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Meet Our Staff

Chief Executive Officer

Kristine Rhodes, MPH

Anishinaabe, Fond du Lac and Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Boozhoo! Aniin! I appreciate the opportunity to work at the American Indian Cancer Foundation because of the endless opportunities for partnerships that positively impact the health of my community by finding solutions to end cancer burdens for Native people. In my role as CEO, I am honored to lead the direction of this organization with incredibly talented employees who work with me. My academic skills, previous experiences and years of lessons learned come in handy in this role. I earned both a Bachelors of Community Health Education and a Masters of Public Health in Public Health Administration and Policy from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining AICAF, I most recently worked as a Research Project Coordinator at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health where I worked on numerous community research efforts. I began my career as the Community Health Educator for my tribal community at the Fond du Lac Reservation. My passion for and commitment to tobacco and cancer control is dedicated to my Grandmother, Betty Ella Benton-DeFoe-Morrison, who died from cancer twenty years ago.

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Operations Manager

Alyssa Beaulieu, MBA

White Earth, Turtle Mountain

My passion for giving back to my community has led me to my role as Operations Manager at AICAF. I have discovered that while my mind processes things in terms of business, I have a nonprofit heart.

My family hails from White Earth & Turtle Mountain and both sides have been affected by cancer. My background in operations and nonprofit management has prepared me for the opportunity to support our organization in shifting the needle on public health outcomes for our people. As Operations Manager, I work to develop, implement, and support strategic objectives, manage human resource functions, daily operations, and play a lead role in our annual Powwow for Hope.

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Cancer Equity Manager

Melissa Buffalo, MS

Meskwaki

Han mitakuyepi! I am an enrolled member of the Meskwaki Nation in Iowa, and Dakota from the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux Tribes. I grew up in South Dakota and come from a large extended family. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and earned an MS in Human Development from South Dakota State University. As the Cancer Equity Manager, I am committed to working with and for our tribal communities, both urban and rural as we support our loved ones with opportunities to heal, emotionally, historically, spiritually, and physically from the burdens of cancer. I do this work because of the lasting impacts of cancer on my immediate and extended family. We know many cancers are preventable, and our people deserve access to those preventative resources that keep them healthy for themselves, their families and communities.

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I am an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation in Northwestern Minnesota.

I choose to work at AICAF because of the mission and values. As a person who works behind the scenes of an organization, as many financial people do, I feel it is important to feel passionate about the organization. I feel excited, motivated and inspired to be a part of the AICAF team with so many talented individuals. I bring several years of nonprofit and financial experience.

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Prevention & Policy Manager

Chris Johnson, MA

Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota

Hau mitakuyepi! I choose to work at the American Indian Cancer Foundation because of the impact cancer has had on my family. Working at AICAF allows me the opportunity to help end the cancer disparities that disproportionately affect our communities. In my role as the Prevention and Policy Manager, I work across AICAF initiatives with expertise in policy, system and environmental (PSE) change solutions. I also take a lead on project coordination of partners, resources development, facilitation, training, and technical assistance with an emphasis on culturally-relevant PSE changes that promote health equity, health promotion and healthy norms.

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Strategic Partnerships Manager

Kim Marcucci, BA

Chickasaw

Chokma! I am an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation living in Alaska and am honored to be working with the American Indian Cancer Foundation as the Strategic Partnerships Manager.

My focus is on building relationships to raise awareness, build capacity and identify solutions to cancer disparities for American Indian and Alaska Native people. My background in chronic disease prevention, grant management, fundraising, and pubic relations has afforded me this opportunity at AICAF to act as a liaison between organizations and help improve health outcomes in our communities. I am also an artist, love spending time outdoors and being with my family.

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Bio to come.

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Research Assistant

Madison Anderson, MPH

Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe

Boozhoo! I work with the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF) because I believe that we need more data about the health inequities within our communities.

As a Research Assistant at AICAF, I assist with study design and collecting, analyzing, and disseminating research about the behavioral risk factors of cancer in American Indians. I have an MPH in Community Oriented Primary Care and I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota. I am dedicated to serving and advocating for Indigenous communities within the health research sector.

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Hello! I am the Office Administrator with the American Indian Cancer Foundation. Growing up, many of my friends and family had in some way been affected by cancer. With it being a large presence in my life, it lead me to work in the healthcare field. While working alongside individuals every day, many who were in the dark about what was happening, it gave me the drive to find a career where I could help them. When the opportunity presented itself to join the AICAF team, it felt like a calling. Though most of my work is behind the scenes here, my past experiences give me the drive and motivation to support our staff so they can further provide American Indian and Alaskan Native people with access to resources and information they need about prevention, early detection and treatment.

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Prevention & Policy Coordinator

Daanis Chosa, AS

Bois Forte

Boozhoo. I’m from the Keweenaw Bay Chippewa Indian Community in Michigan and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in Minnesota. I currently hold an A.S. in Community Development and am currently seeking my B.S. in Sociology – Policy Analysis at the University of Minnesota. I choose to work at the American Indian Cancer Foundation because I am an advocate for health equity in Native communities and reclaiming our identity and culture as Indigenous people. My family and I have been impacted by cancer and have lost loved ones to this disease as I know many others have. It is my goal to help change this story by promoting healthy living and prevention strategies in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. In my role as the Prevention & Policy Coordinator, I support strategies that improve health outcomes in Native communities with a focus on policy, systems and environmental (PSE) change.

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Prevention & Policy Coordinator

Alyssa Diaz, BA

Mabuhay! As a Prevention and Policy Coordinator, I provide technical assistance in policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change solutions to promote chronic disease prevention and health equity. Prior to this role, I served as AICAF’s AmeriCorps VISTA developing AICAF’s survivorship program. I am passionate about health equity, social justice, and decolonizing public health. As a first-generation Filipina-American, I understand the importance of allyship with Indigenous communities and carry this understanding with me through my work. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking FIlipino food, rock climbing, and in the winter, I teach cross country skiing.

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Hello! I chose to work on AICAF’s Research Team because I believe gathering data in both a community-led and culturally-relevant way is important to improving the health of Native communities. Without data, we would not know the best way to go about making positive change; but historically, research and the gathering of data has been done without thought of who should own it, how it can improve lives, or the people involved. In my role as Research Coordinator, I get to do “researchy” things like thinking about methodology and working in Qualtrics, but I also get to visit community partners, provide technical assistance, and watch as our partners lead successful data collection in their own communities.

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My coursework and experiences in public health and women’s and gender studies inspired me to further act on my commitments to advancing anti-poverty and health equity work. In doing so, I am honored to join AICAF as part of the AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program. As the lead of survivorship programming, I assess and enhance AICAF’s capacity for sustainably supporting American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) cancer survivors and clinical systems using the wisdom and knowledge gained from Native survivors and the survivorship literature. I also combine efforts with the Cancer Equity team to promote community and clinical engagement in instituting innovative solutions for reducing the incidence and impact of cancer among AI/ANs.

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Sheryl Simmons Lawery is from Rochester, New York. She earned her Master’s in Criminal Justice/Public Administration at Columbia Southern University. Sheryl is a 2018 Public Health Associate (PHAP) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) two year program. She serves as a Cancer Equity Coordinator with AICAF’s Cancer Equity Team, working in Community Health Assessment for Population Health Improvement. Sheryl helps foster new and existing relationships with American Indian and Alaska Native communities and organizations to gain support and participation in various research projects.

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Cancer Equity Coordinator

Misha Loeffler, BA

Bay Mills Ojibwe

Bio coming soon.

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Dedication to improving health outcomes in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, along with a passion for story telling, has inevitably lead to my role in communications at the American Indian Cancer Foundation. AICAF provides a positive environment full of staff who grind every day to eliminate cancer burdens in Indian Country. As Communications Specialist, I’m able to collaborate with all of our teams, leading the organization’s communications, public relations, marketing, and social media efforts. My background in professional journalism and political science has equipped me with the skills to tell impactful stories about AICAF, its mission, and the AI/AN community.

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Prevention & Policy Coordinator

Angie Nason, BS

Leech Lake Ojibwe

I am an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and began my career in chronic disease prevention while pursuing an undergraduate degree from Bemidji State University. My experience working in preventative care and primary prevention has been instrumental to my professional growth, and in becoming part of AICAF’s Prevention & Policy Team. My position gives me the opportunity to overcome new challenges in providing technical assistance with various tribal nations, as well as provide expertise in policy, system and environmental (PSE) change solutions.

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Greetings! I came to work at the American Indian Cancer Foundation in September 2017 as an Evaluation Coordinator. I chose to work with American Indian and Alaska Native populations because of the wisdom and strong sense of community that resounds in Indian Country. This is a quality of life I admire and wish to see in every community across the nation. Now as a Senior Program Specialist, I hope to promote cancer awareness and increase early detection in communities and clinics through culturally-specific best practices. American Indian and Alaska native communities hold the inherit knowledge and wisdom, and it is the American Indian Cancer Foundation’s passion to highlight those solutions.

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Senior Research Coordinator

Kendra Roland, MPH

Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation

Bio to come.

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Greetings! I am a Prevention & Policy Coordinator with the American Indian Cancer Foundation.

I bring expertise in policy, system and environmental change and work across various projects to promote health and health equity in American Indian Communities. I am passionate about helping communities identify unique solutions to fight the cancer epidemic impacting Indian Country. Outside of work I enjoy reading, traveling and spending time on Lake Superior.

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Michael Yang is a graphic designer with the American Indian Cancer Foundation.

He has nearly a decade of experience working in digital media for film festivals, city governments, political campaigns, and non-profit organizations. He is a graduate of Augsburg College and holds a B.A. in Political Science with a Communications minor. Outside of work, he enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and staying fit. He’s also a fan of locally crafted beers, good food, better company, fresh air and a lot of sunshine.

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