POTA Community Advisory Panel
Deidra Fields Sanderson
Dr. Sharon (Gotlieb) Cook is a retired psychologist now living in Blount County. She obtained degrees first in occupational therapy and later clinical psychology from UAB. She established occupational therapy for children with handicaps in the Jefferson County School system in 1978. In later years Dr. Cook had a private psychology practice in Birmingham serving children and adults. She is a past president of Birmingham Regional Area of Licensed Psychologists. In retirement Dr. Cook enjoys doing artwork, gardening and projects for ForgeOn, the support group for women with breast Cancer. Dr. Cook is herself a cancer survivor. She has had 4 diagnoses of cancer: breast cancer in 2009, Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia, a rare blood cancer in 2014, metastatic breast cancer in 2018 and Multiple Myeloma in 2020. In spite of the challenges and negative effects of cancer treatments she is doing well. She attributes this to being able to stay engaged in life in whatever way possible, a positive attitude and a strong social support system. Dr. Cook is very pleased to be a part of the POTA Advisory Panel.
Beth is a retired physical therapist professionally. She’s spent 25 years working in physical rehabilitation with the later years in management. Following this, she worked in leadership at Lakeshore Foundation which is a large non-profit organization in Birmingham providing programs in wellness for people with physical disabilities and chronic health conditions. She was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2013, then with my first metastasis (stage 4) in 2017. She is married and has 2 adult children and one grandchild. Her interests include spending time with family and friends, gardening, walking/hiking, cooking and golfing.
Janet Dees is the Client Services Coordinator for Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center. She earned her Bachelor of Nursing degree from Samford University and her Master of Business Administration from UAB. Janet has over 20 years of experience working with women and their health-related issues. She is passionate about providing support and resources to women and those who love them as they navigate the cancer experience. Janet works with our clients to create the best possible plan to help meet their needs and situation.
Jinida Holt is the Volunteer and Support Coordinator at Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center. She obtained her Bachelor of Social Work from Miles College, and her Master of Social Work from Alabama A&M University. She has exceptional experience working with vulnerable populations and program management with several non-profit organizations throughout the Birmingham area. Most recently, Jinida served as a Programs Coordinator at the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.
Edwyna is a loving wife and mother of a 2021 High School graduate. She was a former employee of Protective Life Corporation for 23 years, lifelong resident of Birmingham, Alabama, and graduate of Midfield High School. Cancer was never a part of her family medical history. She is the first person in her family to be diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
Alaina Pineda is the Program and Data Coordinator for Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Elon University, her Master of Industrial Design from University of the Arts, and her Master of Science in Health Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Alaina has over 10 years of experience supporting healthcare organizations in their efforts to develop strategic plans and programs that meet the needs of their patients, staff and the community at large. She is passionate about finding creative ways the healthcare industry can be innovated to improve experience, care and outcomes. As the Program & Data Coordinator, Alaina is responsible for the development and management of the high-impact programming that Forge offers the community as well as reporting on Forge’s data and outcomes to inform positive healthcare transformations across the country.
Dr. Cynthia Ryan is associate professor of English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she teaches courses in science writing, writing and medicine, and magazine writing. When diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 while completing her PhD at Purdue University, Dr. Ryan refocused her research on the construction of breast cancer messages in medicine and the media. She has remained active in research in the rhetoric of health and medicine, serving as associate editor of the journal Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (U of Florida Press) and co-editor of the book Rhetoric of Health and Medicine As/Is: Theories and Approaches for the Field (Ohio State, 2020). As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Dr. Ryan has been a vocal advocate for addressing disparities in health care. Her writing about cancer health disparities has appeared in numerous media outlets including Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Huffington Post, and websites for the National Cancer Institute and American Association for Cancer Research. She is co-creator of The Alabama Project, a traveling exhibit featuring photographs by David Jay alongside cancer survivor stories penned by Ryan. Street Smarts™, a cancer education program for women who are struggling with homelessness, was launched by Ryan in 2011.
Lauren Roberts is the Executive Director for Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center. She earned her Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate at Louisiana State University. Lauren brings over 15 years of experience in a variety of non-profit settings and is passionate about supporting and empowering women. As Executive Director, Lauren oversees the operations, strategic planning, and resource management of the organization.
Dr. Stephanie Adams, PharmD is a retail and long-term care pharmacist, and she earned her doctorate from the University of Mississippi. At the age of 26, she was diagnosed with breast cancer during the beginning of the covid pandemic. She has undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal therapy. Since overcoming breast cancer, Stephanie volunteers with Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center in various ways including co-leading the Young Breast Cancer Survivor Support Group. She has also participated as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense – Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ Breast Cancer Research Program evaluating treatment research applications. She greatly enjoys using her hardships to help others navigate their own challenges.
Deidra Fields Sanderson
Deidra graduated from Auburn University with a BA in psychology, then went on to graduate school to study Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology at UAB. She completed her MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy at NYU. She has worked for several nonprofits as a fundraiser and event planner, including The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her volunteer work has been extensive, serving on committees raising money and awareness for different causes including breast cancer, years before she was herself diagnosed at the age of 43 with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. She is active in the breast cancer community and serves as the local/state ambassador for Cancer and Careers. She enjoys being with her long-haired chihuahua Buddy Albert, and is an avid reader and traveler.
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