|Eileen Saffran, LISW-S, Executive Director
The Gathering Place is the realization of a dream for Eileen. In 23 years as a clinical social worker, she envisioned a place for people touched by cancer to find the services and resources, integrated with their medical care, focusing on enhancing quality of life with dignity and hope. Through a grassroots movement, Eileen followed her dream to create The Gathering Place, a community of sharing and support that promotes healing and wellness. She recognizes that the cancer experience touches us all and by pulling together as a caring community and family, we enhance learning, comfort, and healing.
|Cheryl Apisdorf, MBA, Outreach Coordinator
Cheryl brings years of non-profit experience to The Gathering Place. She has worked in several administrative capacities at the Jewish Community Center and has been a volunteer with many local organizations including The Gathering Place. She is delighted to now be a member of the staff.
|Kristina Austin, MSEd, LSW
Director of Community Relations and Marketing
Kristina has more than 15 years of experience in counseling, community outreach, and marketing. Her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degree in Counseling is a great combination for the work she is doing to help us educate the greater community about the programs and services of The Gathering Place. She is also a part of the clinical program staff and facilitates support groups and retreats.
|Stephen Cerne, BS, NSCA-CPT, ACSM/ACS-CET, Program Staff
Stephen is the newest member to join The Gathering Place staff but he has been a part of the team for the popular Moving Forward program for the past three years. Stephen brings his expertise as a fitness trainer and strength and conditioning coach and his own personal family experience with cancer to his role at The Gathering Place. He is looking forward to using his knowledge to empower others who may be mentally and physically fragile, providing encouragement, hope and imparting upon them an ‘I can do this attitude.’
|Eileen Coan, MA, MLS, Medical Librarian
After a decade in the nonprofit mental health field, Eileen obtained a degree in Library Science to address the need for relevant, credible information for people in crisis. She started the first consumer health cancer library in Cleveland at Fairview Hospital’s Moll Center and has been with The Gathering Place since it opened in 2000. Eileen works to overcome the stereotypes of librarians! She also teaches guided imagery, journaling, and craft activities at The Gathering Place and has a special interest in bioethics.
|Beth Darmstadter, MPH, Director of Development Beth comes to The Gathering Place after 12 years providing support for grantseekers and donors at The Cleveland Foundation. With a background in nonprofit management and public health, Beth received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan and her Master’s degree in Public Health from San Diego State University. As Director of Development, Beth is excited to share The Gathering Place story with the corporate, philanthropic and volunteer-minded community as well as ensure that all who need the services of The Gathering Place take advantage of all we have to offer and can do so without any concern about the cost of services.
|Mary Fisher-Bornstein, LISW-S, Program Staff
In Mary’s 35 years of practice in mental health and oncology social work, she has worked with many persons who have been touched by cancer, both as individuals and in groups. Mary served as Director of Mt. Sinai Medical Center’s Social Work, Home Health Care and Geriatric Departments. She has been facilitating groups and counseling individuals and families at The Gathering Place since it opened in 2000. Recently, Mary has been studying many healing art modalities and is a Reiki Master.
|Ellen Heyman, MSN, RN, CS, Director of Programming
In her 17-year career as a clinical nurse specialist, Ellen has led numerous cancer support groups. She understands the varied needs of people living with cancer and their support network. At The Gathering Place, Ellen develops programs that build skills which promote wellness and quality of life. Ellen is committed to support individuals in being better-informed and active participants in their care and wellness.
|Betsy Kohn, MS, PC
Director of Volunteers/Program Staff
Betsy brings to The Gathering Place many years of experience in coordination and supervisory roles. She came to The Gathering Place to use her organizational skills and positive, supportive communication to assist volunteers in finding their place as part of our community. Betsy is also a member of the clinical program staff and facilitates support groups and workshops, as well as provides individual counseling.
|Liz Krantz, Assistant Director of Volunteers
Liz attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and George Washington Law School and has experience in healthcare law. Volunteering in the community has always been a part of Liz’s life.
|Ben Light, BA, MA, Director of Operations
Ben came to the non-profit world in 2002 after eight years as a marketing and strategy consultant. His first position in the non-profit world was with the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland where he worked for two years before joining the staff of The Gathering Place in July of 2004. Ben originally joined the staff as the Director of Development and was in that role for four and a half years before taking on this new position.
Ben is thrilled to be part of The Gathering Place family. email@example.com
|Lynn Lubben, Operations Assistant West
Lynn is the full time administrative staff person at The Gathering Place West, which also includes coordinating the Westside volunteers. She has held various administrative and counseling positions over the past 30 years, most of which were in the field of alcoholism and drug abuse. Most recently, Lynn came to us from Southwest General Health Center, where she coordinated health center information dissemination at the information desks and volunteers. She is a Reiki Master and lives in the southwest suburbs with her husband.
|Susan Marinac, LISW, OSW-C, MT-BC
Program Staff West
Susan is a clinical social worker with oncology certification and a board certified music therapist. She has over 16 years of professional experience in the areas of hospice, bereavement, end-of-life and oncology. Susan often incorporates the creative arts into her practice. In addition to seeing individuals for short-term counseling, Susan leads several groups including a group for caregivers and a group for young women with breast cancer. She works full time at The Gathering Place West.
|Kathy Maxwell, LISW-S, Program Staff East
Kathy has a background in child life and social work. She is full time at The Gathering Place as a member of our clinical program staff. Kathy leads groups for adults, children and teens. Prior to her time at The Gathering Place, Kathy served as a hospice social worker at Hospice Maui in Hawaii. She also maintained a private practice and has many years of mental health experience with children and families. Kathy recently became a Veriditas certified labyrinth facilitator.
|Kathleen McCue, MA, LSW, CCLS
Director of Children’s Programming
Kathleen’s career of over three decades is devoted to the mental health of children facing medical situations. She has also worked with adult patients and children who are impacted by the illness of an adult. Kathleen believes that by preparing and providing assistance to those facing illness, there is an opportunity for new skills and self-awareness that aid healing. Kathleen is the author of a new customizable tool to help very young children cope with cancer in the family titled Someone I Love is Sick.
|Maureen Paez, BA, Development Assistant
Maureen worked for many years as a software engineer. After taking time off to raise her children, she has found a supportive community to be a part of here at The Gathering Place. As the Development Assistant, Maureen is responsible for acknowledging every donation made to fund our free programs and services.
|Erin Rafter, PhD, Program Staff
Erin, our newest staff member, is a Licensed Psychologist and completed her doctorate in 2006 from the University
at Buffalo, State University of New York. During her training and six years working in community health, she provided care in multiple areas with children and adults including grief & loss, pediatric palliative care & hospice, and family therapy. Erin began with The Gathering Place in 2000 as a volunteer and then as a facilitator with Children’s programming before joining as a full time program staff member in July of 2011. In addition to currently leading groups for children and providing support to families, Erin works with adults and children individually to aid in coping with the stressors of cancer at both the East and West locations.
|Beth Roth, PT, MA, MS, RD/LD, Program Staff
Beth is a licensed physical therapist and a licensed registered dietician who joined our staff to enhance our programming and services around exercise and nutrition. She worked most recently at Cooper Cancer Center in Akron. Her goal is to be an active part of our participant’s healing process, helping them “put the pieces back together.” Having done internships with school children on a Navajo reservation and with women and children in Kenya, Beth hopes to continue her interests in cultural and economic diversity around the topics of food and exercise.
|Sue Shane, BS, Administrative Coordinator
Sue joined The Gathering Place because of her desire to use her skills to serve people. Her diverse background includes work as a dog trainer and 20 years of secretarial experience at various organizations. Outside of her administrative duties at The Gathering Place, she enjoys practicing tai chi and meditation.