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Meet our Team

Meet our staff! At The Gathering Place we’re dedicated to helping you connect with the right individual when you or someone you know is touched by cancer. When you reach out to a member of our staff, you will discover programs and services we offer to support, educate and empower individuals and families free of charge.


Headshot for Michele Seyranian
Michele Seyranian

Chief Executive Officer

Michele brings strong leadership skills and a deep connection to The Gathering Place. Most recently she worked with Hospice of the Western Reserve as its Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer. Before that, she held several executive positions at KeyCorp (KeyBank). Michele is a proven and dynamic leader whose skills and personal appreciation for the mission of The Gathering Place make her uniquely qualified to be our successor CEO.


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Adam Ross

Chief Development Officer

Adam has years of development experience & comes to The Gathering Place after 9 years as VP of Development with Vocational Guidance Services. Throughout his 20 year career in the non-profit sector, Adam has been responsible for fundraising, marketing, public relations, budgeting, human resources, program development, mentoring, strategic planning, & business development. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University & a member of the Cleveland Leadership Center’s Bridge Builders Class of 2014.


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Beth Bennett

Chief Program Officer

Beth brings over 35 years of experience to The Gathering Place as a physical therapist and dietitian. She enjoys helping our participants develop a healthy sustainable lifestyle with an emphasis on plant foods and plenty of physical activity for themselves and their loved ones. After 11 years managing the Exercise & Nutrition programs and services at The Gathering Place, Beth enjoys her current role as Chief Program Officer, overseeing all program components of The Gathering Place.


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Jeff Stanicki

VP, Partner Engagement

Jeff brings a wealth of experience building relationships with healthcare systems and community partners to promote growth and continued awareness. Prior to joining TGP, Jeff spent 16 years at Hospice of the Western Reserve where he most recently served as the Vice President of Marketing and Provider Relations. Jeff holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Cleveland State University with a focus on Interpersonal Communication and Group Dynamics. He is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and is trained in mediation. He served as past Board President of Association of Specialists in Aging and currently volunteers with Lake County Council on Aging.


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Suzette Stanitz

Manager of Finance and Operations

Suzette brings decades of successful experience in Executive Administration, Human Resource Management and Payroll Processing to The Gathering Place. Suzette has a professional interest in public service and is passionate about serving her community. She considers it an honor to work with the talented team at The Gathering Place, helping individuals on their cancer journey.


Marketing & Administration

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Cheryl Apisdorf

Marketing Manager

Cheryl brings years of non-profit work experience to The Gathering Place. She has also been a volunteer with many local organizations including The Gathering Place, where she joined the staff in 2009. Cheryl has worked in several administrative capacities at The Gathering Place, including outreach, facilities and with our warehouse. She currently helps get the word out about our free programs and services.


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Beth Elsass

Outreach Manager

As The Gathering Place’s Outreach Manager, Beth is more than just “handshakes and smiles,” (although she loves both). With a broad scope of experience, ranging from integrated marketing communications to non-profit work, she’s skilled in identifying and building meaningful relationships with community and healthcare partners. She takes pride in delivering service excellence and is passionate about increasing awareness of The Gathering Place’s innovative programs that support individuals touched by cancer. She is a graduate of Bowling Green State University and resides in Bay Village with her husband and daughter.


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Nancy Ilg

Development Associate

Nancy has spent many years working in various roles for local non-profits and brings a wealth of knowledge to the role of Development Associate. Before joining the team at The Gathering Place, she was Director of Development for a small Cleveland non-profit. She is experienced in relationship building, donor stewardship and special events. Nancy is committed to showing compassion, empathy and integrity to every person who crosses her path. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Bowling Green State University. She is excited to be a part of the Development team and support the important mission of The Gathering Place.


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Emma Raulinaitis

Marketing & IT Coordinator

Emma works alongside Michele Seyranian, Chief Executive Officer, as Administrative Assistant to maintain and strengthen the services we provide to those who have been impacted by cancer. Additionally, Emma serves as a Participant Navigator; her priority is to make sure that everyone who walks through our doors receives compassionate care from their first moments at The Gathering Place, just as Emma did during her visits here as a child. Emma's background is in patient care and education. She received her MS in Family and Human Development and BA in Human Biology.


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Jill Schwartz

Development Associate - Community Partnership Development

Jill has been with The Gathering Place since 2011 in a volunteer capacity, including serving on our Board of Directors for 7 years. Prior to Jill's time at The Gathering Place, she led a corporate marketing and sales team at Baxter International. Jill has a BA in Consumer Economics with a focus on Marketing and Psychology from the University of Michigan. Jill brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team, developing our community partnerships and helping to manage our signature fundraising efforts.


Headshot for Diane Weiner
Diane Weiner

Volunteer Services Manager

Diane has been in volunteer management for almost 20 years. While working for The Ronald McDonald House she established the first Ronald McDonald Family Room in the state of Ohio. At Montefiore, she developed an award-winning junior volunteer program, applied technology throughout the volunteer department and built a formal volunteer program at The Weils. She obtained her Certification in Volunteer Administration to enhance her skills and best practices in volunteer engagement. Diane truly believes in the mission of The Gathering Places and encourages others to give their time to make a difference.



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Sydney Beeman

Program Staff

Sydney Beeman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a background in Trauma Based Care and Mental Health. She earned both a Bachelor's and Master’s degree in Psychology from Cleveland State University and received an additional Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from John Carroll University. She brings a wealth of experience in group, individual and grief counseling. Sydney looks forward to tapping into the strengths of those whose lives have been impacted by cancer as they navigate their unique journeys.


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Mary Fisher Bornstein

Program Staff

In Mary’s 40 years of practice in mental health and oncology social work, she has worked with many people who have been touched by cancer, both as individuals and in groups. Mary served as Director of Mt. Sinai Medical Center’s Social Work, Home Health Care and Geriatric Departments. She has been working with individuals and families and facilitating support groups at The Gathering Place since it opened in 2000. Recently, Mary has been studying many healing art modalities and is a Reiki Master.


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Taylor Buss

Children and Family Program Manager

Taylor is a Licensed Independent Social Worker and a Certified Oncology Social Worker. Taylor specializes in working with children and families impacted by cancer and understands cancer's effect on the family system and individual family members. She utilizes a range of modalities to educate on the psychosocial impact of cancer at an age-appropriate level, so participants are empowered to advocate for their needs and apply positive coping mechanisms from diagnosis and beyond. Taylor looks forward to enhancing the Children and Family Programming at The Gathering Place.


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Stephen Cerne

Program Staff

Stephen brings his expertise as a certified cancer exercise trainer (ACSM/ACS-CET), personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach, as well as his own personal family experience with cancer to his role at The Gathering Place. He looks forward to using his knowledge to educate, empower, and enrich the lives of others who may be mentally and physically fragile, providing encouragement, hope and imparting upon them a "some is better than none" attitude.


Headshot for Eileen Coan
Eileen Coan

Medical Librarian

After a decade in the nonprofit mental health field, Eileen obtained a degree in Library Science to address the need for relevant, credible information for people in crisis. She started the first consumer health cancer library in Cleveland at Fairview Hospital’s Moll Center and has been with The Gathering Place since it opened in 2000. Eileen works to overcome the stereotypes of librarians! She also teaches guided imagery, journaling, and craft activities at The Gathering Place.


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Brittani Davis

Program Staff

Brittani is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor. She earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from John Carroll University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Akron. Brittani is an LGBTQ+ affirming counselor with a range of experience including mental health, substance use, grief, trauma, self-compassion & body image, and relationships & intimacy. Brittani offers a safe space for all impacted by cancer and looks forward to providing support and standing beside those who find themselves giving us a call, visiting our office or meeting us while we’re out and about in the community.

Headshot for Whitney Hadley
Whitney Hadley

Program Staff

Whitney Hadley is a licensed social worker who has worked with children, adolescents and young adults (AYA), and adults touched by cancer. She has extensive experience working with the AYA community and is passionate about her work in guiding individuals through writing a new life story as a cancer patient, survivor, or caregiver. Whitney is trained in Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy through Memorial-Sloan Kettering, which allows participants to explore the meaning in their cancer experiences. She is happy to be part of The Gathering Place and its wonderful mission to bring support to anyone touched by cancer.


Headshot for Stephanie Hopkins
Stephanie Hopkins

Program Staff

Stephanie earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Case Western Reserve University in nutrition while finishing the coordinated University Hospitals dietetic internship program. Her career started as a clinical inpatient dietitian at Seidman Cancer Center. She became involved with The Gathering Place in 2018 as program staff and has since transitioned to the full-time dietitian. Recently named Ohio's 2021 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year, Stephanie helps people impacted by cancer to better understand and utilize nutrition as a tool for health.


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Susan Marinac

Program Staff

Susan has been with The Gathering Place since 2008. She is a clinical social worker and a board certified music therapist. Susan has over 25 years of professional experience in the areas of psycho-social oncology, hospice and bereavement care. Susan often incorporates the creative arts into her practice. She leads several groups including a group for caregivers and a group for young women with breast cancer.


Headshot for Andrea Sonnie
Andrea Sonnie

Program Staff

Andrea completed her MSSA at Case Western Reserve University and is accredited in oncology social work. She has been with The Gathering Place since 2008, having a special passion for assisting people with cancer & their family members. Andrea has 30 years' experience in behavioral health, emphasizing skills to empower health-focused coping. Andrea enjoys on-going training to gain expertise in survivorship and wellness when partnering with those confronting the challenges of cancer.


Contract Staff

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Anita Bartel

Contract Program Staff, Zumba

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Sandy Conochan

Contract Program Staff, Exercise

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Adelle Gates

Contract Program Staff, Family & Children Programming

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Ellen Heyman

Contract Program Staff, Support Groups

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Jeannie Koran

Contract Program Staff, Qigong-Tai Chi

Headshot for Lisa Thiel
Lisa Thiel
MA, E-RYT500

Contract Program Staff, Yoga