive Officer
Los Angeles, CA

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) nationwide network of people who are rewriting the book on how to fight one of the nation’s deadliest diseases. Founded by a group of pancreatic cancer survivors and caregivers in 1999, the organization relentlessly pursues its mission by implementing an aggressive and comprehensive strategy of research, patient support, advocacy and awareness. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is headquartered in Manhattan Beach, California, and also staffs a government affairs and advocacy office in Washington, D.C.

Julie Fleshman became the organization’s first full-time staff person and its first Executive Director in April 2000. Having lost her father to pancreatic cancer in 1999, she has made it her passion and commitment to change the course of the disease. In July 2004, the Board of Directors appointed Fleshman President and CEO. Under her leadership, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has grown from a staff of 1 with revenues of $228,000 to a staff of over 100 with a budget of more than $22 million.

Today, Fleshman is a sought-after speaker with considerable experience addressing diverse stakeholder groups, including Congress, industry, patients, scientists, donors and volunteers. She has also been interviewed by national media such as The New York Times, CNN, Headline News and ABC News as well as local press throughout the country.

Fleshman has spearheaded the charge to establish the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network as the leader in the fight against pancreatic cancer. Her leadership has driven consistent excellence and innovation throughout the programs and services of the organization. At the same time, she has steadily increased revenue growth and the organization’s impact. Under her direction, the organization has greatly expanded and attracted leading researchers from prestigious institutions around the country to study pancreatic cancer.

During Fleshman’s tenure, advocacy and grassroots efforts have expanded to 58 affiliates nationwide and yielded an $87.5 million (500%) increase in federal funding for pancreatic cancer research. 110 pancreatic cancer research grants totaling nearly $23 million have been awarded at institutions around the country. And more than 90,000 pancreatic cancer patients and their families nationwide have been cared for by the organization’s patient services program.

Fleshman holds her JD and MBA degrees from Santa Clara University and a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and was awarded Most Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Law and Society program. She also studied abroad at Oxford University and in Tokyo, Japan. Fleshman has served on the boards of several cancer care and research committees and organizations and has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The American Association for Cancer Research honored her with the 2010 Distinguished Public Service Award for her leadership and dedication in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
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Director, Grants Program
Los Angeles, CA

Rhonda Aizenberg directs the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Grants Program. She is responsible for ensuring that the funding strategy responds to the needs of the field, is aligned with the organization’s mission and goals and ensures sound stewardship of the research grant investment. She also oversees the organization’s Community for Progress initiative, which provides professional development opportunities for grantees and encourages information exchange and collaboration among pancreatic cancer researchers. Rhonda has a 30-year history working in the nonprofit sector and has spearheaded corporate citizenship and grant-making programs for several leading organizations, including the American Automobile Association/Automobile Club of Southern California, the Beverly Foundation and the Jewish Community Foundation, Los Angeles. She has significant experience in developing and overseeing partnership programs. Because she has worked on both sides of the funding track — grant making and grant seeking —she understands and appreciates the requirements and challenges of each. Rhonda received her PhD in sociology, with a specialty in demography and gerontology, from Duke University and completed her postdoctoral training at the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center and Population Research Laboratory at the University of Southern California.
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Vice President, Development
Los Angeles, CA

A development leader with over 20 years of experience in the philanthropic sector, Michael Burton honed his fundraising skills at some of the nation’s most highly regarded non-profit institutions. Before joining the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, he served in development roles at Princeton University, The American Association for Cancer Research and Fox Chase Cancer Center. He also served on the grant-making staff at the Pew Charitable Trusts and as a special assistant to the president at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater.

Michael has successfully led fundraising programs with a donor-centric management style characterized by strong talent development and mentoring skills, the use of rigorous analytics to develop and execute strategy and metrics-driven assessment of operations and individual performance. A proven frontline fundraiser who has led or actively participated in the closing of multiple seven- and eight-figure gifts, Michael is inspired in his professional life by the opportunity to help advance the missions of organizations that embody excellence and strive to improve the human condition.
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Vice President, Government Affairs & Advocacy
Washington, DC

Megan Gordon Don leads our public policy and advocacy activities and heads our Washington, DC office.  She and her Government Affairs & Advocacy team members work to educate Members of Congress and the Administration about pancreatic cancer and the need for more federal funding for pancreatic cancer research as well develop and implement our national grassroots advocacy program.

Megan has extensive experience in developing advocacy programs for non-profit patient associations and working with the cancer and broader public health policy communities. She came to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in July 2006 after working as an independent consultant focused on helping clients such as the Parkinson’s Action Network and the National Health Council with government relations activities. Her previous experience also includes working as a senior lobbyist at the American Cancer Society (ACS), a healthcare legislative aide to U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), the Director of Socioeconomics and Quality Management for the Dallas County Medical Society and as a healthcare industry analyst for Andersen Consulting (now known as Accenture).

Megan received her B.A. in Modern European Studies/Economics from Smith College, and her Master’s in Health Policy & Management from Johns Hopkins University.
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Director, Patient Services & Medical Relations
Los Angeles, CA

Prior to taking on her current position as Director of Patient Services & Medical Relations, Anitra worked in a number of capacities within the PALS program. Most recently she worked as the PALS Manager of Operations. In this role she was responsible for managing and overseeing the PALS call-in program, training new team members, and ensuring the high quality of the information provided by PALS Associates. In her current and previous roles, Anitra has been committed to providing pancreatic cancer survivors and their loved ones with the best service possible.

Anitra graduated from the University of Minnesota -- Twin Cities with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Spanish Studies. Before joining the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, she gained a tremendous amount of experience working and volunteering in a number of health related capacities. Also, as part of her studies for the College of Biological Sciences Honors Program, Anitra worked in a thoracic oncology laboratory where she conducted research for a thesis project.

Anitra’s interest in oncology began as a child after losing several close family members and friends to various cancers. Her interest grew throughout her studies and research work and she has embraced the opportunity to continue in this field with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
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Vice President, Information Technology
Los Angeles, CA

Tak Fujii joined the senior leadership team in the role of Vice President of Information Technology. Tak is a proven executive with over 20 years of experience establishing strategic technologies for companies like Warmington Residential, Hearthstone and The Olson Company. Tak has a long history of delivering transformational enterprise-level initiatives like ERP, BI, CRM, Scheduling, ITIL, Disaster Recovery, SOC compliance, Outsourcing and Cloud Computing.

Tak’s experience spans several industries, including financial investment advisory, commercial banking, software, consulting, real estate development and higher education.

A native of Southern California, Tak has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a MBA in eBusiness from the University of Phoenix. Tak is also an Adjunct Instructor with the University of La Verne, where he teaches courses in Management Information Systems.
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Brand and Creative Officer
Los Angeles, CA

As Brand and Creative Officer, Lisa brings more than 20 years of experience in the area of strategic marketing and planning, marketing communications and brand and creative management from the high-tech industry. Having worked for two of the largest and most successful high-tech companies, Symantec Corporation and Microsoft, Lisa brings a wealth of marketing expertise to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, leading the overall strategic direction of the organization’s brand and creative assets. Lisa completed her education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Lisa’s passion to create effective marketing and communication programs to help raise national awareness about this disease, stems from the death of her brother from pancreatic cancer in 2002.
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Director, Applications
Los Angeles, CA

George has over 20 years of experience in the technology sector. He received his B.S. in Computer Science from Cal State University Northridge, and MBA from Cal Lutheran University. Prior to joining at Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, George took on positions at Prudential Insurance and Metlife Investors as programmer, network administrator, and technology manager.
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Vice President, Community Engagement
Los Angeles, CA

Jenny Isaacson brings more than 20 years of experience in development, marketing and communications and volunteer management to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Jenny has a strong background in strategic planning, as well as building and maximizing corporate partnerships and developing cause-related marketing and national fundraising promotions, having held key positions at Starlight Children’s Foundation. As Vice President of Community Engagement, Jenny provides overall management and strategic direction to the organization’s marketing and communications, corporate and community relations and community outreach programs.

Jenny received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, Great Britain, where she graduated with honors. She has served on the board of My Friend’s Place, an L.A. resource center for homeless youth, as well as the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center at a time when the Center was threatened with imminent closure. Now, a thriving family education and community gathering space, the Center was saved because of the passion and commitment of local families and community members. It was this experience that convinced Jenny that idealistic commitment can lead to great success in overcoming the seemingly impossible.
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Director, Corporate & Community Relations
Los Angeles, CA

As Director of Corporate and Community Relations, Donna DeDario Manross understands the intricacies of establishing and growing meaningful and mutually beneficial corporate cause alliances. She has secured and managed successful alliances with dozens of Fortune 500 companies throughout her career. Donna previously served as Director of Corporate Partnerships & Communications at Starlight Children’s Foundation and also has strong experience providing media and communications services to law firms, accounting firms, real estate, hospitality, and nonprofits.

Donna earned her B.S. in consumer journalism from the University of Georgia, Athens, and currently serves on the board of the Slate Foundation, a nonprofit focused on creating sustainable, eco-friendly development in impoverished, rural communities in East Africa.
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Founder and Principal Gifts Officer
Los Angeles, California

Pamela Acosta Marquardt, who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer in 1996, is the primary founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the original creator of the An Evening with the Stars gala.

Marquardt comes to us from her position as Executive Director of the American Heart Association in the Inland Empire area of Southern California. She was responsible for overseeing the generation of more than $10 million dollars of local revenue raised during her tenure, to assist the organization in achieving their mission of reducing death and disability due to heart disease and stroke.

Formerly Vice President of Ontario Metal Recycling in Ontario, California, for 12 years, her responsibilities included developing the company’s marketing strategies, operational systems for efficiency and media and advertising efforts. Prior to that, she was the Vice President of Property Development for a chain of West Coast clothing stores for 12 years, handling site development, lease negotiation, and the design and construction of more than 30 retail clothing operations.
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Vice President, Scientific & Medical Affairs
Los Angeles, California

Lynn Matrisian joined the senior leadership team in the newly created role of Vice President of Scientific & Medical Affairs. Lynn received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Arizona and put her scientific training to work over the past 25 years leading a research laboratory dedicated to understanding cancer metastasis. She has published more than 200 original scientific articles and trained more than 30 young scientists who have gone on to join the fight against cancer in the academic, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, government and non-profit sectors. Lynn was the founding chair of the Department of Cancer Biology in the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University, the President of the 30,000+ member American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and a Special Assistant to the Director of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. In March 2013, Lynn was elected into the inaugural class of the Fellows of the AACR Academy, which recognizes and honors distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. Her extensive experience and passion for cancer research make her well-positioned to lead the organization’s scientific and medical affairs teams as they strive to reach the goal of doubling pancreatic cancer survival by 2020.
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Director, National Affiliate Relations & Strategy
Los Angeles, CA

As Director of National Affiliate Relations & Strategy, Angel Montanez leads the team responsible for developing and supporting the organization’s nationwide volunteer network and partnering with volunteers to create signature awareness events in more than 50 communities. Angel has 15 years of non-profit program development, corporate fundraising, human resources and volunteer management experience and has held a variety of key roles in organizations such as Starlight Children’s Foundation, Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking and UCLA UniCamp.

Angel earned her B.A. in sociology with a minor in women’s studies from UCLA. She also volunteers with the United Friends of the Children, a group that works with foster youth.
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Vice President, Human Resources
Los Angeles, California

Cathleen Togut has over 30 years of experience as a human resources executive working primarily in the technology and communications industries. Past leadership roles include Hughes Space and Communications, GE Capital-ResCom and GlobeCast (a subsidiary of France Telecom). Cathleen has extensive experience developing and managing human resources departments and working closely with senior leadership to establish organizational strategy. Cathleen has lost several family members to cancer and an aunt to pancreatic cancer and is honored to be able to work in an organization dedicated to creating hope for those fighting this deadly disease. Cathleen has a Bachelor of Science degree in social sciences from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo.
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Director, Marketing & Communications
Los Angeles, California

Bonnie Widerman brings more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Bonnie has a strong background in healthcare, as well as in the technology and financial services arenas, having worked for such companies as HealthCare Partners Medical Group and Experian, as well as several technology start-ups.

Bonnie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA with her B.A. in Linguistics and earned her M.A. in Communications Management from the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. She also completed a fellowship in non-profit leadership and feels that serving with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network gives her a chance to make a difference in people’s lives.
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Chief Financial Officer
Los Angeles, California

Abby Winston brings more than 20 years of experience to her position as Chief Financial Officer, including 15 years of non-profit accounting experience. Prior to joining the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, she worked with Portland, Oregon-based College Housing Northwest and the Alpert JCC in Long Beach, California.

Abby earned her degree in Accounting from the University of Arizona. She started her career in public accounting and also worked in distribution and manufacturing before finding her passion in finance for non-profit organizations.
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