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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Welcomes Five Members to its Board of Directors

New Members Include Hematologists, NFL Vet, Operations & Communications Executives; All-Woman Executive Committee Named 

RYE BROOK, NY, July 1, 2024—The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) named five new members to its board of directors effective July 1, 2024. Their diverse experience and interests will be instrumental in helping the organization carry out its mission to cure blood cancer and improve the quality of life of all patients and their families.  

LLS proudly welcomes the following new members to its board: 

Sharon Castellino, M.D., MSc: Dr. Castellino is a Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine, where she serves as the Director of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Program and as the Mark R. Hudgens Chair for Clinical Research in the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She is the founder and co-leader of the leukemia and lymphoma biorepository, vice chair for the pediatric oncology precision medicine protocol at CHOA, and a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program at Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University. Nationally, Dr. Castellino serves as the Scientific Chair for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Hodgkin Lymphoma Committee. She has led several seminal clinical trials for children, adolescents, and young adults with Hodgkin lymphoma and has been a leader in creating models for collaborative research to benefit children and adolescents. Dr. Castellino also has expertise in healthcare delivery research, particularly as it relates to adolescents, young adults, and under-represented patients.

Mike Farmer: Mr. Farmer was formerly President of commercial operations at Builders FirstSource. He led the company’s commercial efforts, including sales and national accounts, marketing, customer segment strategy, and innovation. In this role, Mr. Farmer was responsible for leading the implementation of commercial operations best practices to create sustainable growth and drive innovation through best-in-class manufacturing capabilities in components, millwork, and READY-FRAME®, while providing an exceptional customer experience. Mr. Farmer has been an influential volunteer for LLS for many years.  

Alex Okafor: Mr. Okafor is a retired nine-year NFL vet and 2020 Super Bowl Champion with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2021, he helped launch LLS’s Scholarship for Blood Cancer Survivors, which he continues to sponsor through his Family Foundation and supports by giving his time to aspects of the program and other LLS initiatives. Mr. Okafor is active in his community and currently serves on the Pflugerville Independent School District Board of Trustees. 

Rayne H. Rouce, M.D.: Dr. Rouce is a board-certified pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Texas Children's Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), where she is also a physician-scientist. Her clinical and research interests are harnessing the immune system to target leukemia and lymphoma. Dr. Rouce has served as the Pediatric Clinical Cell Therapy Lead, Co-Director of the Immunotherapy Fellowship, and principal investigator on numerous first-in-human immunotherapy trials targeting leukemia and lymphoma. Passionate about addressing health disparities and access to novel treatments and trials, she leads the Task Force for Promoting Equity in Clinical Trials within the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at BCM. Dr. Rouce supports health equity initiatives within medicine in general and cancer specifically by serving as the Director of Community Outreach and Engagement within BCM’s Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity and as the Associate Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. She also leads DEI programs for scientific organizations such as ASH, ASGCT, and ASTCT. Dr. Rouce actively presents, advocates, and participates in collaborative groups tackling health disparities and cancer-related equity issues.   

Lilian Stern: Ms. Stern is Principal of Stern Investor Relations, Inc., a consulting firm she founded more than 20 years ago, which specializes in investor relations services for biotechnology companies. The firm has represented hundreds of public and private companies, more than 30% of which are working on novel oncology therapies. Throughout Stern IR’s history, Ms. Stern has committed to the key value of contributing to human health by facilitating capital into the industry.     

“Our new members have demonstrated in so many ways their steadfast commitment to curing blood cancer and improving the quality of life of all patients and their families,” said E. Anders Kolb, M.D., President and CEO of LLS. “Having a more inclusive board has been a priority for LLS, and our new members reflect the diverse needs of the communities we serve. We are fortunate to benefit from their unique expertise as we work together to help patients thrive through treatment and beyond.”  

LLS’s new board members will serve under the newly appointed Board Chair, Alessandra Tocco. She heads an all-woman executive committee of officers comprised of existing members: Freda Wang, Vice Chair (former Secretary-Treasurer); Marla Persky, Secretary-Treasurer; and Janice L. Gabrilove, M.D., Director-At-Large.  

Members continuing to serve on LLS’s board include: Rich Bagger, Leroy M. Ball, Mark J. Barrenechea, Renzo Canetta, MD, Casey Cunningham, M.D., Jennifer Marley, Ari Melnick, M.D., Kathleen Meriwether, Ruben A. Mesa, M.D., FACP, Lynn F. O’Brien, Jim Reddoch, Ph.D., Richard M. Rendina, Robert Rosen, Jeff Sachs, Yvette Tremonti. Bart Sichel has exited the board and completed his term on June 30, 2024. 

To learn more about LLS’s Board of Directors, please visit this link

Journalists and reporters seeking additional information, please contact

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About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the global leader in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care. 
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has regions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. 

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