• Above all, we make a difference.
  • National Hispanic & Latina Advisory Council


    With the growing Hispanic/Latina population, NHLAC was formed to guide Susan G. Komen for the Cure in its efforts to raise awareness among Hispanic and Latina communities in the United States, through culturally specific and appropriate means.

    Role and Responsibilities

    The council works with Komen for the Cure to address issues related to breast cancer in the Hispanic/Latina community, promoting positive breast health and helping to decrease mortality and morbidity rates of breast cancer in Hispanic/Latina women. NHLAC offers guidance to Komen staff and Komen Affiliates in the areas of grants, education, communications and public policy.

    Current NHLAC Members

    Council Chairperson: Marie Dahlstrom, MA 

    Council Members:
    Irene S. Beltran-Pistella
    Larisa C. Caicedo, MA
    Martha Carrillo-Brewer, MA
    Mary Cruz
    Dr. Jane E. Méndez
    Carmen I. Paris, MPH
    Elvira Ramos, BA
    Marbelly Miranda Walker, MD


    Photo of Irene Beltran-Pistella  
    Irene S. Beltran-Pistella of El Paso, TX, has over 20 years experience in marketing and currently serves as Director of Marketing for Price's Creameries, a subsidiary of Dean Foods, one of the largest food and beverage companies in the United States. Ms. Pistella has an Associates Degree in Allied Health and worked with the University Breast Care Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso in securing grants. She has volunteered and been a board member with the El Paso Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for over 13 years and was instrumental in starting Teens For the Cure within the El Paso area.

    Larisa C. Caicedo, MA, of Washington, D.C., is executive director of Nueva Vida, a support network for Latinas with cancer. She represents Nueva Vida on the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Latin American Cancer Research Coalition Advisory Board. Ms. Caicedo is an NBCC Project Lead graduate and also a graduate of the 2005 American Association for Cancer Research Scientist-Survivor Program. Her background includes project management, fundraising and outreach for the Latino community as well as involvement in Latin American international cooperation programs and economic development issues. As a volunteer, she developed successful fundraising strategies and took charge of event planning for other non-profit organizations that serve Latin American communities, such as Kidsave Internacional—for the Kids of Colombia, Fundación María Eugenia Belandia and Many Hats Institute (MHI). She studied in Colombia, her native country, and holds a master's degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

    Photo of Martha Carillo-Brewer  
    Martha Carrillo-Brewer, MA, Milpitas, CA, has worked with cancer patients and their families for over 11 years; as a health educator providing cancer information and resources as well as a counselor and facilitator providing emotional support to a Latina breast cancer support group. Ms. Carrillo-Brewer is a trained bilingual, bicultural Licensed Marriage Family Therapist. She was instrumental in the start up of Vida con Esperanza support group for Spanish-speaking breast cancer survivors after identifying a scarcity of language-appropriate support for Latina women with breast cancer in southern Alameda County. She also consults with Kaiser Permanente and other health agencies by reviewing their Spanish breast health materials and collaborating in other community health education projects. Ms. Carrillo-Brewer also provides case management and counseling for Latinas Contra Cancer.

    Mary Cruz, of Chula Vista, CA, is community and multicultural relations manager at the Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. Cruz's passion to work in the breast cancer field began over 25 years ago with the death of her best friend to the disease at the age of 35. She worked at the University of Southern California San Diego on the Por La Vida Project, a program that teaches breast health to Latinas through the use of a "peer education" model. She has been employed for more than 13 years at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, the closest hospital to the Mexican border in San Diego. Finding out that 50 percent of the facility's breast cancer patients were presenting with stage 3 or 4 levels of the disease and that 85 percent of those patients were Latinas, she has worked diligently and successfully to acquire grants to serve this disenfranchised population. She is also a Certified Patient Navigator.

    Photo of Marie Dahlstrom  
    Marie Dahlstrom, MA, serves as the director of Research and Development for Familias en Acciòn, a Latino community based health organization whose mission is to promote holistic family well-being for Latinos through community engagement, education, research and advocacy for social change. Ms. Dahlstrom is clinical assistant professor with Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Department of Radiation Medicine and is a health consultant specializing in community research, program development and training focused on Latino cancer health disparities both nationally and in Latin America. Ms. Dahlstrom is a board member of the Oregon/SW Washington affiliate of Susan G. Komen and serves on the National Cancer Institute Director’s Consumer Liaison Group. Ms. Dahlstrom has co-authored numerous Latino community assessments in Oregon including Mujer Sana/Healthy Woman, which provided best practices regarding breast and cervical cancer outreach and screening for Latinas. She was founding executive director of Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), executive director of the Susannah Maria Gurule (SMG) Foundation and founding co-chair of the Latino Maternal and Child Health Task Force. She is a recipient of the Balderson Leadership Project Development award through the National Public Health Leadership Institute and a two year recipient of the Fortaleza Award for her dedication to ending domestic violence in the Latino community.

    Photo of Jane E. Mendez, NHLAC

    Dr. Jane E. Méndez, received her medical degree and completed her General Surgery residency at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, NY. After working for five years as a general surgery attending, she pursued a Breast Surgery Fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, NY. She is board certified in General Surgery and since August 2004 has worked as a dedicated attending Breast Surgeon and Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Boston University School of Medicine /Boston Medical Center. Dr. Méndez is active in multiple national surgical and breast surgery related organizations. Currently Dr. Méndez serves as the Vice Chair of the Education Committee of the ACOSOG, is a member of the Health Policy and Government Issues Committee of the Society of Surgical Oncology and a member of the Patient Safety and Quality and Publications committees of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. In addition, she is a national and international breast cancer speaker and the author of multiple publications.

    Since April 2008, Dr. Méndez has served as a Board member of the Susan G. Komen Foundation Massachusetts’ Chapter. Most recently, June 2009, she was appointed to the Susan G. Komen National Advisory Council. Her interests include breast cancer disparities, underserved breast cancer populations and cultural issues as related to breast health. As a passionate patient advocate, Dr. Méndez has been featured in the Boston Globe, the Latina magazine and multiple local newspapers.

    Photo of Carmen Paris  
    Carmen I. Paris, MPH, Philadelphia, PA, serves as the deputy commissioner for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. As deputy commissioner, she manages, coordinates and oversees Environmental Health Services and Facility Management of nine local health centers, the Medical Examiners Office and the Medical Evaluation Unit for the Department of Public Health. In addition, Ms. Paris has more than 20 years experience as director and executive director of a variety of health care institutions and programs.

    Photo of Elvira Ramos  
    Elvira Ramos, BA, Denver, CO, a breast cancer survivor, is the executive director for the Brownsville Community Foundation. She has worked more than 20 years in the non-profit sector. She has been involved in legislative and advocacy issues for victims of violent crime, especially sexual assault. Ms. Ramos has volunteered or been on the board of numerous organizations including the Denver Foundation, the Directors of Volunteers in Agencies, the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, the Adult Learning Source and the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council. Ms. Ramos has always been a crusader and now her 10-year-old son is following in her footsteps. She raised $300.00 for the Denver Race for the Cure®.

    Marbelly Miranda Walker, M.D. earned a Medical Doctor (MD) degree with a specialty in Pathology from UNAN, Nicaragua. She has worked in the breast cancer field for the past eight years. She is a member of the Education Committee for the Susan G Komen for the Cure Houston Affiliate and a volunteer for the Hispanic Support Group Las Rosas Vivas. In 2004, she was the recipient of the DOVE Healthcare Service award from Glamour Magazine in Spanish for Houston’s Top Latinas Role Model.

    She served as a board member of the Hispanic Health Coalition in Houston from 2004-2007. She has been a member of the AstraZeneca National Hispanic/Latina Advisory Breast Cancer Committee since 2006. Marbelly is a Breast Cancer Advocate, a 2005 Project LEAD graduate and a 2006 Clinical Trials graduate from the National Breast Cancer Coalition. She currently works as Regional Outreach Manager for the Eastern Region for Breast Cancer Network of Strength formerly known as Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization. She oversees Outreach Programs for the organization in Atlanta, Cleveland, Connecticut, South Florida and Texas. Through these programs the organization offers breast health education, free clinical breast exams and free screening mammograms for undeserved women in the African-American, Asian and Latino communities.



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