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STRONG VOICES

20 Years of Breast Cancer Prevention
Our 20th Anniversary

Honoring 20 years of the Breast Cancer Fund and our mission to prevent the disease.

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PRESS RELEASES

Scientific Panel Confirms Threat to Children’s Health from Exposure to Toxic Phthalates in Kids' Toys
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Ban on BPA in Food & Beverage Containers Introduced in Congress
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Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals Found in Dust Samples in Preschools, Day Care Centers
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Staff Biographies

Jeanne
Jeanne Rizzo, R.N.,
President and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund

Jeanne Rizzo’s vision guided the Breast Cancer Fund to adopt its bold mission to work to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. Under her direction the organization has become a national leader in translating the science linking breast cancer and environmental exposures into public education and advocacy campaigns that protect our health and reduce breast cancer risk.

Jeanne leads the organization’s strategic initiatives to remove the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, from food packaging; to ensure cosmetics are non-toxic; and to overhaul the broken chemicals-management system that allows tens of thousands of toxic and untested chemicals to be used in consumer products. Recent legislative victories include the passage of a federal law banning toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer from toys, and California laws creating the first statewide biomonitoring program, advancing the safety of cosmetics and regulating chemicals in consumer products. Recent victories in the marketplace include a commitment from Campbell’s to remove BPA from its can linings and from Johnson & Johnson to globally reformulate its cosmetics products to remove harmful chemicals.

Jeanne is past council chair of the California Breast Cancer Research Program and is a steering-committee member of the program’s Prevention Initiative. She is also an appointed member of the National Institutes of Health’s Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee, which issued the landmark report “Breast Cancer and the Environment: Prioritizing Prevention.”  She is an advisory board member of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science’s breast cancer “Sister Study.” She has been awarded the California Public Health Association – North’s Helen Rodriguez-Trias "Lighting the Way" Award and the Environmental Protection Agency Region 9’s Green Chemistry Environmental Leader Award.  A nurse, then an award-winning music, theater and film producer, Jeanne produced the documentary Climb Against the Odds: Mt. McKinley, which chronicles the Breast Cancer Fund's 1998 expedition.

Sheila Brown, Director of Development and Special Projects

As director of development and special projects, Sheila leads the Breast Cancer Fund’s fundraising activities, including our signature events, Climb Against the Odds and Peak Hike for Prevention. Before joining the staff, Sheila was on the Breast Cancer Fund’s board of directors for 11 years, serving terms as board chair and member of the development and finance committees. She also served as interim president and CEO during Jeanne Rizzo’s sabbatical in 2011. Sheila brings to her work many years of business experience in sales, systems and accounting.  She received a B.A. from Texas Tech University.

Nancy Buermeyer, Senior Policy Strategist

As senior policy strategist at the Breast Cancer Fund, Nancy has spurred real progress on reforming of our woefully outdated federal chemical regulations so that public health and the environment are protected. Nancy draws on 25 years of experience as a policy strategist and lobbyist, and has played a key role in shifting the landscape on crucial public health and civil rights issues including environmental health, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights and women in the military. As a leading figure in the movement to strengthen laws governing synthetic chemicals, Nancy lobbied for one of the Breast Cancer Fund's biggest victories: a 2009 federal ban on phthalates in children's toys. She has also successfully advocated for increased federal funding of biomonitoring and health tracking programs. Nancy received a B.S., magna cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.S. in biological oceanography from the University of Connecticut.

Shannon Coughlin, Director of Communications

As director of communications at the Breast Cancer Fund, Shannon has built a multifaceted communications program that has clarified and strengthened the organization’s brand, increased our community of supporters, built our reputation as the go-to source on the environmental causes of breast cancer for new and traditional media, and facilitated the organization’s impressive state, federal and market-based policy victories. Before coming to the Breast Cancer Fund, Shannon spent more than a decade raising the profile of social-change organizations and their good work. At Rainforest Action Network, she directed the Old Growth and Rainforest Agribusiness campaigns, helping ensure that RAN’s work was dynamic agile, relevant and effective. Before that, she served as account director at creative agencies Big Think Studios and Underground Advertising, working with scores of social-change organizations to develop and implement strategic communications plans. Shannon received a B.A. from Vassar College and a certificate in editing from U.C. Berkeley

Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy

Janet is director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, where she oversees the organization’s cutting-edge program and policy work. She has led initiatives that promote breast cancer prevention in statehouses across the country and in the halls of Congress, and has helped secure passage of some of the nation’s most important environmental health legislation. Janet is co-founder of the highly successful Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of the Breast Cancer Fund that works to eliminate dangerous chemicals from personal care products. Janet draws on nearly 30 years of experience in the social change and women’s health arenas as a political organizer and lobbyist, and she uses her astute political expertise to spearhead campaigns that result in significant policy and market-based change. Janet received a B.A. from Evergreen State College and a M.A. in public policy and women’s studies from George Washington University.

Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D., Director of Science

As the director of science, Sharima works to ensure that the organization continues to be a national leader in science-based environmental health advocacy. She oversees the organization’s science-related activities, including monitoring and interpreting emerging scientific research, and developing and managing science-related program and policy initiatives. She also serves on the advisory committee of the California Breast Cancer Research Program, the largest state-funded breast cancer research effort. Before coming to the Breast Cancer Fund, Sharima was the founding academic coordinator at the U.C. Berkeley Institute for the Environment, where she built the institute from the ground up and fostered university-wide discussions on environmental issues. Previously, she served as consul for science and technology at the U.K. Consulate-General in San Francisco, where she built ties between scientists in the U.K. and California, encouraging collaboration on research and business ventures. Sharima holds a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Kent at Canterbury, U.K.

Gretchen Lee Salter, Senior Program and Policy Manager

Gretchen, senior program and policy manager, has played a leading role in the passage of landmark laws in California, including bans on toxic chemicals in children’s toys and feeding products and legislation that established the state’s biomonitoriing, Safe Cosmetics and Safer Consumer Products programs. These efforts have served as models for environmental health policy in other states and federally. Gretchen also manages the Breast Cancer Fund’s Cans Not Cancer corporate accountability campaign, which has resulted in Campbell’s announcing it will phase out the use of the toxic chemical BPA. Before joining the Breast Cancer Fund, she worked as an organizer, advocate and activist in both legislative and electoral politics, including serving as the national budget director for the Democratic National Committee and working on presidential campaigns. Gretchen received a B.A. from the University of California at Davis.