Samantha R. Guild, J.D.
Samantha 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—Samantha Guild’s sister and Valerie Guild’s daughter—died of melanoma in 2003.
For Samantha Guild, 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.
Now AIM’s President, Samantha oversees the day-to-day operation of the foundation and works closely with grantors and the AIM team on future goals for the foundation.
Guild also oversees the creation of resources for patients, caregivers, and health care providers, including AIM’s melanoma oncology nursing website and the Skin Cancer Education and Research Foundation. Guild maintains the accuracy of the AIM at Melanoma website and directs AIM’s ten annual patient education symposiums.
In her public policy work, she supports state legislators in their introduction and passage of 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. She also oversees AIM’s effort to support oral parity legislation on the state and federal level.
In her advocacy role at AIM, Guild sits on a variety of governmental and non-profit working groups and committees where she advocates for the melanoma community, including the ASCO Melanoma Guidelines Meeting. She is frequently asked by industry to share the patient perspective on topics of importance to their research. She sits on many boards and working groups, among them the NCCN, SWOG, and ECOG.
Guild 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 Cindy LeBlanc, 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.
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.
National Director of Walks & Events
Cindy LeBlanc brings a wealth of relational fundraising, volunteer, and event management experience to her role as National Director of Walks & Events for AIM at Melanoma.
In her role, LeBlanc interfaces with a growing pool of volunteers and donors for AIM’s event-based fundraising. She works closely with AIM supporters to stage annual walks around the country, develop volunteer training and recruitment plans, and raise funds using a unique “Do it Yourself” system.
LeBlanc’s goals are to increase the participation and fundraising in all of AIM’s events. Working with the hundreds of generous volunteers and donors who want to support AIM’s mission is her passion.
Previously, LeBlanc was owner/CEO of LeBlanc Consulting in the Greater Atlanta area, managing 63 fundraising chapters for which she helped grow revenue, improve operation standards, and fine-tune data management and budgetary processes.
LeBlanc worked in development roles for two non-profits: the PKD Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., where she raised $2.5 million annually with a volunteer program 5,000 strong, and the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, where she raised major and corporate gifts and was responsible for a $4 million budget.
LeBlanc received her bachelor’s degree in human resources management and personnel administration from Georgia State University – J. Mack Robinson College of Business. She is a native of Georgia.
Director of Operations
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 Operations 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, Cindy LeBlanc, 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.
Director of Community Engagement
Brenda Busby, AIM’s Director of Community Engagement, is the mother of a melanoma survivor. Her daughter was diagnosed with melanoma in 2007 when she was just two years old and treated at M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas, by one of the only oncologists who was treating melanoma in children at the time. The disease metastasized to her daughter’s lymph nodes, which made treatment even more difficult, given her young age. The surgery to remove the tumor left the little girl with an enormous incision on her face.
Today Busby’s daughter is a thriving teenager whose wound has healed beautifully. As a result of their experience, Busby and her daughter are committed to supporting patients, survivors, and families who face a melanoma diagnosis. Busby’s job with AIM is part of that commitment to the melanoma community.
In her role as AIM’s Director of Community Engagement, Busby is eager to reach out to newly diagnosed patients and their families. She knows the questions that run through their minds when they hear, “it’s melanoma.” She supports them and points them to invaluable resources on the AIM website and elsewhere to help them negotiate the non-medical facets of the illness.
Additionally, Busby works with those in the melanoma community who wish to volunteer, advocate, and partner with AIM.
Prior to working with AIM, Busby worked as both a volunteer and employee for the Melanoma Research Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she was the pediatric and mucosal program coordinator and an assistant in the Education Department.
Busby is a native of Texas and has a BA in business communications from Texas Tech University.
Melissa Wilson, PA-C, MPAS
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).