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ACS CAN honors staff and volunteers for their advocacy efforts

ACS CAN honors high-performing advocates who played a critical role in our legislative successes during the past year.

ACS CAN is so grateful to all of our volunteers and staff for their work at the local, state, and federal levels. It’s because of them that we continue to make important progress toward ending suffering and death from cancer. Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners!


Volunteer Award for Excellence in Advocacy (VAEA) – This award is the highest national volunteer advocacy honor bestowed by ACS CAN.

  • Maureen G. Mann, ACS CAN Board treasurer

Maureen has served on the ACS CAN Board since 2013 as the income development chair, Board secretary, and currently as the Board treasurer. She has been an active Florida volunteer for nearly two decades and was involved in the passage of many mission priority policies, including smoke-free workplaces, a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase and protecting funding for the state's tobacco control program.

State Lead Ambassador (SLA) of the Year – This award is presented to a lead state volunteer who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in advocating for ACS CAN's area of cancer-related public policy.

  • Jacqueline Beale, Maryland

Jacqueline has served as an enthusiastic ACS and ACS CAN volunteer for the past decade. As Maryland's leading volunteer, she has garnered support from members of Congress for top legislative priorities, including cancer research funding, early detection programs and a palliative care bill. 

Ambassador Constituent Team (ACT) Lead of the Year – This award is given to a lead congressional district volunteer who has demonstrated remarkable leadership advocating for ACS CAN's areas of cancer-related public policy.

  • Ashley Watts, Oklahoma

Ashley led the fight to ban all indoor tanning devices from minors in Oklahoma and implement sun-safe initiatives in cities all over her state, while simultaneously working to grow her state team and participate in local ACS and ACS CAN events.

  • CJ Heisler, Michigan

CJ dedicates many weekends to attending ACS events and growing ACS CAN membership. His determination to develop a strong relationship with his member of Congress contributed heavily to the co-sponsorship of several pieces of ACS CAN's mission priority legislation. 

  • Lorna Hill, Ohio

Lorna ultivated a strong, positive relationship with a state representative by testifying on behalf of and spreading awareness of Ohio's palliative care bill, helping to secure co-sponsorship on key priority legislation.

Emerging Leader Award (new) – This award is presented to a state volunteer who has demonstrated an exciting promise in their start with ACS CAN by taking advantage of new opportunities to advocate for cancer patients.

  • Emily Fain, Georgia

Emily has supported the fight against cancer as an ACS CAN intern, Georgia ACT Lead and decade-long supporter of Relay for Life. In each position, she supported and led her team with passion and determination. 


State Advocacy Team of the Year – This award is presented to combined staff and volunteer teams that have worked together to make a significant impression in cancer-related public policy.

  • Oklahoma

The Oklahoma team prevailed against a challenging political backdrop to secure a $1.00 per pack increase on cigarettes and protect state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The team of staff and volunteers utilized coalition-building, lobbying, grassroots and media efforts to quickly respond to multiple attempts to block implementation of the tax.

Please check the Monthly Advocacy Update this week for more updates on Leadership Summit and Lobby Day.


Field Government Relations Professional of the Year – This award recognizes a government relations professional who has worked tirelessly to make a powerful, lasting impression in cancer-related public policy.

  • Heather Youmans, Florida Senior Government Relations director

Heather has championed efforts year after year to increase state funding for early detection programs, and last year Heather led the Florida team and a partner coalition to protect state funding for tobacco prevention programs.  

Field Grassroots Professional of the Year – This award is given to an ACS CAN staff member whose collaborative efforts further the achievement of advocacy-related mission goals.

  • Alyss Patel, Arizona grassroots manager

Alyss  has strengthened the Arizona state team by hosting annual advocacy trainings and recruiting a diverse group of dedicated volunteers from every congressional district in Arizona. 

National/Regional Professional of the Year – This award is presented each year to an exemplary staff member who has made significant contributions to the organization through their cancer advocacy work.

  • Brian Rubenstein, senior director of Digital Strategy

Brian guides the strategy and training for ACS CAN's digital grassroots efforts, and was instrumental in developing the Ambassador Action Center, a multi-year project that advances our mission and further integrates our volunteer structure.

American Cancer Society Partner of the Year – This award is given to a staff member at the American Cancer Society whose collaborative efforts with the organization's advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN, further the achievement of advocacy-related mission goals.

  • Coleen McKinstry, senior manager of Community Development

Coleen has served as a senior manager with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for five years, taking every opportunity to promote ACS CAN's legislative priorities at her community events and attending Day at the Capitol events in Phoenix every year. 

Alan Mills Award – ACS CAN's highest honor for advocacy staff, recognizes any current staff person who has consistently demonstrated leadership and excellence in the area of advocacy and public policy.

  • Cathy Callaway, director of state and local campaigns

Cathy has spent her 15 years with ACS CAN navigating state and local legislative landscapes to guide, strengthen and champion ACS CAN's tobacco prevention policy program. During her tenure leading ACS CAN's tobacco control strategy, numerous communities have adopted comprehensive smoke-free laws and tobacco tax increases.

PHOTOS: Pictured at the top is the ACS CAN Oklahoma State Advocacy Team of the Year, comprised of ACS CAN staff and volunteers, with ACS and ACS CAN CEO Gary Reedy (top left), ACS CAN President Chris Hansen (top, second from right), and Jeff Martin (top right), ACS CAN strategic director of advocacy organizational development & training. Pictured in the smaller image is Coleen McKinstry, senior manager of Community Development, our American Cancer Society Partner of the Year. 

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