Sevag Abajian joined the IMF team in 2015, bringing with him extensive database experience acquired at several public service and non-profit organizations, including the American Heart Association and UCLA. Sevag now manages the IMF database and the IMF’s online donation website. In addition, he helps prepare and launch the Myeloma Minute e-newsletter and a variety of e-mail blasts for several subscriber groups. Sevag earned a Bachelor of Art in Political Science at UCLA, where he also minored in Human Complex Systems. He is currently working on completing his master’s degree in public administration. Sevag loves watching and attending sporting events, especially UCLA and professional football.
Inventory Control Manager
Betty Arevalo is a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). For three years prior to joining the IMF, she provided patient care at CHA-Presbyterian Medical Center and at a convalescent home for disabled and subacute patients in Los Angeles. Betty is working towards her registered nursing (RN) degree while continuing her commitment to the IMF. At the IMF, Betty helps maintain the computer database and stock inventory and prepares materials for all IMF meetings, seminars, and conferences. In addition, she answers Spanish-language IMF Hotline calls, assists Spanish-speaking participants at IMF Patient & Family Seminars, and coordinates Spanish multiple myeloma support group meetings.
Senior Director, Member Events
Suzanne joined the IMF in January 1997, bringing with her 20 years of experience in theatrical and event experience. In her capacity as Producer of Special Events, Suzanne spearheaded the IMF’s first four Ribbon of Hope Anniversary Galas, and produced the annual Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award dinners from 2003 until 2011. She also created and implemented the “Mail For the Cure” campaign, Myeloma 200, and the IMF’s veteran’s resource web site, Veterans Against Myeloma.
In 2003, in a time when there was no such thing as crowd-funding, and after years of talking with patients and their families, Suzanne decided to create a program for them that would help them in being proactive in both public awareness and fundraising. This resulted in today’s peer-to-peer Member Fundraising Program, which asks members to think of and create their own events, supported all along the way by the IMF. These local events raise awareness, help fund myeloma research, and enable members to become proactive in the myeloma community. Suzanne is proud of her contribution in helping to make the IMF the amazing organization that it is.
Debbie Birns, who received her undergraduate degree in English from Stanford University and did her graduate studies in Comparative Literature at UCLA, taught English and worked as a manuscript editor for the University of California Press before losing several family members to cancer. These losses prompted her to change directions and train as a cancer information specialist at the National Cancer Institute-sponsored UCLA Cancer Information Service (CIS). When the CIS faced funding cuts and closed in late 1999, Debbie moved to the Clinical Research Unit of UCLA’s division of hematology/oncology, where she did regulatory work and data management for cancer clinical trials. In early 2002, she started as the IMF’s first official "Hotline" specialist. She is now the IMF’s medical editor, overseeing and writing the scientific content of
Myeloma Today and composing many other IMF publications, including the booklets in the Understanding series.
Regional Director, Support Groups
Nancy Bruno has been active in Support Groups since shortly after her husband Mike was diagnosed with mulitple myeloma in late 1998. What began as comprehensive note-taking during support group meetings led to her becoming a writer for the group’s newsletter. When Andy Lebkuecher’s wife, Cathy, died in December 2006, Andy asked Nancy to lead their local Atlanta group temporarily, "and I haven’t stopped." Her energy and commitment will continue as Regional Director of Support Groups.
Mimi Choon-Quinones, PhD, MBA
Senior Vice President, Global Advocacy, Access, Policy & Research
Dr. Mimi Choon-Quinones joined the IMF in 2018, bringing with her more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, her strategic leadership in 88+ countries focusing on Medical and Clinical Operations. Mimi was raised in the US, has lived and worked in Canada, and currently resides in Switzerland. She is working diligently with the i2TEAMM initiative to gain approval of MRD as a surrogate endpoint in myeloma in Europe, through efforts with the European Medicines Authority (EMA). Additionally Mimi will focus her efforts on IMF research initiatives and policy issues related to access to care and therapy in Europe.
Director, Support Groups and Regional Community Workshops
Kelly Cox spearheads IMF’s Regional Community Workshops, events that bring the most cutting-edge research and top multiple myeloma doctors to patients, caregivers, and healthcare workers across the country. Kelly also works closely with 40 support groups nationwide, carrying the IMF’s mission directly to those affected by multple myeloma. Kelly brings enthusiasm and energy to multiple myeloma awareness and outreach wherever he travels for personal visits, as well as via phone calls and emails.
Kelly worked for Warner Bros. International Television for three years prior to arriving at the IMF. He specialized in marketing, product management, and international placement for shows such as “Friends,” “E.R.” and “Smallville,” among others. Prior to this Kelly was involved with fundraising for specialized research into diseases of the retina, including macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
Director, Public Policy & Advocacy
Danielle Doheny joined IMF after a six-year career on Capitol Hill where she worked as an adviser to two members of Congress. As a Congressional staffer, Danielle’s primary focus was on healthcare and issues related to energy, the environment, science, and technology. In her role with the IMF, she advocates on behalf of the multiple myeloma community to the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. Danielle’s father is a multiple myeloma patient, and she has a unique passion for her work on behalf of patients and their families. Danielle graduated cum laude from Thiel College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History.
Director of Europe & Middle East
Serdar joined the IMF in September 2018 with seven years of experience in the non-profit sector, specializing in corporate communications and development. For the prior four years, he was part of the business development team at the Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey (TEGV). Earlier in his career, Serdar spent more than 15 years working with global corporations. He is the co-founder of Living With Myeloma Initiative and Cancer Survivors Association that has organized patient and family seminars in several cities in Turkey. Serdar is also a journalist, translator, editor, content provider, and musician.
Heather Fishman was introduced to the IMF in September 2016 and became a permanent part of our development team in 2017. She works as a prospect researcher and as the silent auction coordinator for the IMF’s annual gala. Prior to the IMF, Heather spent seven years at Woodbury University working in the advancement department, where her most recent role was Associate Director of Alumni & Events. Heather received a Master of Arts in organizational leadership from Woodbury University and a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Messiah College. Heather spends her free time with her husband, Marc, a re-recording mixer for television and film, and her daughters, Katie and Alexa.
Support Group Coordinator
Jon Fitzpatrick worked with the IMF for several years as a volunteer before joining our team as the Support Group Coordinator. He is excited to turn his passion for helping others into a career. Jon’s interest in working closely with multiple myeloma patients and caregivers was sparked as a result of his experience in the field of emergency response.
Patient Meetings Coordinator, US
Carmen earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Charleston in 2010. During college, she worked as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and as a child advocate at the Dee Norton Low Country Children’s Center. Directly out of college, Carmen became the Assistant Director at The Sunshine House preschool in South Carolina. After moving to Rhode Island to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work, she managed a local business prior to joining the IMF.
Meeting Registration & Guest Relations
Abigail Guzman developed a strong skills set in the hospitality industry through previous work experience and coursework at the University of Johnson & Wales – School of Hospitality. In addition to organizational expertise, Abby possesses a true passion for customer service. Her work behind the scenes ensures every event’s success before the customer experience even begins.
Senior Director, Philanthropy
Brenda Hawkes joined the IMF in June 2018, bringing with her more than 20 years of experience working in leadership, fundraising, and program development. For the past seven years, Brenda was Senior Manager of Patient Advocacy at Diplomat Pharmacy, where she served as the voice of the patient, regularly working with the IMF and myeloma support groups across the U.S., leading empathy training workshops, and keeping a keen eye on what patients need for better healthcare. Previously, she served as Executive Director at Our Promise Cancer Resources, an organization she helped establish to provides non-medical support to cancer patients and their families in south-central Arkansas. Brenda possesses extensive background in community relations and developing collaborative opportunities between stakeholders. Brenda has an intimate understanding of what it means to be both caregiver and patient. In 2002, she became a caregiver for her husband, David, who underwent treatment for colon cancer. In 2006, she was diagnosed with stage III triple negative breast cancer. Brenda and her husband live in Michigan and are proud parents of two daughters.
Paul Hewitt joined the IMF in 2001 and has been one of the IMF's InfoLine Coordinators since 2005. Paul is dedicated to helping patients and caregivers focus on putting a game plan in place to cope with life with multiple myeloma. That structure, coupled with the information the InfoLine provides, can alleviate fear and give confidence to those affected by multiple myeloma. Paul finds this work to be very satisfying. In addition to his work at the IMF, Paul maintains an active acting career. He has starred on Broadway and in many movies and TV shows. Paul is a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University.
Kevin’s responsibilities include offering individualized website assistance to the large network of IMF-affiliated multiple myeloma support groups. He graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Business – Computer Information Systems. Kevin has diverse hobby interests, including the culinary arts. He is also in L A Jin Yin, a martial arts organization that studies and participates in Dragonboat competitions and Lion dancing during Chinese New Year celebrations. He is an avid runner, completing the Los Angeles Marathon in 2014 and 2016.
Senior Director, Editor-in-Chief, Publications
Marya Kazakova is the Senior Director, Editor-in-Chief of Publications.
Assistant Director, Member Events
Ilana Kenville became one of the IMF's first volunteers when her uncle, Brian Novis, co-founded the IMF with Susie Novis and Dr. Brian G.M. Durie in 1990. When the IMF supported the establishment of Myeloma UK, Ilana traveled to Scotland to work with Eric Low on launching that new organization.
Ilana holds a degree in Liberal Studies from National University, San Diego, CA. Building on her experience of founding and managing a club for World War II veterans in Arizona, Ilana will assist Suzanne Battaglia, IMF's Director of Member Events, with the IMF's Veterans Against Myeloma initiative.
Missy Klepetar received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Reed College. She joined the IMF in the fall of 2006 and became part of the InfoLine team during the summer of 2008. Missy says that working on the InfoLine is the most rewarding thing she has done in a professional realm, and she feels privileged to be able to help patients and caregivers in this capacity. She understands the importance of imparting to patients the latest and best information regarding treatment options, as well as discussing the complex issues surrounding multiple myeloma.
Missy also assists the IMF by proofing content for all IMF publications, including
She loves Colorado Avalanche hockey, cooking with her husband, and dachshunds.
Marketing and Communications Manager
Sapna Kumar joined the IMF team in October 2015. She provides editorial direction for the IMF’s digital and video communications, helps expand IMF’s media outreach, and edits website content. Sapna honed her editorial skills by working in educational publishing at Encyclopedia Britannica, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson Education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Purdue University with a double major in creative writing and theater. She continues to further her professional development, having taken graduate-level courses in digital marketing, human-computer interaction, and search engine optimization. On the personal side, Sapna first encountered the IMF when her mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and she became her mother’s caregiver.
Medical Affairs Assistant
Xuan (“Swan”) Lam joined the IMF team in June 2015. She reports directly to the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie, and Senior Vice President of Clinical Education & Research Initiative, Lisa Paik. Xuan supports Dr. Durie in clinical, research, and administrative duties. She also acts as a liaison between the IMF and pharmaceutical companies, and acts as program coordinator for Board of Directors meetings, IMF Patient & Family Seminars, and other national and international educational seminars for patients and physicians. Xuan is a graduate of Smith College with a degree in English Literature. She enjoys music, films, and long walks with her puppy.
Phil Lange brings over 20 years of accounting experience to IMF. He graduated from Loyola Marymont University in 1979. Phil has extensive accounting experience, working for a wide variety of companies in entertainment, commercial real estate development, banking, manufacturing, publishing, non-profit, and healthcare. Phil is excited about working with the incredible team at IMF. Phil and Steve, his life partner of 18 years, were legally married in California on July 24, 2008. This year, they rescued a pair of American Rat Terriers named Jocko and Oreo.
Robin Roland Levy
Senior Director, Public Policy and Advocacy
Robin received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Jewish Studies from Stockton University in Pomona, New Jersey, and her law degree from George Mason University, School of Law in Arlington, Virginia. She has over a decade of experience in policy analysis, advocate and public outreach, and program and budget management. Robin began her career in the Executive Branch of the federal government, working in the White House Counsel's office during the Clinton Administration. She is currently the Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the International Myeloma Foundation. Prior to this, Robin was the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Lymphoma Research Foundation as well as the Assistant Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, both where she managed the policy and advocacy portfolio.
Amirah Limayo, MPA
Research Project Coordinator
As a member of the IMF’s Medical Education Department, Amirah’s responsibilities include coordination of the Brian D. Novis Research Grant program; Asian Myeloma Network (AMN), International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), Black Swan Research Initiative® (BSRI®) projects; and IMF trademark protection. Prior to joining the IMF, she worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 10 years, providing program support to a wide range of health, education, arts, and cultural projects. Amirah also has experience in grant writing with a proven track record of identifying, researching, and obtaining grants. She holds a master’s degree in public administration (MPA) with a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Sector Management.
Jim Needham is responsible for assisting the IMF with graphic design and production of the IMF's vast array of printed materials. He was born and raised in Southern California, graduated from UCLA in Design, and has worked in that field ever since. He is experienced as an art director, graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, copywriter and copy editor, and has done a wide range of projects in a spectrum of industries. After joining the IMF staff, he exclaimed, "Over the years I've done a lot of work to help companies successfully sell products and make money. In 2005, I had a strong desire to use my experience, skills, and talents to help people who needed help. I wanted to work for a nonprofit organization, and marvelously, this job at IMF has made my wish come true."
Selma Plascencia has spent more than 13 years working in the non-profit sector for organizations providing humanitarian, social, and justice services nationwide. She has served as part of development efforts, provided comprehensive donor and constituent services, created and implemented events designed to raise funds and awareness, and organized grassroots outreach programs to under-served communities.
Director, Meetings & Events
Annabel Reardon has previously worked with the IMF Events team on planning their various events and meetings. From floor plans to menu selections and restaurant reservation, she ensured that each event ran smoothly and all logistical details were taken care of. In 2013, she decided to work full-time for the IMF as its Meeting Coordinator. Aside from planning and managing the multiple year-round national and international meetings the IMF holds and attends, she also manages the auction of the IMF's Annual Gala.
She holds a degree in International Hospitality Management from Northern Arizona University and studied International Management at the London Metro University.
Joy’s background in the field of entertainment includes working in client services at BFM Digital and at Shapeshifter Inc. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti with a degree in Film Studies and a minor in Art. She is an avid reader, writer, singer, and hiker.
Miko Santos has extensive experience in mass media and news organizations. A graduate of De La Salle University, he holds a dual degree in Marketing and Behavioral Science. He started out as a photojournalist for Manila Times and Sun Star, covering everything from community events to coups d'etat and eventually becoming the New Media Editor for Asian Journal, one of the largest Filipino-American news organizations in the US. He has also worked as a stringer for Philippine-based broadcast networks ABS-CBN and GMA-7. No stranger to the cancer cause, he once biked a thousand miles for three weeks around the Philippines with the Cancer Warriors Foundation to raise awareness and funds for children afflicted with cancer.
Regional Director, Support Groups
Kelley Sidorowicz joined the IMF’s Support Group team in 2019 after previously being part of the Advocacy team since 2016, working on federal and state policy issues as well as helping the IMF to grow our grassroots network. Previously, she worked in the health and wellness community as a certified health and wellness educator, personal trainer, and yoga instructor. Kelley holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from Frostburg State University. She resides in Southern Maryland.
Assistant to the President
Rafi Stephan comes to the IMF from the world of entertainment, where he last served as an executive assistant in International Television Distribution at Warner Brothers. He was at Warner Brothers from 2006 to 2014, during which time he also served as special events director for the business resource group Network for Asian Pacific Americans (NAPA). Rafi’s film industry experience includes being a producer and production manager for independent films, including Sundance selection
Must Be the Music and Gus Van Sant’s Speedway Junky. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth with a degree in Film/Television and a minor in History.
Senior Director, Support Groups
Robin Tuohy worked as a paralegal for over 10 years at a Fortune 500 company before marrying Michael, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2000, and having children Ally and Mikey. She became involved with the IMF and attended Advocacy Days in Washington, DC, in 2001, and then began the first support group for multiple myeloma patients in Connecticut with the help of the IMF. She feels her experience as Michael's caregiver gives her a unique perspective on multiple myeloma. The Tuohy family carried their message of life after diagnosis across the country in 2007 on the Myeloma Mobile. Robin's motto is "The purpose of life is a life of purpose," and she hopes that she is able to help others dealing with multiple myeloma.
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Judy Webb is a veterinarian who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their two cats and two Golden Retrievers. She comes to the IMF after practicing for 10 years, followed by 14 years in the animal health industry working for IDEXX Reference Laboratories.
Jonathan enjoys one-on-one interaction with patients and caregivers, both over the phone and at IMF seminars and community workshops. His background as an entrepreneur includes more than 22 years as owner and operator of an independent pet supply business. He is an avid collector of vinyl records, and has traveled across the United States, visiting record shops and collector trade shows. He also loves attending live concerts by legendary pop and R&B vocalists
Director, Public Policy & Advocacy
Ray Wezik joined the IMF advocacy team in 2014 as Advocacy Associate. In his role, Ray helps to expand the IMF’s state policy initiatives and grassroots network with a focus on prevention, innovation, access, and approval of treatments for people living with multiple myeloma.
Prior to joining the IMF, Ray advocated for homeowners affected by the mortgage crisis, using his skills to negotiate alternatives to foreclosure and eventually establishing his own firm.
Ray earned his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice from Roanoke College in 2007. He passed the bar in Maryland after earning his law degree from Tulane University in 2011. While at Tulane, Ray ran the Alternative Dispute Resolution section for the school’s student-run moot court team, winning several international competition awards in Chicago and London.