About Us

Staff

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

Operations Manager

Ivis Alfaro joined the Melanoma Research Foundation in May 2014. Ivis oversees the day-to-day operations of the MRF, provides support to the Board of Directors and CEO, and works with several organizations and patient advocates around the world through the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy. Prior to joining the MRF, Ivis worked at the National Public Education Support Fund as the Office Coordinator, supporting the day-to-day activities of the President and Executive Director.

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

Advocacy Officer

Cassie joined the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) in 2014. As Advocacy Officer, Cassie leads the organizations advocacy efforts to mobilize  advances in policy and federal funding 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), and is a member of the Public Access to Sunscreen (PASS) Coalition.

Having had three cancers – stage IIIB 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 scaling rock walls, whitewater kayaking, hiking, camping, music, tending to every whimsical need of her pampered cat Lizzie and trying to keep up with the evolving DC food scene.

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

Controller

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 manager, she works to ensure the MRF’s CURE OM initiative is meeting the needs of the ocular melanoma community in support, education, advocacy and research. Lauren comes to the MRF with over 14 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.

Lorrie-Beth Miley

Development Officer

Lorrie-Beth Miley joined the Melanoma Research Foundation team in December 2018 in the role of Development Officer leading the organization’s Miles for Melanoma program. Prior to joining the MRF, Lorrie oversaw 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. Lorrie has always enjoyed working in the nonprofit sector and having the opportunity to interact with the community. 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, entertaining and visiting with friends and going to her other home, Philadelphia, to visit with her family.

Shelby Moneer, MS, CHES

Director of Education

Shelby Moneer joined the MRF team in August of 2010 to oversee the education program. As the Director of Education, Shelby is responsible for all development, implementation and assessment of the education program. This includes patient/caregiver education, clinician education, primary and secondary prevention efforts, print materials, awareness campaigns, website content, over-the-phone patient navigation and all patient resources and communication. These programs range from in-person events, virtual events and include a wide variety of print materials, all of which are free to the public. Shelby was also elected as the Co-Chair to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention for 2017-2020.

Shelby holds a Master’s degree in Health Education from the University of West Florida and a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Truman State University. Her previous experience was in the non-profit development, implementation and assessment of tobacco-related education, prevention and treatment strategies in the Florida Panhandle. She was a collegiate volleyball and softball player and continues playing beach volleyball whenever she can. Shelby and her husband have two young children and live in St. Louis, MO. They enjoy playing and watching sports, spending time outdoors and being surrounded with friends and 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.

Kelly Rodock

Development and Marketing Coordinator

Kelly joined the Melanoma Research Foundation in May 2019 as an intern supporting the development team, then in August she was able to take on the full-time role of Development and Marketing Coordinator. She produces the digital and print marketing materials for the Miles for Melanoma 5k walk/run series and the MRF Gala program, as well as other MRF campaigns. This is Kelly’s first professional position after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where she spent time working with several other non-profit organizations. She graduated with a degree in General Health, with a minor in Psychology.

Kelly enjoys trying new restaurants and cuisines, cheering on all the D.C. sports team (which has taught her great patience) as well as seeing all the new movies in theaters.

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.