Board of Directors 2015

Breast Cancer Action is led by a volunteer Board of Directors, a remarkable group of people who set the vision for BCAction and lead the organization by determining organizational policy, assuring the organization’s financial security, and representing BCAction’s views to the world at large. A small, hardworking, and incredibly able staff make the board’s vision a reality.

We’re recruiting new members now – find out about joining BCAction’s Board of Directors.


Abigail AronsSecretary

Abigail Arons, MPH, is a research associate at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, both at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Her work focuses on social and behavioral aspects of reproductive health, including teen pregnancy prevention and access to sexual health education and services. She has worked at UCSF for over 10 years, conducting program evaluation and policy research.

Abigail was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2009, at age 31. While she has a family history of breast cancer, and always knew the possibility that she or one of her sisters might develop breast cancer, it was still a shock. Throughout her experience of treatment, she educated herself about treatment options, worked with her doctors to make decisions that felt informed by both science and her own values, and provided and received support from peers in a local breast cancer group. Through informal and formal networks, she continues to be amazed at the frequency of breast cancer diagnoses among young women, and inspired by the strength with which each newly diagnosed woman faces the disease.

Lori Baralt

Lori is an assistant professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at California State University, Long Beach where she teaches courses on women’s health and sexuality, women and environmental justice, reproductive justice, and feminist methodology.

Lori holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and her dissertation addressed the potential negative results of Komen’s and Avon’s global expansion, which emphasizes individual behaviors and corporate advocacy over disease prevention and health equity. Additional research has looked at advocate/scientist collaboration, environmental links to breast cancer, and approaches to breast cancer activism. Her current research focuses primarily on breast cancer and the environment. She is deeply committed to advocating for the prevention of breast cancer through the promotion of the Precautionary Principle and chemical policy reform.

Since moving to Long Beach three years ago, she has been actively building relationships with local organizations that focus on reproductive and environmental justice issues.


Beverly Canin

Beverly was first diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2000.  She became aware of the importance of breast cancer advocacy early on because she found that so much conflicting information fueled by many different agendas made it very difficult for a person to make sense of it all. She was introduced to Breast Cancer Action in 2002.  Beverly had recently completed an Avon 3-Day Walk and was angered because she felt that the company’s advertisements about where the money was going were misleading and there was no community input.  Motivated to take action, Beverly joined an ad-hoc coalition led by BCA, Follow the Money: An Alliance for Accountability in Breast Cancer.

Beverly’s advocacy commitment has been extensive and consistent.  She is vice president of Breast Cancer Options, Inc. (BCO), a survivor-driven, community-based breast cancer support, education and advocacy organization in the Mid-Hudson Valley, NY.  She is secretary of the New York State Breast Cancer Network and the New York State Breast Cancer Support and Education Network.  A graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund’s Project LEAD, she has served as a consumer reviewer for the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and as an advocate reviewer for the California Breast Cancer Research Program.  She is a member of the New York State Department of Health, Health Research Science Board (HRSB) and the federally-mandated NIEHS-NCI Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC).

Beverly worked many years in non-profit administration, including as a consultant for program development and evaluation.

Sarah Douglas

Sarah is a Professor Emerita of Computer and Information Science at the University of Oregon. She has done pioneering work in human-computer interaction and the development of effective support for scientific discovery through bioinformatics. In 1995 she founded a research group that created a biological database for zebrafish genetics, a groundbreaking international resource developed specifically for the Web and still functioning today. She holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from Stanford, and A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Sarah’s personal experience with breast cancer began with a former partner who died from it in 1996 and a younger sister who was diagnosed in 2002 at age 54.  In 2007 Sarah joined the NIH Sister Study to contribute to the ongoing research effort to understand environmental and genetic risk factors for breast cancer. Then, in 2013 at age 69, Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer herself and experienced the politics of medical treatment of breast cancer. By joining BCAction’s Board of Directors, she hopes to further her lifelong political activism around issues of gender, race, class and social justice. Of special interest to her is reforming the Oregon timber industry practice of clear-cutting that includes the aerial spraying of herbicides that are endocrine disrupters and carcinogens. Both Oregon and Washington have high incidences of breast cancer.

Karen Klein, Vice Chair

Karen has lived in the Bay Area for many years and has significant experience working with community-based organizations on social justice issues. At the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, Karen was responsible for convening diverse groups and motivating action toward a common goal: safe, independent living for those with mental disabilities. Prior to that she had been with HomeBase, a Center for Homelessness Policy, then based at Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm in San Francisco; and a consultant to Bay Area foundations.

While raising her family, Karen volunteered at her children’s school and developed a support group for parents of unique learners, successfully advocated for a new staff position for a learning specialist, and later took on the lead role in the school library program. Karen also worked with the Immigration Legal Resource Center as a volunteer consultant, designing and implementing a rapid response system to assist those swept up in Bay Area raids and calling for national policy changes. Karen has previously served on two boards of directors, for local and state-wide policy and advocacy groups. She earned her BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she was part of creating the Women’s Studies major, and her JD from Stanford University Law School, where she co-chaired the Women of Stanford Law.

Like all of us, Karen feels she has had an unacceptable number of personal colleagues, friends and relatives who have had or currently suffer from breast cancer.  Her work has long been about addressing social, economic and political inequities. Joining the Board of BCAction is another way of addressing these issues and is especially dedicated to those women.

Laura Hamasaka

Laura has a background in program development and management with more than 25 years of experience in local and national non-profits, the public sector, and philanthropy. Currently she serves as the Vice President of Community and Youth Activism at Legacy, the largest national public health organization dedicated to keeping youth from smoking and providing measures to smokers who want to quit.

As VP for Community and Youth Engagement, Laura works on the organization’s ongoing community engagement and capacity-building efforts. She oversees technical assistance and training in support of various Legacy initiatives along with programmatic dissemination.

Prior to working at Legacy, Laura worked in a variety of areas including public health, youth development and leadership, and environmental justice. She spent ten years working in program development, technical assistance and training as well as grant management for national service at the San Francisco Conservation Corps (SFCC), Youth Service America, and the Corporation for National Service, where she managed a grant portfolio of nearly $10 million servicing 13 national non-profit organizations.

In the late 1990s, Laura was the Director of New Site Development at City Year. She also served as the Associate Director for Network Development with CLEARCorps, a childhood lead poisoning education and prevention program at the Shriver Center at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Laura received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and completed course work for a Masters of Arts in Development Psychology from San Francisco State University.

Peggy Huston, Treasurer

Peggy is the Director of the Operational Excellence Program Office at UC Berkeley where she leads a number of initiatives that are focused on reducing the cost of administrative operations and generating new revenue.  She has more than 25 years of experience in business management and information technology.

Peggy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.  In addition to the emotional shock of being threatened by a cancer, and the physical trauma caused by chemo and radiation, she was also dismayed to learn of the pervasiveness of the disease and the “production line” approach toward treatments. While chemo and radiation has become easier to tolerate than it was 40 years ago, and screening mammograms are now common, she learned that we have not made much headway in decreasing the occurrence of the disease. Peggy is motivated to help educate others and begin to change the future of breast cancer.

Ngina Lythcott

Ngina served as a dean of students at Dartmouth and Swarthmore Colleges, and Columbia and Boston Universities for more than 20 years, retiring in 2011. She holds an M.A. in Clinical Social Work, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Public Health, and has done extensive community organizing for health promotion/disease prevention in African American urban, Latino urban and rural white communities. Her current advocacy work includes breast cancer liaison for the Black Women’s Health Imperative, founding member of Consumers Unified for Evidence Based Health Care, a seat on the Governing Board  of the Intercultural Cancer Council, and a seat on the Integration Panel of the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. She is also currently on the Simmons College Board of Trustees. Ngina has a long history of dedication to social justice, particularly as it relates to the health care needs and health disparities of America’s disenfranchised communities. She is especially concerned about how exposure to carcinogens has impacted the incidence, prevalence, specific diagnosis of, and premature mortality due to breast cancer.


Shobita Parthasarathy

Shobita Parthasarathy, PhD, is Associate Professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Shobita’s research and teaching focuses on: 1) how science and technology (and other policies) can better alleviate inequalities and address other social, economic, and environmental problems; 2) the rise of civil society activism in science, technology, and health policymaking; 3) the politics of knowledge and expertise in policymaking; and 4) how societies can do a better job of developing science and technology (and related policies) that are responsive to public concerns and the public interest. Her work is often cross-national in perspective. She is the author of numerous articles and a book, Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care (MIT Press, 2007), which compared the development of genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer in the United States and Britain. The book helped to inform the recent US Supreme Court case regarding human gene patents. She is the recipient of multiple grants and awards, including from the National Science Foundation, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, American Council of Learned Societies, Wellcome Trust (UK), and Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition, and Tax Law (Germany). She holds Masters and PhD degrees in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from University of Chicago. Shobita has held a number of leadership positions in her professional capacity, including as co-director of University of Michigan’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program. This is her first official foray into the non-profit world, and she is excited to join the board of Breast Cancer Action, an organization she has long admired.

Belle Shayer, Emeritus

Belle Shayer turned from breast cancer patient to breast cancer advocate after her second bout with breast cancer in 1988. She is a founder of BCA, was the organization’s first treasurer, and has served on the board of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Belle is an active member of BCA’s Speakers’ Bureau, and currently serves as well on the Board of the State of California Women’s Health Council. Belle is self-employed as a bookkeeper/accountant and private conservator.


Elana Silver, Chair

Elana Silver is an epidemiologist with over 15 years of experience working in public health. She is the founder and Principal of Laurelton Research, a consulting firm that develops web-based health tools and educational materials and conducts research studies and program evaluations. Elana’s specialties include environmental health and genetics. Her courses, tools, and reports are targeted at community members as well as doctors and scientists, and her clients range from biotech companies to universities to local, national, and international government agencies. Elana appreciates that Breast Cancer Action positions are based on science without being influenced by money or politics.

Tracy Weitz

Tracy Weitz, PhD, MPA, is the Director of the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) program and Associate Director for Public Policy at the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, both at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).  She holds a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in the UCSF School of Medicine and the Department of Social and Behavioral Science in UCSF School of Nursing.  Tracy has a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in health care from Missouri State University and a doctoral degree in sociology from the UCSF.

Tracy’s passion is for those aspects of women’s health which are marginalized either for ideological reasons, or because the populations affected lack the means or mechanisms to have their concerns raised.  Her current research focuses on innovative strategies to expand abortion provision in the U.S. and new models for addressing the gap in research related to Asian and Pacific Islander women.  She serves on the EJ-RJ Collaborative of the California Women’s Foundation, exploring the intersection of environmental justice and reproductive justice.  She also serves on the California Women’s Health Council, an advisory body to the California Departments of Public Health and Health Care Services.  In 2008 Tracy received the Felicia Stewart award from the Population, Family Planning and Reproductive Health section of the American Public Health Association.  Tracy previously served on the board of the National Women’s History Project and the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (CARAL, now NARAL Pro-Choice California) and is a current Board Member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California as well as Breast Cancer Action.

Jasmaine Williams

Jasmaine Williams is a PhD candidate in Cancer Biology at Stanford University. She also completed a Masters’ degree in Medicine in March 2012. Her dissertation research focuses on understanding the mechanism for vitamin D’s inhibitory effect on breast cancer progression and metastasis. After witnessing friends and family experience the tragedy of cancer, Jasmaine hopes to use her academic research in parallel with community engagement to understand and eliminate health inequities in breast cancer. Since moving to California in 2010, Jasmaine has volunteered for organizations that strive to educate and engage communities of color to improve outcomes for underserved populations. She plans to continue this work as a member of the Board of Directors for BCAction.

In her free time, she enjoys attending spin and yoga classes, trying new recipes, and exploring the Bay Area.


Susan Wood

Susan has been working in women’s health for many years and is a faculty member at George Washington University, in the School of Public Health where she directs the Jacobs Institute on Women’s Health.  In the past, she worked in government (as congressional staff, at the Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health at the FDA).Susan loves the fact that BCAction is committed to using the best scientific evidence available and is fearless as a champion.