Our Story

Our mission is to teach healthy cooking to people touched by cancer.

Cook For Your Life started in 2007 after founder, Ann Ogden, was in treatment for her second cancer diagnosis, triple negative breast cancer. Ann took a break from her successful career in fashion to focus on her treatment. Suddenly immersed in the world of hospitals and cancer treatment, she became aware of how little her chemo buddies knew about healthy food. Growing up with an Italian mother from a family of chefs and a father who was a Master Baker she was easily able to adapt recipes to help her cope with side effects and eat well even on the worst days. But for her treatment friends it was a different story. She started giving cooking tips and advice, which eventually led to her first free hands-on cooking class.

Read the Story

About Ann

As I became immersed in the world of hospitals and cancer treatment, I began to understand how my cooking skills were helping me to cope with my side effects in ways my fellow travelers in cancer could not. I was able to adjust to taste changes, adapt my food to how I was feeling at any given moment. Listening one day to a friend from Gilda’s describe her problems with how her food tasted, I realized that although the hospital staff were telling her what to do to alleviate her symptoms, they couldn’t tell her how. That’s when I knew I could offer practical help.

More About Ann

Our Programs


Putting Good Nutrition on Your Plate

These classes are offered by way of nutrition slideshow presentations or as cooking demonstrations and tastings. This format is perfect for larger conference audiences. We have been invited to present at various conferences and events around the country including the National Conferences of the YSC, LBBC Stupid Cancer and BMT, and on a more local level for the LLS, Living With Cancer, Gilda's Club, The LGBT Center, The Sid Jacobson JCC and Mt. Sinai's Breast Health Day among others.

Cook for your Life / Cocinar Para Su Salud/ Mi Vida Saludable

A cooking and nutrition education program taught in English and in Spanish to help underserved cancer survivors increase their fruit and vegetable intake and become more knowledgeable about sustainable healthy food options. Mi Vida Saludable is in partnership with Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and is funded by the NIH.

Resources

Bright Pink is the only national non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women while providing support for high-risk individuals.

WhatNext is a growing online support network of people and organizations striving to provide those affected by illness (e.g., patients, survivors, caregivers, family members or friends) with instant access to highly relevant peers, perspectives and resources based on their specific situation.

Cancer and Careers empowers and educates people with cancer to thrive in their workplace by providing expert advice, interactive tools and educational events.

Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful.

CancerCare is a national nonprofit providing free, professional support services to people affected by cancer. Services include counseling, support groups, educational publications, workshops and financial assistance. All services are provided by professional oncology social workers and are completely free of charge.

Stupid Cancer is a non-profit organization that empowers young adults affected by cancer through innovative and award-winning programs and services. We are the nation's largest support community for this underserved population and serves as a bullhorn for the young adult cancer movement.

Gilda's Club provides free cancer support for everyone living with cancer - men, women, teens and children - along with their families and friends. Our innovative program is an essential complement to medical care, providing networking and support groups, workshops, educational lectures and social activities.

God's Love We Deliver is the New York metropolitan areas leading not-for-profit provider of life-sustaining meals and nutritional counseling or people living with life-threatening illnesses. God's Love supports families bv providing meals for the children and senior caregivers of its clients free of charge.

Michael's Mission is focused on improving the quality of life and treatment options for those suffering from colorectal cancer through education, research, and patient support.

Share Cancer Support is the leading ovarian and breast cancer organization, offering support for women with breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Drexel University's Center for Hospitality and Sport Management supports several key facets of tourism. Undergraduate and graduate programs are distinguished through experiential learning and cooperative education. Drexel culinary students collaborate with CFYL to create recipes to help you before, during, and after treatment.

Triage Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that provides education and resources addressing the continuum of cancer survivorship issues to survivors, caregivers, and health care professionals.

Our goal is to provide information for expectant mothers and families considering cord blood banking - we want to help you find the right option for you and your loved ones. coordbloodbanking.com is committed to giving you relevant, up-to-date information on benefits, pricing, and current research for cord blood stem cells.

Team Continuum is dedicated to helping cancer patients of all ages and with all types of cancer. But our not-for-profit organization is not about curing the disease. It's about our promise to cancer patients and their families: To help them minimize the burdens of everyday life by providing immediate and vital assistance for non-medical essentials - like paying their rent and utility bills - so they can focus on crucial medical care.

The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) is the nation's largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to funding innovative lymphoma research and providing people with lymphoma and healthcare professionals with up-to-date information about this type of cancer. LRF's mission is to eradicate lymphoma and serve those touched by this disease.

The Bone Marrow Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bone marrow, stem cell, and cord blood transplant patients and their families by providing vital financial assistance, educational information, and emotional support programs.

Savor Health offers a comprehensive range of nutrition services for people with cancer and their loved ones. Using the latest technology and research, Savor provides individually personalized nutrition solutions that meet each patient’s unique needs from prevention to survivorship. Services include individually curated information and resources, one on one counseling with oncology dietitians and delivery of meals tailored to individual needs and tastes.

The Brain Tumor Foundation (BTF) is a non-profit organization that guides and supports patients, families and caregivers touched by a brain tumor. BTF also raises awareness about the need for the early detection of brain tumors.

Our Wonderful Staff

Ann Ogden Gaffney

Founder & President

Ann Ogden Gaffney

Founder & President

To read more about Ann's story and why she started Cook For Your LIFE see the "About Ann" section at the top of this page.

Carmina Pérez

Website and General Manager

Carmina Pérez

Website and General Manager

Carmina is in charge of all things related to digital and marketing initiatives. She oversees freelancers, interns and vendors, as well as helping CFYL run smoothly. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she has been living in Manhattan for over thirty years, but travels to the island often to visit family. During her career, Carmina has worked in the financial services, television and healthcare fields, and is now putting all her experience to work at CFYL.

Contact: Carmina@cfyl.org

Stacey Carr

Development Consultant

Stacey Carr

Development Consultant

Stacey has been a Development Consultant at CFYL since April 2016. She has taught grades K-12 and has coached a variety of sports. In addition, she revamped a Recreation and Athletic program, raising funds for a residential treatment facility for children and adults at the Devereux Foundation.

She currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA and works at Bishop Garcia Diego High School as the Director of Special Events.

Stacey earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology at Cal Poly State. She also has a a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in Physical Education and Athletic Fundraising from Azusa Pacific University.

Contact: stacey@cfyl.org

Katy Lynn Patterson

Development Manager

Katy Lynn Patterson

Development Manager

Katy Lynn is the Development Manager for CFYL, overseeing all special events and outreach. Born and raised in Ohio, she attended The College of Wooster where she studied Theatre and Gender Studies. Katy Lynn has worked professionally in show business since the age of three, and remains active in the city's performing arts. She is a celebrant of amazing food, world travel, equal rights, animal welfare, history, and a great cross stitch pattern.

Ty Donald

Development Coordinator

Ty Donald

Development Coordinator

Ty is the development coordinator at CFYL and plans all fundraising activities for the organization. He was born in Virginia Beach, but grew up in Upstate South Carolina. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from Coastal Carolina University, he worked for a year in Germany where he became obsessed with the way of life in Berlin and eating every new food. Now, Ty has found a similar lifestyle in Brooklyn and enjoys being a part of the arts and nonprofit sector in NYC.

Contact: Ty@cfyl.org

Letwine Mavima

Office Assistant

Letwine Mavima

Office Assistant

Letwine is the administrator for the CFYL office. Letwine was born in Zimbabwe, but grew up in west Michigan. She fell in love with the idea of Brooklyn at age 11 and found her way to New York after graduating from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. She has a passion for helping underserved communities, chocolate, African food and traveling any and everywhere. Letwine plans to attend law school in the future to pursue her passion for immigrant and civill rights.

Contact: Letwine@cfyl.org

In the News

The Cook For Your Life cookbook, is nominated for a James Beard Book Award in the "Focus on Health" category.

Ann visits with Jill Blakeway on the Grow Cook Heal podcast. Ann tells Jill about how CFYL started and teaches us how to make Bruce's Avocado Chocolate Mousse.

As soon as Gaffney started teaching, she was hooked: “Seeing people who didn’t think they could cook, and watching their delight at finding out they could, was exhilarating and I realized I wanted more of that — I wanted to help people.”

["Cook for Your Life"] is aimed at cancer patients -- and its direct, even urgent title leads us into contents whose tone is wonderfully warm and kindly, as well as painstakingly clear in all its directions.

"Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in partnership with the New York City-based, not-for-profit Cook for Your Life initiative have published the results of an intervention designed to provide a diverse and under-represented group of Latina breast cancer survivors with the knowledge and skills needed to change and sustain dietary behaviors."

"Change is Good: From High Fashion to Cuisine with Compassion. For former fashion designer and two-time cancer survivor Ann Ogden Gaffney, understanding the difficulties of undergoing cancer treatment led to a change of course..."

Cancer survivor and cookbook author Ann Ogden Gaffney says food can help comfort and heal while patients go through treatment. CBS News' Marlie Hall reports.

CBS 2 News Features a Cook For Your LIFE Hope Lodge Cooking Class for their 2014 Breast Cancer Coverage.

As a two-time cancer survivor, Gaffney understands what is needed before, during and after treatment, including which foods can provide symptom relief, fulfill nutritional needs and allow a sense of control during a chaotic time.

"Having endured surgery, radiation and chemo, Ogden knows what it’s like trying to cook and eat healthily at a time when food may be the furthest thing from your mind."

"...Ms. Clark began volunteering for Ms. Gaffney's workshops, which were simple and not 'preachy,' she says. Instead, they just offered a road map for a 'sensible way to eat.'"

"...This totally-doable-on-a-weeknight recipe from the new book, Cook for Your Life, by Ann Ogden Gaffney, starts with chicken you marinate in mustard and white wine.."

"...Now, the avid home cook and “Cook for Your Life” founder is on a mission to spread the soul-sustaining joy of cooking to cancer patients across the nation."

Breast Cancer Heroes You've Never Heard Of: Ann Ogden, The Healthy Cook

Ann appears on New York Non-Stop News to talk about Cook For Your Life.

"In my first class, everyone looked at what they’d made—poached salmon with herbed yogurt and sauteed greens—and they were so excited. They realized they could be alive again, in a sense. My heart was bursting."

“A lot of nutritionists would tell patients what to eat, but not show them how to prepare it in an enjoyable way. This was my first ‘ah-ha’ moment—bridging the gap between nutritional advice and actual at-home execution,” says Gaffney..."

"March is National Nutrition Month, but Ann Ogden Gaffney of Cook For Your LIFE celebrates healthy eating year round. She packs up her herbs and spices and heads over to the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge."

"The author has experience and understanding how the appetite changes, with taste and smell and even swallowing for patients going through chemotherapy, radiation, even recovering from surgery."

"When my treatment ended, I made my decision to leave fashion and start Cook for Your Life in 2007. CFYL’s mission is to give the cancer community the practical knowledge, tools and inspiration to cook their way into a healthy survivorship..."

"Recently, I came across a wonderful website called: Cook For Your Life (CFYL). It’s so great that I had to share it with you...The Silver Lining (and my own prerequisite for entering the kitchen!) is that the recipes are easy to make, easy to digest, and full of the nutrients and vitamins needed to sustain yourself both during and after treatment."

"Using a culturally based hands-on educational approach, the Cook for Your Life program or ¡Cocinar Para Su Salud! is geared toward Latina breast cancer survivors who are at higher risk of obesity, low physical activity, and poorer access to quality healthcare."

"Ann learned from this experience that cooking was solace and nutrition was essential to manage side effects from treatment and support her recovery. Her own experience plus listening to others facing dietary and eating challenges during treatment gave Ann the impetus to leave the fashion world to create Cook for Your Life in 2007. "

"...the participants increased their number of fruits and vegetables servings to 6.8 per day, well within the American Cancer Society’s recommended 5-9 servings per day to improve clinical outcomes. After six months the women in Cook for Your Life had increased the amount of targeted fruits and vegetables by over 2.5 servings a day."

"The Intervention group (n=34) participated in ¡Cocinar Para Su Salud!, a culturally based nine-session (24 hours over 12 weeks) intervention including nutrition education, cooking classes, and food-shopping field trips. The Control group (n=36) received written dietary recommendations for breast cancer survivors."

Our Board of Directors

Nancy Rutter-Clark

Chairman

Nancy Rutter-Clark

Chairman

Nancy is a founding director of CFYL, and a principle of The Octavia Foundation. In addition to it’s sponsorship of Cook For Your Life's website, Octavia has also funded projects such as Healthy Child, Healthy World and the New Orleans Edible School Yard. Octavia recently funded a new branch of the NOLA Edible School Yard with a donation to build an acre garden at a new, state-of-the-art elementary school in that city. The school will be the first in the nation to feature a working vegetable garden, cafeteria, and teaching kitchen at the front entrance.

Prior to her involvement in Octavia, she worked as a business journalist and editor for more than 30 years, at publications such as Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Money, The American Lawyer, and Business 2.0.

She divides her time between New York City and Montecito, CA.

Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D.

Program Director, Drexel University HSM Culinary Arts

Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D.

Program Director, Drexel University HSM Culinary Arts

Jonathan is a classically trained chef and Professor and Program Director of the Department of Hospitality Management, Culinary Arts, and Food Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He earned his doctorate from the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, where he focused his research on social and cultural aspects of food and nutrition. He is the author or editor of numerous articles and six books including Gastropolis: Food and New York City (Columbia University Press, 2009), Culinary Improvisation (Pearson Education, 2009), and Food Studies: An Introduction to Research Methods (Berg, 2010). He is the Advice Guy for Restaurant Business Magazine, providing technical assistance for hundreds of restaurants annually. As a chef, Deutsch worked in many sectors of the industry including product development, food manufacturing, luxury hotels, institutions, and independent restaurants, both in the US and in Japan. In addition to NYU, he is a graduate of Drexel University (Hospitality Management, 1999) and The Culinary Institute of America (Culinary Arts, 1997). When not in the kitchen, he can be found playing tuba in community bands around New York City.

Maria Fazio, RN, MN

Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist

Maria Fazio, RN, MN

Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist

Maria currently lives in Santa Barbara with her husband and two kids. She volunteers for the National Charity League, is a board member at Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara, and is on the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Advisory Council. She is an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, and a member of ONS, and AOCN certified. Maria brings her years of experience and expertise as an oncology nurse to the CFYL board.

Stewart B. Fleishman. MD

Founding Director, Cancer Supportive Services at Continuum Cancer Centers NY

Stewart B. Fleishman. MD

Founding Director, Cancer Supportive Services at Continuum Cancer Centers NY

Stewart B. Fleishman MD is the author of LEARN to Live Through Cancer: What You Need to Know and Do and the accompanying provider’s textbook Manual of Cancer Treatment Recovery: What the Practitioner Needs to Know and Do. He currently surveys cancer centers around the country for accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. He is the Founding Director of Cancer Supportive Services at Continuum Cancer Centers of New York: Beth Israel and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt. He also served as the Associate Chief Medical Officer of Continuum Hospice Care, and the Chair of its Ethics Committee. Dr. Fleishman was among the first group of physicians Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and has devoted his career to applying principles of active symptom management to care throughout the trajectory of cancer illness focusing on the period of treatment and survivorship. Dr. Fleishman has been an investigator at the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (now the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology) since 1986, and was the Vice Chair of its Quality of Life Sub-Committee. His research interests include trials to reverse cancer cachexia, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, testosterone loss in male patients, cognitive impairment and survivorship. He serves on the NCCN Distress Management Guidelines Committee. He has authored numerous peer reviewed journal articles as well.

Dr. Fleishman also volunteers at the Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine in Indio, California, which provides primary care to the under-insured. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Fleishman taught in the New York City public schools.

Bill Jeffway

Director of Marketing & Communications, The Hastings Center

Bill Jeffway

Director of Marketing & Communications, The Hastings Center

Bill Jeffway spent three decades advising Fortune 500 brands on corporate marketing communications at a leading global advertising agency in roles based variously in New York, Los Angeles, London and Singapore. In 2012 he turned his full attention to non-profits.
Bill is the Director of Marketing and Communications at The Hastings Center, the leading, global bioethics research institute in Garrison, New York. He has advised non-profits in higher education, advocacy, healthcare, international aid, community service and the environment through his own consultancy.
Bill is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and advanced studies at the International Business School INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and New York University's Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising.

Debra Jones

Co-founder & COO, Magnolia Trading

Debra Jones

Co-founder & COO, Magnolia Trading

Debra is co-founder and chief operating officer of Magnolia Trading, an international distributor of premium natural American brands. Magnolia Trading exclusively represents Barbara’s Bakery, Horizon Organic, Kristian Regale, Nutiva, Seventh Generation, Silk and Zevia in international markets. Because Magnolia Trading’s business is exclusively focused on international markets, Debra has become a student of international trends in consumer behavior and business evolution. Debra’s career covers over 25 years of experience developing marketing, sales and communications strategies for technology, business-to-business and consumer companies. Career highlights include work as a venture partner in a Silicon Valley venture capital firm evaluating technology startups and working with entrepreneurs in the development of marketing and business strategies for newly formed companies.

Tony Liano

Co-Founder, San Francisco Cooking School

Tony Liano

Co-Founder, San Francisco Cooking School

Tony Liano is co-founder of San Francisco Cooking School, a professional culinary school in San Francisco that also offers the largest program of cooking classes on the West Coast. Prior to SFCS, Tony work in media and technology, starting his career at Microsoft in 1991 before leaving to co-found Cognisoft in 1996, which was later sold to Verity where he served as VP Marketing. Through his company BlueRain, Tony has been an entrepreneur and early stage investor in over 20 digital media start-up companies, including Iris Distribution and Matchmaker.com. His most recent post was Senior Vice President of Digital Programming at Sony Pictures Entertainment where he built Sony’s New Media Studio and launched the digital channel Crackle in 2008. Tony designed and taught a nine-month Integrated Marketing Executive Certificate Program at the University of Washington, and received a BA from Purdue University and MBA from Northwestern University. He currently sits on the Filmmaker Advisory Board for the San Francisco Film Society and the board of directors for Food Runners

Steven Scates, MD

Hematologist, Oncologist

Steven Scates, MD

Hematologist, Oncologist

Steven Scates MS, MD recently retired from his private practice specializing in Hematology/ Oncology. Prior to launching his private practice, Dr. Scates was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA. He has been active in a number of professional societies including: American College of Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society for Hematology and Mensa. Dr. Scates’ various committee appointments have included Director, Cardiopulmonary & Respiratory Therapy Department, Chair, Department of Medicine, Chair, Bioethics Committee, and Chief of Staff among others. He has authored numerous articles and contributed to book chapters and various clinical research studies.

Dr. Scates received his BS degree from the University of California, Davis and his MD from Washington University. He also received his MS in Astronomy from Swinsburne University and maintains an active interest in this field. He currently resides in Gilroy, CA where enjoys time with his 2 sons.

Esther Trepal, RD, MS, CDN

Registered Dietician, God's Love We Deliver

Esther Trepal, RD, MS, CDN

Registered Dietician, God's Love We Deliver

Esther, a Registered Dietitian, has worked as a nutritionist for over 10 years. She is specialized in providing nutrition therapy for people with chronic medical conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses. Using an integrative approach, she treats the whole person, not the disease. She recently retired from God’s Love We Deliver in New York City and now lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Esther earned her Master of Science degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she also completed her dietetic internship.

Carol Schrader

Marketing Consultant

Carol Schrader

Marketing Consultant

Carol is an entrepreneur and marketing executive living in San Francisco with her husband, Eric. Carol currently consults with emerging technology companies after her most recent venture, Givezooks!, was acquired in the fall of 2014. Carol’s career as a marketing executive spans multiple Silicon Valley-based software firms where she led all aspects of corporate, product and industry marketing initiatives for both private and public companies, including multiple successful IPOs. Carol has also served on nonprofit boards and participated in the creation of a new category of online fundraising for small to mid-sized nonprofits with her colleagues at Givezooks!

Carol is originally an Iowa farm girl where Farm to Table was an everyday life event. She has a B.A. in Business from Clarke University, completed course work for a M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Arizona State University and completed the Non-Profit Management mini-MBA through St. Thomas University.

Annabel Vartanian Jeffries

Chairman, CFYL Young Professionals Committee

Annabel Vartanian Jeffries

Chairman, CFYL Young Professionals Committee

Annabel lives in New York City with her husband Andrew. A graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park FL, Annabel has worked for Cartier, Hermes, Kipton Art, and currently works with Gavin McLaughlin Chef services as an event designer.
In addition to being a star volunteer and Chairman of the Young Professionals Committee for CFYL she has been a volunteer or committee member for the New York Harbor School, Operation Smile, and New Yorkers for Children along with many other organizations. An avid cook, she has completed classes at the International Culinary Institute.

Jeffrey T. Pero

Corporate Attorney & General Counsel

Jeffrey T. Pero

Corporate Attorney & General Counsel

Jeff retired from the international law firm of Latham & Watkins in 2009 after practicing law for 38 years, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, public offerings of securities and general corporate counseling. Since his retirement, Jeff has served on the boards of directors of two New York Stock Exchange-listed companies and three non-profit organizations. Jeff is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and New York University School of Law.

Paul Clancy, MBA

Board Member, Diversified Communications

Paul Clancy, MBA

Board Member, Diversified Communications

Paul Clancy is a member of the Diversified Communications' board, a Maine-based global producer of trade events and training conferences. He served Diversified as its Chief Financial Officer for 35 years, playing a key role in its emergence as an international company. He also served for 15 years on the board of Junior Achievement of Maine as Chairman, Treasurer and Fund Raising Chairman. Mr. Clancy is a graduate of Bowdoin College and received his MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College. Mr. Clancy began his career as a CPA working for Ernst & Young in Portland, Maine.

Andy Bolam

Independent IT and Business Consultant

Andy Bolam

Independent IT and Business Consultant

Andy has over 20 years of leadership experience global IT sector. He has helped bring multiple transformational technologies such as: Cloud/Virtualization, eCommerce, and Mobility to market. He worked at leading technology companies including, most recently: TWC, CA and VMware. Prior to joining the IT sector, Andy served 13 years in the UK Medical Laboratory Service in one of the UKs largest cancer treatment centers.

As Julia Childs once said: “Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it”. Andy has always followed that 'policy' and strongly believes in food as ‘medicine’ ! Andy lives on Cape Cod, MA and benefits from really good local seafood.

Noelle C. LeVeaux, CTA

Chief Marketing Officer, Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau

Noelle C. LeVeaux, CTA

Chief Marketing Officer, Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau

Noelle LeVeaux is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (DCVB).

In 2013, Noelle was honored by Skift.com as one of the 50 top travel marketers in the world, in 2014 she was named one of the top minority business leaders in Dallas by the Dallas Business Journal and a finalist for CMO of the Year by the DFW American Marketing Association, and in 2016, she was named to D CEO’s Dallas 500 most powerful business leaders in DFW. Most recently, Noelle led the DCVB’s website redesign, and in July of 2016, it was named one of the top 25 travel websites in the world by skift.com.

Prior to joining the Bureau, Noelle served as senior director and interim vice president of Marketing and
Public Relations for Children’s Medical Center in Dallas where she was responsible for internal communications, brand and clinical marketing, advertising, media relations, events, and digital platforms. One of her last projects at Children’s was co-producing a 13-part television documentary for the hospital.

Noelle launched her professional speaking, teaching and consulting business with a talk entitled Asleep at the Wheel at TEDxSMU in October 2015. She focuses her work on communications and personal branding, weaving her personal and professional experiences into customized talks and materials.

In 2006, Noelle co-founded Dress for Success Dallas,whose
mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women. Noelle has continued her
commitment to her community through board positions with Community Partners of Dallas, Uptown Dallas Inc., McKinney Avenue Trolley Association, North Texas Leadership Council for the American Lung Association and Relay for Life through the American Cancer Society.

Noelle received her bachelors of science in mathematics from Spelman College. She is the mother of 2 girls, Sydney (11) and Jordan (8). In 2010, she published a children’s picture book entitled, I Miss You When I Sleep. In 2014, Noelle was diagnosed with breast cancer and is sharing what that experience has taught her through her blog: Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer.

Vita Merlotti

President, Avalon LLC

Vita Merlotti

President, Avalon LLC

Vita Merlotti brings 30 years experience in the advertising, marketing,media & technology industry to her role leading Avalon LLC, a privately held consultancy. For the past 20 twenty years she has been a 'go-to- executive' for a number of CEOs, CFOs and COOs to ensure the viability and ongoing health of their organizations. Vita is one of the few executive advisors with a proven track record across the full spectrum of business, operations & technology solutions, with significant experience in growth & distressed situations.

Prior to creating Avalon, Vita was the Director of Business Transformation for The Interpublic Group of Companies, a 7.0 + Billion dollar marketing, media , entertainment and communication multi national. Vita has delivered measurable results as an executive, and as consultant, across a diverse set of responsibilities-Director of Business Transformation, Global CIO, Director or Operations, Chief of Staff, Program and Account Director.
Vita is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Wayne University with additional discipline studies at Northwood Institute. She is a member of the Michigan Women's Foundation, The Power of 100 Women, and a Certified Facilitator for the Kaufman Foundation FastTrac Tech Venture series.

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