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.
Paris AJ (Adkins-Jackson)
Dr. AJ is a community-based multidisciplinary researcher whose work seeks to increase quality of life for underserved communities through mixed methods research, the development of instruments (surveys and assessments) and technology, and the implementation and evaluation of innovative programs.
Dr. AJ has worked in research for over a decade in various capacities and fields as she has earned a B.A. in Journalism, M.A. in Cultural Anthropology, M.P.H. in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and a Ph.D in Psychometrics. She is the Founder and CEO of DataStories by Seshat, LLC, a research and data analysis company.
Dr. AJ came to cancer research after her best friend, Candice Rice, was diagnosed for a second time with breast cancer. Since then, she has engaged the field by participating in community-based partnerships that explore cancer etiology and test culturally-relevant interventions on survivorship and quality of life. Unfortunately, Candice did not survive treatment, and Dr. AJ has lost even more friends to this disease, including two mentors and another dear friend. Thus, Dr. AJ has committed to engaging this work in a variety of ways including research, policy, and supporting Breast Cancer Action.
Sharon E. Barrett
Dr. Barrett has over forty years of leadership in public, nonprofit and private sectors in the areas of program development, administration and public health practice. In her last Federal Public Health Service position, Dr. Barrett created and served as the Director of Minority and Women’s Health in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Bureau of Primary Health Care. Retired since 2003, she is the founder and principal of S.E.B. and Associates, LLC, and currently consults on and provides training to health professionals on a wide range of issues including: public health, primary care and oral health, minority and women’s health disparities, health literacy, language access and cultural competency. Her clients have been both global and domestic including government, nonprofit associations and NGOs. In Australia, Dr. Barrett provided consultation to the Centre of Culture, Ethnicity and Health on an initiative to develop health literacy curriculum and provide training to service providers in Victoria. Before rotating off of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Roundtable on Health Literacy, after being an active member for six years representing safety net providers, Dr. Barrett spearheaded the development of the IOM’s Oral Health Literacy Workshop.
She is currently serving on the technical working group that created the revised SOAR curriculum that was sponsored by two Public Health Service entities, the Agency for Children and Families and OASH’s Office on Women’s Health. Dr. Barrett also participated in the development of the PHS ACF/OWH Look Beneath the Surface Campaign on human trafficking. Dr. Barrett continues to serve on a number of committees and Boards. She is a Board member and Secretary for the Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) and serves as the organization’s Mid-Atlantic ICC Regional Leader. She is also a Board member of the Gaston and Porter Health Improvement Center. She received her Masters of Science at Columbia University’s School of Social Work in New York and her Doctorate in Public Health at Morgan State University’s School of Community Health and Policy. Dr. Barrett also serves as an adjunct professor in the Public Health Sciences Program at the University of Maryland-CP at the Shady Grove, Maryland campus.
She was compelled to serve on the Breast Cancer Action Board of Directors because women are being diagnosed with breast cancer at earlier ages and the disease often goes undiagnosed because women believe they are too young to have developed the disease, and doctors often tell patients they are too young to have breast cancer — a paradigm that needs to shift. She also believes there is a direct link between breast cancer and the environment. Therefore, she’s most interested in exploring environmental factors that may impact women’s susceptibility to breast cancer. Being part of Breast Cancer Action’s Board allows her to reengage in her advocacy and grassroots activities.
Laura Hamasaka, Secretary
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. She has 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 serving 13 national non-profit organizations.
In the late 1990s, Laura was the Director of New Site Development at City Year AmeriCorps. 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 coursework for a M.A. in Development Psychology from San Francisco State University.
Peggy Huston, Chair
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 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 treatment. 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.
Gail Kaufman has more than 50 years of experience as an educator and civil and women’s rights organizer and activist, and she will be re-joining Breast Cancer Action’s Board of Directors after a hiatus.
For the past 18 years, Gail worked with the University of California, Berkeley as the Deputy Director of the Center for Educational Partnerships. She led the Center’s work on building and strengthening college- and career-going culture in K-12 and community college. This work focused on systemic change in schools and districts, curriculum development and professional learning, as well as creating schools to increase access and success in higher education for low-income, first generation students of color and their families.
Gail’s extensive women’s rights organizing began when she became a member of the Coalition for the Medical Rights of Women (CMRW) and co-director of the Committee to Defend Reproductive Rights (CDRR). In 1982 Gail became the first Associate Director of Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), a national public interest law firm based in San Francisco, whose mission is to protect and expand economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls. As a leader in CMRW and CDRR, and her more than a dozen years’ with ERA, Gail was at the forefront of fighting for equity and justice in work and healthcare spaces.
Gail began her career teaching social studies in Brooklyn, New York, and rural Massachusetts. She moved from teaching to developing alternative educational programs in higher education, and returned to K-12 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations with the San Francisco Unified School District. During this time, she received a Master’s in Curriculum at Brooklyn College and a Master’s in Counselor Education at Washington University in St. Louis.
Recently retired, Gail is pleased to bring her energy, experience and expertise (focusing on coalition building, communications/media and fundraising) to Breast Cancer Action and to learn from staff, board, and members about how best to reach Breast Cancer Action’s health justice mission.
Channte’ Keith, Chair, External Affairs
Channte’ is a Public Health activist, administrator, trainer, motivational speaker, a health equity champion and a self-described breast cancer survivor. For 15 years, Channte’ has worked on issues that impact African American health ranging from diabetes, tobacco use, cancer disparities, and HIV/AIDS. She currently serves as the Director of Programs for NAATPN, Inc., a national organization that addresses tobacco use, cancer, and HIV within the African American community. She has traveled across the country to provide training and technical assistance to federal and state agencies, faith-based institutions, appointed and elected officials, volunteer organizations, and Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) about how to reduce health challenges that impact communities of color and how to mobilize communities to influence policy change.
Channte’ serves as a co-organizer for the State of Black Health National Conference, an event that provides feasible solutions to solve the most complex health challenges in the African American community. She also serves on the African American Leadership Council for Compassion and Choices, a national organization that addresses end-of-life care, and on the Board of the Community Advocacy Committee (CAC) for Wake County, North Carolina.
Channte’ has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Administration for seven years at North Carolina Central University, where she focused primarily on public policy, personnel administration, and organizational theory and behavior. She received a degree in Communications from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and a Master’s in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University.
Yamini Ranchod, Vice Chair
Yamini Ranchod is an epidemiologist interested in the social determinants of health. Her research has included work on exposures such as neighborhood health effects, early childhood adversity, diet and physical activity and outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, pregnancy-related and cancer-related outcomes. She received her B.S. in Economics and Biology and her Ph.D in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan and her M.S. in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. Yamini completed her post-doctoral training at UC Berkeley.
Yamini was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31, while completing her Ph.D. After navigating the challenges of a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment at a young age, Yamini connected with individuals and organizations who shared her drive to support and improve the lives of women at risk of and living with breast cancer. She is committed to working with organizations focused on reducing the burden of breast cancer. Yamini is especially interested in the role of the environment on breast cancer risk and disparities in breast cancer risk, treatment, and survival.
Lee Ann Slinkard, Treasurer
Lee Ann Slinkard has a long record of success building teams and methodologies in software serving government and healthcare organizations. These solutions empowered patients and citizens all over the world. Most recently, she served as Vice President for a company that partnered with global health delivery providers to implement a wearable vital sign monitoring device to collect data enabling the prediction and prevention of life threatening conditions. This technology will be a game changer as our populations grow larger and get older. Lee Ann is an Oakland resident and takes advantage of any opportunity to hike or golf.
Alicia D. Justice
Alicia D. Justice, MPH, has led a team of analysts as the Director of Chronic Disease Prevention at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) for the past four and a half years, overseeing the development and execution of a robust portfolio made up of federal and private foundation funded grant work. Her program outcomes are focused on health policy systems and environmental change best practices related to tobacco, diabetes, obesity, nutrition, physical activity, breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. In line with ASTHO’s cross-cutting strategy to advance health equity, Alicia is proficient in aligning state and territory chronic disease initiatives in order to elevate opportunities to address funding needs, and incorporating outcome measures that reduce health disparities in public healthcare delivery. Alicia has led a number of multi-year learning community of practice models to develop operations guidance for public health agencies addressing chronic disease management through health systems change strategies. Alicia graduated with an MPH degree focusing on Health Administration and Policy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2007. She later received a post-graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from Marymount University in 2013, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in public health.
Coco Villaluz, Chair, Internal Affrairs Committee
CoCo Villaluz is a Senior Community Development Manager for ClearWay MinnesotaSM. CoCo is Hidatsa from the Three Affiliated Tribes, Assiniboine from Fort Peck/Fort Belknap in Montana, and Chamorro from the island of Guam.
CoCo has over eighteen years of experience in all phases of community development, capacity building and mobilizing. She has experience in addressing the sacred use of tobacco, as one of the founding members of the Native American Tobacco Coalition of Montana (NATCOM), and has partnered with many diverse organizations such as Tobacco Policy Sharing Knowledge in Native Societies (TPSKINS), the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society, and Many Voices, One Message. CoCo has presented at regional, statewide, national and international conferences, including the Global Youth Advocacy Training in Washington D.C. She has also participated on the FDA Stakeholders discussion for American Indian communities.
Some of CoCo’s proudest accomplishments include passing the Fort Peck No Smoking Resolution for her tribe, being selected to present at the Auahi Kore (Smoke-Free) Conference in Aotearoa (New Zealand), and passing the Ohinni Candi Wakandapi/Chani Wakan K/Nusa Commercial Tobacco-Free Ordinance for her home community. CoCo incorporates different art forms into prevention activities to address commercial tobacco control. Her overall goal is to promote indigenous cultural wellness of our communities for generations to come.
CoCo is the recipient of the National Indian Health Board 2016 Regional Area Impact Award for advancing American Indian and Alaska Native health. And she was selected a keynote panelist at the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in Austin, TX in 2017.
Alma is a native of Oakland, California. She received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University and her Juris Doctor from New College of California. She has more than 25 years of management and consulting experience with community action agencies. She facilitates Cultural Competency/Humility trainings for a variety of organizations, while also working for a small non-profit that provides free transportation for people receiving cancer treatments.
Alma became involved with Breast Cancer Action about ten years ago as a volunteer for its Speakers Bureau, after learning of its activism. She had received her own breast cancer diagnosis, and was not interested in the gimmicks of pink-washing this horrible epidemic. As a member of Breast Cancer Action’s Speakers Bureau, she spoke to various underserved populations about the impactful work of Breast Cancer Action.
Alma has two amazing adult children, with whom she regularly: hikes, kayaks, dances, and laughs.
Alma is also a proud Outdoor Afro Leader, who is excited to get to lead monthly outdoor activities.
As an independent public health consultant for 16 years, Tamatha Thomas-Haase believes that through intentional, cross-sector engagement – rooted in equity – transformative change of public health institutions, policies, processes is possible. Leveraging collective wisdom through artful group process is at the heart of her professional calling, and her 20-year career in public health has taught her the value of meaningful connection to others and their purpose.
On November 6, 2018, Tamatha was diagnosed with stage IIIC, triple negative inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) – a rare and aggressive breast cancer that accounts for 1 to 5% of breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. Disparities in race and socioeconomic status on IBC incidence, as well as outcomes, are well documented. Currently living fully after living through cancer, Tamatha is proud to join in service to Breast Cancer Action’s compelling and urgent mission.
Tamatha is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her Master’s in Public Administration from Evergreen State College. When she is not running through airports carrying flip-chart paper and giant bags of markers and post-it notes (she’s old school), she can be found watching Glow Up with her teenaged daughter, walking on Hermosa Beach with her face to the sun, or wishing she were hiking the mountains of her home state of Vermont with friends who feel much more like family.
Tracy Marshall Kolian is a senior public health professional in Washington D.C. with years of experience working on a range of issues such as children’s environmental health, climate change, substance abuse, and toxins. Currently, she works as director of strategic innovation and grants at the American College of Medical Toxicology, and as a consultant helping public health clients advance their goals through policy, program development and guidance. She spent over ten years at the American Public Health Association growing the associations policy and program areas and associated funding. Early in her career, Tracy worked in human health risk assessment and the clean-up of hazardous waste sites across the U.S. Tracy has a BS in Toxicology from Northeastern University, an MPH from Tulane University, and is a graduate of CDC’s Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute.
Although Tracy has spent her career in public- and environmental- health, breast cancer was not an issue she knew, or thought much about. In 2018/2019, breast cancer became front and center in her and her family’s life with the diagnosis and death (less than 2 years after diagnosis) of her older sister Kathleen from metastatic breast cancer. It is this difficult and painful experience that compelled Tracy to learn about breast cancer, to want to raise awareness and truth about this devastating disease, and to ultimately join the Breast Cancer Action Board of Directors.
Belle Shayer, Emeritus
Belle Shayer turned from breast cancer patient to breast cancer advocate after her second bout with the disease in 1988. She is a founder of BCAction, was the organization’s first treasurer, and has served on the Board of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Belle is an active member of BCAction’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.