Executive Committee

ExecCommittee1

 

2021 COCA-I Board of Directors

  • Board President - Dr. Kaye Wagner

    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.

  • President-Elect - Dr. Brandon Briery

    Brandon Briery

    Dr. 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.

  • Treasurer - Tini Graff

    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.

  • 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 - Tara VanDerpoel

    Tara VanDerpoel

    Tara VanDerpoel graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing and a certification in nonprofit management through Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (Certified Nonprofit Professional).  After graduating, Tara spent three years in the restaurant industry where she planned company happy hours, parties and plated dinners as a sales and event manager.  The restaurant industry was not for Tara, for a variety of reasons, and began her job search where she found the newly created position of Program Coordinator, Pediatrics – Support Programs with MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital.  Since starting in 2019, the Program Coordinator has been the perfect blend of a business degree and nonprofit management certification.  Tara is currently pursuing a Masters of Health Administration from Texas Women’s University to enhance her knowledge of the health care industry.

  • 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 9 - Kelsey Merritt

    Kelsey MerrittKelsey Merritt has been the Program Coordinator for West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation since 2019.  Through life experience and travel Kelsey harnessed her passion for helping others and community development. She graduated with her Bachelors of Therapeutic Recreation and become certified as a Therapeutic Practitioner in 2019. Kelsey comes in with lots of experience working with children with exceptional needs and a desire to do more in her community. In her spare time, Kelsey enjoys outdoor recreation, reading, playing team sports, exploring the mountains, and adventuring with friends and family.

  • Director Special Appointee - Brian Crater

    Brian CraterBrian Crater is 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 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 is the past-president and a current board member of Children’s Oncology Camp Association International (COCA- I).Brian serves a chair of the COCA-I Gold Ribbon Accreditation Program. Brian currently serves on the National ACA Board, chair of the ACA National Council of Leaders, 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. 

  • Director Special Appointee - Mary Ellen McKnight

    Mary EllenMary Ellen McKnight is an oncology RN from Bear Delaware. She earned her BSN from Immaculata University, her MSN from Capella University and currently pursuing her DNP. She holds nursing certification in oncology.  She is a nurse educator on the faculty of Delaware Technical and Community College. Mary Ellen is one of the co-founders of Kay’s Kamp in Delaware where she is the Medical Coordination Director, and serves on the Kaylyn Elaine Warren Foundation board of directors. However, she is most proud of her two daughters, Sarah and Grace, who still reside at home.

  • 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.

 

 

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