Board & Staff
Desert Cancer Foundation, a California 501(c)(3) corporation, was founded in 1994 to pay for cancer treatment of patients who are under insured, lack insurance or sufficient funds to pay for their medical care. This program is accomplished through the efforts of staff members, a volunteer board of directors, and the generous support of individuals and businesses in the Coachella Valley. Desert Cancer Foundation works with the support of local healthcare professionals, who provide their services to Desert Cancer Foundation clients at a greatly reduced cost. Desert Cancer Foundation serves resident cancer patients of all ages and ethnic groups throughout the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas.
Board of Directors
Robert A. Bernheimer, President
Bernheimer served as a DCF board member and President from 1997 to 2008 and rejoined the board in 2013. He is a public policy expert and attorney with a proven track record of providing game changing strategies to complex issues. Bernheimer was a member of the Indian Wells City Council from 2000 through 2008, serving as Mayor in 2003 and in 2007. He is the founder and president of his own a law firm and also a founder and CEO of CV Strategies, the largest strategic communications and public relations firm in the Inland Empire. Bernheimer is a past board member of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, the Indian Wells/Desert Town Hall Lecture Series, the Palm Springs and Desert Resorts Convention and Visitors Authority, Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert, and the McCallum Theatre, among others. He is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara (B.A., 1989) and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (J.D., with great distinction and Order of the Coif, 1994). He and his family live in Bermuda Dunes.
Julia E. Burt, Vice President
Julia E. Burt attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, earning a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a major in accounting in 1985. While at the University of Wisconsin, Julia was actively involved with Beta Alpha Psi, serving as the first female president of the fraternity. Today, Julia enjoys the rare combination of having both a CPA and a law degree, having earned the latter from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton. Combining her CPA and law degree, Julia’s practice is principally devoted to Probate, Estate and Trust law. Her boutique firm emphasizes a hands on approach, and assists clients with the planning and the subsequent administration for clients. Julia is a member of the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association, the California Society of CPA’s, the American Institute of CPA’s, the Desert Bar Association and serves on the Planned Giving Council for Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. She is past President of the Tahoe Truckee Bar Association. Julia is married to Randall and enjoys traveling, golf, cooking and skiing.
Frank Harrison, Treasurer
Frank Harrison AKA "The General" has been an industry leader in Air Conditioning and Heating industry for over forty years. He started his business career in 1973 in Orange County and has been in the desert since 1993. He has a passion for his company, General Air Conditioning, and his employees, by investing in his employees, Frank has created a strong culture where everyone gets a return on their investment. Employees Win, Customers Win and the Company Wins. We train our employees in personal leadership, sales, and technical skills in order to be "The Best Little Air Conditioning Company in the Coachella Valley."
Teresa Whipple, Secretary
Teresa Whipple is Vice President - Executive Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center. A licensed Certified Public Accountant, she is responsible for management and operation of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and Desert Comprehensive Breast Center. She oversees a staff of more than 135 cancer specialists who provide services for cancer screening, detection, treatment and follow up. Whipple first joined the Cancer Center 15 years ago as Director of Finance. Prior to relocating to Palm Springs, she held positions of increasing responsibility including Chief Financial Officer/Associate Administrator for Oakwood Hospital in Chicago. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Major in Accounting at Western Carolina University in North Carolina. She served in the U.S. Army for four years. She serves on the Board of the American Cancer Society. Among her professional affiliations are: member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Healthcare Financial Managers Association, the Advisory Board Oncology Roundtable, and the Association of Community Cancer Centers. She and her husband, Barry Clayton, reside in Rancho Mirage.
Alison Mayer Sachs, MSW, CSW, LSW, OSW-C, Chair PAC, Member At Large
Alison is Community Outreach and Cancer Support Services, Director at, Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center. As a Director of the Eisenhower Lucy Cancer Center, Ms. Sachs is involved in the development, design, implementation, budget and monitoring of community outreach, patient and family support, education, disease prevention and health promotion programs and supervises social work services. She maintains a presence as a Certified Oncology Social Worker, facilitating 3 disease specific cancer support groups, providing direct patient care and offering patient education on a variety of cancer related topics. Ms. Sachs is a field instructor in the MSW programs at University of Southern California, California State University, San Bernardino and Columbia University in NYC. Professional affiliations include the American Cancer Society Desert Palms Leadership Council, American Cancer Society Board of Directors, CA Division, American Cancer Society, Patient Support Team Chair, and sits on the National Boards of the Lung Cancer Alliance and ZERO,The End of Prostate Cancer. She is the current President of the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) and a member of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). Recognized as a leader in her field of Oncology, she was among the first group of MSW’s (Master of Social Work) to receive Board Certification in Oncology Social Work.
Elber Camacho, M.D.
Dr. Camacho is the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center . He has over 20 years' experience as a medical oncologist and hematologist. He was recruited to the Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1995 from Loma Linda (CA) University, where he earned his medical degree and was on the teaching staff. Dr. Camacho also was a fellow in Hematology and Immunology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York . He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology and Hematology. He specializes in general hematology and malignant hematology with emphasis on leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. In addition to his duties as medical director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Camacho serves as medical director of the Hospice Program at Desert Regional Medical Center . He also serves on the board of the American Cancer Society. He and his wife, Ludim, have three children. They reside in Palm Springs.
Stephen A. Christian
Stephen Christian is the Vice President at Union Bank Private Banking in Rancho Mirage. He was born and raised in Bozeman, Montana. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Arizona State University. Christian subsequently graduated from the Colorado School of Banking. A desert resident for 26 years, he has been very active in community and charitable organizations. Currently he is a Trustee for the Family YMCA of the Desert, member of the local chapter of American Cancer Society, on the board of directors for the Children's Discovery Museum, and a board member of the National Junior Tennis League. Christian is a 27-year cancer survivor. Both of his parents are also cancer survivors.
Stephanie Farrell, MBA, BSN, RN, CCRC, CPHQ is the Director of Research Administration at Eisenhower Medical Center. Stephanie joined Eisenhower in 2002. She has a background in cancer research, healthcare quality improvement, risk management, and clinical informatics. She is dedicated to improving the lives of patients through clinical excellence, education and research.
Stephanie is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society, Association of Clinical Research Professionals and the National Association of Healthcare Quality and holds professional certification in the latter two.
She serves on the following: Medical Advisory Board of Gilda’s Club; Steering Committee of the Health Assessment Resource Center (HARC); Institutional Review Board, Cancer Committee and Evidence Based Practice and Nursing Research Council at Eisenhower Medical Center.
Stephanie has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration as well as a bachelor’s of science in nursing from the California State University at San Bernardino. She is married with two energetic young children and a 3 year old rescue lab with whom she enjoys hiking, camping and rock scrambling. They reside in Palm Desert.
Richard Fausel, D.O.
Dr. Fausel is director of The Osteoporosis Center in Rancho Mirage. He has served as Medical Director of the Clinical Laboratory, Infusion and Apheresis Services and Osteoporosis Center of The Cancer and Blood Institute. He is a graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed residency in Pathology at Harbor- UCLA Medical Center. He is board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and Family Medicine. He has lived in the desert more than 30 years and loves outdoor recreation, especially bicycling. He and his wife, Rosemary, enjoy a daughter, Cassie.
Joyce Fought is a proud member of The Palm Springs Cruisin' Association, a local car club and the largest third party contributor to The Desert Cancer Foundation by hosting The Dr. Sebastian George Charity Car Show. Joyce was instrumental in organizing the car show in 2002 and has been involved each year since. Joyce is a full time resident of Palm Springs and works as a Realtor.
Joyce's spare time is spent loving her 3 children, 5 grandchildren and dozens of foster children and grandchildren.
Sonja Fung, ND
Dr. Sonja Fung is a primary care naturopathic doctor (ND) and co-founder/COO of Live Well Clinic in La Quinta. She received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon and her BS in Psychology/Biology from UCLA. Dr. Fung has been practicing in the valley since 2008 with a focus on integrative cancer therapies, regenerative injections (prolotherapy/PRP) for joint pain, IV nutrient support, bio-identical hormone balancing, and nutritional detox/cleanse programs. Dr. Fung gained interest in adjunctive natural cancer care through her experience of watching the grandmother who helped raise her, pass away from colon cancer. She trained under practitioners from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and at the Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital, utilizing conventional as well as naturopathic cancer care. She is a member of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians and Society of Integrative Oncology.
Dr. Fung has written extensively in the La Quinta Gem and Desert Health News, and has lectured at Gilda’s Club, Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center, and Holistic Nurses Association, among many others. Dr. Fung was recognized in Suzanne Somer’s book, Knockout, for her integrative cancer practice and was a recipient of the 56th Assembly District’s “Breaking the Glass Ceiling- Business Women of the Year” award in 2013. Being an advocate for professional development of young women in the community, Dr. Fung joined Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley in 2009 and has been actively involved in WLF's Young Women Leaders Mentoring Program and as the past Treasurer of the Board of Directors.
Amir Lavaf, MD
Dr. Amir Lavaf joined the Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2013, from New York Methodist Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where he was Chief Resident, Radiation Oncology. His training in New York also involved working in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Lavaf received Advanced Brachytherapy training at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston as well as the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in Cutting-edge Stereotactic Radiotherapy technics with Cyberknife, TrueBeam and GammaKnife at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Lavaf completed his internship at State University of New York Downstate, and post-doctoral research fellowship at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He earned his Medical Degree cum laude from St. Georges University School of Medicine.
Amy Law, M.D.
Dr. Amy Law is partner at Desert Hematology Oncology Medical Group in Rancho Mirage. She is current Director of Cancer Center Committee at Eisenhower Medical Center.
She is an active member of Amercian Society of Clinical Oncology.
She is founder of Asian American Cancer Coalition, Boston, established in 2000. She served as Board of Director on National Asian Women Health Organization, Board of Director on American Cancer Society, Boston and Pennsylvania Division. She has also served on Advisory Board for several pharmaceutical companies. She has received multiple honors and awards, including Best Doctors in Palm Springs Life Magazine. She was invited to National Registry of Who’s Who in America in 2000.
Dr. Law has been primary author and co-authored numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals. She has addressed countless invited lectures and addresses since 1999.
Dr. Law graduated from Wellesley College and received her medical degree from Tufts School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency and Hematology-Oncology fellowships at Tufts Medical Center. She resides in Rancho Mirage.
Deborah McGarrey, the Public Affairs Manager for Southern California Gas Company ( SoCalGas), is responsible for all external public affairs as it relates to Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) in the Coachella Valley and Imperial County. Her main responsibility is to act as a liaison between SoCalGas and municipalities they serve in the community. Prior to her position with SoCalGas, Deborah work for Waste Management for 15 years in the Coachella Valley and Orange County. Some of her community involvement includes serving on the Boards of Desert Valley Builders Association, Imperial County Economic Partnership, and FIND Food Bank. She was the recipient of the 2004 Athena Award from the City of Palm Desert.
Eric R. Presser MD
Dr. Eric Presser earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Gerontology from the University of Florida in Gainesville, and his medical degree with honors from the Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica, West Indies. He continued his training with a Surgical Internship and Residency at St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center in New York, New York, where he was appointed Chief Resident. Dr. Presser then went on to complete two comprehensive Cardiothoracic Surgical Residencies. The first of these was conducted at Louisiana State University Health Science and Medical Center in New Orleans, and the second at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, Dr. Presser has been in practice as an Attending Thoracic Surgeon with Premier Surgical Associates since May 2012. Prior to that, he had been residing in New York, and employed as a Thoracic Surgeon in both a private practice setting and with the North Shore LIJ Health System.
Mark Scheibach is the General Manager of the private Quarry at La Quinta Golf Club in La Quinta, CA. The Quarry at La Quinta is rated in Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses in the United States. Prior to joining The Quarry, he served as General Manager/COO at the private Avondale Golf Club in Palm Desert, CA. In addition, Scheibach, served as Senior Vice President of Kitson & Partners, a national recognized management company. In this position, he had complete operational and P&L responsibility for all resort and private facilities in the Pacific Region; including California, Hawaii & Arizona. Mark also provided oversight on the redevelopment of the Prince Course and the Makai Golf Club at the Princeville Resort along with the re-launching of the Mauna Kea Resort. Mark began his career with the PGA of America and then transitioned to the Club Managers Association of America and has donated countless hours to various junior golf programs and “Grow the Game” initiatives in CA, HI, and in his native Wisconsin. A former two-time Big Ten Champion as a member of the University of Wisconsin golf team, Mark competed in PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, and Canadian Tour events while winning 30+ mini-tour events nationwide before entering the business side of the business. Mark and his wife, Laura, reside in La Quinta.
Richard has 20 years of residential mortgage origination experience and 13 years as an independent mortgage consulting, along with 7 years in the corporate banking industry. He is well versed in all program types for single family 1-4 unit properties, such as primary, secondary and investment properties. He has been the President of the Palm Desert Youth Sports Association for the past 8 years, which governs the youth baseball and softball programs in Palm Desert. He is the Past Vice President of the Professional Business alliance. He has been married to his wife Elyssa Weintraub for 19 years, she is the owner of BG's El Paseo. And is the proud father of Eliot and Izak.
Bill Youngblood is president and principal broker of William Youngblood Insurance Agency in Rancho Mirage. He is an insurance professional with over 26 years in the industry. Bill is one of the founding members and past president of the Desert Cities Association of Health Underwriters. He has also served as a board member on the State of California Association of Health Underwriters. In 2011 he was asked by the California Insurance Commissioner to join the Department of Insurance Curriculum Board where he assisted in the development of course training materials for new and existing agents . Today, Bill’s main focus of his agency is in educating his clients about the different types of insurance available. By doing this, his clients are able to purchase a product that will be best for them and their family. He specializes in individual and group medical, Medicare supplements, life and long term care insurance. Bill has one daughter Laura Wilson-Youngblood who is an attorney in Manhattan. He makes his home in Rancho Mirage along with his wife Mary Wilson.
Paula Simonds, Executive Director
Brenda Eisenacher, Controller
Nit Perry, Patient Coordinator
Bianca Valencia, Administrative Assistant
Sebastian George, M.D.
A prominent Coachella Valley oncologist and founder of the Cancer & Blood Institute of Rancho Mirage, Dr. George passed away in 2002.
Arthur and Cory Teichner
Art, a two time cancer survivor, and his wife, Cory, raised monies to provide more than $10 million of cancer treatment through the Desert Cancer Foundation. Art passed away during his third battle with cancer in 2005. Cory passed away shortly thereafter of heart failure.