WSA Leadership - Women Survivors Alliance
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WSA Leadership

contact-karenKaren Shayne
Founder, Women Survivors Alliance

Cancer Survivor

Karen spent over 20 years as a healthcare administrator where she has focused exclusively on development and management of healthcare facilities. Most importantly, Karen is a survivor of two different types of cancer. The diagnosis made her understand from “both sides of the desk” the importance of proper treatment, resources and a positive mental attitude as both a worker in society, a patient and as a woman. She became a frequent speaker at many cancer events throughout the US and through those efforts saw the lack of resources available for specific issues related to cancer care.

In 2011, after five years of research and strategic planning and with the help of women survivors across the nation, Karen launched the National Women’s Survivors Convention and the Women Survivors Alliance, a 501c3. Karen now serves as Tennessee State Lead Ambassador for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. She also serves Survivorship Committee Chairperson for the Tennessee Cancer Coalition. In 2013, Karen was nominated for the Nashville NEXT Award sponsored by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Entrepreneur Center.

Karen was also named 2011’s Health Care Hero by the Nashville Business Journal. She is also a member of the class 2011 of Leadership Middle Tennessee. She received the International Best of the Best Award by the Assisted Living Federation of America for her “On Modern Age” television show. Karen was the 2008 Nashville Business Journal Williamson County Impact Award winner; a 2009 Lifetime Television and L’Oreal Cosmetics “Women of Worth” nominee, and the recipient of the 2003 Small Business Council of America’s “Humanitarian of the Year” Award. In 2001, Georgia State Senate honored her with her own Resolution for her efforts with cancer advocacy and research.


Cynthia Chafin, M.Ed, MCHES
WSA Project Director and Editor-In-Chief of New Focus Daily

Cindy Chafin, M.Ed., MCHES is so very excited to be part of the Women Survivors Alliance. Cindy will be working as the project director for NOU magazine and will also support efforts with SURVIVORville and My Second Act: Stories from the Stage. Cindy works as a public health project director and consultant and has served as the State Tennessee Cancer Coalition Coordinator and Regional Coordinator for the Middle Tennessee region since 2005.   Cindy has been involved with WSA since the very first SURVIVORville in 2013.   She currently serves as the interim director of the Center for Health and Human Services at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and has had her own consulting business, Community Health Collaboratives, since 2007 where she manages multiple projects and grants. She is a master’s level certified health educator through the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing.

What made Cindy so interested in WSA? It started the very first time she met Karen in 2013.   Having lost several friends and relatives to cancer, it was already close to her heart.   Starting as a volunteer for the very first SURVIVORville, Cindy was literally speechless at the event and struggled for words to portray the essence of SURVIVORville and WSA when doing a write-up later.   What she didn’t struggle with was the feeling of knowing she had to continue to be a part of it. She wanted to be a part of “that kind of crazy” and has stuck with Karen ever since to be involved in various activities of WSA.   As if that were not enough, she has been dubbed “Karen’s twin” when they wear similar hairstyles and clothes. It was meant to be!

Cindy has contributed towards the development of three state cancer plans, served as primary writer and developer of the “ABC-123- Healthy Kids in Tennessee: Let’s Eat Well, Play, and be Aware, Every Day” program of the TN Cancer Coalition which won a CDC “success story” recognition and other awards, and was a founding member of the TN Cancer Coalition Student Internship Committee. Cindy worked in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health cancer control program director to grow a small group of volunteers into six regional coalitions with 300+ members over a multi-year period. She has a Master of Education in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, and a Bachelor of Business Administration. from Middle Tennessee State University.


Jenifer Neiderwerfer, Stuffed with Love Project &  WSA Volunteer Coordinator

Jenifer began her journey of volunteerism after a breast cancer in 2012, shortly after she turned 40. After treatment, she became very involved in the network of survivors in Nashville. The Stuffed with Love Project was created from the inspiration of another survivor and now Jen has taken this project and has grown it to reach thousands throughout the Southeast. Jenifer is one of those who leads with her heart and gives all she has as a survivor and a leader in her church. Jen also devotes her time as the Volunteer Coordinator of the Women Survivors Alliance.



Rhonda Smith Hicks, SURVIVORville Director

Rhonda is a wife, mother of two, corporate IT professional, entrepreneur and lymphoma cancer survivor.  She is originally from New Jersey, however, has called North Carolina home for the past 25 years.  Rhonda holds a degree in Business Administration Management from Meredith College.  Her corporate career has been in the fields of telecommunications and IT, primarily focusing on project, account, and personnel management.  In November 2009, Rhonda launched her first entrepreneurial venture – Amazing Grace Event Management.  Over the past six years, she has had the opportunity to plan and manage events spanning from milestone celebrations and weddings to small business and large corporate tradeshows on both a national and international scale.

Rhonda is an active member of her community.  She is the president of the Raleigh-Durham Chapter for the National Association for Professional Women (NAPW), which is the largest women’s networking organization in the country, with over 600,000 members nationwide. The NAPW, whose president is Star Jones, also includes a nonprofit organization that supports four organizations – Dress for Success, The American Heart Association, Girls Inc. and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation – all of which are important for today’s women.  She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, whose main thrusts are Sisterhood, Scholarship and Service.  Rhonda is also a Sunday school teacher and member of the Youth Ministry Leadership Team at her church.  When Rhonda is not busy taking her daughter to Girl Scouts or cheering on her son at his basketball games, she loves to travel and spend time with her family.  She enjoys hosting gatherings at her home to bring family and friends together for food, fun and fellowship! Her latest venture, Project She™, is her personal passion.  Because she lives the life of a busy wife, mommy and business woman, Rhonda understands the challenges and stressors that can be overwhelming on a daily basis.  This project was born out of those experiences and it is her hope this forum will serve as a place for women to support one another in the name of encouragement and positivity through the powerful bond of womanhood.


Sherry L. Abbott
Executive Director, Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA) Foundation
Cancer Survivor

Sherry has enjoyed a rich and illustrious career in the cosmetic and fashion industries. An avid traveler, she enthusiastically seeks out new adventures and mines life’s riches. With her love of all things Asian, her life dream was to live and work in Asia. So when business presented the opportunity to move to Indonesia, she embraced the chance and worked as General Manager for the country’s largest international cosmetic manufacturer and distributor.

Sherry’s life abruptly came to a halt and when she was diagnosed with a rare form of advanced, small-cell ovarian cancer, and given just three months to live. Determined to defy the odds, she beat the deadly cancer and triumphantly remains cancer free. A 21-year survivor, Sherry is a dedicated advocate committed to encouraging and empowering other women whose lives are affected by cancer. Her personal charisma and never-say-never attitude have been inspiring people with cancer and those who support them throughout her cancer journey.

In the early 1990’s Sherry participated on the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association’s (CCTFA) Operations Committee that put forward the formal recommendation to establish the CCTFA Foundation to deliver the Look Good Feel Better program in support of women with cancer. Sherry continued to play an instrumental role with Look Good Feel Better during its initial start-up years and in 2006 was appointed Executive Director of the CCTFA Foundation.

Beyond support for the appearance-related effects of cancer, the CCTFA Foundation has broadened its mission to foster greater awareness and understanding of, and support for, the psychosocial needs of people living with cancer, at every stage of their journey. In 2010 the Foundation launched a new program, Facing Cancer Together, to provide additional support to help lives affected by cancer. In addition to her role as Executive Director, Sherry also proudly represents the Foundation as its national spokesperson.

As a result of both her professional career and personal experience with cancer, Sherry has been speaking to international audiences for more than 20 years. Passionate about sharing her inspiring story of courage and determination, and the strategies she uses to bring mind, body and spirit to her life and healing, Sherry eloquently illustrates what she has learned about facing adversity and survival. In her talks, she openly offers invaluable insight and advice about ways to brave the many hurdles and challenges that arise after a cancer diagnosis.


becky-keckBecky Keck, RN, MSN, NEA-BC
Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Operations; Chief Administrative Officer and Assistant Professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

She received her ADN and BSN from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY, and her MSN from University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. She is a current doctoral student at University of Alabama Birmingham.

Becky has served in a variety of nursing/healthcare leadership roles over her 25 plus year career in healthcare. In particular, she has worked in administrative leadership roles at Central Baptist Hospital and University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, KY, as well as Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, TN. She has background in leadership, operations, finance, strategic planning and education.

Outside her normal duties, Becky enjoys working in the community with nonprofit agencies that support the provision of services that provide support to those in need.



Joanna Morales, Esq.
CEO, Triage Cancer

Joanna Morales is a cancer rights attorney, author, speaker, and CEO of Triage Cancer, a national nonprofit organization connecting people to cancer survivorship information and resources through a national speakers bureau, educational events, and online tools. She  has spent more than twenty years working on behalf of individuals with cancer, including five as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, teaching a seminar in Cancer Rights Law, and eight at the John Wayne Cancer Institute’s Psychosocial Care Program and Positive Appearance Center.

Joanna has presented hundreds of educational seminars on employment, insurance, health care, and advocacy issues throughout the country for patients, survivors, caregivers, health care professionals, advocates, lawyers, employers, and the general public In addition, she serves on numerous cancer community committees and boards, including as Chair of the Board of Directors for the California Division of the American Cancer Society, the National Advisory Board of CancerForward, and the Stupid Cancer Survivorship Advisory Council.  She has also served on the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association’s Breast Cancer Task Force.

Joanna has been published in a variety of publications, such as Psycho-Oncology, Coping with Cancer, Women, and Ability Magazine. In 2009, she also contributed to a book entitled, “Work and Cancer Survivors.”  She has co-authored a book on Cancer Rights Law for the American Bar Association (to be released in 2015).

Joanna has received numerous awards and recognition for her service to the cancer community and her work in the area of legislative advocacy, such as the 2009 Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Public Policy Advocate of the Year.  In 2010, she was also recognized by the Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of the Top 20 Attorneys in California Under the Age of 40.

She also serves as Principal of North Star Alliances, a business and nonprofit consulting and service firm.  Joanna received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations from the University of California Los Angeles and a Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School Los Angeles.


Julie adams

Julie Adams, Marketing and Loyalty Program Manager
Cancer Treatment Centers of America/Southeastern Regional Medical Center

Julie Adams is the Marketing and Loyalty Program Manager for  Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.  Julie has led strategic marketing and advertising efforts to launch the fifth hospital in a chain of cancer treatment facilities nationwide, generating incredible year-over-year growth and quickly becoming the second most successful hospital in the enterprise.  Julie was responsible for strategic media planning to build regional awareness quickly, before and after opening of CTCA Southeastern and evolved overlapping strategic plans to generate leads, resulting in double-digit market growth in key target areas across the region year-over-year.  Julie was also responsible for rolling-out CTCA’s patient/caregiver-centric loyalty program – Cancer Fighters – which assisted in, or directly attributed to, generating over 1/3 of patient volume.  The Cancer Fighter program goals included enrollment, engagement and retention efforts, all of which saw almost a 50% increase year-over-year.  Julie’s role at CTCA includes marketing department project integration across functional areas like public, physician, payer, employee relations and event management; utilizing market analytics to make core strategic decisions; collaboration with ad agency partners to develop cross media plan and ongoing optimization; budget management; cancer non-profit relationship building; and targeted marketing material creation.  Julie lives in Atlanta, Georgia.