BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mary Kay Pederson -President / Co-Founder
Mary Kay and her husband Corey experienced how cancer treatment affects a family when their daughter Emma was diagnosed at 3. As they balanced caring for Emma and her younger sister Abby, it was evident that support was critical for enduring the challenges having a child with cancer can create. Mary Kay has experience serving the community as a Junior League of Kalamazoo volunteer and board member, it was this experience that gave her the knowledge and confidence to start a nonprofit for families affected by pediatric cancer. She partnered with the Bennecke family and formally incorporated Cancer Families United in 2012.
Amanda Rounds / Vice President
Amanda is a local mother and Early Elementary Music Teacher from Mattawan, MI whose son had leukemia when he was 3. She too saw the need for support, awareness and advocacy for better treatment methods for little kids. Her compassion for what other families would experience with out support lead her to serve as a board volunteer. She is an effective and successful advocate that has raised more than $20,000 for both research and CFU programs through the Mattawan Dream Team; a group of dedicated High School students that raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer.
Sara Crum / Secretary
Sara is the PTO President of Ryan Intermediate in the Gull Lake School District and has a passion for community work. She has extensive experience serving as a board member volunteer through her PTO work at Richland Elementary, as PTO president, as well as Ryan Intermediate. She too witnessed first hand how a family is affected by childhood cancer and it was this experience that lead her to serve as a board volunteer and support the CFU mission.
Steve Bennecke -Treasurer / Co-Founder
Steve is currently the CEO of Asset Recovery Management and a father of a child who had cancer; his daughter was diagnosed in 2011 and became aware of the need for support through that experience. He and his wife Rachelle, partnered with Mar Kay Pederson and co-founded the organization in 2012, together they began the process of formally filing for 501 (c) (3) status and charting the course for how families would be supported.
Jody is a local Portage, MI mother who watched her perfectly healthy son deteriorate in health after being diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma in 2011. Her desire to feel supported fueled the momentum to unite other families within the original online support group. Jody’s quest for answers about childhood cancer make her an effective advocate for kids and parents, she brings passion and first hand experience as a board volunteer.
Dr. Tina Elliott
Dr. Elliott is the lead oncologist of the Bronson Pediatric Hematology/Oncology clinic and offers her support for the CFU mission. She has been a practicing doctor at the clinic since 1998 and has been an oncologist since 1993. She works daily with the children and families who are in active treatment and sees first hand how necessary support is for them. She guides us on the hospital privacy requirements and facilitates the relationship with the clinic staff and CFU.
Chris is a well respected businessman in the Kalamazoo community. He is currently the Principal of Keyser Insurance Agency based in Kalamazoo, MI. He brings a wealth of knowledge of running a successful business and how to help promote awareness in the community. He has a direct connection with families who have been affected by childhood cancer and is dedicated to serving as a board volunteer and promoting the CFU mission.
Farrell is the Marketing and Public Relations Director for the Kalamazoo Public Library. She brings many years of nonprofit, board service and marketing experience to Cancer Families United. She also knows first hand what kind of impact CFU support has on families; her son Garrett was diagnosed when he was 2 1/2 and she and her husband Colin received one of the Family Care Bags. With that one gift, they didn’t feel as alone or isolated – someone cared and knew what they needed to endure the treatment journey. Garrett has reached remission, but continues his treatment until 2017. We appreciate her commitment to childhood cancer advocacy and service to CFU.
Joanne is a nurse at Bronson Hospital and the Aunt to Emma Pederson. It was this family connection that lead her to volunteer as a board member and participate in the formation of the kind of support CFU would be offering families. Since joining the board, she has known two other local families whose children have been diagnosed with a form of cancer. She knows first hand what families go through and she provides continued support and leadership for the mission of CFU.
Brad is a Division President for Stryker Corporation, which is a worldwide corporation based in Kalamazoo, MI. His management and leadership experience provides valuable guidance during the fluid process of creating an organization and handling internal and external circumstances. His friendship with a family that had a child with cancer lead him to serve as a volunteer board member and ensure that other families benefit from the CFU mission.
Matt Van Dyk
Matt is a lawyer at Miller Johnson in Kalamazoo, MI. His connection to this cause is through direct knowledge of a family whose child had cancer, he provides legal knowledge for the operations of an organization as well as the corporate filing with the IRS. He offers great depth of knowledge and advice when managing program protocol and internal operations, his dedication to the CFU mission is immeasurable.