Meet the Board Members

Our board is comprised of individuals who are passionate about helping fight childhood cancers

CCF Board Members

Deirdre McManus 2

Deirdre McManus

I am a wife and mother to two sons, Colin & Danny. I have worked in the Food Service Management industry for over 26 years. In October of 2017, my then 10-year-old son, Danny, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Every family’s worst nightmare. We chose to have Danny treated right in our backyard at Maria Ferrari Children’s Hospital under the care of Dr. Mitch Cairo. Danny received two bone marrow transplants, radiation and many targeted personalized treatments under the care of Dr. Cairo. We spent many months in the hospital and experienced many ups and many downs. Unfortunately, in June of 2019 Danny’s body had enough and he passed away after a courageous battle. No child or family should ever have to go through what Danny and our family went through, but they do, and they will continue to, if something does not change. Being a member of the CCF Board is helping me get involved in making a real impact on Pediatric Cancer in honor of our beautiful son Danny.
Len Mitchell

Len Mitchell

Our family became involved when our son Daniel was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 1986 and was treated by Dr. Mitchell Cairo. Daniel is fully recovered and is now a father of two healthy boys. Our daughter Kelly is a Ph.D. biomedical researcher, inspired by the research work of Dr. Cairo. She is a post-doc at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington. I became a close friend of Dr. Cairo in the process of Daniel’s treatment and afterwards, and joined the Board of CCF at the request of Dr. Cairo. My hobbies include hiking with friends and our dog Luca, playing the trombone, traveling, and teaching philosophy at Pace University.
Jenna Valcich

Jenna Valcich

I am a blessed and happy wife, and mother of three teenage boys. I have a small tribe of family and friends that I spend time with. My oldest son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 10. Although his cancer was curable and his treatment short, his diagnosis and hospital stays changed our family forever. Learning about Dr. Cairo's advancements in treatment over the years made me curious about children's cancer and the side of it that most people don't see. After my son successfully completed treatment, I wanted to get involved in helping kids like him. Children's cancer protocols are outdated and underfunded and CCF is trying to advance research in this area. I think that having the perspective of being directly affected by cancer is crucial to the success of an organization like this. I hope that I can contribute to CCF in a positive way and help them work towards curing childhood cancer.
Karen Wolownik 2

Karen Wolownik

As a Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner for nearly 30 years, I certainly knew what an ugly beast pediatric cancer was. But in 2018, when my best friend’s son was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of leukemia and became my patient, I gained the firsthand perspective of what cancer does to the entire family. I had volunteered for Children’s Cancer Fund (CCF) events before, but now I knew I had to do more than that to help end this suffering. That same year, I accepted the position as President of CCF. My husband Dennis, a High-School Special Education teacher and my 3 children, Dennis 21yrs old, Maggie 20yrs old and Lily 16yrs old have all been supportive of my efforts and are often seen volunteering at our events. It is our family mission to keep fighting until childhood cancer is eliminated forever and we are honored to do it alongside the Children’s Cancer Fund.
Melissa Feola

Melissa Feola

I am honored to be on the board of the Children’s Cancer Fund. I am the proud mother of three incredible kids – Charlotte, Adele, and Owen. My awesome husband Pete and I enjoy spending time with our family snowboarding, wakeboarding, camping, and biking, to name a few! My journey in the world of pediatric cancer began on May 31st of 2020 when our then four-year-old son Owen was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I learned that cancer affects not just the patient but the entire family. Although Owen’s treatment was a success, the road to get there was a challenging one. I witnessed firsthand the impact that the entire medical staff played in Owen’s care, and I couldn’t be more grateful. My mission in joining the Children’s Cancer Fund is to pay it forward by helping provide hope and support to all families fighting this battle.
Christina Barbieri

Christina Barbieri

As a nurse you know that "every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours” I heard this phrase early in my career and truer words have never been said. As a graduate of Boston College, and a pediatric nurse for over 25 years, I remain dedicated to making a difference in the lives of all children; but always had a soft spot in my heart for those battling cancer. While outcomes for pediatric cancer have improved greatly, there is still more work to be done. As the Nurse Manager at the Outpatient Infusion Center for Pediatric Hematology Oncology & Stem Cell Transplantation and working side by side with Dr. Cario and the other members of the Medical team I knew I could do more and wanted to be involved on a different level. I was honored when I was asked to join the board, to me this meant other people saw my devotion to the cause and knew I could make a difference. Along with my fellow board members we strive to raise funds for pediatric cancer research in the hopes that one day no parent has to hear the words.. Your child has cancer.

Andy Brenner

I have been on Wall Street my entire career and now own , along with 2 partners, a boutique brokerage firm based in NY and Austin… Christmas eve 1995 my son was diagnosed with Leukemia… it was a severe case at the time… but we were in the care of great doctors at New York Medical college… my wife and I got involved with CCF as soon as our son was out of treatment… I became Chairman and kept that position for over a decade… I continue to be involved whenever and however I can… the progress that has been made in the field is incredible… I will retire some day, but for now I stay involved, especially helping with the money side of the charity…the current staff at NY Medical and the hospital is top notch and we will do what is necessary for us to keep them at the top of the medical field… this is a charity that only supports NY Medical and the hospital… we are all volunteers and do not spend anything for salaries… we are always looking for new people to get involved

Mark Levy

Dr. Cairo and I have been friends since childhood. For the last 45 years we’ve spoken about his desire to be part of a medical team to eradicate childhood cancer. This is achieved through advances in science grants and donations. Recently retired from the private business sector, I felt my background in Finance could help CCF thrive and become more successful. I have been the treasurer since 2020 and am proud of our recent partnership with St. Baldricks as well as grants to NYMC. As a totally volunteer Board of Directors, we all add our time and talents ultimately for the same goal; the end of childhood cancer. It has been a great honor to be part of this Board and to see the advances Dr. Cairo and his researchers have accomplished in just the short time I have been part of CCF.
Kathie Headshot

Kathie Lusardi

Kathie brings a unique blend of professional expertise and personal passion to our nonprofit board. As the Director of IoT Products at Otis, Kathie leads innovative projects that shape the future of connected technologies, driving advancements in safety and efficiency within the industry. Outside of work, Kathie is a wife, mother of three sons, mother-in-law to two wonderful women, and her most important job, Grandma to Bobby and Annie. Her family journey has been marked by resilience and hope, with her youngest son being a courageous cancer survivor. This personal experience has ignited a deep commitment to supporting causes that aim to improve the lives of families facing health challenges and ensure 100% cure rate for all childhood cancers. Combining her professional skills in technology and her heartfelt dedication to family and community, Kathie brings both strategic insight and compassionate advocacy to the CCF mission.

There Are Many Ways You Can Help Support The Children's Cancer Fund

Help us make an impact by exploring the many ways you can contribute. Whether through direct donations, fundraising events, or volunteering your time and skills, each avenue of support adds a meaningful chapter to our collective story in the battle against childhood cancer.