New Volunteers Selected to Lead American Cancer Society

New Volunteers Selected to Lead American Cancer Society

Nation’s largest voluntary health organization elects cancer prevention expert and first Hispanic president Elmer E. Huerta, M.D. and cancer control and health communications expert Marion E. Morra to lead volunteer board of directors


Atlanta, GA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–October 25, 2007–The American Cancer Society, the nation’s largest voluntary health organization, elected 11 new officers to its volunteer 2007-2008 National Board of Directors during its annual meeting held this week in Atlanta. The organization’s National Assembly and National Board of Directors, the Society’s governing bodies, have been comprised of elected volunteers since the organization’s inception in 1913.

Leading the Assembly will be the newly elected President Elmer E. Huerta, M.D., M.P.H., of Washington, D.C., and presiding over the Board will be Chair Marion E. Morra, M.A., Sc.D., of Milford, Conn. Other officers elected were Elizabeth “Terry” T.H. Fontham, M.P.H., Dr.P.H., of New Orleans, La., president-elect; Van Velsor Wolf, J.D., of Phoenix, Ariz., chair-elect; George W.P. Atkins of Atlanta, Ga., vice chair; Nancy S. Brakensiek, CPA(ret), of Alberquerque, N.M., treasurer; Pamela K. Meyerhoffer, F.A.H.P., A.B.C., of Sun Valley, Ariz.; secretary; Alan G. Thorson, M.D., FACS, of Omaha, Neb., first vice president; Edward E. Partridge, M.D., of Birmingham, Ala., second vice president; Richard C. Wender, M.D., of Philadelphia, Penn., immediate past president; and Anna Johnson-Winegar, Ph.D., of Middletown, Md., immediate past chair.

“It is truly an honor and privilege to become the first Hispanic president of the American Cancer Society and to lead an organization that is making a significant difference in the lives of millions of Americans touched by cancer,” said Elmer E. Huerta, M.D., M.P.H., president of the Society. “While we are making great progress in the fight against cancer, we still have a great deal of work to do to ensure that all Americans have access to quality cancer prevention, early detection and treatment services.”

Elmer E. Huerta, M.D., M.P.H., a longtime Society volunteer, will serve as the new president and is the first Hispanic to hold this position. Huerta is the founder and director of the Cancer Preventorium at the Washington Cancer Institute at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. In addition to his clinical duties, Huerta devotes a large portion of his time to research and educational work with the Hispanic community. He is also the producer of Cuidando su Salud (Taking Care of Your Health), the only nationally syndicated Spanish-language radio show produced by a Latino physician that promotes health and disease prevention.

With more than 20 years of patient care, NCI-funded research, and educational experience, Dr. Huerta is recognized as a very reliable source of medical information in the Hispanic American community and media. He is a prominent figure on Spanish-language radio and television, with shows that reach approximately 85 percent of Hispanic/Latinos in the United States and even extend into Latin America. He serves as a frequent expert medical commentator for a number of radio and television programs, including CNN Radio Noticias, Univision, CNN en Español, and Telemundo. Huerta is also the president and founder of Prevención, Inc., a non-profit company dedicated to the production and dissemination of educational materials for the Latino community, in the United States.

Dr. Huerta has repeatedly testified before the U.S. Congress on minority health issues and was appointed by President Clinton as member of the National Cancer Advisory Board in 1998. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and a founding member of the American Legacy Foundation and the Intercultural Cancer Council.

Huerta succeeds Richard C. Wender, M.D., who remains on the board as immediate past president. Wender is alumni professor and chair of the department of family and community medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia, Penn. Wender, who began his volunteer work with the organization in the early 1980s, will continue to serve on the Society’s Incidence and Mortality Committee and as a member of the editorial advisory boards for the Society’s journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and Patient Care. He is a previous president of the Society’s Philadelphia Division and was the first president of the Pennsylvania Division.

Marion E. Morra, M.A., Sc.D., is the new chair of the National Board of Directors. Morra is an internationally recognized expert in cancer control and health communications, with more than 30 years of experience working in the community and with cancer patients. She is the co-author of the patient self-help book in the cancer field: CHOICES (HarperCollins), which has been a continuous resource for patients and their families since 1980. Morra is co-principal investigator of the Cancer Information Service Research Consortium (CIRSC), a nationwide community laboratory for communications research, and associate clinical professor at the Yale School of Nursing. She is founder and president of Morra Communications, a medical and health communications consulting firm, which specializes in translating difficult medical information into understandable language for the lay public. She is the former Associate Director of the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she originated the Cancer Information Service at Yale, among the first offices to be funded by the National Cancer Institute. She is the co-founder of the International Cancer Information Service Group and serves as a member of its Board of Directors. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Cancer Partnership.

Morra previously served as vice chair and chair-elect of the Society’s National Board of Directors, and has been a member of the Society’s National Assembly since 1987. She has been the chair of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Advisory Committee since 2001 among serving on numerous other committees. She is the past chair of the Board of the Society’s Connecticut Division.

Morra replaces Anna Johnson-Winegar, Ph.D., who remains on the board as immediate past chair. A Society volunteer for almost 30 years, Johnson-Winegar previously served as secretary, treasurer, vice chair, and chair-elect of the Society’s National Board of Directors. She is also a past president of both the Society’s Maryland and Mid-Atlantic Divisions.

Elizabeth T.H. Fontham, M.P.H., Dr,PH., president-elect, is the first dean of Louisiana State University, School of Public Health, and a professor of epidemiology and pathology at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine. She has made significant contributions in establishing the risk of lung cancer associated with involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke.

Van Velsor Wolf, JD, chair elect and a 22-year Society volunteer, is the senior environmental lawyer at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, Ariz. Wolf has served as the president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN) Board of Directors, treasurer of the National Board and chairman of the audit committee, chairman of the Society’s Arizona and Southwest Divisions and on numerous national committees.

George W.P. Atkins, vice chair, previously served two terms as secretary, and has been a Society volunteer since 1973. Atkins serves on many national and South Atlantic Division committees. After a 33-year career in the banking industry, Atkins retired from Wachovia Bank, where his last position was as an executive vice president in the trust department. Atkins serves on the board of directors and co-chairs the governance committee for the Society’s South Atlantic Division. He also served as chairman of the board, secretary and treasurer in the Society’s former Southeast Division (serving Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina).

Nancy S. Brakensiek, CPA(ret), treasurer, has been a Society volunteer for more than 20 years. A retired certified public accountant with extensive not-for- profit experience in a volunteer and consultant capacity, Brakensiek has served in different capacities as a member of the Society’s California Board of Directors.

Pamela K. Meyerhoffer, F.A.H.P., A.B.C., secretary, has been an active volunteer for the Society for 36 years. She has served as chief executive officer of the Sun Health Foundation and executive vice president of Sun Health since 1983. An Accredited Business Communicator, Meyerhoffer is also a fellow of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. Meyerhoffer is the immediate past board chair for the Society’s Great West Division.

Alan G. Thorson, M.D., FACS, first vice president, is a clinical professor of surgery at both Creighton University and the University of Nebraska. He serves as the president of the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Thorson is the past chair of the Society’s Heartland Division, chair of the Health Promotions Advisory Group, and a member of the Colorectal Cancer Advisory Group.

Edward E. Partridge, M.D., second vice president, is the director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Serving as the past chairman of the Mid-South Division of the Society, Partridge is also the principal investigator of the NCI-funded Deep South Network for Cancer Control. His efforts have helped gain Alabama participation in the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit

Note to Editors: Electronic photos available upon request.

New Volunteers Selected to Lead American Cancer Society