Our Mission and Goals

Our Mission Is:

To enhance the quality of life for children with cancer and their families by providing financial assistance and compassionate support programs, all while advocating for increased research funds and raising public awareness.

Our Goals Are:

  1. To alleviate the financial burden and emotional strain that comes with the battle against childhood cancer.
  2. To enhance and expand public awareness of childhood cancer.
  3. To promote research to find a cure.
  4. To be proactive in assisting families throughout the treatment journey by connecting them with other national, regional and local resources.

How it All Began


keaton and jarryd The Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation (NNCCF) was formed when Angel Kiss Foundation joined forces and legally merged with Keaton Raphael Memorial (Reno office) in September 2009. Angel Kiss was founded in 2000 in memory of a five-year-old boy named Jarryd who passed away from leukemia. Keaton Raphael Memorial was established in 2004 in memory of a five-year-old boy named Keaton who passed away from neuroblastoma. Despite their losses, these families haven given hope to others battling childhood cancer.  NNCCF seeks to keep this hope alive by supporting the kids that fight so hard.


Lizzie Dalton

  • Position: Grant Specialist

Born and raised in Reno, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Dalton graduated from Galena High School and received her B.S. degree in conservation biology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Before working at NNCCF, Lizzie was the executive director at the Keaton Raphael Memorial. Here she served as a childhood cancer advocate, focusing on family assistance and fundraising for support and research. In 2012, Lizzie was recognized as the University of Nevada’s Outstanding Young Alumnus of the Year for her dedication and efforts in the fight against childhood cancer.

Lizzie lives in Reno with her husband, Patrick, their two children and their dog.  When not working, Lizzie loves skiing, backpacking, road trips, the beach and spending time with friends and family.

As the grant specialist at NNCCF, Lizzie is responsible for conducting the full range of activities required to research, prepare, submit, and manage grant proposals to private and corporate foundations.

Why I started working at NNCCF:

I was ready for something new, something unique and something that would make a positive difference on the lives of local families. I was born in Reno, love this community and want to make it a better place to live.

About me:

When I was a kid, I was pretty sure I was going to be the first female Major League baseball player or Jane Goodall’s protégé.

Ask me about:

Childhood cancer support services, raising twins, backpacking, car camping and info about skiing around Lake Tahoe.

What I think is amazing:

Nature and the human body.

Something quirky about me:

I can list all 50 US states in alphabetical order. Thank you Mr. Mobley my 5th grade teacher!

My role model:

My awesome mom! She is a fun-loving, beautiful and strong woman who has always been there for my family and me. She has taught me the importance of family, friends, independence, adventure, education, helping others and so much more.

My favorite quote:

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

Lisa Shaffer

  • Position: Director of Community Engagement

Lisa studied Communications at San Jose State University.  Immediately after, she worked as a Sales Representative for a large electronics distributor in Silicon Valley.  After four years, Lisa transferred to the Raleigh, NC branch in order to relocate with her husband and family. Lisa lived on the east coast for twelve years both in Raleigh, NC and Windham, NH. Then eight years ago Lisa returned to the west to make Northern Nevada a home for her and her four children.  Lisa came from the east coast as a newly licensed Realtor and worked herself into the Real Estate community finding a lot of success, especially working in relocation services.  However, the down turn in the market then drove her to search for a new passion.  Lisa has found that passion at NNCCF.

At NNCCF, Lisa is responsible for the management and recruitment of corporate and community partners.  While creatively building mutually benefiting partnerships with our many community supporters, Lisa also implements our community awareness and advocacy campaign in our region.

Why I started working at NNCCF:

Unlike most of us, I do not come to the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation with a cancer story. I was working with a recruiter and was told about the position and job description. I was so excited and I thought to myself ‘finally” a place I can hang my hat, so to speak. The rest is history, I often say I came and I saw and I’ve never looked back.

Ask me about:

Whether you are a community partner, a young person looking for direction, one of our clients with special needs or corporate sponsor I have an idea, opportunity or connection that I can bring to the table. I have found that I view my job and career as a garden and if it is constantly tended to and watered and the soil is nurtured and cultivated our NNCCF garden just grows and grows.

What I think is amazing:

I think the outdoors and places like Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon are amazing. The birth of new life is amazing. As I watch my children turn into young adults and wonderful people that give me a warm and wonderful feeling that could be called amazing.

Something quirky about me:

I love loud, cool, up beat music, I love laughing with my children. My son Christopher and I often lose it completely with humor and laughing.

My favorite quotes:

“Just do it.” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Derah Anderson

  • Position: Operations Director

Born and raised in Carson City, Derah graduated from Carson High School and received a B.S in Logistics from the University of Nevada, Reno. Prior to working at NNCCF, Derah worked as a Business Project Analyst for Sun Microsystems, taught preschool, coached youth sports, volunteered for many organizations, and worked at other local non-profits. Derah lives in Reno with her husband, Sam, two young children, and two dogs.

As the Operations Director at NNCCF, Derah works directly with the Executive Director to oversee the development and maintenance of systems and procedures for effective fiscal and operational management.

When not working, Derah loves camping and spending time with family and friends.

Why I started working at NNCCF:

I started working at NNCCF because I truly believe in what this organization does. My heart belongs in the nonprofit world. When I learned this organization helped children, I was sold and wanted to make a difference.

About me:

I love camping, reading, skiing, and spending time with friends and family.

Ask me about:

Questions regarding, “Where does my money go?” I can tell people with 100% confidence what the money is used for. This organization utilizes every penny to help families that are going through the toughest battle anyone could ever imagine.

What I think is amazing:

I think childhood faith is amazing because it can carry them through difficult times. As an adult, we have had time to form strong opinions about everything. As a child, they take what they are told and go with it. They don’t have all of the preconceived notions about how something should be. Believing in something with all of your heart is an amazing thing.

Something quirky about me:

I am claustrophobic and can’t handle elevators if more than one or two people are inside with me.

My role model:

My grandma is my role model. I have never seen her be anything than a loving and caring woman. She has a heart of gold and if I could be half the woman she is, I would be in a good place.

My favorite quote:

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” - Winnie the Pooh

Debbie Strickland

  • Position: Executive Director

Debbie Strickland is the Executive Director at Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation. In her current role, Debbie will develop and manage donor contributions, develop strategic alliances; create a stable business environment; manage community relations, all in an effort to provide advocacy and assistance for local families afflicted with childhood cancer.

Prior to joining Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, Debbie’s experience consisted of Project Management, Administration, Business Development, Sales, Account Management and Customer Service. She holds a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in management and recently received her Master's degree in non-profit leadership. Notable is her 16 years of experience working in the pediatric cancer sector as a Board member and co-founder of a non-profit pediatric cancer organization.

In 2006 the Reno Gazette awarded Debbie with the Citizen of the Year for her outstanding dedication in her efforts to help families in the fight against pediatric cancer. Debbie lives in Reno with her husband; Steve and their two children. When not working, Debbie likes being with friends and family enjoying the great outdoors.

Why I started working at NNCCF:

I saw how awful the fight against cancer was when my friend’s child was diagnosed with cancer and I wanted to help.

About me:

I feed off of peoples’ generous and thoughtful behaviors.

Ask me about:

Any nonprofit questions.

What I think is amazing:
People can overcome and thrive after the most horrific, unimaginable, awful experience.

Something quirky about me:
I like to be silly as well as dance and sing deliberately off-key.

My role model:
All kind and generous people, and people who can be present and joyful even in challenging situations.

My favorite quote:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Nicole Bennett

  • Position: Programs and Services Assistant

Nicole received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from California State University of Chico.  As the Programs and Services Assistant for NNCCF, some of Nicole’s duties include interfacing with families, assisting with programs and services, and managing client information.

Throughout her college career, Nicole enjoyed working in the mountains as a snowboard instructor, pursued her interests in sustainability projects, and spent half a year studying abroad in Costa Rica.

In 1999, Nicole’s younger brother, Sam, was diagnosed with high-risk Neuroblastoma.  This event altered her family’s lives forever, but Nicole is happy to report that her brother is 15 years in remission and counting.  Having close experience with pediatric cancer, Nicole is committed to serving families as they undergo their own journey with childhood cancer.

Why I started working at NNCCF:

I’ve known for a long time now that my career goals in life were to help make the world a better place. When the opportunity presented itself to work for NNCCF, I knew this is where I wanted to be. Having been affected by childhood cancer myself, when my younger brother was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, I feel like I can offer a sense of understanding for what these families are going through. Also, like every person who works for NNCCF, I just want to offer someone hope.

About me:

Adventure defines most of my life. I daydream about the things I can learn and the places I will go next. Nothing excites me more than to push myself to live outside the box and surround myself with good people while doing it. Right now I am really enjoying indoor rock climbing with my friends and exploring different yoga classes. I am so passionate about life and am always living to be the best version of myself I can be.

Ask me about:

Local and non-local resources to help families in need. This includes connecting people to resources for medical supplies, family-care services, transportation, and so much more. For services and supplies we cannot provide, we can direct them where to go in order to attain their needs. I am happy to help any person looking for help in those regards.

What I think is amazing:

I truly find it amazing that across the globe people live such different lives. Depending on which region you are in, the world can look and feel so different. I love that about culture and tradition; I hope that is something that never changes.

Something quirky about me:

I get a real kick out of people doing impressions. I don’t know what it is, I probably find them funnier than they are ever meant to be. I am absolutely terrible at them myself though.

My hero:

There are so many good people in this world. Anyone is a hero of mine if they can protect someone or something from suffering.

My favorite quote:

“It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent.” - Vincent Van Gogh

Lisa May, LSW

  • Position: Director of Programs and Services

Lisa May graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2005 with a Bachelor of Social Work.  For more than a decade, she has served the children and families in our community.  Her work began as a licensed social worker in the child welfare setting at Washoe County Department of Social Services.  Lisa was drawn to the medical cases in child welfare and this interest brought her to both local hospitals, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Renown Health.  She practiced as an emergency room social worker at Saint Mary’s and then as the first social worker at the Children’s Specialty Care clinic at Renown Health.  Lisa particularly enjoyed her work with the pediatric oncology population.  She saw firsthand the need to serve the children and families affected by this devastating disease.

Why I started working at NNCCF:

In my previous position as a social worker, I was able to see firsthand what a profound impact NNCCF had on the pediatric oncology patients and their families.  One of the first things that I would ask the families is whether they were connected to NNCCF.  I knew that the patients would be cared for in a way that every patient with this type of diagnosis and their family deserves.  NNCCF is a shelter and a home for these families who are in the midst of the roughest type of storm.

About me:

I am married to my husband, Shannon.  We have two boys, Tanner and Grayson.  We are pretty active and love camping, traveling, and sports.

Ask me about:

If there are questions about the resources we provide to help the children and families we serve, I can answer those.  If there are questions about the needs of the children and families we serve, I can answer those, as well.  I can also advocate in the interests of the children and families that I come into contact with.

What I think is amazing:

I think that human behavior is amazing.  I love people watching for this reason.

Something quirky about me:

My feet are unusually cold all of the time and always have a purplish tone.  I have to wear socks to bed, as a result.

My Role Model:

My sister Ericka is my role model.  She has grace, dignity, and a huge heart.  She is also a social worker.

My Favorite Quote:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Joan Carpenter

  • Position: Volunteer Extraordinaire

Joan and her twin sister were born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a BA in education with a Major in Physical Education and minor in Art. She continued at UNR earning a MEd in Secondary Education and an MA in Counseling and Guidance. Joan taught a year at Herlong High School in California
and taught 35 years at Procter R. Hug High School, retiring in 2006.

Joan retired from teaching and began volunteering with NNCCF. Though she's technically "not on the payroll" we consider her staff. At NNCCF, Joan inputs all donor transactions into our database, produces donor receipts and thank yous and helps at events when she can. She is a staple to our team and we don't know what we'd do without her!

Why I started volunteering (working) at NNCCF:

After a couple years of retirement I realized I missed having a routine, helping others, and just being in a social atmosphere. I was lucky when a friend of mine suggested I apply to volunteer at NNCCF. Truly, my lucky day. In my eight years, NNCCF has more than doubled in staff and office space. I am the oldest member of the staff but the others make me feel young. What a warm, caring, and generous group I get to be a part of.

About me:

When I'm not at NNCCF you can find me painting with my Botanical Buddies, making snuggle buddies for care packages, or trying to keep up with our grandson. I am a short, little tenacious person. If there is a problem or something is broken I won’t stop until I solve or fix it.
Helping others is rewarding to me.

Ask me about:

What an older person can add or offer to a group of young professionals.

What is amazing to me:

When our children, clients, come to the office almost always smiling, and laughing and my knowing what they have or will be going through in treatment.

Something quirky about me:

I like to vacuum. Yes, it gives me time to exercise, think, and accomplish something all at once.

My role model:

My parents.

My favorite quote:

"A friend is a gift you give yourself." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Desiree Henderson

  • Position: Bookkeeper

Desiree grew up in Reno and left for college in Southern California. She swore she would never return, but after becoming a mommy of two, she is back! The pull of Reno and family couldn’t be resisted. Desiree married a Navy guy and spent three years living in Italy, and a few more years living all over the U.S until she finally settled down back where she started in good ol’ Reno. Desiree has a background in event production from the administrative angle and as a customer associate for a financial advisor.

Desiree is the bookkeeper at NNCCF and is responsible for reporting the financial status to the Board of Directors.

Why I started working at NNCCF:

I love NNCCF! My first introduction was as a family. My daughter was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma and we got to experience the love and support of the people here. There is nothing like it anywhere else and I am so honored to be able to go full circle and help others feel the love.

About me:

I am just a normal kind of girl who loves being outside, as long as I’m wearing buckets of sunscreen. I spend most of my time as a kid wrangler, but will read just about any book I can get my hands on.

Ask me about:

Travelling! I love all things exploring different cities and cultures. I spent a month backpacking through eastern and western Europe, along with many other shorter trips. I have checked over 25 countries off my bucket list.

What I think is amazing:

The resilience of kids and families. I am always floored when I see kids going through cancer, just being kids despite all the hard stuff. Go ahead and use that squirt gun on the Oncology doc!

Something quirky about me:

Just one thing…I am all kinds quirky!


Lindsey Gross

  • Position: Community Outreach Coordinator

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Lindsey moved up-state to attend the University of Nevada, Reno. She graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with an emphasis in advertising. Lindsey worked as a creative concept developer focused on branding, graphic design, and marketing before she joined the NNCCF team. She enjoys painting, reading and keeping her black Labrador Sadie entertained.

As the Community Outreach Coordinator Lindsey wears many hats along with her heart on her sleeve. She is responsible for building and maintaining close relationships with our community, local businesses and volunteers. She is our social media guru and embraces being a millennial.

Why I started working at NNCCF:

I found myself feeling a little pigeon-holed in my first career position after college. I absolutely loved what I was doing, but I wanted room to grow and have a sense of purpose. When I was given the opportunity to join the NNCCF team, I didn’t hesitate. Everyone here is determined to put goodness into the world and include anyone and everyone to help. I’m excited to keep exploring new avenues, meeting new people and building our awesome community.

About me:

It is fairly simple to make me happy, I just need three things: loving company, yummy food and a good time. I enjoy reading, my favorite genre is historical fiction. During football season my boyfriend will be watching the game while I’m curled up with a blanket and a book.

Ask me about:

How to be a part of something bigger than yourself! I would absolutely love to meet you and hear your story. You’d be surprised how much of a difference YOU can make, and I’m here to help make that happen.

What I think is amazing:

It is such a small world. Every day I am blown away with how connected we can be and how large distances can even feel small.

Something quirky about me:

I can hold a conversation with a brick wall – metaphorically speaking. I am very talkative and genuinely believe it’s how I process things. Also, my laugh is borderline witch-cackle.

My Role Model:

My parents. They are loving, caring and imperfect. My parents helped make me the person I am today.

My Favorite Quote:

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

See all Staff Members

Board of Directors

Meet our Board of Directors

Interested in joining the NNCCF Board?
Send us your information

Meet Our Donors

The Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation recognizes the vital and valuable contribution and support from our sponsors and donors who help us ensure no child or their family will walk the childhood cancer journey alone. We rely on the generosity and support of all our partners.
Meet our Help, Hope, Courage Donors
Meet our Hope Society Members
Meet Our In-Kind Donors

Why Kites?

Our website and many other publications of NNCCF include kites somewhere in the design. You may wonder why we chose kites. Kites are a symbol of joy, hope, innocence and imagination. Kites are also a reminder to all that there is life after a child is diagnosed with cancer.

 Annual Report

NNCCF takes pride in their Annual Reports. We want to share our success throughout the year and celebrate the accomplishments we have long been working toward to better serve our families!

2016 Annual Report

NNCCF 2015 990