Board of Directors
Vallie M. Szymanski
Executive Vice President
OCSA, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 2010 by Chicagoans, Susan and Rick Roman alongside their friend, Vallie Szymanski, after Susan was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer in August of 2009. Determined to beat the disease that claimed her beloved mother in 1976, Susan passionately jumped into this noble cause with the intention of raising awareness about the silent symptoms of ovarian cancer. A lack of early detection technologies and a host of symptoms that can be mistaken for many other ailments and diseases make ovarian cancer difficult to identify until it is too late.
While Susan unfortunately lost her battle with the disease, the nonprofit continues under the direction of Vallie and a committed board of directors, board advisory members and volunteers.
OCSA’s core mission is delivered in a variety of ways to a variety of audiences, but none are more important than the partnership we have with animals. We believe in, and champion, the human/animal healing experience by:
Presenting information about the symptoms of ovarian cancer to groups of veterinary students and those working within the veterinary professions
Creating and distributing materials that inform readers of the silent symptoms of ovarian cancer and the positive effects of the human/animal bond
Organizing dog friendly events that enable us to get the word out about this deadly disease while enhancing the human/animal healing experience.
In her previous career, Vallie served as the Executive Director of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program, a city-sponsored non-profit organization under the auspices of the Mayor’s Office of International Relations. In this capacity, Vallie was responsible for complete oversight of the program’s operations, staff and board of directors.
Some of the initiatives Vallie has professionally worked to impact are: restructuring the CSCIP Board of Directors; creating an operational effectiveness model to best utilize the varied talents of the CSCIP team; negotiating corporate sponsorships with The Boeing Company, Motorola, United Airlines and the Chicago Sun-Times; and implementing large-scale, signature events like the annual Sister Cities International Festival on Daley Plaza and the World Fashion Chicago runway show.
Prior to joining Chicago Sister Cities, Vallie spent 19 years in senior management positions with United Airlines. Her duties included the coordination of many high level international events highlighting United’s strong international route structure. In addition, there was a heavy focus on the inbound international tourism market as it related to promoting the City of Chicago, Capital Region and the State of California, an international leisure destination. Early in her career, Vallie worked for Pan American World Airways and IVI Travel.
Vallie is an avid traveler, having visited all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. She has also traveled to more than 70 countries in Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, Indian Sub-continent, South Pacific, Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America.
Owner, ME Project Management
As the former owner and operator of Amlings Interior Landscape, Carolyn spent her time managing client needs, creating interior and exterior landscape designs. She also spent 10 years in the Disaster Recovery Industry for Data Base, Inc. She has taken those same skills and launched her new company ME Project Management specializing in Hospitality, Legal Firms & Corporations, Exec Temp, Relocation, Facility Re-Fresh, Sales/Marketing Consulting, Event & Meeting Planning
Carolyn has supported OCSA since 2012 and has co-chaired the annual OCSA Golf Outing for the last 3 years and is know as “Super Volunteer” for the Annual Dog Walk. Her engaging personality, “can do” attitude and personal one-on-one involvement in our fundraising events enchants everyone she meets and enables us to “get the word out” on the silent symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Carolyn also serves on the Board of Directors of The Magnificent Mile Association and is a member of their executive team as Event Chair.
Carolyn has been married to Bartlett, IL dentist, David Ascher, for 25 years. They have two daughters, Madison and Lauren, and two dogs, Bear and Moose.
Owner, Brian Hall Design Group
Brian Hall owns and manages a Chicago based web development and graphic design company. The company has over 20 years of design experience in a wide variety of industries including real estate, hospitality, food service, manufacturing, public policy and consumer products with additional expertise in both conventional and web marketing communications. Current and past clients include Hyatt Corporation, United Airlines, BP Products North America, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Chicago Sister Cities International Program and The American Cancer Society. Core competencies include print design, web development and commercial photography.
Denise E. Harvill
Chairman Emeritus, Vice President Human Resources, Express Jet Airlines, Atlanta, Georgia
Kristin L. Junkas, DVM
Dr. Kristin Junkas, Chief of Staff of Wright Animal Hospital in Des Plaines Illinois, grew up in Minnesota and now resides in Saint Charles, Illinois. She received her undergraduate degree at Luther College in 1992 and then attended Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, earning a DVM degree in 1996. After completing a small animal rotating medicine and surgery internship at the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Junkas performed 18 months of oncology residency training at Illinois as well. As part of her educational requirement, she published the article “Treatment of Canine Lymphoma with COPLA/LVP” in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Junkas then joined the staff of Melrose Park Animal Hospital in 1998 where she practiced as an associate and managing veterinarian until joining the Wright Animal Hospital team in 2005.
In order to pursue her interests in general oncology and surgery for companion animals, Dr. Junkas moved to the Chicago area. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Illinois Veterinary Medical Association, Chicago Veterinary Medical Association, American Academy of Feline Practitioners and the Veterinary Cancer Society. She participates in educating pet owners and fellow veterinarians about treating pets with cancer and is a board member and secretary of the women’s Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness (OCSA) Organization in Chicago, for which she chairs the annual OCSA Dog Walk.
Dr. Junkas is dedicated to providing personalized care with compassion and consideration of both the owner and their pet. Her medical interests include oncology referral practice, laser and cosmetic surgery, and advanced soft tissue surgical procedures. She participates in community activities such as career days with local schools, annual topic seminars with K-9 clubs and special interest organizations.
In her spare time, Dr. Junkas loves spending time with her family, three children and her pets – a Siamese cat, mini-lop rabbit and freshwater aquarium fish. She enjoys both knitting and crocheting as well as traveling with her family.
Kurt E. Klepitsch, DVM
Kurt has been married for 23 years to his wife, Gail, who is also a practicing veterinarian. They met at the University of Illinois while attending veterinary school. He has 2 children, Ethan and Sidney. Sidney has shown an interest in working with animals as well.
His areas of interest outside of work include golfing and wood working. He also likes to spend his summers working in his vegetable garden. Dr. Klepitsch is a die-hard White Sox fan. He tries to get to a game or two if there is time and weather permits.
Julian C. Schink, MD
Chief, CTCA Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Surgery
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Midwest Regional Medical Center
Dr. Julian Schink brings more than 25 years of oncology experience to his position as Chief of Gynecologic Oncology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) and Medical Director of Gynecologic and Medical Oncology at CTCA® in Zion, Illinois.
Dr. Schink joined CTCA in May 2017. Board certified in gynecologic oncology as well as obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Schink is dedicated to caring for patients and advancing the treatment of gynecologic malignancies. He provides surgery and chemotherapy treatments for patients with gynecologic cancers, including ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer and gestational trophoblastic neoplasia.
“As a gynecologic oncologist, my single, most important goal is to fight cancer,” says Dr. Schink. “Advances in gynecologic oncology, including robotic surgery, have helped cancer patients become survivors.”
Dr. Schink will lead the national Gynecologic Oncology Program at CTCA, which focuses on high-quality, evidence-based medicine and personalized treatment options to meet the needs of each unique patient.
Dr. Schink earned a medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas. Following medical school, he completed a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Schink also completed a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical School in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Schink has held numerous academic positions, including vice chair of obstetrics and gynecology and professor at the University of Wisconsin Medical School; an endowed professorship, as the John I Brewer Professor of gynecology and cancer research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Chief of Women’s Health at Spectrum Health; and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Michigan State University. Dr. Schink has been published in several medical journals, including over 125 publications in oncology and women’s health. He has authored more than 10 chapters in oncology textbooks, particularly focusing on gestational trophoblastic disease. He has also served as principal investigator and co-investigator for many large clinical trials responsible for improving and expanding cancer treatment options.
Licensed by the States of Illinois, California, Wisconsin and Michigan, Dr. Schink has been a member of and held leadership positions at several medical organizations. These include the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists and the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation. Dr. Schink has also won several awards for his outstanding work, including listings on America’s Top Doctors, The Best Doctors in America and Chicago Super Doctors.
In addition to his work, Dr. Schink is passionate about the water and boating. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Sharon. Together, they have four adult children, three grandchildren, two dogs and two boats.
Administrator, Corboy & Demetrio
Marcy A. Twardak is the Chief Administrator and Financial Officer of Corboy & Demetrio, P.C., a nationally renown litigation firm. She has spent all 32 years of her career as a law office professional at C&D, managing finances of the firm as well as human resources, new business, and marketing through client communication. She is involved in decision making for all non-client related issues, including technology and website development.
Marcy received her bachelors in Finance & Economics, Accounting and Spanish at Mundelein College, Chicago, Illinois. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Bob, a Battalion Chief of the Chicago Fire Department.
Board Member, Women’s Council of St. Ignatius College Prep
Board Member, Leader Council for Mercy Home for Boys & Girls
Member, St. Joseph Seminary Board of Advisors
Chair, Alumni Board of Mundelein College – assists in promoting the college’s ongoing relationship with Loyola University and promoting continued interest in the history of Mundelein College.
Chair, Board of the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness (OCSA)
Secretary, Philip H. Corboy Foundation
Chairperson, “Friends of Saint Gall” – Saint Gall Paris
Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago (since 2005)
Treasurer, Judge Mary K. Rochford Campaigngs: Judge 2007, Appellate Court Judge 2010
Treasurer, Judge Eve Reilly Campaign, 2015-2016
2015 Mother Mary Frances Clarke Award – The Immaculata High School Alumnae Association (recognition of leadership and lifetime achievements)
Peter Weber, MS, CAE
President Emeritus, United Benefit Advisors
Peter Weber, was named President of the United Benefit Advisors (UBA) in July 2017. UBA is the nationals leading organization of independent benefit advisors who are bound by a code of conduct to actively cultivate, validate and share wisdom with busy benefit decision makers nationwide who want peace of mind through trust in knowing they are making informed choices in a complex marketplace.
Weber has previously serviced as the CEO of multiple organizations, including more than 12 years for the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA).
At ISVMA, Peter demonstrated innovation, vision and skill at developing strong bonds with veterinary students and young professionals. By interacting with the students from their first day of orientation through graduation, he successfully connected veterinary students with the commitment to participate in organized veterinary medicine.
Peter was recognized by ISVMA as an innovative leader with the 2006 President’s Award for sustained dedication to the advancement of veterinary medicine. In 2008, his dedication to the veterinary school was also recognized with the Special Service Award of the Veterinary Medical Alumni Association at the University of Illinois for outstanding service to the College and the veterinary profession. In 2009, he was named Executive of the Year by the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives (ASVMAE).
Peter graduated with honors from Knox College with a political science major. He obtained his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. He has returned to both schools as an instructor and guest speaker.
President, Wisecarver Public Relations, LLC
Prior to founding Wisecarver Public Relations, Kelly was founder and principal at two boutique public relations firms, wkpr, LLC and Sage Marketing & Public Relations, Inc. For over 25 years, Kelly has focused on diverse elements of marketing, advertising, public relations for her employers and clients. Today, her firm serves clients in industries ranging from hotels, restaurants and food suppliers, to consumer products, association promotion and non-profit.
Her clients have included both national and regional clientele including PetAg, Inc., merci Finest Assortment of European Chocolates, Unger Meat Company, The Signature Room at the 95th, Piazza Bella Trattoria, numerous Chicago hotels including Hotel Cass, Hotel Felix, the Amalfi Hotel Chicago, Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile, Knickerbocker Hotel, and retailers including Bloomingdale’s first stand-alone Home & Furniture Store.
Prior to opening her first firm, she served as director of marketing at Chicago’s Sutton Place Hotel. There, she managed a re-branding campaign, media relations, advertising and sales for the property’s restaurant, catering services and hotel. Her career has also included roles as vice president of an award-winning advertising agency that specialized in real estate promotion, and managing corporate communications for the first company in the world with an AIDS vaccine in human clinical trials.
Today, Kelly serves as an executive committee member and board member for The Magnificent Mile Association. In her free time, she is an avid traveler, a freelance writer and photographer.
Owner, Hair By Melissa Renee / Philanthropist
Melissa was born in Chicago and grew up in the western suburbs. Having seen family members and friends battle varying forms of cancer, sparked a desire in her to help others. After volunteering at a local hospital at 14, she realized that nursing wasn’t her calling, but she wanted to help people feel better. After getting her cosmetology license at 18, she joined the Look Good, Feel Better program assisting those going through chemo with their hair and skincare needs. She started a mobile beauty business and then began a relationship with the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) of Kane and Dupage counties visiting hospice clients and those who were home bound due to chronic, terminal illnesses and old age.
After opening her own salon, she continued raising money for various charities such as Pink Hair For Hope, American Cancer Society, Fox Valley Wildlife Center, and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. When her cousin, Kelly Mulqueeny, lost her 2-year battle with ovarian cancer in 2010 and having to deal with her own cancer scares, Melissa was motivated do more. In 2015 she reached out to Vallie Szymanski and began volunteering for OCSA.
Melissa has a mobile beauty business in Geneva, IL and continues to raise money for local charities, but OCSA is where her heart is. The animal and people connection touches her deeply. Her feeling is that we share a planet together with the animals and we can show love and help each other to better health and longer lives.
Melissa has two beautiful daughters, Alexandra Hallifax and Abigail Lipp, who is also an OCSA volunteer.
Melissa’s fur baby, her cat Taft, rules the roost. Melissa loves spending time with her partner, Scott Beck, who shares her love for sports, music, travel, food, and like her is very passionate about OCSA and the One Health approach. She looks forward to the time that ovarian cancer doesn’t mean a death sentence because of knowing the silent symptoms and early detection!