Mallory Casperson – Chief Executive Officer, Founder
Mallory is the Founder + CEO at Cactus Cancer Society. She has an MS degree and half a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her Master’s and PhD, she worked with the Air Force Research Lab as well as NASA on high-temperature metal fatigue experiments and simulations. Leaving graduate school in August 2013, Mallory worked for a year to launch Cactus Cancer Society in April 2015. Applying her love for engineering and technology to a nonprofit endeavor, she manages operations, strategy, and development at Cactus Cancer Society where online support programs and resources are provided to young adult cancer survivors and caregivers in the comfort of their own homes. She is passionate about young adult cancer survivorship and the importance of the patient voice in healthcare. Cactus Cancer Society is the first nonprofit moving survivorship care for AYA cancer survivors into the realm of digital health, making survivorship care accessible as never before.
Aerial Donovan – Chief Program Officer
Aerial is excited to be at Cactus Cancer Society staff. She spent several years as the VP of Programs at GRYT Health where she dedicated her time to helping the cancer community learn about resources, education about patient rights, and encouraging engagement among peers. Aerial has experience coordinating educational, psychosocial, and community programs. She has a science background with specialized interests in sports medicine and medicine. Aerial is passionate about ensuring not only patients get the support system they need, but caregivers, advocates, and others affected by cancer as well. After caregiving for her dad, she is determined to continue that support on through the end of treatment. She has experience volunteering with several cancer organizations including Imerman’s Angels, Stupid Cancer, and previously with Lacuna Loft.
Lauren Creel – Chief Operations Officer
Lauren is a 6 year Hodgkin lymphoma survivor who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 23. After treatment, Lauren was inspired to use her personal cancer experience to help other cancer patients, specifically young adults, which is why she is thrilled to be involved with Cactus Cancer Society. She is passionate about cancer survivorship, specifically dealing with issues of isolation, resilience, and fear of recurrence.
After graduating from George Fox University and working for a few years, Lauren returned to academia, earning a Master’s in Public Health and a Master’s in Social Work from San Diego State University. Lauren now works as a Program Administrator at City of Hope National Medical Center, building comprehensive programs for cancer survivors and academic programs for physicians. When she’s not a work, Lauren loves drinking coffee, cooking, and travelling with her brand new husband Dave.
Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, CJT
Jean is guest faculty of several programs for Lacuna Loft. Her background includes 15 years in the oncology space primarily working with young adults affected by breast cancer. Jean’s original programs include themes around reclaiming intimacy after cancer, addressing burnout and compassion fatigue, journal drop-ins to temper the triggers of everyday life and coping through the holidays. Grounded in all of them is the importance of self-care. She is honored to work with Lacuna Loft and all whom they serve. You can connect with Jean here or at email@example.com.
Patricia McDonald – Treasurer
After first her young husband’s, and later her father’s difficult battles with cancer, Patti co-founded a cancer support center to encourage, educate, and empower patients and families experiencing cancer in their lives. She later went on to serve as Founding Executive Director for a second cancer wellness center in the Chicago area. Patti serves as a Lacuna Loft Board Member to do what she can to ensure young adults facing cancer have access to the innovative, age-appropriate, and impactful programs and resources they need to improve their quality of life and well-being – no matter how challenging the circumstances. With over 20 years of experience as a nonprofit leader and fundraising executive, Patti is currently working in advancement for higher education.
Shelly Whitsitt – Secretary
Shelly works as a director of research and strategy at a qualitative market research and creative agency, Fusion Hill. She started her career in marketing at a start-up in South America and her first experience with qualitative research was with women farmers in India. At Fusion Hill, she enjoys turning rich, qualitative research into key insights that help clients achieve their business goals. Shelly has a BA in Psychology and Spanish and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Key experiences in her MBA program include a yearlong project on Product Innovation in Subsistence Marketplaces, and serving as CEO of a student-run 501(c)(3). Shelly enjoys spending time with family and friends, TV binging on Netflix, or getting cozy with a book. She loves traveling and exploring new cultures, trying new and different foods, and being active outdoors.
Kelly Miragliotta – Board Member + Event Chair
Kelly is a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor who was first diagnosed at the age of 20 while attending Rutgers University. She beat it and it came back the last semester of her senior year. Kelly balanced treatment and school while still being able to graduate on time with a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in Communication. After graduation, she continued treatment until she was in remission. Kelly now leads the Customer Success team at FeeX, a growing FinTech startup. In Kelly’s free time, she enjoys running, being outdoors, and experiencing local craft beer.
As Kelly went through her cancer journey, she realized that she was the youngest person in each infusion room. She also never found any age-appropriate support groups or resources on how to navigate life after cancer. Kelly decided that she wanted to make sure young adults had age-appropriate resources during and after cancer. She found Lacuna Loft and looks forward to continuing growing this amazing organization. Kelly participates in Lacuna Loft’s programs, is part of the Young Adult Cancer Survivor Advisory Board, and is the Event Chair for the annual gala.
Former Board Members
Sarah Goodell – Board Member
Sarah is thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to this amazing organization. She is a Senior Analyst in Digital Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Mead Johnson Nutrition where she works on a variety of projects, from managing social media campaigns to coordinating CSR efforts. Prior to her work here, she was a Program Manager at Cancer and Careers, where she ran a number of their programs as well as coordinated social media and PR initiatives. During her years working in the cancer community, she became very passionate about supporting survivors, particularly young adults, and helping them thrive after a diagnosis. Sarah is originally from Minneapolis but currently lives in Chicago, and is an avid rollerblader, yogi, and brunch enthusiast.
Marc Korobkin – Board Member
Marc joined the Cactus Cancer Society board in 2018 and is excited to be involved in this groundbreaking organization. Marc has been a tireless advocate for improving the health care system and increasing support for patients and caregivers. He has extensive volunteer and leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, including over six years at the Center for Patient Partnerships at UW-Madison, an interdisciplinary program that trains graduate and professional students in patient advocacy. He has also been a caregiver for family members with serious illnesses, including his brother Bryan, who passed away in 2016 from complications of a stem cell transplant. Marc received his JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2009 and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In his free time he enjoys hiking and nature photography.
Scientific & Medical Advisory Board
- Marcie Ellis – Program Coordinator, Cancer Peer Navigator Program at UCDMC
- Cassandra Falby – Program Director at Women’s Cancer Resource Center
- Karla Hitchcock – Oncology Services Consultant at SSM Health St. Louis
- Cathy Moe – University of Illinois-Chicago College of Nursing
- Diane Radford – Staff Breast Surgeon at Cleveland Clinic
- Kelly Tschannen – Nurse Manager at Siteman Cancer Center