STAAR's dear friend, Amanda.
Amanda was personally involved with STAAR Ovarian Cancer volunteering her skills and knowledge in how to reach patients from a variety of backgrounds. She was an amazing friend and mentor to many especially those entering clinical trials as she lived for 15 years with the help of drug trials specifically targeted for LGSOC.
She was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Rochester Hills. After graduating with honors from Rochester High School, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from The George Washington University and a master’s degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. She also earned a graduate certificate in Dialogue, Deliberation and Public Engagement from Fielding Graduate University.
Amanda began her career, which she fondly described as “helping nerds save the world,” at the University of West Florida in 2002, where she served as UWF’s Director of Learning and Volunteerism before going to work for Stanford University’s renowned Haas Center for Public Service in 2005. In 2012, Amanda joined the United Way for Southeastern Michigan as their Family Literacy Manager, and also worked as an independent consultant and dialogue facilitator. She returned to higher education administration in 2013 as Director of North Carolina State University’s Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service. She left NC State in 2015 after her fourth cancer recurrence and returned home to Michigan, where she intensified her work as an advocate, activist and researcher for cancer patients even as she was undergoing treatment herself. She worked with medical schools and professional organizations on improving the patient experience and lowering patients’ fear, stress and anxiety levels. To that end, she gave dozens of speeches and presentations to doctors, residents, medical students, nurses and administrators at numerous institutions, including the University of Michigan Medical School, Oakland University’s nursing program, and the Virginia Radiological Society. Amanda was particularly passionate about improving inequities in patient care for people of color and members of historically marginalized groups. Most recently, she was a founding member and principal researcher for BVOGUE, a collaborative team that used a grant from Cornell University Medical School to gather data on Black cancer patient experiences and make recommendations for improvement based on that data. She earned numerous awards and accolades in both the academic and medical communities for her work; most recently she received the 2020 Inspiration Award from the Michigan Cancer Consortium with Governor Whitmer presenting the award to her personally.
Apart from her work as an educator, activist and advocate, Amanda was a painter, sculptor and mixed-media artist. She was known for sending handmade colorful cards (often with a pinch of glitter) to family and friends for all occasions. Amanda will be remembered for her compassion, openness, and kindness; she had the ability to find a point of authentic connection with anyone.
Amanda requested that donations be made to STAAR Ovarian Cancer Foundation at staaroc.org/donate. Thank you, Amanda, from your friends in the LGSOC community.