Samantha R. Guild, J.D.
Samantha (Sam) Guild left a successful career as a litigation attorney in 2008 to become the Director of Education, Public Policy, and Advocacy for AIM at Melanoma, the foundation her mother, Valerie Guild, founded after Charlie Guild—Sam Guild’s sister and Valerie Guild’s daughter—died of melanoma in 2003.
For Sam, AIM at Melanoma is a labor of love, and the family has one over-arching goal: to end melanoma. AIM’s success is a testament to their hard work and the enduring spirit of hope and helping others that Charlie left behind.
As President of AIM at Melanoma, Sam works closely with grantors and the AIM team on future goals for the foundation. A large part of her role at AIM includes the oversight of the creation of resources for patients, caregivers, and health care providers—resources such as patient treatment decision-making tools, AIM’s melanoma oncology nursing website, IO Essentials website, and the Skin Cancer Education and Research Foundation website.
In her public policy work, Sam supports state legislators in introducing and passing indoor tanning device legislation. She led the effort in California that resulted in 2011 in the passage of the first bill to ban minors under 18 from using tanning devices. She is a public speaker and prolific writer on the impact of indoor tanning legislation, risks, and restrictions, with an emphasis on tanning’s effect on minors. In addition to her public policy work on indoor tanning legislation, she oversees AIM’s effort to support oral parity and step therapy legislation on the
state and federal levels.
In her advocacy role at AIM, Sam sits on a variety of governmental and non-profit working groups and committees where she advocates for the melanoma community, including NCCN, SWOG, and ECOG, and the ASCO’s systemic therapy melanoma working group. She is frequently asked by researchers and industry to share the patient perspective on topics of importance to their research.
Sam received a bachelor’s degree from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., where she studied American government and women’s issues. She earned her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, in Sacramento, Calif. She is a member of the State Bar of California and a native of New York.
Valerie P. Guild, M.S., M.B.A.
When Valerie Guild lost her beloved 26-year-old daughter Charlie to melanoma in 2003, she vowed to help find the cure for the disease and founded AIM at Melanoma as the vehicle to do so. Four years later, Guild was joined by her daughter, Sam Guild, who gave up her career as a litigation attorney to work with AIM and is now AIM’s President.
AIM at Melanoma has grown to be a global foundation that, in Val’s words, tackles the “hard stuff”—projects that are deemed critical for progressing research but also considered too difficult to accomplish.
Val Guild died May 21, 2020. AIM’s small but mighty (as she called us) staff will continue her work in her memory, with absolute resolve, as she had, to help find the cure for melanoma in our lifetime.
Alicia Walker Rowell
Alicia Walker Rowell is Vice President and principal fundraiser at AIM at Melanoma.
Rowell has a personal stake in the foundation’s mission: Her husband is a Stage III melanoma survivor.
Like many non-profits, AIM relies on the charitable donations of generous supporters to fulfill its mission, and Rowell was hired to build a philanthropic infrastructure for AIM while simultaneously growing the number of donations the organization receives.
Directing all aspects of AIM’s philanthropy, from annual giving to major gifts, Rowell worked closely with Val Guild, AIM’s Founder, and now with Samantha Guild, AIM’s President, on AIM’s global research initiatives, where the majority of AIM’s budget goes, and on the overall direction of the foundation. She also works closely with Michelle Bessett, AIM’s National Director of Walks & Events, to increase the visibility of and grow AIM’s fundraising walks and events. She is often called upon to write and speak on behalf of AIM to raise both funds and awareness.
Rowell enjoys the multidimensional aspects of her job and the many different roles she has within the foundation to support AIM’s mission.
Rowell came to AIM having worked most recently in development and administrative roles at the University of California, Berkeley—including directing the capital campaigns for Berkeley’s athletic department, where she raised over $25M for the campus—and writing, editing, and teaching roles prior to that.
She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, earning a degree in English and History, and a fourth-generation Californian.
Ann Garst Taylor
Director of Community Engagement
Ann Garst Taylor is AIM at Melanoma’s Director of Community Engagement. She has nearly 30 years of volunteer management experience and is a certified Volunteer Administrator.
Taylor was drawn to a career spent working with nonprofits because believes the world is a better place when people make time to serve their communities. Her specialty and joy is to help guide someone into a volunteer role once they express the desire to make a difference in their community.
Taylor helps to build community support for AIM’s mission and recruit volunteers to help with the day-to-day work of the organization as well as with fundraising walks and the Peer Connect program. Taylor also organizes guests and arranges topics for symposiums and the Beyond the Clinic podcasts.
Before she came to AIM, Taylor spent 10 years as the Director of Volunteer Services for a large healthcare system in Charlotte, North Carolina. Prior to that, she worked in volunteer management roles at hospitals, nursing homes, hospice programs and other nonprofit organizations.
A native of Tennessee, Taylor lives near her adult children in North Carolina.
Director of Marketing
Kathleen Lowe is a dynamic team leader and digital media expert with 20 years of experience developing and overseeing successful marketing campaigns and business development initiatives for non-profit and for-profit organizations.
Lowe connected instantly with AIM’s mission and the story of Charlie Guild and her family, and she was thrilled when she was hired in January 2018 to direct the foundation’s marketing initiatives.
In her role at AIM, Lowe is responsible for creating and managing an ambitious marketing communications plan in order to effectively support the foundation’s mission and strategic initiatives.
Lowe worked previously as the vice president of business development and marketing strategy for MktShr Ad Agency in Palm Beach, Fla., where she developed a robust roster of clients across the country, ranging from entrepreneurial companies, nonprofit, service and professional groups, and associations.
Prior to that, Lowe served as the director of media and marketing services for Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. where she led the development and execution of the University’s marketing plan for the Office of Admissions. There, Lowe developed RWU’s first interactive online news media room.
Lowe’s other professional roles include a senior directorship of business development for Worldways Social Marketing Agency in Providence, R.I., where she launched a firm-wide branding program and oversaw all cause marketing programs internally and externally. She also worked as a senior branding and marketing strategist for Ogilvy & Mather in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Miami, Florida where she oversaw B2B client relationships, internal-team relationships, and account operations during the planning, development, and execution of advertising campaigns.
Lowe holds a bachelor of arts in art and architecture from Brown University and is a native of Connecticut.
Melissa Wilson, PA-C, MPAS
AIM’s “Ask a Medical Expert” and Host of From the Clinic to the Living Room
Melissa Wilson, PA-C, MPAS, leads AIM’s “Ask a Melanoma Expert” program and is AIM’s resident melanoma medical expert. Wilson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role, and boundless enthusiasm for the industry – and her patients.
A natural trailblazer, Wilson is proud of her collaborative work as an NCCPA-certified physician assistant senior since 2005 with the distinguished melanoma specialist Dr. John Kirkwood at the University of Pittsburgh in the Cancer Institute Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine. Their treatment and research initiatives were so successful that they have been used as a template for other cancer programs throughout the country. Wilson works as lead physician assistant for the Melanoma Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.
Her expertise is focused on acute care in outpatient oncology with research patients and the general melanoma population. She helps patients manage therapy-driven toxicity-related problems and emergencies. She has expertise in biopsies and suturing techniques; cryotherapy; injections; imaging reviews;monitoring; and RECIST measurements.
A natural teacher, Wilson has also worked with a multidisciplinary team on patient education and collaboration. She holds appointments at Chatham University Clinical Preceptor where she is adjunct faculty and is a cancer care modules lecturer on melanoma since 2013.
Inspired to her career by her own father’s battle with cancer (he is doing well!), Wilson says she will never stop wanting to help patients fight melanoma. She also feels confident that a cure is on the horizon given that melanoma treatments have grown exponentially over the last few years.
Wilson is a native of Pennsylvania and has her master’s degree from Chatham University in physician assistant studies (MPAS), and PA-C (certified in Pennsylvania).
National Director of Walks and Events
Michelle Bessett, AIM at Melanoma’s National Director of Walks & Events, has always loved working with and helping other people. She particularly enjoys connecting people to each other and to an organization’s mission. She has a lengthy background in and passion for fundraising walks.
In her role at AIM, Bessett provides year-round support for about 20 local walks across the country, and she hopes that number will keep growing.
The pandemic took a toll on in-person events, and many walks had to go virtual over the last few years. Bessett is determined to rebuild the momentum and reengage people who’ve participated in previous walks, while also attracting new groups of melanoma patients, survivors, and their families.
Before coming to AIM, Bessett served as a team captain for a local Heart Walk, then she was hired on as a walk director with the American Heart Association – a position she held for five years. She also had development and walk roles with the March of Dimes and the United Way.
Bessett’s father had heart disease and she was honored to work for an organization that made a difference in the lives of patients like him, as well as their families.
Although she doesn’t have a personal connection to melanoma, she is similarly honored to work for an organization that provides so much to melanoma patients, survivors, families, and caregivers.
A graduate of Plymouth State College, Bessett lives near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Director of Donor Relations
Risa Salinas brings more than 20 years of experience in project management, operations, sales, and cross-functional collaboration—all in a for-profit setting—to her position as Director of Donor Relations for AIM at Melanoma.
Salinas manages all of AIM’s fundraising and donor relations platforms, systems, and services. She oversees AIM’s event and fundraising pages and manages the stewardship program for AIM’s generous donors. She works closely with AIM Vice President, Alicia Rowell, and AIM National Director of Walks and Events, Michelle Bessett, on the broader fundraising goals of the organization.
Salinas was deeply moved by the story of Charlie Guild, who died of melanoma in 2004 when she was 26, and after whom the foundation is named. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to work in a non-profit setting with the noble goal of eradicating melanoma.
Prior to AIM, Salinas worked as a purchasing manager and procurement specialist for Henderson Design Studio in Dallas, Texas, where she was responsible for project inventory, reporting, and pre- and post-installation planning. She managed the project budgets for furniture, fixtures and equipment. She has also worked at Marly and Co. Design Studio in Dallas, Texas, and for Capelli New York out of Frisco, Texas.
Salinas earned her degree in merchandising and business from the University of North Texas. She is a native of Texas.