MRF Staff

Kyleigh LiPira, MBA

Chief Executive Officer
Kyleigh LiPira is the MRF’s Chief Executive Officer. In her previous role of Chief Development Officer, she worked with donors and their families to make charitable donations to significantly impact melanoma research, education and advocacy and oversaw the MRF’s fundraising program.

Kyleigh has extensive fundraising experience, coming to the MRF from Johns Hopkins Medicine where for four and half years she raised funds for melanoma and other cancers at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Later, she became the Director of Development for the Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology. During her tenure with the Department of Dermatology she raised significant funds for melanoma clinical trials, engaged former trainees and grateful patients in philanthropy, and supported the educational program for current residents and fellows.

Kyleigh graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada with a degree in Mass Communication and English. She obtained her MBA from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. She lives in Maryland with her husband Jeff and adorable daughter Luci.   

Ivis Alfaro

Operations Manager
Ivis Alfaro joined the Melanoma Research Foundation in May 2014. Ivis oversees the day-to-day operations of the MRF, provides support to the Board of Directors and CEO, and works with several organizations and patient advocates around the world through the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy. Prior to joining the MRF, Ivis worked at the National Public Education Support Fund as the Office Coordinator, supporting the day-to-day activities of the President and Executive Director.

Ivis grew up in the DC area and is a graduate of Frostburg State University in Maryland. In her free time, she enjoys maintaining a very social life, taking a variety of workout and dance classes, as well as making functional pottery.

Beth Allgaier

Director of Corporate Relations
Beth Allgaier comes to us after spending 6 years as corporate relations director for the Society of Interventional Radiology and close to 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry with both Glaxo (now GlaxoSmithKline) and Aventis (now Sanofi-Aventis).
She finds great satisfaction building lasting relationships with corporate partners for shared success in furthering medicine and outcomes. And she shares the passion for MRF’s cause, having been treated in 2016 for stage 1 and in situ melanomas. Beth loves traveling, tennis and skiing, and welcomes all adventures with her two daughters. Reston lakeside living keeps them busy and happy. And her daughters have quickly become MRF ambassadors, spreading the word with friends that there is no such thing as a safe tan.
Beth grew up in the Boston area, and is a graduate of Bucknell University, where she played volleyball and softball, and served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Cassie Beisel

Community Engagement Manager
As the Community Engagement Manager, Cassie implements and evaluates the MRF's community engagement and outreach activities, which include volunteer recruitment and relationship management, community fundraising, patient service activities, including peer support programs. She joined the MRF in 2014 bringing with her a unique blend of for-profit, non-profit and direct experience with the young adult cancer community. Cassie's has an affinity for volunteerism, community, and relationship building
Like many, she is part of a growing population who has a personal connection to melanoma. In 2011 Cassie was diagnosed with stage IIIB melanoma and has been "no evidence of disease" (N.E.D.) for six years.
Despite being accident prone, she has a great love of the outdoors and the adventures it has to offer. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, white water kayaking, hiking, camping, and cycling.

Robyn Burns, PhD

Program Manager, MRFBC
Grant Program Manager, MRF
Dr. Robyn Burns, who was recruited to be Program Manager of the MRFBC in 2011, brings strong skills and teamwork to the MRF’s consortium management. Since 2006, she has been Program Manager for a sister consortium, the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), in which 9 of the 19 academic member institutions are members of the MRFBC. She has also managed the NCI’s Melanoma Intergroup, a national network of NCI-funded melanoma physician investigators, a role in which she worked with Alison Martin and Randy Lomax. Dr. Burns also began managing the MRF's research grant program in 2015.
After receiving a degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, Robyn transitioned into clinical trial management where she felt she could have the most patient impact. Robyn’s personal interest in melanoma began over 20 years ago when her then 22 year old sister, a former high school lifeguard, was diagnosed with Stage II melanoma. Robyn believes that clinical trial consortia can truly make a difference in patients’ lives and is honored to be actively involved with the MRF.

Brenda Busby

Program Coordinator, Pediatric and Mucosal Melanoma
Brenda joined the MRF team in 2014 to help launch increased efforts in pediatric and mucosal melanoma after serving for several years as a MRF volunteer and advocate. Brenda brings with her a very close personal connection to melanoma - in early 2007, Brenda received the shocking news that her daughter had melanoma. She had just turned three years old and no one had the answers Brenda needed. During this time, Brenda found MPIP. For several years that was her life line. This began a war against all pediatric melanoma and her mission to give back to an organization that she was quite certain she could not have made it without.
Brenda grew up in a small town North of Beaumont, TX where days for kids are spent outside and no one talked about skin protection. She pursued an education from Texas Tech University in Business Communication. Brenda moved to Louisiana in 2004 and most of her career has been spent in the health care industry. She then relocated in 2013 to a small town right outside of Houston, TX where she worked for Community Healthcare Systems.
Brenda feels honored to be able to work for an organization for which she is so passionate.

Susan Dorsey

Susan Dorsey serves as the MRF's Controller. With over 25 years of experience in nonprofit finance, she brings a strong accounting and finance background accompanied with an extensive knowledge of federal and private grants administration, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), human resources, database management and office administration. Susan holds a BBA in Accounting from Ursinus College. Her previous experience was as a Vice President, Business and Finance at COE and prior to that as Director of Finance at Old Dominion University Research Foundation.
She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Grants Professional Association (GPA), the American Society of Association Executives, (ASAE), the American Grant Writers Association (AGWA), Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Alicia Jackson

Database Manager
Alicia joined MRF in 2015 as the Database Manager. She manages the MRF’s offline and online databases and works closely with the MRF’s development and finance teams in tracking, coding and analyzing donor data. She has over 15 years of extensive nonprofit database knowledge. In the past, Alicia has worked at NARAL Pro-Choice America as Assistant Director of Development Operations and Systems Management.
Alicia is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in Art History and a minor in African-American Studies. Alicia lives in DC and in her free time she enjoys traveling the world, Pilates, art museums, and reading and listening to mystery books.

Kristel Jacobson

Development Officer
Kristel joined the MRF in 2015 as National Engagement Coordinator for the Miles for Melanoma program. In her role, she works to build strong relationships with Miles for Melanoma participants and fundraisers and manages event production.
Kristel has focused in non-profit engagement strategy, peer-to-peer fundraising and event management for the better part of 10 years. Prior to joining the MRF, she managed programs for health, veterans and international development organizations, including the first-ever endurance event fundraising program at the Epilepsy Therapy Project. Kristel has even been known to lace-up her sneaks and hit the pavement with participants.
Kristel is passionate about participant experience and customer service and is excited to take on many miles with the MRF’s Miles for Melanoma team to support the MRF's mission of research, education and advocacy.

Lauren Johnston, MSW

CURE OM Program Manager
Lauren joined the MRF team in 2015 as the CURE OM Program Manager. In Lauren’s role as program manager, she works to ensure the MRF’s CURE OM initiative is meeting the needs of the ocular melanoma community in support, education, advocacy and research. Lauren comes to the MRF with over 14 years of non-profit experience in the field of program development, implementation, and evaluation. Before joining the MRF, Lauren spent six years working for Goodwill Industries of Denver building community collaborations and programs to assist youth. Prior to Goodwill, Lauren worked with a variety of vulnerable populations in Colorado and Texas. She currently serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations. Lauren developed a personal connection to ocular melanoma when, in 2014, her friend was diagnosed with primary disease. Her friend is currently doing well and receiving regular follow-up.
Lauren has a Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Denver. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two children. When not working, Lauren and her family enjoy the many opportunities Colorado has to offer including snowshoeing, hiking and camping in the mountains.

Shelby Moneer, MS, CHES

Director of Education
Shelby Moneer joined the MRF team in August of 2010 to oversee the education program. As the Director of Education, Shelby is responsible for all development, implementation and assessment of the education program. This includes patient/caregiver education, clinician education, primary and secondary prevention efforts, print materials, awareness campaigns, website content, over-the-phone patient navigation and all patient resources and communication. These programs range from in-person events, virtual events and include a wide variety of print materials, all of which are free to the public. Shelby was also elected as the Co-Chair to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention for 2017-2020.
Shelby holds a Master's degree in Health Education from the University of West Florida and a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from Truman State University. Her previous experience was in the non-profit development, implementation and assessment of tobacco-related education, prevention and treatment strategies in the Florida Panhandle. She was a collegiate volleyball and softball player and continues playing beach volleyball whenever she can. Shelby and her husband have two young children and live in St. Louis, MO. They enjoy playing and watching sports, spending time outdoors and being surrounded with friends and family.

Sara Selig, MD, MPH

Director of CURE OM
Dr. Sara Selig joined the MRF team in the fall of 2011. She is Co-Founder and Director of the MRF’s initiative focused specifically on ocular melanoma—CURE OM (Community United for Research and Education in Ocular Melanoma). Sara initially became involved with the ocular melanoma (OM) community when her husband, Gregg, was diagnosed with the disease in 2006, at the age of 34, when Sara was a fourth year medical student. At the time of Gregg’s diagnosis, Gregg and Sara became fierce advocates for Gregg’s care and the entire OM community as well. Sara continues to be a passionate advocate for the ocular melanoma field—working to accelerate research, promote collaboration, and support patients and caregivers through her leadership of the CURE OM initiative.

Sara received her MD from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed the Doris and Howard Hiatt Residency in Global Health Equity and Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She is currently Associate Physician in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Sara cherishes time with family and friends, and, in particular, with her and Gregg's young daughter.


Anya Simmons

Development Associate

Anya joined the MRF’s development team in February 2016 as a Development Assistant. Now as a Development Associate, she works with passionate volunteers who fundraise on behalf of the MRF through the CommUNITY Fundraising program and manages the MRF’s corporate cause marketing partnerships.

Anya graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Art History. While at UC Davis, Anya was the Co-Director of the university’s chapter of Camp Kesem, a nonprofit organization that supports children who have or have had parents with cancer. There she gained a passion for fundraising and nonprofit management.

Anya lives in Washington, DC. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, visiting art museums, volunteering with Camp Kesem and has recently taken up photography.

Adam Smartt

Communications Officer
Adam joined the MRF in 2015 as the Online Community Coordinator. In this role he curated the online presence of the MRF across various social channels and community forums to encourage conversations that benefit the entire melanoma community. As the Communications Officer, he develops digital and print campaigns for the MRF and coordinates all external communications. Prior to joining the MRF, Adam served in communications and program coordination roles in the outdoor recreation and educational youth leadership industries.
Adam is a graduate of American University in Washington, DC though his sports allegiance will forever be as a Tennessee Volunteer. A voracious reader, he owns many leather-bound books on American history and other academically rigorous disciplines, though he cherishes his Kindle for discreetly reading less impressive paperback mysteries and graphic novels. Adam lives in servitude to TigerShark the cat and fruitlessly attempts to train his canine sidekick, Bucky.

Barney Thomas

Database Assistant 
Barney Thomas joined the MRF in June 2014 as the Database Assistant. As the Database Assistant, Barney processes donations and acknowledgements. Prior to working at the MRF, Barney spent 13 years working in the social justice arena as a Fiscal Specialist.
In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and traveling. 

MRF Interns

The MRF offers internship opportunities for bright, enthusiastic individuals who have a desire to learn more about melanoma and/or the nonprofit world. Opportunities are available year-round, and may include positions in Communications, Development/Fundraising, Education or Events. For more information, please see the current opportunities or email

Airy Aketzalli Guillen Flores


Airy Flores is a recent graduate in Engineer in Biotechnology from Mexico who is passionate about medical research. Her first experience with melanoma was in her last internship at the Luxembourg Institute of Health where she took part in a team that worked in studying the effect of CKI in the tumor microenvironment. During her time interning with the MRF, Airy hopes to contribute to the cause to fight against melanoma using her past experiences.

Airy had the opportunity to study abroad in France for a year and discovered that one of her hobbies is traveling and learning from other people and different cultures, making friends as well as seeing different landmarks, monuments and touristic places. Also, in her free time she loves watching films, reading and spending time with her family and close friends.

Alfredo Lopez, MD


Alfredo Lopez is part of the spring internship program for 2018. He comes from spending a year of providing medical social services in a rural community in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. During his time there, he worked on awareness initiatives and promoted social programs involving women's empowerment, teen pregnancy prevention and breast, prostate and melanoma screening.

Alfredo grew up in Sunny Sonora and is a graduate of University of Monterrey’s school of Medicine in Monterrey, Mexico. He enjoys traveling and everything that the world has to offer. He plans on pursuing a fellowship in Oncology/Dermatology in 2019. Back in Mexico, he lives with his parents, his sister, a fish named Champ and two dogs named Enano and Tequila. In his free time he enjoys reading and jogging, which he finds therapeutic. 

Patricia Aguirre Contreras, MD


Patricia joined the MRF for a spring internship (January to May of 2018). She is a medical doctor from Mexico, and graduated from the Universidad de Sonora in 2017. All her life she wanted to be a pediatrician, but since a close member of her family got melanoma, she became touched and she decided to work in this field, being aware of the importance of this disease and the impact it should have in Mexico. She wants Mexicans to be educated about skin cancer and physicians to be more prepared to decrease the incidence of this disease.

In her free time, she enjoys going to the movies, traveling and hanging out with family and friends.