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Watch the replay of our Volunteer Day of Understanding

The third and final session of our 2021 Volunteer Impact Series featured a panel discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Our panelists were outstanding and we thank them for their dedication.

A replay of the June 15 evening event is now available.

The discussion examined the American Cancer Society's role in addressing systemic racism and creating and sustaining an organizational culture that centers on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

A panel of devoted volunteers (pictured above) discussed how important health equity is to our success, commented on what ACS could do to better support volunteers of color, and shared examples of things they are doing in their own communities to advance our health equity work and help diversify our volunteer force.

Dr. Karen Knudsen, MBA, PhD, just 15 days on the job, welcomed the panel, and noted that the American Cancer Society's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) was one of the many things that appealed to her about our organization. 

As the former leader of a major cancer center in downtown Philadelphia, Dr. Knudsen knows well that advances in prevention, detection, and cures are not equitably benefitting everyone. "What I came to appreciate is the importance of having the lens of DEI in every decision we made, every resource we allocated, and every goal we set for ourselves," she said.

The panelists were: 

  • Rick Ngo, MD, a private practice general surgeon in the Houston, TX area and a member of the National Advisory Council on Health Equity. He's been a volunteer since 2004. "I saw too many gaps in early detection and screening and prevention," the former ACS CAN Board member said. He chairs the Greater Houston and East Texas Area Board.
  • Cameron Graber, student at the University of Iowa, National Campus Leadership Team member, Iowa City, IA. He attended his first Relay For Life event when he was just four years old!
  • Kier Matthews, global managing director of leisure sales for Hilton Worldwide, and an ACS Area Board member, Seattle, WA, since 2018. He also sits on the ACS National Distinguished Events Advisory Council, and he is chairing an ACS gala in Seattle this year.
  • Omar Rashid, MD, surgical oncologist based out of Fort Lauderdale, FL, and chair of the ACS Area Board in southeast Florida. He got involved in ACS through Real Mean Wear Pink in 2015.
  • Carlos Velasco of Phoenix, AZ, president and founder of Novle, an agency dedicated to connecting companies with communities in meaningful ways, and vice chair of Latinos Contra El Cancer. He lost a niece to cancer at a young age.


PHOTO: Pictured in the smaller image is CEO Dr. Knudsen MBA, PhD (right) and Tawana Thomas Johnson, our VP for Diversity & Inclusion, who moderated the discussion. 

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