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  • American Indian & Alaska Native National Advisory Council

    Role and Responsibilities

    AI/ANNAC will assist Komen for the Cure in addressing disparities in breast cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality in Native American women and help to improve their access to breast health information and quality breast health care services.

    Current AI/ANNAC Members

    Council Chairperson: Linda Burhansstipanov, DrPh, MSPH, CHES

    Council Members:
    Florence Tinka Duran, BS
    DeAnna Fay Finifrock, RN, PHN, MSN
    Lydia Hubbard-Pourier, RN
    Phyllis Pettit Nassi, MSW
    Nellie Sandoval, MS, BS
    Arlene Wahwasuck, RN, MSN
    Celese Whitewolf, Director

    Photo of Linda Burhansstipanov
    Linda Burhansstipanov, DrPh, MSPH, CHES, of Pine, CO, is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She is executive director of Native American Cancer Research, a non-profit community-based, American Indian-operated corporation. Dr. Burhansstipanov completed both graduate degrees at UCLA. She taught full-time at universities for 18 years. She developed and implemented the Native American Cancer Research Program at the National Cancer Institute from 1989-1993. She currently is the principal investigator of NIH grants such as "Quality of Life: Native American Cancer Education for Survivors." She serves on national boards, including the Intercultural Cancer Council and Mayo Clinic's "Spirit of E.A.G.L.E.S." She has over 90 peer-reviewed publications.

    Photo of Florence Tinka Duran
    Florence Tinka Duran, BS, of Rapid City, SD, is enrolled as a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and is a research assistant for Northern Plains Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NPCCCP) at the Northern Plains Tribal Epidemiological Center. She works at the regional level on public health issues surrounding cancer within a community-based participatory framework. The mission of NPCCCP, a program of the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board (AATCHB), is to coordinate methods to reduce incidence, morbidity, and mortality of cancer by reducing cancer risk, detecting cancers earlier, improving treatments and enhancing survivorship and quality of life for patients.

    Photo of DeAnna Fay Finifrock
    DeAnna Fay Finifrock, RN, PHN, MSN, of Cloquet, MN, a public health nurse at the Fond du Lac Reservation, located near Cloquet. She has been employed as a tribal nurse in the Fond du Lac Human Services Division's Public Health Nursing Department since 1989, providing a wide variety of nursing services for the Fond du Lac community members and the Fond du Lac Human Services Division. When the Fond du Lac Reservation was notified in June 2003 that their Comprehensive Cancer Control and Prevention grant had been funded through the Centers for Disease Control, Ms. Finifrock was assigned to the grant as the comprehensive cancer program manager. During the past three years she has guided the planning process of the Fond du Lac Reservation's Wiidookaage Comprehensive Cancer Plan and has initiated several community outreach programs to increase awareness regarding the burden of cancer among American Indians. Breast Cancer programming is especially important to DeAnna because she is a breast cancer survivor.

    Photo of Lydia Hubbard-Pourier
    Lydia Hubbard-Pourier, RN, of Phoenix, NV, is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and the Tohono O'odham tribe of Southern Arizona. Ms. Hubbard-Pourier is a health care consultant. She received her BS in nursing from Arizona State University and her MPH from the University of California. She has more than 30 years of experience in health administration and management experience, working in health programs serving Native American people throughout Indian country. Most recently, she has worked as a consultant to facilitate the development of breast and cervical cancer programs on Indian reservations and in the development of cancer research studies on Indian reservations in Arizona. She is especially interested in working to prevent breast cancer because her mother died of breast cancer.

    Photo of Phyllis Pettit Nassi
    Phyllis Pettit Nassi, MSW, of Salt Lake City, UT, is enrolled in the Otoe-Missouri Tribe and is a member of the Cherokee Nation. She is manager, special populations, at Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. The program's goal is to educate American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) about how to protect themselves from cancer and participate in research. Ms. Pettit Nassi's focus, in addition to education, prevention and screening, is on bridging the research gap. It is her goal to empower Indian communities by listening to their concerns and providing researchers with the opportunity to directly communicate to the tribes. She travels to Point Hope Alaska, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle to the high desert in Northern Arizona and the pueblos in New Mexico, meeting with Indian sisters and brothers to talk about cancer. Ms. Pettit Nassi received her Geology/Anthropology degree from Southern Oregon University, was a research assistant at the University of Nairobi, Institute of African Studies from 1977-1979, completed her Masters of Social Work in 2006 and is currently a Ph. D. student at the University of Utah, College of Social Work.

    Phyllis presently is an Advocate for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Scientist-Survivor Program; is a member of the Patient Advocacy Committee for the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG), is on the Advisory Board of the Cancer Information and Support Network (CISN); is a Participant representative on the National Children’s Study (NCS) Steering Committee; is Co-Chair of the Southwest Region of the Intercultural Cancer Council Network, is a Members of the Consumer Advocates in Research and Related Activities (CARRA) program administered by the NCI Office of Advocacy Relations (OAR) and is on the Advisory Board of College/Graduate Horizons.

    Phyllis is a member of the American Association of Cancer Educators; has taken part in the National Leadership Summit on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health; Patient Navigator Supervisor Training and A Gathering of Cancer Support Group Training. Under her management, HCI’s Special Populations Program received recognition from the Department of Health and Human Services for its work in educating Native American communities about cancer prevention and detection. Phyllis is the recipient of Utah's American Indian Outstanding Manager Award and the University Of Utah College Of Social Work’s Pete Suazo Social Justice Award and the James Garland Woolsey Memorial Award for Professional Promise in the Field of Health and Rehabilitation.

    Photo of Nellie Sandoval
    Nellie Sandoval, MS, BS, of Farmington, NM, is a member of the Navajo Nation and a consultant. A breast cancer survivor, Ms. Sandoval recently retired as a high school counselor. She is a Reach to Recovery volunteer and coordinator for the Four Corners Women's Cancer Support Group. She has worked with the Northern Navajo Medical Center and the San Juan Medical Foundation to create materials on breast cancer education and awareness. With a colleague, she produced the first videos about breast cancer education and awareness to be made in the Navajo language. In 2003, Ms. Sandoval was selected as one of 20 Outstanding Women in New Mexico by the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women.

    Photo of Arlene Wahwasuck
    Arlene Wahwasuck, RN, MSN, of Horton, KS, is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and a retired employee of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and the Indian Health Service (IHS). She served as a nurse officer for 22 years. Her career with the IHS began as a civil service registered nurse, a post she held for seven years. Ms. Wahwasuck is a breast cancer survivor and serves as a volunteer with two local organizations addressing breast and cervical health and behavioral health. She is also a volunteer, serving on two national organizations focusing on improving breast cancer services to Native American women.

    Photo of Celese Whitewolf
    Celese Whitewolf, Director, Native People's Circle of Hope (A coalition of Native cancer survivors and support groups)
    Celeste Whitewolf, JD, of Tigard, OR, is a Stage III breast cancer survivor diagnosed in August 1998. She is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla and volunteer Director of the Native People's Circle of Hope, a coalition of native cancer survivors and supporters. Ms. Whitewolf is the northwest representative to the Inter-Cultural Cancer Coalition, a member of the American Indian/Alaska Native Advisory Council to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She is a past member of the National Cancer Institute/Director’s Consumer Liaison Group and Oregon Partnership for Cancer Control. She is a national advocate for Native American cancer survivors.


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