• Above all, we make a difference.
  • Young Women's National Advisory Council



    YW was developed to help Komen for the Cure address breast health and breast cancer issues that impact women younger than age 39. Breast cancer is generally associated with getting older and many people do not realize that the disease can affect women in their teens and 20s. In addition, the advisory council was formed to help Komen reach, attract and engage young women in the fight against breast cancer.


    Role and Responsibilities


    The council works with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to address issues related to breast health and breast cancer in young women. YW will be instrumental in helping Komen find ways to decrease breast cancer incidence and mortality trends among younger women. In addition, the advisors will offer guidance to Komen staff and Komen Affiliates on how to reach, attract and engage young women in all business areas of the organization.


    Advisory council members, who are selected on the basis of nominations and come from all over the nation, help Komen plan strategies to decrease disparities in breast cancer mortality rates in specific population groups, and increase engagement in the fight against breast cancer. Members serve for a period of three years.


    Providing breast health information to younger women


    "While breast cancer is thought to be a disease that develops primarily in older women, younger women can and do get it, and when they do, it is often very aggressive. Our Young Women's National Advisory Council will be very helpful to Komen in helping us to find new and exciting ways to engage with younger women, providing them with breast health and breast cancer information that is relevant to them and where they are in their lives," said Susan Carter, Komen's senior advisor, office of the president, who serves as facilitator for the organization's advisory councils.


    News: Young Women's Advisory Council Member Recognizes Best Friend for Co-Survivorship on "Live with Regis and Kelly."
    Bridget Mooney, on the Young Women's Advisory council, submitted her best friend, Caitlin, for a makeover from Live with Regis and Kelly in order to express her gratitude for the exceptional support as co-survivor. Bridget says Caitlin took her for manicures and beach trips when other friends didn't know what to do. Caitlin started a Komen NYC Race for the Cure team this year in Bridget's name, and the members raised $20,000. For all her support, Caitlin was chosen by Regis and Kelly for a "Thanks-for-Giving" Makeover. The big reveal will air on Wednesday, November 21. Check online for local listings and watch an example of some Komen girls in action!


    Current YW Members


    Council Chairperson: Lindsay Avner, BA


    Council Members:
    Dikla Benzeevi, BS
    Nikia A. Hammonds-Blakely, MBA
    Davina Heredia
    Samantha Knox
    Bridget Mooney
    Sarah Eisenstein Stumbar, BS
    Megan Sussman
    Elissa Thorner-Bantug, MHS
    Tarsha Jones, RN, BSN




    Photo of Lindsay Avner
    Lindsay Avner, BA, of Chicago, is a well-known national advocate for young people in the fight against breast cancer. After watching her mother battle and ultimately prevail over breast cancer, Lindsay committed to doing her part to involve her fellow peers in the cause. At the age of 15, she founded and implemented the first ever Komen Race for the Cure® High School Team Challenge in Columbus, OH to foster participation by young people in the races, while raising funds and awareness of the disease. The Challenge, which was designated as a model program by Komen for the Cure®, is now present in more than 60 affiliates internationally. After high school, Lindsay received her BA in psychology from the University of Michigan. After, Lindsay moved to Chicago and worked for three years in brand management at Unilever, marketing and developing some of the world's most admired brands including Dove, Suave and Axe deodorants. She remains a committed breast cancer activist, speaking out about her courageous decision to undergo prophylactic bilateral mastectomy in several national media outlets. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Bright Pink (www.BeBrightPink.org), a nonprofit organization she founded in 2007 that provides education and support to young women who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

    Photo of Dikla Benzeevi
    Dikla Benzeevi, BS, of Studio City, CA, is a 3-time and 7-year survivor of advanced breast cancer still in her 30s, still in treatment. Since her diagnosis, she has dedicated her time to breast cancer outreach and advocacy - assisting and guiding women with breast cancer and their loved ones through this difficult journey. Recognizing the need for a peer support and resource network for younger women in California, she created just such a group. Through extensive networking with breast cancer centers, hospitals, social workers and peers, Dikla has built one of the largest West Coast networks for young women affected by breast cancer. Her network shares information, promotes advocacy and outreach and provides the personal support that every young woman needs. Dikla is also involved in many other outreach activities including involvement in the Breast Cancer Network of Strength and the Young Survival Coalition. Dikla completed Breast Cancer Network of Strength YourShoes Peer counseling training and the National Breast Cancer Coalition Project LEAD science training. She took part in an educational DVD for young women living with advanced breast cancer and participates in panels educating students from high school to medical school on breast care issues. Dikla is also featured in various national publications and speaks on TV, radio and at many local, national and international conferences and events on issues related to breast health and breast cancer. Dikla is a member of the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Young Women National Advisory Council and a board member of the Southern California Affiliate of the Breast Cancer Network of Strength Organization. Believing that peer support has to be coupled with political support, Dikla also participates in the National Breast Cancer Coalition Advocacy Training Conference as well as Komen Lobby Day in Washington D.C. lobbying Congress to vote for breast cancer legislation. Dikla was chosen as a Lifetime Television Stop Breast Cancer for Life Hero and her story was featured on the Jim Lehrer NewsHour. Dikla finds fulfillment in helping other breast cancer survivors and their families and finds strength from the support of her community and family who contribute to her living fully and thriving with advanced breast cancer and its ongoing treatments.

    Photo of Nikia A. Hammonds-Blakely
    Nikia A. Hammonds-Blakely, MBA, of Frisco, TX, survived a life-altering bout with breast cancer at age 16. She is a singer, songwriter and motivational speaker who focuses her message on receiving physical and emotional healing with the help of God and family. She is especially concerned with the healing of families and women who suffer with issues of inadequacy, insecurity, brokenness and abandonment. In support of young breast cancer patients in Abuja, Nigeria, Nikia release her debut solo project entitled "Soul of A Survivor", featuring songs that she penned in during her own breast cancer experience. She plans to donate 100 percent of the proceeds over the next 4 years to young girls in Africa.. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Indiana State University, an M.B.A. with a marketing specialty from Capella University and is currently completing for her PhD in Organizational Management.

    Photo of Davina Heredia
    Davina Heredia, of El Paso, is a Graduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso and is studying to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. She graduated from UTEP with a B.A. in Psychology. Her senior year of high school she joined Teens for the Cure and served as chair for the group for four years. She currently serves on the El Paso Affiliate Board of Directors. During her undergraduate years, she has been president of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, a member of the Student Leadership Institute and the Honors Program, and also Vice President for Psi Chi the National Honor Society for Psychology. She is also actively involved in dance and a member of the Ballet Folklorico at El Paso Community College. She is currently working to organize the first breast cancer awareness organization on her University Campus.

    Photo of Samantha Knox
    Samantha Knox, of Allendale, MI, is a 21-year-old student who grew up in Adrian, Michigan. She graduated from Madison High School in 2003 and is currently attending Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan pursuing a B.S. in public and nonprofit administration. She expects to graduate in April of 2008. Outside of schoolwork, Samantha works at a nearby hotel and stays very active on campus through involvement with Colleges Against Cancer, Komen for the Cure, American Humanics, and other projects.

    Photo of Bridget Spence
    Bridget Spence, is a National Sales and Service Coordinator with Event 360 INC, an organization that produces fundraising events for non-profits across the country. In addition to her work with Event 360, Bridget serves on the Board of Directors of a Boston-area non-profit called Thrive Together, which offers support and education to pre-menopausal breast cancer survivors in the Boston metro area.

    Bridget graduated cum laude from Boston University with a bachelor’s in International Relations in 2005. One week after her graduation from BU, Bridget was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She was only 21 years old and had no family history of the disease. Since her diagnosis in 2005, Bridget has had several recurrences of her cancer and still must attend regular chemotherapy appointments.

    Since her diagnosis, Bridget has dedicated her life to raising awareness about breast health in young women because at the time of her diagnosis she was not performing regular breast self exams and was told by several medical professionals not to worry about the growing lump in her breast. She speaks at high schools, colleges and universities across the country about the importance of breast self awareness and early detection. Most recently, Bridget kicked off the Boston University commencement weekend speaking in front of 3,000 graduating seniors at the 2009 Senior Breakfast.

    Bridget has been recognized nationally for her work educating young women. She received the 2009 Boston University Distinguished Young Alumni Award, the highest honor bestowed by the University upon its alumni. She was also honored as the 2009 LIFE Hero award by Val Skinner and the LPGA. Bridget’s work as a young breast cancer activist has been featured on Live! With Regis and Kelly, and in Teen Vogue and Women’s Health magazines.

    Photo of Sarah Stumbar
    Sarah Eisenstein Stumbar, MPH, has been actively involved in health activism—around breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, and reproductive health--since she was in high school. She has worked in Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States; with organizations including Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Greater NYC, the United Nations Learning Strategy on HIV/AIDS, the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corp., Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the Center for Health and Gender Equity. At Komen-Greater NYC, she advocated for expanded Medicaid coverage for breast cancer care and spear-headed efforts to increase the involvement of underserved communities in the Race for the Cure. In 2007, she was named as a member of the Young Women’s National Advisory Council of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which is tasked with engaging the next generation of breast cancer advocates. Sarah graduated with her BA in the History of Medicine from Yale University in 2006. In 2008, she received her MPH in Sexuality and Health from the Mailman School of Public Health-Columbia University, where she was also named a Community Health Scholar. She is currently a second year medical student at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. As a young woman at high-risk for breast cancer, Sarah comes from a family that has been deeply affected by the disease. For her, breast cancer activism is a way to mobilize pain into passion, and change.

    Photo of Megan Sussman
    Megan Sussman, has been involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure since she was a sophomore in high school and her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. In an effort to reach out to other teens, she and her sister, Mallory, co-founded the Pink Ribbon Club at their high school in 2002. Today, there are over 30 Pink Ribbon Clubs in high schools across the country that are dedicated to fund-raising, spreading awareness, and volunteering for the fight against breast cancer. Megan continues to stay involved by advising both Komen and the Pink Ribbon Club Foundation about breast cancer advocacy and outreach for young women. She currently works for a healthcare consulting firm in San Francisco, CA and plans to eventually move to Washington, D.C. to work on healthcare policy and reform.

    Photo of Elissa Thorner-Bantug
    Elissa Thorner-Bantug, MHS, of Baltimore, Maryland, is a two-time cancer survivor. After finding a lump in her breast at the age of 21, it took Ms. Bantug eighteen months to find a doctor who would be willing to order a mammogram. Her first breast cancer diagnosis was at the age of 23. Two years later, on her 25 birthday, she was diagnosed for a second time with breast cancer. Ms. Bantug is an outspoken activist of young women living with breast cancer. She has appeared in multiple local and national television interviews, newspaper articles, magazine publications, and radio discussions speaking out about the unique barriers and challenges young women with breast cancer face. Ms. Bantug holds an undergraduate degree form Georgetown University in Women's Health and a graduate degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Health Promotion and Health Education with a concentration in Women's Health Issues. She currently works as Project Director of the Breast Cancer Survivorship Program at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    Photo of Tarsha Jones
    Tarsha Jones, RN, MSN, of Washington, D.C., is an assistant professor of Nursing at Trinity Washington University, where she actively engages and empowers young college women, through campus wide initiatives, to be aware of their risk for developing breast cancer and to become actively involved in their breast health. She recently received her MSN in Community/Public Health Nursing from the Catholic University of America where she received an alumni award for excellence in master’s studies in 2009. Tarsha is devoted both personally and professionally to finding a cure for breast cancer. She is currently enrolled in the doctor of philosophy (PhD) in nursing program at Duquesne University where her research will focus on young women of African descent with breast cancer. She hopes that her research findings will aid in decreasing disparities related to breast cancer and will assist healthcare professionals to understand the unique challenges encountered by young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

    After the death of her grandmother to breast cancer in 2004, Tarsha began the journey of empowering African-American women with information about their significant risk for developing breast cancer through community wide health education initiative as a former Paul Ambrose Scholar. In 2007, she was selected to serve as a member of the Young Women’s National Advisory Council; since then she has been an avid advocate for education, awareness, prevention, and funding for breast cancer treatment for vulnerable young women and minority populations affected by the disease. As an advanced practice nurse, Tarsha has worked both nationally and internationally to address the issue of breast cancer and to improve health outcomes related to the disease. She recently travelled to Ghana, West Africa and Jamaica with a medical missionary team to provide health care and education to the most impoverished groups. “As a health care professional I will do all that I can to advocate for the most vulnerable members of our society and to make others aware of the importance of working together to find a cure for breast cancer”.


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