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Annual Awards

Spirit of Empowerment Awards 2014CompassionAward

Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) presents its annual Spirit of Empowerment awards to recognize the contributions of individuals and organizations that help us educate and support the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer community. We will be announcing our 2014 awards in Spring, 2014.

2012 Recipients

  • Advocacy: Sharon Terry
    Sharon Terry is President and CEO of the Genetic Alliance, the world’s leading nonprofit advocacy organization committed to transforming health through genetics and promoting an environment centered on the health of individuals, families and communities. She is the founding CEO of PXE International, a research advocacy organization for the genetic condition pseudoxanthoma elasticum, and the co-founder of the Genetic Alliance Biobank. She is the chair of the Coalition for Genetic Fairness that spearheaded the 13-year effort that led to the passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
  • Advocacy: American Civil Liberties Union
    On May 12, 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit charging that patents on the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are unconstitutional and invalid. The patents on these two genes have stifled access to care and research. The plaintiffs include many members of the FORCE community that have not been able to access BRCA testing because of the cost of the test. FORCE has filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs for this case.
  • Arts & Media: Dina Roth Port
    Dina Roth Port is an award-winning freelance writer, journalist, and author. Her book, Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions, was published by Penguin in October 2010 and it raised the profile of previvors around the world. Her book features the stories of five FORCE members who met and bonded through their hereditary cancer journey and helped publicize the challenges faced by this important group of stakeholders of the hereditary cancer community and making the word previvor a household term. Dina’s writing has also appeared in many national publications, such as Glamour, Self, Parenting, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Natural Health, Fitness, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Prevention.
  • Arts & Media: Joi Morris
    When Joi Morris learned that she carried a mutation on the BRCA2 gene she went searching for a book with answers to her many questions. She wanted a book that she could read at night, dog ear the pages, and take to her medical appointments. Positive Results was born out of Joi's desire to create just such a book for other women like her -- women fighting, facing, and fearing breast and ovarian cancer. Joi attended law school at Vanderbilt University then moved to Los Angeles in 1989 to launch her legal career. Today, Joi devotes her time to raising her children and to breast cancer advocacy, including providing peer support for women who are struggling to decide what to do about their genetically inherited breast and ovarian cancer risk. She is an Outreach Coordinator for FORCE’s Los Angeles group.
  • Individual Commitment: The Byer Family
    The Byer Family has demonstrated their unwavering dedication to the HBOC community through their financial and volunteer contributions to FORCE. The family established the Lillian Byer HBOC Fund in 2012, honoring Lillian Byer whose courageous story was highlighted in FORCE's Ashkenazi Jewish People and the BRCA Connection video. This generous commitment provided substantial financial support to our scholarship fund, enabling members of the HBOC community who could not otherwise do so to attend this year's Joining FORCEs Conference. The fund will also support FORCE's national outreach efforts. Amy Byer Shainman plays an active role as our Palm Beach, Florida Outreach Coordinator.

  • Research: Steven Narod, MD
    Dr. Steven Narod is a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer and a senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, where he leads the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit. He is renowned for his key role on the team that identified the BRCA2 gene. With more than 500 peer-reviewed publications, he is one of the world’s most-cited researchers in the field of breast cancer. Dr. Narod has collaborated with 70 centers in countries around the world, and has advanced cancer genetics through collaborations in North America, Austria, France, Italy, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran, Philippines, Hong Kong and Vietnam. His influence during the last 15 years has profoundly shaped current knowledge of how to assess breast and ovarian cancer risk and reduce its mortality amongst carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations. Dr. Narod’s testing of patients through research has provided access to genetic testing to individuals and families from underserved populations and people who would not have otherwise had access to genetic testing.

2011 Recipients

Arts & Media: Kathy Steligo, author of the Breast Reconstruction Guidebook, and editor of Joining FORCEs newsletter.
Advocacy: Komen for the Cure, for the impact of their advocacy work on the lives of people facing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.”
Advocacy: Ellen Matloff, MS, genetic counselor and director of Yale Cancer Center Genetic Counseling Program and plaintiff in the ACLU patent lawsuit.
Corporate Commitment: Tiny Little T Shirt Company
Individual Commitment: Dara & Molly Marias & Myron Caplan, The Butterfly Project
Research: Dr. Francis Collins

2010 Recipients

The inaugural Spirit of Empowerment awards were presented at the 5th Annual Joining FORCEs Conference in Orlando, FL. Recipients for the inaugural award were:

  • Arts & Media Award Recipient: Joanna Rudnick, Producer & Director, In the Family
  • Research Award Recipient:  Timothy R. Rebbeck, Ph.D., Cancer Center Genetics, Epidemiology and Risk Reduction Program at Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA
  • Advocacy Award Recipient: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
  • Corporate Commitment Award Recipient: Enell, Inc.
  • Individual Commitment Award Recipient: Michael Sosin


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