The seven members of our Advocates In Science (AIS) steering committee are experienced research advocates who’ve demonstrated their dedication and leadership in breast cancer advocacy. The steering committee works closely with Komen staff, locally and nationally, to develop the strategy for the AIS program, expand its community of members and leverage the benefits and outcomes of effective breast cancer research advocacy. They are also active members of either the Komen Scholars or the Scientific Advisory Board and dedicated to making sure the patient voice in heard. Read their stories below.
Durham is a 24-year breast cancer survivor, diagnosed with an aggressive stage II
invasive breast cancer at the age of 38.
She was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic disease 2009.
has been very active with Komen since 1991. She began by
volunteering at the Dallas Race for the Cure. In 1995, she helped to found a
Komen Affiliate and a Race for the Cure in Tucson, AZ. Karen served the Southern Arizona Affiliate
as Board Secretary until she moved back to Texas in 2000 and began volunteering
for the Tyler Affiliate and SGK headquarters in a variety of positions. Currently,
Karen serves as the Tyler Affiliate Grants Chair and member of the steering
committee of the Advocates in Science Program.
Karen is an advocate reviewer for multiple programs including the Komen
Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center.
Karen participated in the Komen Roundtable on Metastatic Disease and in
the Komen-sponsored class to attend the Breast Cancer Symposium.
is the recipient of the Komen Cameo Award (2005), the Promise of One Award
(2009), the Tyler Affiliate Volunteer of the Year Award (2011), and the 2014
Tyler Race for the Cure Honorary Chair.
Sandy Finestone, Psy.D. is a 31-year breast cancer survivor, past President , Race Chair and Secretary of the Orange County Affiliate as well as past President and Treasurer of the Inland Empire Affiliate, International Volunteer of the year, Chair of the Advocates in Science Training Committee, Komen Scholar, member of the California Collaborative for Public Policy and consumer reviewer of research grants for Susan G. Komen, Avon Foundation, State of New York, State of California and the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for Breast Cancer. Sandy is also the founder of the Orange County Breast Cancer Coalition and Executive Director of Hope Wellness Center a nonprofit to meet the needs of breast cancer survivors. Dr. Finestone has been a volunteer for Susan G. Komen for over 25 years and believes passionately in our mission. She is involved in research projects, but she is just as committed to serving women who are currently dealing with diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. She facilitates several support groups including metastatic- and young-survivor-focused groups. She strives to empower patients to understand the science behind their diagnosis and treatments, and always question and learn.
Cheryl Jernigan, C.P.A., F.A.C.H.E., is an 18-year breast cancer "thriver" and breast health advocate. She is Chair of the Breast Cancer Prevention Center Advocate Advisory Board for The University of Kansas Medical Center and The University of Kansas Hospital. Ms. Jernigan is also a founding and current board member and Chair of the Strategic Mission Committee of the Greater Kansas City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen, and a member of the steering committee of Komen’s Advocates In Science program.An active research advocate, Ms. Jernigan is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Central Institutional Review Board for Adult Late Phase Clinical Trials; the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative's Patient Leadership Council; and the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center’s Working Group on Returning Clinical Trial Results to Participants. She is the Lead Advocate for the Greater Plains Clinical Data Research Network (a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Initiative (PCORI) grant; a past member of the National Cancer Institute's Director's Consumer Liaison Group (DCLG); and has served as an advocate reviewer for Komen’s Research Program, the U.S. Congressionally Directed Breast Cancer Research Program, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
In 2012, Peggy Johnson was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Twenty-three years before, her breast cancer advocacy role began as she played a large part in starting the Komen Wichita Race for the Cure in 1990. Peggy also helped develop the first free mammography program funded by a Komen Affiliate. After joining the National Board of Directors of Susan G. Komen, Peggy testified before Congressional committees on subjects such as breast cancer research and access to quality healthcare. Other national committee work includes the President's Action Plan on Breast Cancer, the Intercultural Cancer Council and co-chair of Poland's first national breast cancer conference in 1996. Peggy is the recipient of many awards for her advocacy including the inaugural Komen National Lifetime Volunteer of the Year award (1999), the Jill Ireland Community Volunteer National Award (2001) and the Suzy’s Angel Award (2012).Peggy currently serves as chair of the Kansas Affiliate’s Mission Advisory Council and co-chair of the Kansas Cancer Partnership, a group supporting the state comprehensive cancer program. In her professional life, Peggy serves as the Executive Director and COO for Wichita Medical Research and Education Foundation (WMREF) where she has been responsible for redesigning the organization's Institutional Review Board (IRB) and their community research and education grant program.
Judy Johnson is an 11-year breast cancer survivor and active breast cancer research advocate. In 2007, she co-founded the Komen St. Louis Research Advocacy Committee, the only local Komen affiliate in the country with a committee of this nature. The committee strives to understand the patients' point of view, and convey it to the medical community through local and national efforts. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a collaborative relationship with Judy and other local breast cancer research advocates as they develop concepts and grant applications to fund breast cancer research. Judy currently serves as an advocate member of a Komen-funded Promise Grant team at the university.Since 2007, Judy has participated in the peer review process for Susan G. Komen and the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. She has served as a clinical trials study coordinator for both the NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center and at Washington University where she earned the Certified Clinical Research Professional credential. Judy has also participated as a community member on Washington University's Institutional Review Board (IRB). She is a graduate or Project LEAD and has attended the many scientific conferences over the past ten years.
Patty Spears, B.S., is a 15-year breast cancer survivor, diagnosed at the age of 40 with locally advanced breast cancer. Following treatment, she began volunteering with the Komen North Carolina Triangle to the Coast Affiliate as Chair of the Education Committee and joined the Board of Directors in December 2001. Currently Patty serves as an advocate reviewer for the Susan G. Komen Research Program, the Duke Cancer Institute Cancer Protocol Committee and the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. She also serves on the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and the Community Advisory Board of the Office of Health Equity and Disparities at Duke Cancer Institute. Her previous advocacy work includes service with the Duke University Breast Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG™) program and the Komen-supported Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC). Patty is the recipient of the 2002 Susan G. Komen New Volunteer of the Year Award, the 2003 Maureen Jordan-Thomas Spirit of Survivorship Award, the 2007 caBIG™ Patient Advocate Award, and is a Project LEAD Graduate. She serves on the Susan G. Komen Advocates in Science Steering Committee and is a Komen Scholar.
Kim is a 19-year breast cancer survivor. After being diagnosed while pregnant at the age of 36 with triple negative breast cancer (although it was not called such at that time), Kim quickly made the decision to make breast cancer advocacy her life’s work. She became involved with Susan G. Komen locally, both as a volunteer and as a grant reviewer. Eventually Kim’s involvement evolved into reviewing national research grants for Susan G. Komen and other organizations. Kim has been a past race chair (2008/2009) for Komen Maryland. She is the current Survivor chair for the Maryland Affiliate and is a past winner of the Komen Maryland Affiliate Award (2004), the highest award bestowed upon a volunteer within the affiliate. Kim is a 1996 graduate of project LEAD and attended the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium twice on an Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation scholarship. Currently Kim is co-chair of the Komen Advocates in Science Steering Committee. Kim is also the Johns Hopkins Advocate Representative to the Komen-funded Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium and the Advocate Member of the Johns Hopkins SPORE. In her professional life, Kim is a Clinical Embryologist in a busy assisted reproductive laboratory in the Baltimore/Washington area.
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