About Us


Kyleigh LiPira, MBA

Chief Executive Officer

Kyleigh LiPira is the MRF’s Chief Executive Officer. In her previous role of Chief Development Officer, she worked with donors and their families to make charitable donations to significantly impact melanoma research, education and advocacy and oversaw the MRF’s fundraising program. Kyleigh has extensive fundraising experience, coming to the MRF from Johns Hopkins Medicine where for four and half years she raised funds for melanoma and other cancers at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Later, she became the Director of Development for the Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology. During her tenure with the Department of Dermatology she raised significant funds for melanoma clinical trials, engaged former trainees and grateful patients in philanthropy, and supported the educational program for current residents and fellows.

Kyleigh graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada with a degree in Mass Communication and English. She obtained her MBA from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. She lives in Maryland with her husband Jeff and adorable daughter Luci.

Ivis Alfaro

Senior Project Officer

Ivis Alfaro joined the Melanoma Research Foundation in May 2014. Ivis works across multiple departments to implement project management processes and procedures, supports the work of the Board of Directors and CEO, and facilitates the collaboration efforts of melanoma organizations and patient advocates around the world to support the work of the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy.

Ivis grew up in the DC area and is a graduate of Frostburg State University in Maryland. In her free time, she enjoys maintaining a very social life, taking a variety of workout and dance classes, as well as making functional pottery.

Cassie Beisel

Senior Advocacy Officer

Cassie joined the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) in 2014. As Senior Advocacy Officer, Cassie leads the organizations advocacy efforts to mobilize  advances in policy,  federal funding and regulatory issues while representing and engaging the interest of the melanoma community. Cassie also focuses on partnering with industry, seeking to amplify the voice of the melanoma community. She is a member of and serves on the steering committee for the National Council of Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP).  She is Co-Chair for the NCSCP’s Skin Smart Campus Initiative and is a member of the Public Access to Sunscreen (PASS) Coalition.

Having had three cancers – stage IIIC melanoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and squamous cell carcinoma. Cassie brings with her an incredible passion to work towards better outcomes and quality of life for patients, caregivers and their loved ones.

In her free time she enjoys traveling, anything outdoors, cooking and tending to every whimsical need of her pampered cat Lizzie.

Leanna Bennett

Events Manager

Leanna joined the Melanoma Research Foundation in April 2019 in the role of Events Manager. She supports many programs at the MRF including the Miles for Melanoma 5k walk/run series, the Gala program, Educational Symposia and the Advocacy Summit. Prior to joining the MRF, Leanna worked as an Events Coordinator for a non-profit membership association in the international development sector. She planned their educational trainings and conferences both domestic and international. Leanna’s love for non-profit organizations started at her internship with Friends of the National Zoo, where she assisted in coordinating the National Zoo’s signature fundraising events and their corporate events. She graduated from James Madison University with a major in Hospitality Management, with a minor in Business.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling, running and spending time outdoors.

Robyn Burns, PhD

Program Manager, MRFBC; Science Officer, MRF

Dr. Robyn Burns, who was recruited to be Program Manager of the MRFBC in 2011, brings strong skills and teamwork to the MRF’s consortium management. Since 2006, she has been Program Manager for a sister consortium, the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), in which 9 of the 19 academic member institutions are members of the MRFBC. She has also managed the NCI’s Melanoma Intergroup, a national network of NCI-funded melanoma physician investigators, a role in which she worked with Alison Martin and Randy Lomax. Dr. Burns also began managing the MRF’s research grant program in 2015.

After receiving a degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, Robyn transitioned into clinical trial management where she felt she could have the most patient impact. Robyn’s personal interest in melanoma began over 20 years ago when her then 22 year old sister, a former high school lifeguard, was diagnosed with Stage II melanoma. Robyn believes that clinical trial consortia can truly make a difference in patients’ lives and is honored to be actively involved with the MRF.

Susan Dorsey


Susan Dorsey serves as the MRF’s Controller. With over 25 years of experience in nonprofit finance, she brings a strong accounting and finance background accompanied with an extensive knowledge of federal and private grants administration, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), human resources, database management and office administration. Susan holds a BBA in Accounting from Ursinus College. Her previous experience was as a Vice President, Business and Finance at COE and prior to that as Director of Finance at Old Dominion University Research Foundation.

She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Grants Professional Association (GPA), the American Society of Association Executives, (ASAE), the American Grant Writers Association (AGWA), Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Lauren Johnston, MSW

Program Officer, Rare Melanoma Subtypes

Lauren joined the MRF team in 2015 as the CURE OM Program Manager. In Lauren’s role as Program Officer, she works to ensure that patients from the pediatric, mucosal, and ocular communities are finding the support they need through education, advocacy and research. Lauren develops support programs based on the needs of each community, and is an advocate for the patient voice in medical settings making sure that the patient perspective is heard and received throughout the entire cancer journey. She strives to bring the medical and patient communities together to cross-educate and learn from another on the path towards a cure for melanoma.

Lauren comes to the MRF with almost 20 years of non-profit experience in the field of program development, implementation, and evaluation. Before joining the MRF, Lauren spent six years working for Goodwill Industries of Denver building community collaborations and programs to assist youth. Prior to Goodwill, Lauren worked with a variety of vulnerable populations in Colorado and Texas. She currently serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations. Lauren developed a personal connection to ocular melanoma when, in 2014, her friend was diagnosed with primary disease. Her friend is currently doing well and receiving regular follow-up.

Lauren has a Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Denver. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two children. When not working, Lauren and her family enjoy the many opportunities Colorado has to offer including snowshoeing, hiking and camping in the mountains

Rebecca McCue

Programmatic Marketing Coordinator

Rebecca joined the Melanoma Research Foundation in February 2020 as the Programmatic Marketing Coordinator. In this role she works closely with the communications and programs teams, which include research, education and advocacy, to help develop and distribute marketing materials for different programs, campaigns and events. Prior to joining the MRF, Rebecca was a Marketing and Communications Assistant for a non-profit in the affordable housing space with the use of manufactured housing.

Rebecca graduated from the University of South Carolina in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. When she isn’t cheering on her Gamecocks in almost every sport, you can find Rebecca practicing yoga, trying out a new item at her favorite restaurant in Rosslyn or attempting to pet every dog she sees on the sidewalk.

Lorrie-Beth Miley

Senior Development Officer

Lorrie-Beth Miley joined the Melanoma Research Foundation team in December 2018 as the Development Officer leading the organization’s Miles for Melanoma program. Lorrie’s role has expanded to include managing several of the MRF’s national corporate partners and overseeing external events.  Prior to joining the MRF, Lorrie managed the community fundraising, regional Walk For Wishes events and public relations departments for five years as the Director of Community Engagement at Make-A-Wish Philadelphia. In her early career, she coordinated the American Diabetes Association’s Step Out Walk for Diabetes and Tour de Cure bike race in the southeastern and Central Pennsylvania regions and conducted marketing and outreach initiatives at the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO).

Lorrie is a graduate of Penn State University (we are!) and resides in DC with her adorable brown tabby, Chloe. In her spare time, she enjoys joining a variety of workout classes, keeping up with the latest political news, visiting with friends and going to her other home, Philadelphia, to visit with her family.

Nicole Nishanian

Development Associate

Nicole Nishanian joined the Melanoma Research Foundation in November of 2019 in the role of Development Associate. She supports all CommUNITY Fundraisers, cause marketing partners, and works with and recruits new volunteers. She graduated from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia with a Bachelor of Science and Business Administration degree in Marketing from the Luter School of Business. She has experience in event planning, hospitality, sales, account management and non-profit work. She currently resides in Northern Virginia and is an alumna of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a current undergraduate advisor. In her free time, you can find her at the gym, at a hockey game cheering on the NHL Washington Capitals or hanging out with her yellow lab named Hunter.

Sri Pokhrel

Senior Accountant

Sri joined the MRF team in July 2018 as the Accountant and was promoted to Senior Accountant in May 2019. She is responsible for budgeting, general ledger, financial statements, payroll, bank reconciliations, and day-to-day accounting operations. Sri has over 15 years of non-profit accounting experience. Prior to joining the organization, Sri held the position of Senior Accountant at the American Farm Bureau Federation. In her long career in the non-profit sector, she has held various accounting positions at the German Marshall Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and Reda International.

Sri has a Bachelors Degree in Business and Accounting. She lives in Fairfax, VA and enjoys traveling, cooking, and listening to music.

Liz Reilly

Development Officer

Liz Reilly joined the Melanoma Research Foundation in June of 2016 as the Development Officer overseeing the MRF’s national gala program until 2018. Liz left the organization for a year and returned to the MRF in July of 2019. Prior to joining the MRF, Liz had a long and successful career in corporate event planning. When she was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2015, she knew she needed to do more to find new treatment options for patients like herself. After her initial treatment, Liz was honored with a Courage Award at the Denver Gala and fell in love with the organization its gala program. Liz brings passion, understanding and a strong bond with the melanoma community because of her diagnosis.

Liz lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, a stage 1 melanoma survivor, and teenage son who attends the MRF’s Hill Day as an advocate each year. Liz enjoys traveling, the outdoors and cheering on her favorite Denver Nuggets during basketball season.

Samuel Roberts

Database Coordinator

Sam joined the MRF in October 2019 as the Database Coordinator ensuring consistent and accurate entry and documentation across all platforms. He has background experience in non-profit development work, private event planning and logistics, along with sales.

A bit of a nomad prior, Sam has been in the DC area for 10+ years and graduated from American University with a degree in International Relations and a specialization in Peace and Conflict Resolution. When he is not off on another adventure or at a festival supporting his favorite DJs, he can be seen always listening to music, trying as many new food spots as possible or re-watching Lord of the Rings in preparation for his mecca to New Zealand.

Sara Selig, MD, MPH

Director of CURE OM

Dr. Sara Selig joined the MRF team in the fall of 2011. She is Co-Founder and Director of the MRF’s initiative focused specifically on ocular melanoma—CURE OM (Community United for Research and Education in Ocular Melanoma). Sara initially became involved with the ocular melanoma (OM) community when her husband, Gregg, was diagnosed with the disease in 2006, at the age of 34, when Sara was a fourth year medical student. At the time of Gregg’s diagnosis, Gregg and Sara became fierce advocates for Gregg’s care and the entire OM community as well. Sara continues to be a passionate advocate for the ocular melanoma field—working to accelerate research, promote collaboration, and support patients and caregivers through her leadership of the CURE OM initiative.

Sara received her MD from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed the Doris and Howard Hiatt Residency in Global Health Equity and Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She is currently Associate Physician in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Sara cherishes time with family and friends, and, in particular, with her and Gregg’s young daughter.

Adam Smartt

Communications Officer

Adam joined the MRF in 2015 as the Online Community Coordinator. In this role he curated the online presence of the MRF across various social channels and community forums to encourage conversations that benefit the entire melanoma community. As the Communications Officer, he develops digital and print campaigns for the MRF and coordinates all external communications. Prior to joining the MRF, Adam served in communications and program coordination roles in the outdoor recreation and educational youth leadership industries.

Adam is a graduate of American University in Washington, DC though his sports allegiance will forever be as a Tennessee Volunteer. A voracious reader, he owns many leather-bound books on American history and other academically rigorous disciplines, though he cherishes his Kindle for discreetly reading less impressive paperback mysteries and graphic novels. In his free time, Adam can be found at the ballpark cheering on the World Champion Washington Nationals and spending time with his canine sidekick, Bucky.