How We Began

In 1998, a small group of dedicated volunteers came together to raise funds to fight cancer. The group was founded by Kelly Jahner-Byrne.  Since then, the "Cancer Benefit Fund...Minnesota’s Path to a Cure" evolved into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised solely of volunteers who are dedicated to make a difference in finding a cure and helping those touched by cancer.

Who We Are

Our goal as volunteers was to create and sustain an organization dedicated to raising dollars for cancer research and cancer treatment in Minnesota. We had no particular type of cancer in mind as each and every one of us had faced the devastating impact of the disease through one type of diagnosis or another.

Over the past twelve years, events have been organized and supported by the generous donations of friends and corporate or private sponsors of the Cancer Benefit Fund. 
These efforts have raised nearly $900,000 for cancer research and patient care 
in Minnesota.

We strongly believe that Research Cures Cancer.

The Cancer Benefit Fund Board of Directors

Carol Baumgartner

Sharon Cassen

Inge Groth

Jessica Klander

Pam Leier

Shannah Mulvihill

Jodi Ritacca

Jack St. Ores

Deb Tomczyk

Carol Baumgartner has been a member of The Cancer Benefit Fund since day one, serving as secretary/treasurer.  She is a Medtronic, Inc. retiree, where she was the executive assistant to the vice president of public relations.  Due to the loss of many friends and family, including her husband, to cancer, it is Carol's desire to give back to society.  In addition to these responsibilities, she is Special Events Coodinator at her residence, serves on the Board of the Medtronic Retirees Group, and serves on the board of her church women's group.
Sharon Cassen has been a realtor for over 30 years, and is a past member of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (board member, executive committee) and the Minnesota Association of Realtors (board member, professional standards & ethics hearing panel, government affairs).  Sharon has served as a city council member and planning commissioner for the City of New Hope, has served as a board member and chair at Saint Therese Oxbow and a foundation board member at Saint Therese Care Center, and has been involved with The Cancer Benefit Fund for a number of years.  She is married with three grown children, has nine grandchildren and currently resides in Plymouth.
Pam Leier is currently the Vice President of Marketing for Lampert Lumber.  She has served on the board for The Cancer Benefit Fund since 2003 and is committed to their mission of cancer research as a path to a cure.  She is also an active volunteer for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and Second Harvest Heartland.  She currently resides in Shoreview and is the mother of one daughter and grandmother of two.
Shannah Mulvihill is the executive director of Mental Health Minnesota, whose mission is to enhance mental health, promote individual empowerment, and increase access to treatment and services for persons living with mental illnesses. Shannah has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 16 years in the areas of communications, development, public policy and organizational leadership. She holds a Masters Degree in counseling psychology, and has served as a volunteer counselor for the Walk-In Counseling Clinic and Crisis Connection. She has also served on boards at the American Red Cross and Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless (former board chair). Shannah became involved with The Cancer Benefit Fund in 2002 after watching a number of friends and family members suffer the devastating effects of cancer, and is committed to raising funds to support both cancer research and care for those facing cancer. Shannah lives in Howard Lake, Minnesota with her husband, Rob, and their two children.
Jodi Ritacca is an accomplished public relations leader, top media expert and award-winning broadcast journalist, who has received 14 Regional Emmy nominations and three Regional Emmy's for her work. Since 2005, she has hosted and produced the Emmy-award TV show, "Inside Health Care" which is broadcasted on several community cable TV stations, Internet and YouTube. She was Senior PR Specialist/Media Producer with HealthEast for eleven years and a former TV news anchor/reporter for 25 years at TV stations in Colorado, Nebraska and Minnesota, including ten years at KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities,Jodi is an active community volunteer who serves on several local and regional non-profit boards for organizations that are close to her heart such as the Cancer Benefit Fund. She also gives freely of her time and talents to write and produce pro bono videos each year for local non-profits.Jodi lives in the Twin Cities with her husband Greg Carlini, Their son Joe is an Emmy-award winning filmmaker in Los Angeles and their daughter, Christina, a former Chicago Cub's Wrigley Ambassador, lives in Chicago with her husband, Tyler and their young son, Aiden.
Inge Groth is a Marketing Associate at General Mills, working on the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Chex and Kix cereal brands. She re-joined the Cancer Benefit Fund this year, previously serving on the board in 2009. She is dedicated to the mission of the Cancer Benefit Fund and joined after seeing the impact of cancer on family and friends. Inge lives in Woodbury, MN. 
Jack is retired from Medtronic where he managed product management, business development and global technical and marketing communications.  He has degrees in biology, chemistry and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.  He is a managing partner with InRoads Medical, a consulting firm; is on the Business Advisory Board for Big Brothers and Big Sisters; is a Big for a teenage boy and serves as a board member for The Cancer Benefit Fund.  Activities include Scouts, soccer coaching, sailing, fishing, car restoration and six grandsons.  While serving on the Medtronic Foundation, he became more intimately interested in non-profit volunteering and the need to support cancer research.  He has three sons and lives in Stillwater with his wife, Jan.
Deb Tomczyk has been a board member of the Cancer Benefit Fund since 1998.  She has served as vice chair for five years, and board chair for three.  Prior to her leadership roles, she chaired a variety of committees for CBF including Revenue Enhancers, Silent Auction, and Entertainment. Deb has a MEd. in adult education from the University of Minnesota.  Now retired, Deb previously was the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for EduServ Technologies and later the Director of Human Resources for the Department of Administration, the Office of Enterprise Technology and the Governor's Office at the State of Minnesota. Deb is a Carver-Scott Extension Master Gardener.  She and her husband Bill live in New Market Township south of the Twin Cities with their wheaten terrier, Clancy. 
Jessica Klander is an attorney at the Bassford Remele law firm in downtown Minneapolis.  She focuses her practice on representing businesses and individuals against professional liability and health-related malpractice claims, and advising businesses on compliance with federal and state medical records privacy laws, as well as federal credit and collection laws.  She has been involved with a number of non-profit organizations, including the Aeon Foundation which raises money for high-quality affordable housing, Volunteer Lawyers Network which provides low-income individuals with legal advice, and Tubman which provides legal assistance to victims of harassment and domestic abuse.  She became involved with The Cancer Benefit Fund in 2006 and is dedicated to raising funds to address the significant impact that cancer has on all of our lives and to advocate on behalf of those who have been touched by cancer.  Jessica lives in Mounds View, Minnesota with her husband, Justin.