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 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.
Sharon E. Barrett
Sharon 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 they believe they are too young, plus 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.
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.
Amy is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and has worked in the tech industry for more than 10 years across enterprise, startup, and homegrown companies. Her roles include software engineer, product strategist, and most recently co-founder of Qalaxia, an educational tech startup. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from San Jose State University.
Amy’s mother and maternal grandmother both live with breast cancer. She’s excited to join the Board of Breast Cancer Action and aims to address the breast cancer-related issues around underrepresented communities. She is also focused on inclusion, women, education, food access, and socioeconomic gaps.
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, 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 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. Laura 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 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 coursework 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 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, Secretary
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.