Staff & Board


Smith Center for Healing and the Arts relies upon the work of a network of faculty, staff, and volunteers from a wide variety of disciplines. We welcome inquiries, applications, involvement and/or support from anyone engaged or interested in this work.

Executive Leadership Team

Lisa Simms Booth, Executive Director

Lisa Simms Booth – Executive Director

Lisa Simms Booth comes to Smith Center following a nearly twenty-five year career in media, politics and advocacy. Lisa has always had a servant’s heart and has aspired to do work that improves the lives of others or empowers them to advocate for positive change. She has previously worked at LISTEN, Inc., The Alliance for Justice, Time Dollar Institute, Children’s Defense Fund, Democratic National Committee and the National Rainbow Coalition.

In 2003, Lisa started working at FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, which focuses on the systemic barriers to faster discovery of better treatments and cures for diseases including cancer. At the same time of getting this new job, Lisa’s mother Lucille was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Throughout her 14-year tenure at FasterCures in various leadership roles in partnership development, external affairs, and operations, she created programs that brought together pharmaceutical, biotech, philanthropic, and non-profit communities with the aim to make the system work better for patients. While working at FasterCures, Lisa was also living the roller coaster ride of treatment and remission with her mom which had a profound impact on her. Her mom’s eight-year journey and passing led to Lisa’s passion for cancer advocacy and she dedicates her work with patients to her mom with the hope that she can make this journey better for patients and their families.

This dedication served her well in her role as Senior Director of Patient and Public Engagement at the Biden Cancer Initiative, where she worked prior to joining Smith Center. At BCI, she helped define the organization’s advocacy outreach and collaboration strategies. She also led the design and coordination of the Biden Cancer Collaborative, which mobilized the cancer patient and advocacy community around key priorities, promoting, and sharing tried and tested approaches to addressing common problems. In addition, Lisa served as the staff lead for BCI’s Patient Navigation Working Group which was focused on exploring ways to make patient navigation more accessible to cancer patients.

She is a Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Michigan State University. Lisa lives in Silver Spring with her husband Bryan and their beloved dog, Taz. She’s an avid sports fan and loves music, going to the theater, and spending time with friends. She is active in the music ministry and community outreach efforts for her church, Metropolitan AME, which recently celebrated its 181st Anniversary.

She is thrilled to join the Smith Center and build on its rich legacy of service.

Julia Rowland, Senior Strategic Advisor

Julia Rowland – Senior Strategic Advisor

Julia Rowland, Ph.D., who joined Smith Center in October 2017, comes to this position as a long-time clinician, researcher, and teacher in the area of psychosocial aspects of cancer. She has worked with and conducted competitively funded research among both pediatric and adult cancer survivors and their families, and published broadly in psycho-oncology, including co-editing, along with Dr. Jimmie Holland, the ground-breaking text, Handbook of Psychooncology.  She has also been a frequent speaker on cancer survivorship, or life after cancer, for both professional and lay audiences.

Julia received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in psychosocial oncology. While at MSKCC, where she held joint appointments in pediatrics and neurology, Julia helped to develop and was the first Director of the Post-Treatment Resource Program, one of the first non-medical survivorship care programs to be offered by a major cancer center in the U.S. In 1990 she moved with her husband and two young children to Washington, DC to become founding Director of the Psycho-Oncology Program at Georgetown University and the Lombardi Cancer Center. There she helped expand services to meet the psychosocial needs of cancer patients and families, launched some of the first quality-of-life clinical trials, and also introduced a program to enable first-year medical students to learn the art of caring for those living through and beyond cancer from survivors themselves and Lombardi faculty. Nine years later, in September of 1999, she was recruited to the National Cancer Institute to become the first, full-time Director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship, a position in which she served for 18 years, championing the growth of survivorship research and care, before stepping down in September 2017 to assume her new role at Smith Center. Although new to the team, Julia is no stranger to Smith Center. She knew Smith Center’s founder, Barbara Smith Coleman, and has volunteered her expertise across the years as a speaker, group leader and staff member for both the 1-day and weeklong residential retreats. Julia brings to her new role a passion to translate what research has taught us about healing in the context of cancer to the broader community, in essence, taking the science of survivorship from the lab bench to the park bench.

Michelle Clermont, Deputy Director

Michelle Clermont – Deputy Director

Ms. Clermont has served as Deputy Director since 2006. Michelle served as Acting Executive Director during Smith Center’s Executive Leadership transition. Michelle oversees operations, finance, and grant development for Smith Center manages human resources and legal/business, and serves on the leadership/Management Team for the organization. Michelle has worked in the integrative health and nonprofit industry for over twenty-five years and has broad experience in all aspects of nonprofit management including strategic planning; senior leadership, vision and strategy; finance management and sustainability; staff development and team building; and board communication. Prior to Smith Center, she managed a local international nonprofit that works to integrate healthcare by educating healthcare providers in mind-body medicine, integrative cancer care, and nutrition. Prior to her nonprofit work, she helped to integrate, manage, and grow two DC metro area healthcare clinics after starting her career in the mental health field. Michelle graduated from George Washington University with a BA in International Affairs with a Latin American Studies concentration, a secondary field of Psychology, and a minor in Spanish. She grew up in a family of ten children, seven of whom were adopted internationally, and her family hosted over thirty international medical foster children during their care in the United States. Michelle studied ballet for over thirty-eight years and actively practices Pilates. She has extensive experience with yogic philosophy, energy medicine, nutrition, crystal healing, and living a holistic lifestyle. She is also extremely passionate about creating great-tasting, healthy, allergen-free, vegan foods. Michelle and her husband, jazz guitarist Dan Leonard, live in Northern Virginia with their beautiful son Jamie.

Erin Price – Director of Young Adult and Psychosocial Support Programs

Erin Price, MSW, LICSW, OSW-C was driven to help others facing cancer shortly after her own breast cancer diagnosis when she was 27. Since then, she has become a leader in the DC cancer community, with a special interest in advocating for and providing support to young adults diagnosed with cancer.  She believes in the power of community and strives to help those faced with cancer connect to other survivors so that no one has to go through it alone. Erin’s work at Smith Center began in 2012 and currently includes running the DC Young Adult Cancer Community programming, and providing group and individual support to cancer survivors, serving as an Integrative Patient Navigator, and managing Smith Center’s Integrative Patient Navigation Training. Erin also has a background in non-profit development, fundraising, and marketing. She provides support and resources to young women diagnosed with breast cancer across the country through volunteer work with the Young Survival Coalition. Erin is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD scientific research advocacy training, an experienced Grant Reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and a member of the Georgetown Breast Cancer Advocates.


Cheryl Shaw – Individual and Corporate Giving Director

Cheryl is currently the Director of Individual and Corporate Gifts at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. Prior to joining Smith Center, she held leadership roles in the nonprofit sector over a 30-year career with KQED Public Broadcasting, Bay Area Black United Fund, United Negro College Fund, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and ADRA International. Her volunteer work includes leading mission trips to support vulnerable populations to provide hope and resources during their time of need while a ministry leader in her home church. She currently serves as a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Metropolitan DC Chapter to empower Black women and girls towards financial stability and as a member of the Cancer Support Center DC – Community Engagement Advisory Council as they build a new facility to provide resources for support and treatment to those affected by cancer in Metro DC. As an entrepreneur, she created and developed the first African American women-owned art gallery in the Pacific Northwest and is now a top-producing Realtor in the Metro DC market. Cheryl holds an AA degree in Merchandising from the Fashion Institute, graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a BS in Sociology, and continued her education at Golden Gate University in San Francisco where she studied for her MBA. Cheryl is a two-time breast cancer survivor, an advocate of early detection, a mother of two, and a grandmother of two. She currently resides in Washington DC.

Donna Jackson – Grants Manager and Writer

DJ is one mission-driven woman having worked in the non-profit sector for the majority of her professional career. Her passion for the arts and youth has been her driving force as she always finds a way to combine the two, using the arts as a way to build strength and a sense of resiliency, especially with rural youth. Her creative career began at the Smithsonian, where she served as a member of the visual design/exhibit team. She has held graphic design and strategic development positions in the Washington D.C. metro area including local Maryland county government, the Foundation for the National Archives, and Associate Director at The Washington Ballet (THEARC). In 2000 DJ fulfilled her personal promise and returned to her rural county to establish a non-profit, which allowed her to provide youth with arts experiences from the knowledge she gained.
Her grassroots to executive-level positions provide her with the ability to be agile. “I felt like I was a fixer at times—a superhero. I had to swoop in as Executive Director of struggling organizations and bring them back to life.” DJ said she would never teach art in a restrictive school; however, when asked, she followed her heart, said yes, acquired her teaching license, and taught in a high school. Prior to joining the Smith Center team, DJ, with her co-owner, opened their first art teaching studio in 2018. When COVID-19 hit they had to close the doors just as they were gaining momentum. With grant funds and contributions, the doors are still open! DJ holds a BA in Graphic Design and MA in Arts Management from Norfolk State University and George Mason University, respectively. Follow your natural path and it will lead to just where you are supposed to be for an appointed time.


Kiersten Gallagher – Cancer Support Programs Director

Kiersten has served as the Cancer Support Program Director for Smith Center since 2014. Before coming to Smith Center, she had the privilege to serve individuals and families living with cancer at Wellness House of Annapolis. Kiersten aims to offer programs to reduce stress and help participants to see the world we live in from different perspectives. She thoroughly enjoys facilitating yoga, visual arts, and writing programs at Smith Center and encourages gentle movement and creativity in the healing process. Kiersten is a certified yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance and also has her YCAT (Yoga Therapy in Cancer and Chronic Illness) Professional Certification through the Integral Yoga Academy. She has completed Patient Navigation training through Smith Center’s Institute for Integrative Oncology Navigation and has also completed the Commonweal Healing Circles: Advanced Cancer Support Training. Kiersten is also certified in CLIMB® (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery) a program that aims to build upon the strengths of children and increase his/her ability to cope with stress associated with a parent’s illness; Compassion Cultivation Training – CCT™ an 8-week program developed at Stanford University, with insights and techniques from psychology, neuroscience, and contemplative practice; Mind Over Matter a 5-session program that uses evidence based strategies to help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression and increase a sense of well-being, and she is also a certified herbalist and holds her Reiki Level One certification. She believes in a holistic approach to healing, human relationships and is grateful for each and every day. In her spare time, you may find Kiersten laughing with friends, cycling, taking art classes, practicing yoga and spending time with her husband Shane, son Liam, dogs Pablo and Beans, and turtle Chip.

Olivia Gonyea – Cancer Support Programs & Retreat Coordinator

Olivia Gonyea has been active in the cancer community for over 11 years as a childhood cancer survivor. She is also the founder of her own nonprofit organization that she created to support young people affected by cancer and other life-threatening illnesses at home in Buffalo, New York. Olivia never forgot the way that arts and creativity supported her during her experience with cancer and this inspired her to become involved with Smith Center. Olivia served as a Cancer Support Programs Intern in the Fall of 2021 and worked with Smith Center on her senior capstone project that focused on planning, implementing, and evaluating a photography-based program. Olivia received a degree in Public Health and International Studies from American University in DC and came on as a full-time staff in July 2022. She is excited to explore her interest in art and create connections with participants. Meet Olivia when you walk into Smith Center or want to learn more about programs and/or retreats!

Sara Khambalia- Gallery Manager

Sara Khambalia is a driven professional with exemplary experience in the fine art world. For Sara, art and accessibility thrive together. She believes that elitism in the art world is outdated, and is passionate about equal opportunity for all in the arts. She has operational experience in both non-profit art institutions and the private art market. After working in the vibrant South Florida art community for several years, Sara is thrilled to be able to hone her skills in an environment focused on the benefits that art has in the healing process. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History, and a Studio Art Minor with a concentration in drawing. As a new member of the Washington D.C. art scene, Sara loves to network with fellow artists, gallerists, and all those passionate about the arts!


Myown Homes- Marketing Manager

Myown Holmes is a highly skilled and experienced marketing professional, with over a decade of experience in the industry, Myown has developed a deep understanding of the intricacies of marketing across diverse sectors, including healthcare, education, and digital marketing agency marketing. She has been passionate about using her knowledge and expertise to help organizations achieve their objectives through strategic marketing campaigns.

Prior to joining Smith Center, Myown worked with several healthcare organizations, helping them to develop marketing initiatives that increased patient engagement, drove revenue growth, and improved brand awareness. Her experience in the education sector involved creating marketing campaigns to promote academic programs and increase enrollment. She also has been a Keynote speaker and presented numerous trainings on digital marketing topics and thought leadership.


Brandi Rose- AIR Program Manager

Brandi is thrilled to join Smith Center for Healing and the Arts as the new AIR Program Manager for Inova Fairfax. In 2000, she received a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Music Education from James Madison University. After working for several years as a music educator, she transitioned to arts management with a focus on arts education. During her career, she worked for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Washington National Opera, and the Smithsonian Associates. In 2009, Brandi received a Masters in Arts Management with a specialization in Arts in Youth and Community Development from Columbia College Chicago. Upon her return to the DC area she spent nine years as the Program Director at Arts for the Aging, a local nonprofit providing multidisciplinary arts engagement workshops to older adults in senior care facilities and community settings. In 2021 she received a Graduate Certificate in Arts in Medicine from the University of Florida. In her spare time Brandi performs with Capital Blend, DC’s premiere all-female a cappella group.


Laura Gonzalez – Office Manager

Laura is the Office Manager for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. She comes with over 20 years of versatile management and administrative experience with a focus on finance. She believes in the concept of true customer service as an integral part of her daily life and is excited to join the Smith Center Family. Each year she spends several weeks in the Adirondack Mountains with family, communing with nature, reading, writing and fishing.

Ongoing Consultants

Shanti Norris

Shanti Norris – Strategic Gallery Consultant

Ms. Norris served as Executive Director of Smith Center for Healing and the Arts from 1996 – 2017. She initiated the Smith Center hospital Artist-in-Residence program and Healing Arts Gallery. She ran the weeklong retreats for people with cancer, and oversaw new initiatives, including the Faith-based Community Navigation project at Smith Center. Former Vice President of Kent Homeopathic Associates, she has an extensive background in complementary medicine and mind-body approaches to healing. She has taught meditation, yoga philosophy and stress reduction for over 35 years and underwent a formal ten-year mentorship with a renowned yoga master. She is a three-term member of CARRA, the patient advocacy program at the National Cancer Institute and a graduate of Project LEAD from the National Breast Cancer Coalition. She is a graduate of the Georgetown University Non-profit Leadership certificate course and the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute in Minneapolis/St Paul. She is a former board member of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare and Chaired their Annual Conference in 2004. She is a founding board member of The Art Connection in the Capital Region and a founding member of Arts in Healthcare Advocates (AHA.) She is a frequent speaker on the healing power of the arts. Her formal art training began at New York University and The Cooper Union in New York City and includes running the fine art studio of artist Peter Max. She is a member of ArtTable, the mother of three adult children, and is a painter and sculptor.

Carole O'Toole

Carole O’Toole – Senior Retreat and Patient Navigation Training Consultant

Carole developed the Patient Navigation Program for Smith Center in 2006, introducing integrative navigation to Howard University Cancer Center, and developing faith-based community navigation services for African-Americans and African immigrants that operate from four churches in underserved areas and the community at large. She has also designed a training model for integrative cancer care navigation that is offered to navigators nationwide through Smith Center. Prior to her work at Smith Center, Carole was a Patient Navigator at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, MD, and ran a private integrative cancer care navigation practice. She also has over fifteen years’ professional experience in environmental consulting.

In addition to her navigation work at Smith Center, Carole also staffs the weeklong retreats, coaches individuals on integrative cancer care decision-making and complementary resources, and leads Smith Center’s “Living Well With Cancer” one-day workshops. Carole frequently represents Smith Center at national and local conferences and other public forums. She is the author of two books on integrative cancer care: “Cancer Community Healing Network”, and “Healing Outside the Margins”, and holds a Masters degree in Medical Anthropology and Health Policy. Carole has been a survivor of advanced cancer since 1994, enjoys biking and rowing on the Potomac with a survivor crew team, and is a wife and mother.

Laura Pole, Director of Nourishment Programs

Laura Pole – Health Supportive Chef, Patient Navigator, and Nurse Consultant

Laura, Director of Smith Center’s Nourishment Education Programs, has served as the head retreat chef and nurse consultant since 1997. She is an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist and Integrative Oncology Navigator with over 40 years experience in caring for people with serious illness. She is also a Certified Health Supportive Chef, professional musician and Nia body-mind fitness instructor. Her popular cooking classes are centered on culinary translation: that is, helping participants translate a diet prescription to a plate of nourishing delicious food. Laura is the founder of “Eating for a Lifetime,” a consulting business dedicated to teaching individuals and professionals about health supportive eating and food preparation. In addition to Laura’s work with nourishment, she is the co-coordinator of Smith Center’s Patient Navigation Training in Integrative Cancer Care. Laura also serves as coordinator of the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv.

Shefa Nola Benoit, Special Projects Consultant

Shefa Nola Benoit – Special Projects Consultant

Shefa has worked with the Smith Center since 2013, first as the Operations Manager and now as the special projects consultant. She works to keep our website updated and manages our IT needs. Shefa lives in West Virginia with her ducks, chickens, goats, and pup and also serves as the Youth Advancement Director for a local nonprofit. In her spare time, she crafts community portraits through recorded narratives and teaches documentary arts to youth and adults.

Medical Director

Michael Hawkins, MD

Michael Hawkins, MD

Michael Hawkins, MD, a medical oncologist, is Medical Director of Smith Center and conducts clinical research in Oncology at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. Formally, Dr. Hawkins was the Chief Medical Officer at Abraxis BioScience and was instrumental in obtaining FDA approval of Abraxane for women with metastatic breast cancer (2002-2007); an Associate Director of the Washington Cancer Institute at the Washington Hospital Center (1999-2002); the Director of the Clinical Research and Developmental Therapeutics Program at the Lombardi Cancer Center (1992-1999); and the Chief of the Investigational Drug Branch while at the National Cancer Institute (1984-1992). He was the chairman of the Cancer Advisory Panel to the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine from 2000-2002. In his oncology practice he encouraged patients to pursue inner healing while being treated for their cancer.

Board of Directors

Kimberly Parekh

Kimberly Parekh – Chair

Kimberly Parekh was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38 in February 2015 and has since then been an active cancer advocate. Her breast cancer interest lies in evidence-based holistic and complementary approaches for treatment and wellbeing. In that regard, Kimberly is the founder of a community support group for young persons with metastatic breast cancer in the DC region hosted by the Smith Center. She has supported Komen Foundation in organizing their annual DC regional metastatic breast cancer conference, moderating the ‘Complementary Approaches to Treatment and Wellbeing’ panel in 2020, and speaking about her experience on a patient panel in 2019. She wrote a chapter on her experiences with holistic approaches in Confessions of a Radiation Oncologist (2017). In addition, she focuses on research while serving as a panel reviewer for the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program and as a former member of the Georgetown Breast Cancer Research Advocates. Finally, Kimberly recently co-authored an essay with her best friend on experiences with breast cancer in Untold: Defining Moments of the Uprooted (forthcoming, 2021).

Kimberly works as a Senior Education Advisor for UNICEF and is based out of Washington, DC. She continues to enjoy traveling internationally both for work and pleasure and spends much of her time in various holistic practices such as yoga and a plant-based diet. She has an ED.S. in Education Policy & Leadership, M.A. in International Education, and a B.A. in Foreign Affairs.

Steven Bookoff

Steven Bookoff – Treasurer

Steven Bookoff has over 30 years of financial and management experience and has been the CFO of ORGANIC INDIA since 2002. Steven also volunteers as an officer and director of the Bet Lev Foundation, a Private Foundation in the USA, and serves as a Director to Insight Intensive, a therapeutic residential program for young men. Steven had testicular cancer in 1989. He has been completely free of Cancer for over 20 years and he lives a very active, healthy, and vibrant life. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, swimming, practicing Yoga, running on trails, or exploring the outdoors.

Oren Slozberg

William (Bill) Lammers – Secretary

In addition to the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Bill currently serves on the Board of Directors for other Washington DC based nonprofit organizations, including Active Minds, the nation’s preeminent collegiate mental health/suicide prevention organization; and, the Institute For Behavior and Health, a highly regarded national thought leading organization whose mission is to reduce illegal drug use and improve public health. Bill recently concluded a highly successful nine-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation’s largest nonprofit addiction treatment organization.

Bill’s professional career to date includes: service as an accomplished financial and healthcare consultant; a leadership role in the US Housing and Urban Development’s financing programs for hospitals and nursing homes; the chief financial officer for a large, multi-state, 13-hospital healthcare system; a partner in a large regional CPA/Consulting firm; and, a leadership role in a large community hospital. Bill also served as an Officer in the US Navy.
Bill has been honored as a ‘Life Fellow’ in the American College of Healthcare Executives; ‘Chapter Life Member’ in the Healthcare Financial Management Association; CPA (Retired) in the American Institute of CPA’s and Indiana CPA Society; and as a ‘Distinguished Alumni’ inducted into his Ohio high school Hall of Fame.

Bill has undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting and business administration from Miami University, Oxford OH, and counts as his greatest achievement his wonderful 4 children and 10 grandchildren.

Jaime Banks

Jaime Banks

Jaime Banks is a highly experienced nonprofit marketing executive, qualitative research specialist, and analytical writer who built an early career in health marketing and later focused on education and cultural organizations. She has held positions at Porter Novelli and American College of Cardiology, and worked for over a decade as a marketing research consultant. Jaime most recently served as Senior Communications Advisor at KID Museum, a Bethesda-based nonprofit, educational makerspace. Since 2005, when her 13-year old son was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, Jaime has been a devoted volunteer, advocate and leader for patients and families facing a cancer diagnosis, especially supporting the needs of the adolescent/young adult cancer community. Jaime holds a BA in English magna cum laude from Brown University, an MA in Communications from The Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in Education from The George Washington University.

Meredith Goldberg

Meredith Goldberg

Meredith Goldberg has worked in Washington DC’s thriving hospitality industry for nearly 15 years. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, she became one of the first patients in the district to utilize hair conservation therapy during her rounds of chemotherapy. Post diagnosis, Meredith jumped back into the world of hospitality marketing and has been at the award winning Jefferson hotel for over 5 years. She recently published her first book, From Cocktails to Chemotherapy: A Guide to Navigating Cancer in Your 30’s and in her spare time writes for the women’s website, where she focuses on women’s health and relationships. When she’s not at the hotel or behind her laptop, you can find her dining around at any and all of the city’s restaurants.

Paul Aimes

Paul Aines

Paul has spent most of his career running the finance function at non-profit organizations. He currently serves as Executive Vice President and CFO at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). PhRMA represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Prior to PhRMA, Paul served for 14 years as the CFO for the American Society of Clinical Oncology and its related foundation, Conquer Cancer Foundation. Together the organizations work to conquer cancer through research, education, and promotion of the highest quality patient care. Paul holds a BS in Accounting from Va. Tech and an MBA from The George Washington University. He is the husband of a cancer survivor, father of two daughters and an avid cyclist.

Annette Polan

Annette Polan

Annette Polan is known internationally as a portrait artist. She has photographed and painted the official portraits of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and other leaders of industry and government. In addition to painting, Ms. Polan is Professor Emeritus at the Corcoran College of Art & Design and Principal of Insight Institute, a series of visual workshops to enhance critical thinking and creative problem solving in the medical profession through interaction with the world of art. Professor Polan has taught and lectured on her work and contemporary American portraiture in Europe, Asia, and Australia,and has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. She is a participant in the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassy Program. She was Chair of Faces of the Fallen, an exhibition of 1323 portraits by 230 American artists, honoring the servicemen and women who died in Afghanistan and Iraq between October 10, 2001 and November 11, 2004. In recognition of her leadership on that project, she was awarded the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Outstanding Public Service Award.


Oren Slozberg

Oren Slozberg

Oren Slozberg became the executive director of Commonweal in 2017. He is also the program director of the Center for Creative Community at Commonweal in Bolinas. Oren joined Commonweal in 2013 as the chief strategies officer. He works closely with Commonweal President and Smith Center co-founder Michael Lerner, developing sustainability and organizational development strategies for future programming. As director of the Center for Creative Community at Commonweal, Oren developed new programs including the Power of Hope summer camp for teenagers, the Fall gathering, the ROC gatherings, and more.

He has been a senior program developer in the fields of education, youth development, and the arts for more than 30 years. Before coming to Commonweal he was the Executive Director of the national organization that implements VTS in the United States and abroad reaching more than 100,000 students. In 2016 VTS merged into Commonweal to further expand its reach into new communities around the world. In 2002 Oren was the Executive Director of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center when it opened. He also developed the program for the conference center for the California Endowment’s new center for health providers in downtown Los Angeles.


Carla Andrews

Carla is a global adventurer, avid volunteer, art lover, and two-time breast cancer survivor. Professionally, Carla is a Principal at Deloitte Consulting in Strategy, where she serves clients across
government, nonprofit, and private sector. Prior to Deloitte, Carla was a consultant at the Monitor Group, where her career took her from the US to residing in Spain and the UK, and working across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and India. Now back in the US, she is a leader in Deloitte’s Federal Health and Health Equity practices. Her work in health is in part motivated by her experience as a young adult facing cancer. Carla’s cancer was initially misdiagnosed; she was dismissed as “too young” in her early 20’s to have breast cancer. Finally diagnosed years later, Carla was fortunate to have supportive family, friends, access to healthcare, and a committed care team. While undergoing aggressive treatment, Carla found painting classes helped in recovery. Carla earned her MBA from the University of
Virginia’s Darden School of Business and her undergraduate degree from Stanford University. Inspired by seeing many generations of her family dedicated to civil rights and the community, Carla has actively volunteered for most of her life. She was a member of the London Junior League and previously served on the Board of Directors at Lolly’s Locks, a national non-profit that provided high-quality wigs cost-free to cancer patients with economic need.


Shanti Norris

Shanti Norris – Co-Founder & Retired Executive Director/CEO

Ms. Norris served as Executive Director of Smith Center for Healing and the Arts from 1996 – 2017. She initiated the Smith Center hospital Artist-in-Residence program and Healing Arts Gallery. She ran the weeklong retreats for people with cancer, and oversaw new initiatives, including the Faith-based Community Navigation project at Smith Center. Former Vice President of Kent Homeopathic Associates, she has an extensive background in complementary medicine and mind-body approaches to healing. She has taught meditation, yoga philosophy and stress reduction for over 35 years and underwent a formal ten-year mentorship with a renowned yoga master. She is a three-term member of CARRA, the patient advocacy program at the National Cancer Institute and a graduate of Project LEAD from the National Breast Cancer Coalition. She is a graduate of the Georgetown University Non-profit Leadership certificate course and the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute in Minneapolis/St Paul. She is a former board member of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare and Chaired their Annual Conference in 2004. She is a founding board member of The Art Connection in the Capital Region and a founding member of Arts in Healthcare Advocates (AHA.) She is a frequent speaker on the healing power of the arts. Her formal art training began at New York University and The Cooper Union in New York City and includes running the fine art studio of artist Peter Max. She is a member of ArtTable, the mother of three adult children, and is a painter and sculptor.

Michael Lerner

Michael Lerner – Co-Founder & Chair Emeritus

Michael Lerner, PhD is President-Emeritus, Senior Advisor, and co-founder of Smith Center for Healing and the Arts and of Commonweal, a health and environmental research institute in Bolinas, California. He is also co-founder of a dozen major initiatives including the Cancer Help Program, Health Care Without Harm, the Collaborative on Health and the Environment and The New School at Commonweal. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and the author of “Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Cancer Therapies.” He has co-led 170 week-long Cancer Help Programs at Commonweal and Smith over the past 25 years.

Board Emeritus

Susan Braun

Susan Braun

Susan Braun has more than 20 years of health care and oncology experience. She currently serves as the CEO of The V Foundation. Prior to this, she was Executive Director of Commonweal, Executive Director of the ASCO Cancer Foundation and also served as President and CEO of CURE Media Group, which publishes the award-winning direct-to-patient cancer publication, CURE magazine. In addition, she served as President and CEO of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (now Komen for the Cure). Prior to joining the Komen Foundation, Ms. Braun worked in the Oncology/Immunology Division at Bristol Myers-Squibb, where she was involved in patient advocacy, strategic planning, public policy, and health care economics and finance.

Web Coleman

Web Coleman

Web Coleman was a staff member at CHP’s Hallowood weeklong cancer retreats for over 15 years. He led orientation and trail walks, plus Sugarloaf Mountain trips and climbs. He aided his wife Barbara Smith [Coleman] in researching and founding Smith Center. Web’s early experiences included camping, scouting, outdoor activities and sports. Careers included teaching, advertising, nationwide corporate consulting: employee communications, technical writing, supervisory training, management development. Web was a lifetime sailor. In retirement, he took up horses and 100 mile competitive trail riding. He knew Barbara for many years, and when both were widowed, married in 1994 at the original Smith Farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Robert Hisaoka

Robert Hisaoka

Robert Hisaoka is President of RRR, LLC and is the Founder and Event Chairman of the Joan Hisaoka “Make A Difference” Gala Assisting Those Living with Cancer. Bob is an investor in Venture Philanthropy Partners, a philanthropic investment organization that helps community-based nonprofit organizations maximize their impact. Other local and national charities Bob supports include CharityWorks, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Michael Weiss Foundation, Chuck Norris’s KICKSTART, KEEN, San Jose State University, Salvation Army and Greater Washington Sports Alliance.

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