Board Members and Volunteers

Theresa Dukovich

Executive Director, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer
Board Member, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

Theresa became a volunteer to help find a cure for pancreatic cancer after her mother, Rose Marie Pendro, died from Stage IV pancreatic cancer in 2001 at the age of 62. Like many other patients with pancreatic cancer, Rose Marie was offered little hope and she died 7 months after diagnosis. Theresa made a commitment to continue her mother’s courageous fight and became a volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in 2003. She served as the Affiliate Coordinator of their Pittsburgh Affiliate from 2005 until 2012 when she decided to join the Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer. While a volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network she won Affiliate Coordinator of the Year in 2009 and the Founder’s Award in 2012. Theresa holds a Master’s Degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and is a licensed social worker. She is married to her husband, Glenn Dukovich, and has 2 children, Andrew and Anna, who also volunteer in Rose Marie’s memory.

 

Kendra Bahneman Haywood

Director of Fundraising, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer
Board Chair, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

Kendra became a volunteer in honor of her father Carl Bahneman. Carl passed away of Pancreatic Cancer in October 2009, after a courageous 14 month battle. Her father was treated by Doctor A. James Moser, currently with Beth Israel Deaconess and Harvard in Boston. Kendra and her family have joined Dr. Moser in this challenging battle against one of the worst, and certainly the most underfunded, cancer of our time. Kendra’s background is in fundraising, marketing and organizing events for the financial industry. Before joining the Foundation she was Global Head of Hedge Fund Marketing and Investor Relations for BTG Pactual’s hedge fund business. Previously, she was Head of Marketing and Investor Relations for Sailfish Capital Partners, and prior to that, she was Head of Events and Fund Raising for Institutional Investor’s Financial Industry events and awards dinners. Kendra holds a Masters of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University and is married with a 3 year old daughter.

 

Marla Wagner

Board Secretary, Director of Advocacy, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

Marla first joined the fight against pancreatic cancer by participating in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) 5K walk after her husband, Chuck, passed away from the disease in 2005.  His battle had lasted two and a half years and he fought it with courage and dignity.  Taking strength from his example, she became an active volunteer with PanCAN’s Pittsburgh Affiliate.  Following her retirement in 2011, she accepted the position of Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Affiliate.  She recently decided to continue her volunteer work by joining the Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer to serve as the Media Director.

Marla holds a Master’s Degree in education from Slippery Rock University and is certified as an English teacher, reading specialist, and reading supervisor.  She received her principal’s certification from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  During her career Marla held administrative positions in several Pittsburgh area school districts, retiring from an elementary principal’s position in the Plum Borough School District.  Marla has two adult children and one grandson who live in the Pittsburgh area and play a huge role in her life.

 

Jennifer LoConte

Board Member, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer
Founder and President, J’s Run

Jennifer initially organized J’s Run (then Joan’s Run) while her mother was battling stage IV metastatic pancreatic cancer. Jennifer is dedicated to finding a cure for this disease that took her mother’s life just 51 days after diagnosis. Jennifer earned a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Suffolk University and a BS in Professional Writing from Emerson College, both in Boston, MA. She has experience as both a public relations specialist and research analyst for the Boston P.D. She is currently Regional Communications Director for the American Red Cross Northeast PA Region and continues to freelance stories for various publications. She recently published an eye-opening story on pancreatic cancer through Men’s Health as well as several other published pieces on the disease. She is married and mother of two daughter and a son.

 

Debbie Barnes

Board Treasurer, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

Debbie Barnes and her family have been raising money for research for Dr. Moser and his associates for several years now since her Mother’s death from Pancreatic Cancer in October 2006. Dr. Moser performed the whipple procedure on her Mother in August 2005. The privilege of having another year with her family prompted her to ask the family to help him continue his research by raising funds. “Mellie” as she was lovingly called also had a brother who also died of Pancreatic Cancer.

The family ran the former “Mellie’s Mission” and has now transitioned to solely working for the AFFPC, concentrating all their fund raising efforts.

Debbie retired in April of 2014 after working at Sensus USA for approximately 40 years in different positions and ending her career there as Traffic Manager taking care of all invoicing and shipments leaving the facility.

Debbie and her husband Mark have been married for 40 years and have two children and two granddaughters. They live in Smithfield, Pennsylvania.

 

Patricia Connelly

Board Member, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer entered Patricia’s life when her husband, Marty Connelly, of 38 years was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer which had metastasized to his liver. Marty was given no hope and no surgery options. He was given 3 months to live, however, he died in 30 days and was buried on his 62nd Birthday. Pat didn’t know what to do with her grief so in 2004 she joined a small group of volunteers for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and was appointed the Advocacy Coordinator for Western Pa. As the former Advocacy Coordinator she traveled numerous times to Washington D.C. to meet with Congressman to increase awareness of the need for increased funding for the disease. She also obtained Proclamations declaring November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month from Pittsburgh City Council, The Mayor of Pittsburgh and various other Mayors in her hometown. Each year she continues to obtain a Proclamation from the Mayor of Pittsburgh proclaiming a Randy Pausch Day to honor his memory and dedication to pancreatic cancer research and awareness. Patricia has a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and is the mother of 4 sons.

 

Christopher Kanski

Board Member, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

Chris was impacted by pancreatic cancer when Greg Griffith, a close family friend, was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in February of 2010. Chris, like the rest of his local community, was inspired by Greg’s courageous battle with the disease and, after his death, had a desire to do what he could to fight back against this terrible form of cancer. He became involved in The Greg and Cathy Griffith Family Foundation, advising in the areas of marketing and technology. Chris is 2008 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in marketing. For the past few years, Chris has helped to build JMG Systems, a startup technology agency, and has helped numerous non-profits and businesses grow their web and social media presence and develop their organization’s technology strategy.

 

Jodi Parach

Board Member, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer
Board Chair, The Wanda Bilec Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Jodi became involved with increasing awareness and fundraising for pancreatic cancer when her mother, Wanda Bilec, was diagnosed with inoperable Stage IV pancreatic cancer in 2008.  Jodi began annual bowling events in the Pittsburgh area where her family lives, and 5K runs near Philly, where she resides with her husband and three children.  Not knowing what to do with the grief she felt after losing her mother in March 2009, Jodi, with the support of her husband and family, started the Wanda Bilec Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.  Jodi graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Rehabilitation and received her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Chatham College in Pittsburgh.  She believes that her experience working in the health care field will enable her to become an active liaison with health care professionals to improve attitudes about pancreatic cancer and treatment possibilities, as well to contribute to the goal designed by the Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer (AFFPC) to involve patients in developing personalized treatment plans that focus on quality of life.

 

Jessica Fera

Board Member and Interim Public Relations Director, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer
Founder and Executive Director, The Woiner Foundation

Jessica is working to end pancreatic cancer in memory of her mother, Rita Woiner. Rita was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2010, eight months after losing her husband to melanoma. Rita was first treated by Dr. A. James Moser in the family’s home town of Pittsburgh, Pa. and had the Whipple procedure in April 2011. Rita passed away in April 2014 and is an inspiration to all who knew and loved her.

Jessica and Rita, along with Jessica’s husband Ric, who is a two-time melanoma survivor, founded The Woiner Foundation in 2013. The mission of The Woiner Foundation is to fight melanoma and pancreatic cancer by increasing awareness, supporting patients, survivors and families and fundraising for research. The foundation hosts several annual fundraising events in Pittsburgh, including the 3-2-1 Ride, a family-friendly bike ride. The foundation is dedicated to supporting the research efforts of Dr. Moser in the field of pancreatic cancer, and Dr. John Kirkwood, in the field of melanoma.

Jessica is a 2006 graduate of Penn State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in business. She is the Managing Producer/Director of Studio 11, WPXI-TV’s commercial production department. Jessica serves as a patient advocate for the University of Pittsburgh’s SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) in skin cancer. The program was renewed in 2013, receiving more than $12 million from the National Cancer Institute.

 

Dr. Ken Grey

DOM, AP Holistic Physician
Board Member, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancratic Cancer

Dr. Grey obtained his masters in both Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from theAtlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine and enjoys being both a physician and an educator.He has extensive experience in creative education, teaching those with special needs including individuals with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Autism. His unique approach to holistic healing has taken him abroad to lecture in Germany and treat sports professionals in Hawaii and France and locally onsite at the Honda Classic as well as at his office where he is sought after by golfing, tennis, baseball and football greats. Dr. Grey lectures nationally on Acupuncture, Qi Gong, Tai Qi, Reflexology and Women’s Health in relation to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Food Therapy. He uses his experience in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to collaborate with physicians of Conventional medicine in treating patients Holistically. Dr. Grey has been on staff at Jupiter Medical Center for over 8 years where he has helped create a new paradigm in integrative medicine. Dr. Grey has with great honor accepted the Integrative seat on Jupiter Medicals Advisory Board for The Lighthouse. In addition, Dr. Grey is also a board member of the Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer (AFFPC) where he proudly supports the work of Dr. Jim Moser at Harvard’s’ Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and offers Integrative support for Holistic advancements in the fight against Pancreatic Cancer on a National level.He has been interviewed on several prime time news specials for his ground breaking efforts in the integration of holistic medicine/acupuncture and surgery performing the first acupuncture assisted Davinci Robot surgery. His news features also include his alternative successful treatments for arthritis and efforts to educate schools on Holistic dietary approaches.He has authored several books on food therapy and juicing aptly named HEALTH in Balance and Juicing 101 respectfully. Dr. Grey has been featured on multiple Dr. Oz ABC Health Watch News segments.His office is in Jupiter, Florida for over 10 years.

 

Ric Fera

Board Member and Interim Social Media Director, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer
Creative Director and Webmaster, The Woiner Foundation

Ric is working to end pancreatic cancer in memory of his mother-in-law, Rita Woiner, who passed away in April 2014 after a courageous three and a half year battle with the disease.

Ric and his wife, Jessica, run The Woiner Foundation in their hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa. The foundation’s mission is to fight melanoma and pancreatic cancer by increasing awareness, supporting patients, survivors and families and fundraising for research. By the age of 32, Ric was a two-time melanoma survivor.

His father-in-law, Tim Woiner passed away in April 2010 after a three year battle with melanoma.

Since it was founded in 2013, the volunteer-run Woiner Foundation has raised more than $80,000 and is proud to have awarded 90% of its funds to support the AFFPC and Dr. A. James Moser, along with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s Melanoma Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s PALS program.

Ric is a Network Security Engineer for the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a graduate of the university with a bachelor’s degree in information science and a certificate in GIS. He also holds an associate’s degree in multimedia from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Ric is the co-founder of a start-up software company which developed CEAgent, a continuing education and credential management platform for licensed professionals.

 

Don Furko

Director of Events, Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

Don believes that people don’t choose causes, but rather causes choose people. He was already an advocate for several causes including epilepsy, brain cancer and Alzheimer disease when he was chosen by pancreatic cancer as the disease took his father on December 16, 2010 after a brief yet fierce 55-day battle. When he gave his father’s eulogy he promised to fight pancreatic cancer and to find a way to keep his memory alive. Don encountered the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) while they were in Harrisburg, PA in October 2011. He immediately became a volunteer with PanCAN and in February 2012, he became the Education and Outreach Coordinator until 2 months later he transferred to the Pittsburgh Affiliate Coordinator for the organization. He remained a volunteer for PanCAN until October 2013.
Don’s contribution to the AFFPC will include a broad spectrum of event and fundraising experience including car shows, United Way campaigns and 5k’s. He is a Maintenance Planning Coordinator for the Clairton Works of United States Steel, the same company that his father worked for until retirement after 35 years. Don has used the Pittsburgh Marathon as his awareness-raising platform for pancreatic cancer the past two years and last year ran the final 6% of the course backwards to signify the 6% five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer.

 

Disclaimer: The Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer has no official affiliation or sponsorship agreement with any of the entities whose names or marks are used on this website.