Cancer Support Community Pasadena has announced the appointment of four new members to the organization’s board of directors: Ellen Knell, Vicki Laidig, George Mack and Natalie Smalley.
“We’re thrilled that these stellar individuals have decided to join us in our efforts to help those confronting cancer,” says Kal Antoun, president of CSCP’s board. “All four have a deep understanding of the impact of cancer, some personally and some professionally, which gives them special insight into the challenges people face when dealing with this terrible disease. There’s no doubt that their combined knowledge will enhance CSCP initiatives.”
Knell returns to a board on which she served from 2011-2018. She has been a cancer risk specialist and cancer genetic testing counselor for more than 38 years. Her area of expertise is in the genetics of familial cancer. Knell attained her doctorate in human genetics from UCLA after completing her undergraduate work in psychology and the biological sciences at UC Berkeley.
She and her husband, Harvey, are generous philanthropists and support many worthy causes in Pasadena. In fact, Ellen founded CSCP’s Benefactors Society in 2017 to encourage others who share in the urgency of CSCP’s mission to support the organization at leadership levels. The Knells reside in Pasadena and have three sons and six grandchildren.
Now semiretired, Laidig specialized for more than 40 years in marketing, public relations and corporate communications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social sciences from UC Berkeley. For 15 years, Laidig worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in various communication roles, with a particular focus on internal employee communications. From 2013-2018, she was the administrator for Rotary Club of Pasadena. In addition, Laidig has been an enthusiastic volunteer in the Pasadena area, including at CSCP, where she has served in diverse volunteer positions since 2004. She received CSCP’s 2011-2012 Volunteer of the Year award for her exceptional dedication. Laidig was raised in Pasadena and presently lives in Altadena.
A longtime senior executive in the health-care services industry, Mack brings extensive management experience to the board. In 2018, he retired as vice president of payer and provider relations for the Hospital Association of Southern California, an industry organization representing 170 California hospitals and health systems. Prior to that, for more than 35 years, Mack held myriad health-care payer/provider leadership roles at various community hospitals and academic medical centers, including the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Doheny Eye Institute.
He graduated from Duke University with a master’s in health administration, after attending the University of Michigan for his undergraduate studies. Mack also was an early advocate of palliative care and is keen to continue increasing awareness about this approach to terminal illness at CSCP. He and his wife, Gloria, reside in South Pasadena.
Natalie Smalley is a television entertainment executive with more than 20 years of experience in the field. Since 2002, she has worked at the Walt Disney Company/ABCCNG and is a senior manager overseeing standards and practices in live-action pilots and current shows for the Disney Channel and Disney+ television networks. Previously, Smalley worked at CBS Program Practices as a senior editor.
Besides volunteering with Disney and at CSCP in the past, she also assists KPFK-FM with its “Gospel Classics” show on Sundays, hosted by the Rev. Gil Fears. Smalley earned a B.A. in speech communication from Pepperdine University and is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She is the author of “I Have Breast Cancer. Now What?,” published this year. Natalie and her husband, Gamal, have eight children and 18 grandchildren. They live in Altadena.
“How fortunate for CSCP to have Ellen, Vicki, George, and Natalie on our board. They bring great energy, talent and expertise to the table. I look forward to working with them to strengthen our programs for families facing cancer,” says Patricia Ostiller, CSCP’s executive director.
Cancer Support Community Pasadena provides free support groups, educational workshops and healthy lifestyle classes to cancer patients and their families, cancer survivors and those bereaved in the Greater San Gabriel Valley. Services are available in English, Spanish and Armenian. For more information, go to cscpasadena.org or call (626) 796-1083.