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.
Komen Scholar Since 2013
Advocate in Science Since 2008
Karen Durham was originally diagnosed with an aggressive Stage 2 invasive breast cancer at the age of 38. Karen’s interest in metastatic breast cancer heightened when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic disease in 2009. Fortunately, she was enrolled in a clinical trial and was an exceptional responder for 6 years. In 2015, she had disease progression and has been undergoing treatment by way of several different clinical trials since then. Currently, Karen serves on the Tyler Affiliate Board of Directors and is the Affiliate Grants Chair. She is a member of Komen's Advocates in Science Steering Committee and chairs its Committee on Advocates in Peer Review (CAPER). Karen has participated in research peer review at Komen and the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs since 2008. Karen is an advocate reviewer for the Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center. Karen served on Komen Roundtable on Metastatic Disease and is an appointed member of the ASCO CancerLinQ Patient Advisory Committee, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance Information Task Force, and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.
Komen Scholar Since 2010
Costa Mesa, CA
Sandra Finestone, Psy.D., is a 30-year breast cancer survivor and research advocate, who has been a volunteer for Susan G. Komen for over 25 years. Dr. Finestone is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is passionate about educating breast cancer patients about their disease and the importance of breast cancer research. Dr. Finestone opened the Hope Wellness Center to meet the needs of breast cancer survivors. As Executive Director, she facilitates support groups, meets individually with patients and their families and has created a peer support system where breast cancer mentors help newly diagnosed women with their journey. Sandy helped start the Orange County Komen Affiliate and has been president three times, as well as the Race chair. She is a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Ambassador and the President of the Inland Empire Komen Affiliate. In 2009, she went to Jordan to facilitate a meeting that taught healthcare providers about support groups for women with breast cancer, and later that year, trained women in Kuwait and Egypt about support groups. A Project Lead graduate, Dr. Finestone is an experienced grant reviewer for multiple organizations, including Komen.
Scientific Advisory Board Since 2012
Komen Scholar 2010-2012
Kansas City, MO
Cheryl L. Jernigan, CPA, F.A.C.H.E., is a 20-year breast cancer "thriver" and cancer research advocate. She was previously CEO of the Kansas City Area Hospital Association, and has over 20 years of experience in health policy, advocacy and community/national leadership on behalf of hospitals. She is Chair of the Breast Cancer Prevention Center’s Advocate Advisory Board for The University of Kansas Medical Center and The University of Kansas Hospital, and she is the Lead Advocate of Patient & Investigator Voices Organizing Together (PIVOT), a new University of Kansas Cancer Center initiative. Ms. Jernigan is a founding and current board member and Chair of the Strategic Mission Committee of the Greater Kansas City Komen Affiliate, and a member of the Steering Committee of Komen’s Advocates In Science program. An active research advocate, Ms. Jernigan is a member of many clinical trial initiatives, including the National Cancer Institute’s Central Institutional Review Board for Adult Late Phase Clinical Trials. Ms. Jernigan is also one of the experts involved with Komen’s big data initiative.
Komen Scholar Since 2012
Peggy Johnson is a five-year breast cancer survivor and has been an active healthcare advocate for more than two decades. Her involvement with Komen began in 1990, when she played a large part in bringing the Race for the Cure to Wichita. Since then, she has served as Chair of Komen’s National Board of Directors in the mid-1990’s, and has continued to be active with the Komen Kansas Affiliate as Chair of the Affiliate’s Mission Advisory Council and a member of the Board of the Directors. In her role as Chairman, Ms. Johnson testified before Congressional committees on several occasions, speaking on subjects such as funding for research and access to quality health care. She currently serves on Komen’s Advocates in Science Steering Committee. Ms. Johnson believes that bringing the consumer/patient’s voice to research is an important part of her job professionally and as a Komen Advocate in Science member.
Komen Scholar Since 2017
Advocate in Science Since 2010
Anne M. Meyn, M.Ed., was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 1989 and throughout 1990. While in treatment, the Komen Houston Affiliate was founded, offering knowledge, support and long-lasting friendships. Ms. Meyn was compelled to be involved in an organization whose goal it was to eradicate breast cancer. She has served on the Komen Houston Affiliate Board of Directors since 2011, and she co-chairs the Komen Houston Medical Advisory Council Adjunct committee. Selected as M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s patient advocate on the Komen-funded Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), she became the TBCRC Patient Advocate Working Group Co-Chair in 2016. As an AIS member, Ms. Meyn received scholarships to Komen-funded advocate programs at ASCO Breast Cancer Symposium. She was also introduced to the Komen Tissue Bank while she participated in Komen Promise Grant-funded advocate workshop at Indiana University, and she was instrumental in having Komen Houston host a tissue collection event in the most diverse city in the country. An experienced research grants reviewer, she is passionate about research, as she knows new treatments and cures will be the ultimate result.
Advocate in Science Since 2016
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Bárbara Segarra-Vázquez, D.H.Sc., has been a faculty at the University of Puerto Rico for 29 years, and is currently the Dean of the School of Health Professions and the Director of the Post-Doctoral Master in Clinical and Translational Science. Dr. Segarra-Vázquez was diagnosed with breast cancer Stage IIB on December 2003 and was in remission for 13 years. On January 2017, she had a recurrence of metastatic breast cancer to the skin. A volunteer for Komen Puerto Rico since 2006, she was Board President for four years, during which they received the “Promise Award 2013” for their commitment to innovation and forward thinking in reducing overall breast cancer mortality. She is an active participant in the Puerto Rico Cancer Control Coalition. She has served several times as a consumer reviewer for research programs and traveled to Komen Global Initiative to meet with different groups that provided services to breast cancer patients and participate in a public activity of breast cancer awareness. Dr. Segarra-Vázquez is a medical technologist and she received her D.H.Sc. from Nova Southeastern University.
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.
Learn more about AIS, join the program, and find valuable AIS Resources.
Careers & Opportunities