Executive Committee

2023 Directors


2023 COCA-I Board of Directors

  • Board President - Brandon Briery, PhD

    Brandon 2023Dr. Brandon G. Briery is a Clinical Child & Pediatric Psychologist, published researcher, author, and international speaker. Involved in camps for children with special needs since 1992, he has been employed by Camp CAMP (Children's Association for Maximum Potential) in Texas since 2007. Brandon has worked with non-profit organizations as a volunteer, employee, manager, or strategic consultant for more than three decades. He also spins some mean tunes as CAMP DJ. He has been an active member of COCA-I and the COCA-I Board of Directors for most of the past 20 years.

  • President-Elect - Ryan Campbell

    Ryan Campbell 2023 Board

    Ryan has served for one year on the COCA Board of Directors as the Region 1 Director.
    Ryan is entering his tenth summer as the Camp Director of Happiness Is Camping (HIC). In 2019, Ryan was awarded the COCA Region 1 Camp Spirit Award and the President's Award in 2020. Ryan spearheaded HIC's reopening strategy and shared HIC's plans and policies with COCA Members throughout the pandemic. Ryan is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Camp Administration and Leadership from Gratz College, was the cofounder of the North Jersey Youth Camps Coalition, and served on the ACA NY & NJ's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.

  • Treasurer - Tini Graff, CPA

    Tini Graff

    Tini Graff is the proud parent of camper Braden who attends Kay's Kamp in Delaware, Camp Happy Times in New Jersey, and Camp No Worries in New Jersey.  She previously worked as a Certified Public Accountant at a local accounting firm in Delaware for 9 years.  In February 2020, after realizing she enjoyed working with the younger staff members more than doing the accounting herself, she made the decision to pursue her passion for teaching and currently works at a local high school teaching accounting to the young minds of today. Tini has a Bachelor Degree in General Studies, a Certificate in Accounting, a Master Degree in Taxation, and is a Certified Public Accountant.  She is currently working on her teaching certification at the University of Delaware.  She and her family are heavily involved in the local childhood cancer organizations, as well as the Delaware Foster Care Program.  Tini and her husband, Tim, are in the process of becoming resource parents with the goal of adoption.  Tini has been a basketball coach to elementary and middle school girls for the past 20 years and finds great joy in making a difference in the lives of others.  


  • Secretary - Jennifer Benton

    Jennifer BentonJennifer Benton is a graduate of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota and is the Program Director for Mak-A-Dream in Montana. She began volunteering with Camp in 1995. The very next year she joined the staff full time. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Ovarian Cancer Survivors Foundation based in Helena, Montana.

  • Past-President - Kaye Wagner, MD, MME

    Kaye WagnerDr. Kaye Wagner, MD MME is a board certified Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, with more than 15 years clinical experience. She is currently practicing at Sanford Children's in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. in addition to clinical duties, she is the Principal Investigator for the Children's Oncology Group site at Sanford Children's; she has been the Medical Director and Camp Doctor for Camp Bring it On for the past 10 years; she is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and is the associate program director for the Sanford USD Pediatric Residency Program. Dr. Wagner currently serves on the COCA-I Board of Directors as President, she is on the Gold Ribbon committee and is a medical reviewer/visitor for the Gold Ribbon program.

  • Director Region 1 - Dina Dattilio

    Dina Datillio

    A Vermont native, Dina volunteered forCampTa-Kum-Ta for 8+ years before becoming Camp’s Program Manager in January 2016.  She also served many years onCampTa-Kum-Ta’s Board of Directors and currently sits on a variety of camp’s leadership teams. She is a Life Is Good Playmaker and strongly believes in healing through play! Prior to coming to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta she served as Chair of the Chittenden Relay for Life in Vermont. 

  • Director Region 2 - Gretchen Loose

    Gretchen LooseGretchen Loose is a founding member of Kay’s Kamp, Delaware’s first and only pediatric oncology camp, and has held the roles of Program Director, Kamp Director and is the current Executive Director.Gretchen attended Millersville University where she majored in Elementary/Special Education and currently works at the Brennen School with the Delaware Autism Program.

  • Director Region 3 - Brandon Padgett

    Brandon PadgettBrandon Padgett has been the Program Coordinator for Kids Cancer Alliance in Kentucky since 2016. Brandon grew up in Arkansas and eventually found his way to Kentucky and graduated from Lindsey Wilson College with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation, Tourism and Sports Management.  Brandon comes in with lots of experience from working in residential camps for several years.  In his spare time, Brandon enjoys playing games of all sorts, camping, getting his kayak out in the water and having adventures with friends and family.  Most people who know Brandon know him by the name “Spot”.

  • Director Region 4 - Erin Ulmer

    Erin Ulmer

    Erin Ulmer - Most of my experience with board service has been on the staff side as Executive Director, but I do serve on committees when possible including at my daughters' school and at Postpartum Support Charleston. I'm excited to take on a more hands‐on role with COCA‐I! Since 2014 I have coordinated and implemented camps each summer for more than 200 children dealing with many serious illnesses. Our camp for children with brain tumors is near and dear to my heart, as is our hospital programming where we are able to serve the whole family in a stressful setting. In my tenure, we have lost campers and been able to provide lasting memories to their families from their camp experiences. I am proud that we provide safe, inclusive, and free access to camp for all children who would otherwise miss this critical childhood milestone.

  • Director Region 5 - Zeff Gomes

    Zeff 2023

    As a US Army soldier and a member selection panels and committee groups for noncommissioned officers (NCOs), Zeff's responsibilities included mission accomplishments, training, and the welfare of soldiers. Zeff has served as one of many advisors to Commanders and the Command Group on the formulation and implementation of proposed policy changes affecting personnel, with a particular focus on the well being of Soldiers, civilian personnel, and their families.
    Zeff received the Coca-I Region 5 Camp Spirit Award in 2016.
    Over the years, Zeff has held a variety of roles for Discovery Camps. He began as a cabin counselor for the 7 and 8 year old Red Boys in 2005, then he progressed to head counselor, planning committee member, and eventually Camp Discovery Co-Director. In 2019, he gave up his job in the Lab and has been the full-time Program Director for Discovery Camps since then.

  • Director Region 6 - Michael Vasquez

    Michael Vasquez

    Michael Vasquez, better known by the camp name ‘Knuckles’, has been in Oncology Camping for 6 years. Starting off as a Counselor-In-Training with Okizu in Northern California, he found his love for all things camp and working with these families. Since then, ‘Knuckles’ has continued to volunteer with Okizu as a cabin counselor, cabin unit leader, and administrative summer support staff until moving into his current position as Assistant Camp Director in 2019. Currently pursuing his Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies, he hopes to use his education to help him grow and continue in Oncology Camping for many years to come! Ask him about Okizu and their Special and Important Brothers and Sisters (SIBS) programs, the conversations will never end! #OkizuStrong

  • Director Region 7 - Becky Felak

    Becky Felak

    Becky currently sits on a hybrid committee comprised of board members and staff working on our strategic plan. Outside of that she creates monthly board reports highlighting programming and fundraising achievements, and have presented to the board on various program/event topics, have participated in DEI conversations, and help with new board member orientation.

    Career Success
    With her time with The Goodtimes Project she has most significantly added two weekend retreat/camp programs.

    Sibling Ski Camp is a special weekend away for youth whose sibling has been/was diagnosed with cancer. The camp is designed to bolster participant's self‐confidence, build a network of support, and provide an outlet to address emotions, all while having fun in the snow. This program was added to complement the Kayak Adventure Camp, which is a week‐long kayak camping trip for young adult pediatric cancer survivors. This program has seen growth and success in building community within the sibling population and giving them dedicated time and space to acknowledge their journeys.

    The You and Me Retreat provides an opportunity for one parent and one child from a family to (re)build connection in a fun and meaningful way, while also connecting with other parent/child pairs. This program was created to offer some dedicated one‐on‐one time to strengthen family bonds and encourage intentional connection. So often during the cancer journey a family can be splintered, with one parent spending time at the hospital while the other spends time with the sibling(s). The You and Me Retreat balances meaningful workshops with fun, campy activities, which allow parents and children to embrace one another and strengthen their relationship.

  • Director Region 8 - Gillian Anderson

    Gillian Anderson 2023Gillian started her pediatric oncology camping career in 2021. Her first summer as Program Director was heavily influenced by the global pandemic. It was a unique challenge to foster connection in an environment so heightened by the need to uphold physical distancing and masking for such a vulnerable population. Camp Goodtimes was able to serve over 60 families without any exposures! Since then, she has been so grateful to continue to develop and implement both virtual and in-person year-round and summer programming to bring the community together in an meaningful way.

  • Director Special Appointee - Mike Amylon, MD, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics (Hematology/Oncology/Stem Cell Transplantation)

    Mike A Board

    “Dr. Mike” moved to California as a medical student at Stanford University, where he earned his M.D. After continuing at Stanford in a Pediatric Residency and then Post-doctoral Fellowship in Hematology/Oncology, Dr. Amylon joined the faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine. His early research interests included clinical trials in the treatment of pediatric leukemia and lymphoma. After completing additional training in bone marrow transplantation at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he inaugurated the hematopoietic stem cell transplant program at Stanford and directed the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Service at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford for many years. Dr. Amylon currently is an Emeritus Professor (active) at Stanford in Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, Stem Cell Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine.

    Over the course of his career, Dr. Amylon has had extensive experience in the design, conduct and oversight of clinical trials, both locally at Stanford and nationally and internationally through the Pediatric Oncology Group and the Children's Oncology Group. He continues to serve on Stanford's Institutional Review Board for the protection of human subjects in research and the Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee.

    Dr. Amylon also has a long-standing interest in the psychosocial impact of pediatric cancer and its treatment on patients and their families. He has been extensively involved with Camp Okizu, a program of peer support, respite, mentoring, and recreation for children with cancer and their families, centered on a residential camping experience. He served as Medical Director and a member of the Board of Directors for Okizu for many years. He has conducted research into the impact of camping and peer support programs on pediatric cancer patients and their well siblings, with Okizu and also the Children’s Oncology Camping Association –International (COCA-I). He was a member of the Board of Directors and the Research and Education Committee of COCA-I for many years, and served as President of COCA-I from 2016-2018. He previously served as a member of the American Cancer Society's Peer Review Committee on Psychosocial and Behavioral Research, and serves as a volunteer visitor for the American Camping Association Accreditation program and for the COCA-I Gold Ribbon program. Dr. Mike is the current Chair of COCA’s Gold Ribbon Accreditation program. He has been a member of the Sibling Partnership for Advocacy, Research and Care in Childhood Cancer since 2014.

  • Director Special Appointee - Mary Ellen McKnight, DNP, RN, OCN, CHPN

    Mary Ellen

    Mary Ellen McKnight is an oncology certified RN from Bear Delaware. She earned her BSN from Immaculata University, her MSN from Capella University and is currently pursuing her DNP.
    She practiced as a staff nurse in hematology/oncology at Christiana Care Health System for over 12 years. She also practiced as lead oncology triage RN for over 10 years with
    Compassionate Care Hospice and palliative care in Wilmington, Delaware. Currently, she is a nurse educator on faculty at Delaware Technical and Community College. Mary Ellen is one of
    the co‐founders of Kay’s Kamp where she is the Medical Coordination Director, and serves on Kay’s Foundation board of directors. She is most proud of her two daughters, Sarah and Grace
    who also reside in Delaware.




  • Director Special Appointee - Rich Brundige

    rich bRich has been involved with Pediatric Oncology camps since 1997. Rich has volunteered at a multiple of COCA Member Camps - Camp Ta-Kum- Ta, Camp Can Do, Camp CAMP, Camp Bring It On, Camp GoodTimes - and is also the Camp Director at Camp Kids Are Kids Chicago (CKAKC) and Camp H-Town.

  • Director Member-At-Large - Laura Vaughn

    L vaughn

    Board Experience
    Arkansas Tumor Registry Board Arkansas Cancer Coalition Kalamazoo Optimist Club Board Junior League (Little Rock, Louisville and Kalamazoo) Board

    Career Success
    I was in a leadership role with the American Cancer Society for 20 years. I oversaw 7 states, 5 of which hosted pediatric oncology camps.

  • Director Member-At-Large - Michele Vernon

    Michele Vernon

    Michele Vernon is the Senior Vice President for Camping and Related Services for the Sunrise Association in New York.  She began with the organization 2006 as the founding Director of Sunrise Day Camp in Long Island setting the model for this day camp program for children with cancer and their siblings. She now supervises the development and management of 8 Association full summer day camps and year round camp programs in the US and in Israel.

    Her professional career has included extensive work in the Jewish community through the JCC movement, camping, Jewish education and fundraising.  Prior to coming to Sunrise she served as Assistant Executive Director in 3 Jewish Community Centers in the northeast, and as the founding director of a Family Parenting Center.  Her camping career has included resident camp director at Camp Tel Yehudah, Barryville, NY and Camp Wise, in Cleveland, as well as having supervised three day camps in the New York and New Jersey. 

    Michele holds an MSW degree from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work in New York.

  • Liaison Care Camps - Rebecca Kirch

    Rebecca KirschRebecca Kirch is EVP of Policy and Programs for the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF), providing strategic focus and leadership in bringing patient and caregiver voices and values to the forefront of health reform efforts. As a leading health policy expert and advocate in her field, Rebecca is dedicated to advancing person‐centered policies and practices that put people at the heart of health care.

    Mary Ellen McKnight, RN, MSN, OCN




In Loving Memory

We mark the passing of a true friend of COCA. Brian's impact on COCA, it's member organizations, and families and children on the cancer journey can never be measured. Brian Crater was Associate Executive Director at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times©, a program of Ronald McDonald House Charites© of Southern California providing healing and supportive experiences for 1,800 children diagnosed with cancer and their families annually.  Camp programs currently include summer overnight camp experiences for patients and siblings, family camps for both English and Spanish speaking families and teen leadership camps and activities. Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times operates a 60 acre camp facility in the mountains of Southern California above Palm Springs. Brian was the past-president and  board member of Children’s Oncology Camp Association International (COCA- I).Brian served as the chair of the COCA-I Gold Ribbon Accreditation Program. Brian also served on the National ACA Board, chair of the ACA National Council of Leaders, and was a member of ACA National Strategic Planning and ACA Volunteer Engagement Committees, an ACA Accreditation Standards Visitor and past member of the ACA Board Development Committee. 


Brian always included this quote with his signature:
"The purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion and the will to help others."

- Albert Schweitzer


You can donate in memory of Brian here.  Funds will support year-round recreational camp programming for children with cancer and their families. Thank you for honoring Brian.


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