LESLIE'S WEEK TEAM MEMBERS
Sandra Gunn, Founder, BOD president - survivor
LESLIE’S WEEK founder, Sandra Gunn, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January, 2013. It was then that the full force of what she established for LESLIE’S WEEK came to have real meaning for her. She is the life force of LESLIE'S WEEK. Her passion for this cause ignites fires of awareness within cancer communities. A mother and survivor herself, she fully understands what Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer women experience. Her vision is to gift Stage 4 women and their families vacations where they create Memories that Outlast Cancer. Sandra believes that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality; that a leader is a dealer in HOPE.
Sandra is one of the ten 2016 L'Oreal Paris "Women of Worth" Honorees, selected from more than 6,200 nominations for "Making a beautiful difference in the world". In 2015 she was selected as an honoree by Massachusetts General Cancer Center to receive "the one hundred" award given to the "100 Everyday Amazing Groups or Individuals". She won the DeCesaris Cancer Institute's "Fire and Soul" award in 2014, "For the courage to look beyond oneself to bring joy to others".
Sandra is the founder of InnerImages, an interior design firm, established in 1983 and dedicated to creating transformative interiors for residential and hospitality customers. Her professional style is honest and straightforward. She is passionately committed to creating environments that are individually conceived and meticulously crafted. Her extensive resources and long nurtured relationships with world class manufacturers create distinctive interior settings.
Sandra is a writer and an award winning author of two books. She traveled extensively in Europe, where she spent time with Piero Busnelli, one of Italy's most inventive manufacturers of high design furniture. She traveled to the Middle East with her husband, where they were the guest of King Faisel and Bedouin Sheikh al Shalaan. She was given permission to create a portfolio of priceless photographs. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and earned her BA from the University of Florida and her MA from Auburn University.
Board of Directors
Ani chang, Vice president, treasurer, bod, central America, Cuba outreach
Ani Chang’s intuitive perception and remarkable Faith brings her much needed sensitive, compassionate, and loving nature to LESLIE’S WEEK and our Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer women and their families. Ani’s uncommon insight into people and the challenges they face offers a transcendent levity and balance within the LESLIE’S WEEK community. She often adds the vital, concise assessment that propel our goals forward.
Ani is the founder of Sem Fim, creating Hotel Design Inspiration, and of Grove-International, LLC, the fastest growing sales management agency in Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America . They represent the top U.S. and global manufacturers servicing the Hospitality, Multi-Family and Senior Living Markets. Grove-International has over 25 years of collective experience serving premier clients and developments.
Ani is bilingual in Spanish and English. Her business takes her throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and China.
Corey McCarthy, secretary, bod, West Coast development & outreach
Corey McCarthy is a high energy, creative, and intellectually inventive entrepreneur. Her intuitive instincts and uncommon business sense are invaluable assets for LESLIE'S WEEK. She brings nearly two decades of experience to LESLIE'S WEEK that encompasses branding and brand launches, strategic planning, account management, content curation, advertising, social media, and PR. Founder of Testarossa Marketing. Corey dedicates her time to helping keep LESLIE'S WEEK moving forward by driving donations through events and social media.
Before founding Testarossa Marketing, Corey was Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the digital media group Hotel Interactive. Prior to that, she spent the better part of a decade as Associate Publisher of Lodging Hospitality magazine. In both positions, she worked with hundreds of companies. Recently, she moderated the social media panel session at the NYU Investment Conference in the company of the CMOs of Hyatt, Four Seasons, Wyndham and Best Western.
McCarthy earned her MBA from St. Mary’s College of California, where she mastered strategic business practices and operations.
NICOLE MAXWELL, BOD, strategic planning, FUNDRAISING & events
Nicole Maxwell is our LESLIE’S WEEK Fundraising and Event Coordinator. Her warm, outgoing personality radiates an expression of generosity and compassion. Her multi-faceted background in Financial Services, Sales, Startups, Training and Team Building brings a wealth of experience and contacts to the LESLIE’S WEEK team.
Her tireless efforts makes her one of the unsung heroines in the background of any successful organization.
Nicole was an Investment Broker with Signet Financial Services for more than 10 years. She held multiple licenses, was a top producer, top income earner, and won numerous leadership awards. Nicole is presently an independent distributor for It Works Global where she built a team of more than 600 people.
Nicole is bilingual in German and English, and received her BA from Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA.
Branding & Technology
ian hawes, executive committee, TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR & BRAND MANAGER
Ian Hawes is a technology wizard whose sought after skills have brought him to the forefront of innovators in The Next Great Generation as defined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. They write that Millennials are held to higher standards and that over the next decade, they will transform what it means to be young. According to the authors, Millennials could emerge as the next great generation.
Ian was born in Annapolis, the capital of Maryland and is the founder of Cartsoft, a Baltimore-based eCommerce software company that processes hundreds of thousands of transactions per day. CartSoft allows users to create dead-simple checkout pages that integrate with their entire sales funnel. The platform is built from the ground up to be secure, easy, and extensive for all hosted integrated services.
As a veteran of three prior venture-backed startups, Ian brings a wealth of knowledge about new technologies and emerging social media trends to the team. His extensive experience in architecting and managing six figure online advertising budgets for a variety of non-profits makes Ian an invaluable Team member for LESLIE'S WEEK. His plans for scaling up the LESLIE’S WEEK online media presence brings a fresh, modernized, and Millennial approach to transform business as usual.
DAN HAGER, CHAIRMAN ENDOWMENT FUND, leslie's kids
Dan Hager is the Chairman of the LESLIE’S WEEK Endowment Fund and a native of Manatee County, FL. He has over 35 years of banking experience in the Florida market. He is the President of the West Florida Market for Harbor Community Bank. He was the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First America Holdings Corporation and First America Bank located in Bradenton, Florida. His extensive banking experience includes being the former President, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of Regions Bank of Southwest Florida, Liberty National Bank, Key Florida Bank and Key Florida Bancorp.
Dan’s wide-ranging nonprofit experience includes; past President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County, Inc., past Chairman and board member for Tidewell Hospice & Palliative Care, and Manatee County Nursery School, Inc. He currently serves on the board and is Vice Chairman for the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, board member of The Word Plus Foundation, and Director for the Foundation for Dreams.
His investment and banking expertise is a valuable resource for LESLIE’S WEEK and all the children who will benefit from the educational fund under his management.
HEATHER ANDERSON, legal ORGANIZER & PROVIDER OF ALL THINGS POSSIBLE
Heather became intrigued with the work LESLIE'S WEEK does when she nominated her close friend in Chattanooga, who had Stage 4 Breast Cancer. Heather's friend was gifted a vacation away from cancer but succumbed to this dreaded disease before she and her family could take their vacation.
Heather G. Anderson graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee where she was Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law and while there, received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy as well as worked on the Tennessee Journal of Practice & Procedure. Heather was named by both SuperLawyers as a Rising Star and CityView as a Top Attorney in Employment Law, for multiple years. AVVO has rated her as a Top Attorney in Litigation, Employment, Family Law, Construction Law and Real Estate. In 2015 she received the AVVO Clients’ Choice Award in those same fields.
Heather serves as the co-chair of the Fundraising Committee on the Foundation Board for the Sertoma Center, a non-profit which serves adults with intellectual disabilities. She recently completed three years of service on the Board of Directors of the YWCA, Knoxville. Heather's goal is to bring an awareness within the Southeast region to the work LESLIE'S WEEK advocates for Stage 4 Breast Cancer women and their families. She and her husband donate transportation for families of LESLIE'S WEEK vacations away from cancer.
Caroline Thais Ravanello, Brazil, A Breast Cancer Survivor
OUR GLASS HEART SYMBOL, SEMPRE VIVA (ALWAYS ALIVE)
Caroline is our new Team member and designated Glass Heart pendant designer for our LESLIE'S WEEK symbol. A symbol represents what an entity stands for and Caroline's Glass Heart is perfect for LESLIE'S WEEK. It is hand crafted in her studio in Brazil. She expertly places inside the heart a flower called "Sempre Viva" or "Always Alive" in English. Caroline Ravanello is a woman for her time. She defies cancer and defines what LESLIE'S WEEK stands for, "ALWAYS ALIVE".
HER STORY IN HER TRANSLATED WORDS
My name is Caroline Thais Ravanello from Brazil. At age 33 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer HER2 + grade III. It was not easy to receive this diagnosis. It seemed I had entered a bubble, only my physical body was present in that room and in those seconds when my mind was disconnected, I could feel what is probably the emotional factor responsible for my health today: a feeling of peace, calm, delivery, confidence and acceptance.
Eight days after the confirmation of the diagnosis I started my first chemotherapy session, 22 in total. In that period that lasted approximately 6 months, I discovered the real meaning of the phrase, "opened a hole beneath my feet". That was how I felt upon receiving the news that I had lung metastasis. The news shook all my structures, all certainties, made me crumble inside innumerable times, but nevertheless I got up, I trusted and accepted my condition. I knew that by accepting the conditions I would be opening paths throughout my treatment rather than building walls. The more I accepted, the more I healed. I have been cured day after day. My "weapons" were so powerful that the lung tumors were gone. After my radical mastectomy an examination of images brought me the beautiful news that I had obtained what the doctors call a "complete answer", everything was clean. My protocol of treatment follows today with doses of 2 control antibodies every 21 days. I considered myself cured.
My strongest “weapon” is a handmade necklace I bought as soon as I learned about the cancer. I found it at a little tiny store. The moment I saw that heart I canalized all the great healing energies. I was confident it would retain all the power and strength and help throughout the processes of healing. Inside of that glass heart was a handcrafted couple of dried flowers named “Sempre Viva”. I always loved that flower specifically, as much as I have a tattoo on my skin. “Sempre Viva” means “Always Alive” in English. The message I received from those connections I truly believe helped me to heal. Now, I’m sharing with you all of that power, as a breeze, as a garden, as a heart that became the LESLIE’S WEEK symbol of Love and Life!
Facing cancer as a life lesson was and still being my choice. I look with an open heart, respecting the processes, the feelings that manifest, trying not to mask anything. I stand with the conscious mind, with the soul serene because I believe that everything is part of a great purpose and that this is a very important step in my process of evolution. May Love lead us.
b ocean hotel resort, ft. lauderdale
Mike Neall, OCEAN city CONDOMINIUMS
shagbark resort, smoky mountains tennessee
dollywood dreammore resort, PIGEON FORGE, TENNESSEE
GRACE RESORT boutique hotels
LESLIE'S WEEK Volunteers
Jessie bussard-hawes, event logistics coordinator
thassia robetti, marketing & MERCHANDISING
donna reilly, fundraising & events
Kari Maxwell, mOTIVATION & hEALING
jacquie fauter-macconnell, New Jersey coordinator
News Media Outreach
Jamie Costello, ABC 7 Baltimore
shayna estulin, i24 news new york
"I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?"
- Benjamin Disraeli