Staff

Eileen Saffran
LISW-S, Founder & Chief Executive Officer

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More about Eileen

The Gathering Place is the realization of a dream for Eileen. She envisioned a place for people touched by cancer to find the services and resources, integrated with their medical care, focusing on enhancing quality of life with dignity and hope. Through a grassroots movement, Eileen followed her dream to create The Gathering Place. She recognizes that the cancer experience touches us all and by pulling together as a caring community and family, we enhance learning, comfort, and healing.

saffran@touchedbycancer.org
Cheryl Apisdorf
MBA, Outreach Coordinator

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More about Cheryl

Cheryl brings years of non-profit experience to The Gathering Place. She has worked in several administrative capacities at the Jewish Community Center and has been a volunteer with many local organizations including The Gathering Place. She is delighted to now be a member of the staff.

apisdorf@touchedbycancer.org
Kris Austin
LSW, MSEd, Chief Marketing Officer

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More about Kris

Kristina has more than 20 years of experience in counseling, community outreach, and marketing. Her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degree in Counseling is a great combination for the work she is doing to help us educate the greater community about the programs and services of The Gathering Place. She is also a part of the clinical program staff and facilitates support groups and retreats.

austin@touchedbycancer.org
Beth Bennett
PT, MA, MS, RDN, LD, Director of Exercise, Nutrition and Research

Beth is our registered dietitian & physical therapist.

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More about Beth

Beth is a licensed physical therapist and a licensed registered dietician who joined our staff to enhance our programming and services around exercise and nutrition. She worked most recently at Cooper Cancer Center in Akron. Her goal is to be an active part of our participant’s healing process, helping them “put the pieces back together.” Having done internships on a Navajo reservation and in Kenya, she hopes to continue her interests in cultural and economic diversity around food and exercise.

bennett@touchedbycancer.org
Mary Fisher Bornstein
LISW-S, Program Staff

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More about Mary Fisher

In Mary’s 35 years of practice in mental health and oncology social work, she has worked with many persons 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 facilitating groups and counseling individuals and families at The Gathering Place since it opened in 2000. Recently, Mary has been studying many healing art modalities and is a Reiki Master.

bornstein@touchedbycancer.org
Stephen Cerne
BS, NSCA-CPT, ACSM/ACS-CET, Program Staff

Stephen facilitates our eastside exercise programs.

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More about Stephen

Stephen brings his expertise as a fitness trainer and strength and conditioning coach and his own personal family experience with cancer to his role at The Gathering Place. He looks forward to using his knowledge to empower others who may be mentally and physically fragile, providing encouragement, hope and imparting upon them an ‘I can do this attitude.’

cerne@touchedbycancer.org
Eileen Coan
MA, MLS, Medical Librarian

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More about Eileen

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.

coan@touchedbycancer.org
Casey Durkin
MSSA, LISW-S, Director of Children & Teen Programming

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More about Casey

Casey Durkin comes to The Gathering Place with over 30 years of clinical social work experience. Most recently, Casey was director of a school based mental health program in a local public school system. Additionally, Casey has maintained a private clinical practice serving ages 3 – 93! In all of these diverse settings, Casey utilizes an individualized, practical and sensitive approach. Casey is delighted to now be a part of The Gathering Place’s warm, supportive, and highly skilled team.

durkin@touchedbycancer.org
Ellen Heyman
MSN, RN, CS, Chief Program Officer

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More about Ellen

In her 17-year career as a clinical nurse specialist, Ellen has led numerous cancer support groups. She understands the varied needs of people living with cancer and their support network. At The Gathering Place, Ellen develops programs that build skills which promote wellness and quality of life. Ellen is committed to support individuals in being better-informed and active participants in their care and wellness.

heyman@touchedbycancer.org
Mireille Kious
MBM, Chief Development Officer

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More about Mireille

Mireille has 14 years of experience serving the Cleveland community working in development, marketing and advocacy for numerous non-profits, including those advocating for social justice. Originally from Stockholm, Sweden, she has fully embraced what it means to be a Clevelander and feels honored to be part of The Gathering Place team. It inspires her to know that funding and advocating for the free programs and services offered at The Gathering Place will provide much healing in the community.

kious@touchedbycancer.org
Betsy Kohn
MA, PC, Program Coordinator & Program Staff

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More about Betsy

With many years of experience in supervisory roles, Betsy came to The Gathering Place when it opened in 2000. Her organizational and communication skills provide guidance and support for those on the cancer journey. Betsy facilitates support groups, leads workshops, coordinates educational experiences for students and provides individual counseling.

kohn@touchedbycancer.org
Liz Krantz
Volunteer Coordinator

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More about Liz

Volunteering in the community has always been a part of Liz’s life so her role as Volunteer Coordinator at The Gathering Place is a great fit. Liz attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and George Washington Law School and has experience in healthcare law.

krantz@touchedbycancer.org
Lynn Lubben
Operations & Volunteer Coordinator

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More about Lynn

Lynn is the full time administrative staff person at The Gathering Place West, which also includes coordinating the Westside volunteers. She has held various administrative and counseling positions over the past 30 years, most of which were in the field of alcoholism and drug abuse. Lynn came to The Gathering Place from Southwest General Health Center, where she coordinated health center information dissemination at the information desks and volunteers.

lubben@touchedbycancer.org
Susan Marinac
LISW-S, MT-BC, Program Staff

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More about Susan

Susan is a clinical social worker and a board certified music therapist. She has over 16 years of professional experience in the areas of hospice, bereavement, end-of-life and oncology. Susan often incorporates the creative arts into her practice. In addition to seeing individuals for short-term counseling, Susan leads several groups including a group for caregivers and a group for young women with breast cancer. She works full time at The Gathering Place West.

marinac@touchedbycancer.org
Maureen Paez
BA, Development Coordinator

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More about Maureen

Maureen worked for many years as a software engineer. After taking time off to raise her children, she has found a supportive community to be a part of here at The Gathering Place. As the Development Coordinator, Maureen is responsible for acknowledging every donation made to fund our free programs and services.

paez@touchedbycancer.org
Erin Rafter
PhD, CCLS, Program Staff

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More about Erin

Erin completed her doctorate in 2006 from the University at Buffalo and is a Licensed Psychologist. Erin has experience working with children and adults in grief & loss, pediatric palliative care & hospice, and family therapy. Erin began with The Gathering Place in 2000 as a volunteer before joining the staff in 2011. In addition to leading groups for children and providing support to families, Erin aids participants in learning to cope with the stressors of cancer.

rafter@touchedbycancer.org
Sue Shane
BS, Administrative Coordinator

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More about Sue

Sue joined The Gathering Place because of her desire to use her skills to serve people. Her diverse background includes work as a dog trainer and 20 years of secretarial experience at various organizations. Outside of her administrative duties at The Gathering Place, she enjoys practicing tai chi and meditation.

shane@touchedbycancer.org
Beverly Soggs
MA, CCLS, Program Staff

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More about Beverly

Beverly has been with The Gathering Place as a contract employee, working with children’s groups, for 8 years. She spent 6 years as a child life specialist at Rainbow Babies hospital, working in various departments including pediatric oncology and pediatric intensive care. She coordinates the Bridges bereavement support groups at The Gathering Place and serves as a supportive presence to children and families.

soggs@touchedbycancer.org
Andrea Sonnie
LISW-S, Program Staff

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More about Andrea

Andrea started out at The Gathering Place as a front desk volunteer in 2002. In 2008 she joined as a contract staff member. Andrea is experienced in behavior health, teaching Dialectal Behavior Therapy. Currently Andrea serves on our program staff and works with children, teens and adults.

sonnie@touchedbycancer.org
Simone Swanson
BS, Community Liaison

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More about Simone

Simone brings her passion for community outreach and organizational development to her role as Community Liaison. She also works with The Gathering Place’s young professional group, the Rising Leaders Council focusing on outreach, friendraising and fundraising in the community.

swanson@touchedbycancer.org