The 15th annual Advance Team meeting was held April 15, with dozens of members in attendance. We also welcomed and introduced our 10 new members:
- Bill Bobbora: Bill lives in Houston with his wife Jenée. They have supported MD Anderson for more than 10 years, attending and chairing numerous events including the Houston A Conversation With a Living Legend, Santa’s Elves and the inaugural Inflammatory Breast Cancer Luncheon that raised more than $230,000 for the Center for Radiation Oncology. An executive vice president at Cadence Bank and an adjunct professor at The University of Houston Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, Bill has more than 20 years of corporate finance and business start-up experience.
- Carolyn Chachere: Carolyn lives in Houston and works as an attorney with FizerBeck, specializing in estate planning, taxation and probate law. She is a member of the Houston Estate and Financial Forum and the Houston Young Lawyers Association. Carolyn volunteers with the Ronald McDonald House and has attended the Houston A Conversation With a Living Legend® events.
- Ann-Margaret Dudley: Ann-Margaret lives in Houston and serves as a director in Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Houston office, with a focus on the recruitment of general counsels, chief compliance offers and senior attorneys for corporate clients. Prior to that, she was a commercial litigation attorney. Ann-Margaret is a cancer survivor and strives to give back to MD Anderson in a number of ways. She and her husband, James, hosted the Stock Grill Challenge, she’s served on the Santa’s Elves host committee and she’s supported MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program.
- Robert Elliott: Robert lives in Houston and works as a landman with Newfield Exploration Company, where he has led negotiations for A&D projects and helps execute drilling activities. He looks forward to attending Rice University to obtain his MBA in the fall. Robert lost both of his parents to cancer and has made it his mission to support MD Anderson however he can. He’s attended the Santa’s Elves event and the Stock Grill Challenge.
- Kristin Hamilton: Kristin lives in Houston, where she works as a licensed and registered dietician and nutritionist. She was a senior clinical dietician at MD Anderson for 12 years before deciding to stay at home with her twins. Kristin has served on the host committee for the Little Galleria events and has attended several Santa’s Elves events.
- Jocelyn Johnson: Jocelyn lives in her native city of Austin, where she is a Realtor for Gottesman Residential Real Estate. She is dedicated to the Austin community at large and is intricately involved in the leadership of many local organizations. Jocelyn's husband passed away after being treated at MD Anderson and she remains dedicated to giving back to the institution that she says gave so much to her and her family.
- Margaret Pearce: Margaret lives in Houston where she is a Vice President at Zamco Properties, LLC, a Houston-based commercial real estate firm specializing in the investment in and development of land, multi-family, mixed use and retail properties in Houston. Additionally, she is the owner and founder of Dwell Living, LLC. Dwell provides high-end temporary housing services for patients and their families seeking treatment at the Texas Medical Center. Margaret’s father is a patient at MD Anderson and she is committed to giving back to the institution in any way she can. She has served on the host committee for Santa’s Elves and supported the Melanoma Moon Shot.
- Anson Reilly: Anson is from Dallas, where he is a partner with PKI Partners, an investment management firm. He previously was chief financial officer of SunTX Urbana, a private real estate investment and management firm. Anson first was connected to MD Anderson through his father, and together as a family, they want to help give back. He also is director for the Reilly Family Foundation.
- Robyn Stringfellow: Robyn lives in Dallas and serves as the business development manager for Mark Cuban Companies. She previously was vice president of sales for BioLife Cell Bank, a cell banking business. Robyn is a member of the Philanthropy Board for the North Texas Food Bank and a committee member for the Cotes de Doeur honoring the American Heart Association. Robyn is a member of the Philanthropy Board for the North Texas Food Bank, a board member for the USA Film Festival and a member of the International Women’s Forum (IWF).
- Dr. Neshat Yazdi: Neshat lives in Houston, where she has been a practicing dentist since 1999 and has had her own practice for more than 12 years. She speaks three languages: English, Spanish and Farsi. Dr. Yazdi is a longtime supporter of MD Anderson, supporting the Annual Fund, Santa’s Elves and Little Galleria events.
The Advance Team’s leadership board consists of:
- David Herr, chair
- Kelli Kickerillo, events chair
- Laine Santamaria, education chair
- Holden Rushing, chair-elect
The meeting kicked off with a quick review of the bylaws. Members are expected to:
- Attend meetings and actively support the programs of the Advance Team, including MD Anderson and Advance Team events
- Adhere to a two-year term after initial appointment; Advance Team terms are renewable after two years for two additional two-year terms, with an additional 2-year senior status term for a total of eight years of service
- Nominate candidates for membership to the Advance Team and bring to an event as your guest(s) or to volunteer with you, at least once (Please note: When someone is nominated, we advise that he or she not be told. If your nominee is invited to join the Advance Team, you will be called, and you then can reach out to the candidate with information about the Advance Team.)
Nominations for next year’s Advance Team are due Dec. 1 but can be submitted at any time throughout the year.
Throughout the meeting, Advance Team members had the opportunity to hear from leaders across the institution, including Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson; Cindy Schwartz, M.D., interim head of Pediatrics; Michael Curran, M.D., assistant professor of Immunology; and Tadd Pullin, senior vice president for Institutional Advancement, which encompasses MD Anderson’s Development office, as well as Marketing and Public Relations, Communications, Corporate Alliances and Volunteer Services.
The Advance Team also got an inside look at preparations for MD Anderson’s upcoming 75th anniversary week of events, Nov. 7-14.
75th Anniversary Celebration
- Monday, Nov. 7: Employee and Volunteer Appreciation Event
- Thursday, Nov. 10: 75th Anniversary Gala
- Friday, Nov. 11: Board of Visitors Meeting
- Friday, Nov. 11: myCancerConnection Annual Survivorship Conference and Banquet
- Saturday, Nov. 12: Boot Walk to End Cancer
- Monday, Nov. 14: Employee Service Awards Dinner
Don’t forget that tables are on sale now, with a limited number offered at a special discounted price for Advance Team members only. Five tables of 10, normally priced at $10,000, are available for $7,500. A few of these specially priced tables have already been spoken for, so please act quickly if you’re interested in taking advantage of this table level. The 75th anniversary gala will take place on Thursday, Nov. 10 and will be the highlight of the 75th anniversary week. This is a terrific opportunity to mix and mingle with your fellow Advance Team members as well as influential members of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors.
You can purchase your own table or contact Lenae Fowler if you’re interested in sharing a table with other Advance Team members. Lenae has generously offered to connect interested individuals if you have fewer than 10 in your party.
Additionally, Rachel Cruz and Barry Kessler are leading the Advance Team in MD Anderson’s first Boot Walk to End Cancer, a 2-mile walk through the Texas Medical Center. Everyone can participate, including friends, families and children of all ages. Please be on the lookout for information in the coming weeks on how you and your family can get involved and give cancer the boot!
Payal Pandit Talati, program manager for Behavioral Science, updated Advance Team members on the Sunbeatables Program, a sun safety initiative that aims to advocate, educate and support skin cancer prevention. Members received a Sunbeatables Curriculum Tool Kit and training component. A Spanish version is in the works.
Please help MD Anderson identify schools that may be interested by sharing the attached flier and/or the Sunbeatables kit you received at the annual meeting. Once you’ve gotten confirmation that a particular school is interested, please email Payal Pandit with the school’s name and contact information. She will reach out to the school to coordinate the next steps. Payal is working to get the Sunbeatables program incorporated at more than 20 schools across Houston.
To learn more or to get involved, please contact Lenae Fowler.