Hillary Theakston is Executive Director of The Clearity Foundation. Since its founding in 2008 by San Diego biotech entrepreneur and ovarian cancer survivor, Dr. Laura Shawver, Clearity has become a trusted, science-based partner for hundreds of women on the ovarian cancer journey. Clearity is an advocate for patients, a champion of personalized medicine, a promoter of science and a credible source of hope for the ovarian cancer community.
Ms. Theakston began her career in the San Diego life science industry leading investor relations and public relations for Diversa Corporation, a genomic discovery company that went public in the biotech boom of 2000, raising more than $200M, which was the largest biotech IPO at the time. She then joined ResMed, an international medical device manufacturer, to direct their investor relations program and ultimately went on to lead communications for the Americas. She has also provided communications consulting to San Diego based healthcare companies including Trius Therapeutics, Medipacs and Sorrento Therapeutics.
In 2011, Ms. Theakston joined The Clearity Foundation as Executive Director, fulfilling her passion for bringing cutting edge technology to underserved areas of oncology and women’s health. To date, Clearity has provided hundreds of tumor profiles to patients and families and has supported thousands of others with resources, personalized information and, most of all, hope.
John Brannelly joined The Clearity Foundation in 2020 as Regional Director of Development for Metro New York, based out of Fairfield, Connecticut.
With nearly 20 years of experience in the nonprofit health sector with a focus on fund development and integrated marketing communications, Brannelly brings a wealth of experience to Clearity. He is also completing his degree requirements for a Master of Public Health (MPH) in New Haven.
John is focused on expanding Clearity’s presence on the East Coast primarily in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey within the philanthropic community and engaging donors to further our mission. He previously did a similar job for his alma mater, St. Bonaventure University, establishing a Manhattan based office in 1999, a position which still exists.
John serves the communities he lives in with distinction. He is a member of the Fairfield Fire Commission helping oversee the town’s $14 million fire department. He served as a City Council Member in his hometown of Bridgeport, CT for eight years from 1991-2001. While living in San Diego from 2003-2016, he served on the boards of AFP, PRSA and the SDDC.
John is passionate about women’s health as the kid brother to six older sisters. John’s mother was widowed when he was 12 years old and she died of cancer of unknown origin in 2009.
Dr. Anne Mette Buhl joined The Clearity Foundation in 2016, where she monitors and communicates scientific and clinical developments in the ovarian cancer field. Dr. Buhl has more than 20 years of experience in basic and translational cancer research in Europe and the US. Prior to joining Clearity, she was a fellow at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center at University of California San Diego. Before that, she was a senior scientist at the Department of Hematology, University Hospital Copenhagen, Denmark and cofounder of CLLU1 Diagnostics. Dr. Buhl received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Aarhus University, Denmark.
Dr. Ramez Eskander joined Clearity as Chief Scientific and Medical Advisor in July, 2021. As a board-certified gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Eskander has a passion for improving outcomes for women with ovarian cancer combined with extensive research experience. Dr. Eskander specializes in both the surgical management and systemic treatment of female reproductive system cancers. His expertise includes therapeutic procedures, including minimally invasive surgery, chemotherapy, novel drugs and clinical trials. As Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the UC San Diego Moores Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Eskander is an active member of the experimental therapeutics team as well as the precision immunotherapy clinic, while leading the fellowship training program.
Rachel joined Clearity as the Director of HR and Operations in May, 2021. She brings with her an extensive background in HR leadership, employee relations, learning and development and system implementation. Rachel has her Project Management Profession (PMP) designation and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She began with Clearity in a consultant role and is thrilled to be part of the team focused on delivering Clearity’s mission.
Lorena Gurule-Montes joined the Clearity team in 2020 as our Community Engagement Specialist. Lorena’s focus is on cultivating new partnerships within the healthcare community, as well as with local community organizations who have an interest in Clearity’s mission.
Lorena’s work enhances Clearity’s community presence and builds public awareness of Clearity’s innovative ovarian cancer care approach of supporting the whole person through their journey. Her extensive experience in HIV/AIDS services, trauma-informed care and non-profit management enhances Clearity’s comprehensive community engagement program and outreach to the greater San Diego region.
Lorena has her Masters in Social Work from the University of New England and a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Sciences from Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Maggie Hannegan rejoined The Clearity Foundation in 2018 as Chief Development Officer. She previously served at Clearity as Development Director in 2014-2015. With over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit health sector with a focus on fund development and strategic planning, Ms. Hannegan brings a lifetime of experience to Clearity.
Maggie is focused on expanding Clearity’s national presence in the philanthropic community and engaging committed donors in furthering our mission. Her passion for Clearity’s mission is both professional, having spent over 12 years in the fight against cancer with the American Cancer Society—and personal, having lost her grandmother to a brief and difficult battle with ovarian cancer in 1976.
Maggie serves in a volunteer capacity for a number of San Diego nonprofits including Coronado Promenade Concerts, Wave Academy, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Oak Park Community Association and San Diego Symphony Notables. She has a MA in Nonprofit Leadership from University of San Diego, is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), and has completed the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Certified Fundraising Management Certificate program.
Susan Hess is the Program Director for Clearity’s Steps Through OC program. She oversees operations and a team of OC Counselors who provide telephone and videoconference psychosocial support to survivors and caregivers nationwide.
Susan is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Colorado with a master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology and Music Therapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Her extensive training in mindfulness and compassion skills initiated her interest in supporting women with cancer. From 1998 to 2004 she facilitated weekly ovarian cancer support groups at a cancer wellness community. In 2005 she co-founded the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA) where she expanded her work to four ovarian cancer support groups per month while acting as staff Clinical Supervisor and Programs Director of a range of ovarian cancer support services. Overall, Susan has facilitated over 1,000 ovarian cancer groups since 1998 and has spoken with many hundreds of women managing an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Susan left COCA in 2018 to join the Steps Through OC team.
Her expertise includes working with issues surrounding cancer & illness, grief & loss, life transitions, stress management, cancer trauma and post-traumatic growth using mindfulness, compassion and evidence-based counseling techniques.
Liz Nilsen joined the Clearity team in September, 2020 as the Director of Marketing and Communications. She brings 20+ years of healthcare experience from her roles in provider and payor organizations. Most recently, Liz served as a Marketing Manager at Dignity Health (CommonSpirit Health), working directly with Marketing teams across 23 states. Prior to that, she was the Director of Marketing at Blue Shield of California, leading campaigns to increase enrollment for individuals and small businesses. Liz began her career at Planned Parenthood and is thrilled to be part of Clearity and return to her roots in women’s health.
As Clearity’s Major and Individual Giving Manager, Zoe works with our committed donors and event sponsors. She is also working to expand Clearity’s footprint in the San Diego region. Zoe has a background in nonprofit individual giving and owned her own senior move management company. Her nonprofit experience is in international population issues and women’s reproductive health. Previously, she worked in contracts management with the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution.
Dr. Zajchowski joined Clearity at its inception in 2008 and oversees the patient services operations and the Foundation’s research efforts. She ensures that patients receive information about the most advanced treatment options for ovarian cancer — tailored to their specific tumor and clinical situation– through regularly updated online resources and tools or phone consultations with Clearity staff.
As a cancer biologist, she has been involved in cancer research and drug/target discovery and development for more than 25 years. Prior to joining Clearity, Dr. Zajchowski had positions of increasing responsibility at Berlex Biosciences, a subsidiary of Schering AG (now Bayer Pharmaceuticals), where she led multi-disciplinary research efforts in oncology and cardiovascular disease. She is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncologists and has published many research articles on cancer genomics, estrogen action and transcriptional control. Dr. Zajchowski received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Chicago.
Kathy joined The Clearity Foundation in 2010. As Patient Services/Database Manager, she ensures the efficiency of Clearity’s Treatment Decision Support Program including clinical and profiling data entry into the database. Before joining Clearity, Kathy spent more than 20 years as a lab technician in clinical and biotechnology laboratory settings, including Cell Genesys/Genzyme, Quidel, and Scantibodies. She received her Associate Degree in Science-Medical Lab Technology from Springfield Technical Community College.