Interim President & CEO Denise Alper
Denise joined the Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee team in June 2019; she brings more than 25 years of leadership experience in consulting and project management in both the non-profit and healthcare spaces. Most recently, Denise served Alive Hospice, where she co-created and founded The Gift Initiative, a collaborative, educational endeavor focused on end-of-life care that was recognized with a $100,000 Humana Community Benefits grant. She has also served The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, The Women’s Fund, Compass Executives, St. Thomas Hospital, and HCA. Denise holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida and a master's degree in hospital and health administration from Georgia State University. In her free time, she tutors and teaches English through the Adult Literacy Council, Enter-View Mentoring and Conexion Americas.
Program Director Felice Apolinsky, LCSW
Felice is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, who has called Nashville home since 1985. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at Austin. Felice has practiced clinical social work in many settings, including Monroe Harding Children’s Home, Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, Family and Children’s Service and, for the past 20 years, has been the Program Director of Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee.
Program Manager Deanna Candeloro, LPC-MHSP(t)
Deanna holds a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University’s Human Development Counseling program, which brought her to Tennessee from Delaware, where she was born and raised. Deanna took an unconventional path to becoming a mental health professional, earning her bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising, and spending five years in the music business before heading south to pursue counseling. She completed her year-long internship at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and prior to joining Gilda’s Club, worked as a school-based therapist. Deanna continues to enjoy fashion and music, and she can often be found at a concert or record store when she is not working.
Program Manager & AYA Specialist Megan Ingram Forshey, LCSW
Megan began working with Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee in 2003 as an undergraduate intern and soon after discovered a passion for working with adolescents and young adults (AYAs) impacted by cancer. After completing her degree, she made the decision to continue her education and pursue a master’s degree in social work at the University of Tennessee with the intent to continue working at Gilda's Club. As hard as they tried and much to her delight, GCMTN could not get rid of her and officially hired her as a member of the program staff in 2007. Megan’s clinical work continues to focus on teen and young adult programming, but also includes work with children and adults of all ages.
Program Manager & Cancer Resource Specialist Liz Geller, M.Ed, NCC
Liz is a native of Boston and joined the Gilda's Club Middle Tennessee team in January 2018, after having served the organization as a clinical health intern for two years. Liz holds a master's degree in human development counseling from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from George Washington University. In her free time, Liz enjoys hiking, cooking, listening to live music, and hanging out with her husband and two “kitty kids.” Her life goal is to see and understand as much of the world as possible, a goal inspired by time she spent teaching in Laos before starting graduate school.
Program Manager & Volunteer Coordinator Allison Yonker, LMSW
Allison is a native Nashvillian and holds both a master's and bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Tennessee. She was introduced to Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee when she was a graduate student intern. Hired as a program manager in 2002, her current position involves clinical work with groups and individuals, as well as volunteer management. In her free time, Allison enjoys spending time with her family and traveling to the beach as much as possible.
Certified Health and Nutrition Coach Danielle Gilbert
Danielle first became involved with Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee in the late 2000s, when a good friend invited her to run a half-marathon to benefit our free cancer support program. Danielle said “yes,” and she has been a part of our community ever since. Today, Danielle is best known as Gilda’s Club’s trusted health and nutrition coach. She also leads our twice-yearly What Feeds You series and our What Feeds You Alumni Group. Danielle holds certifications from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The Estuary's School of Healing Arts.
Children's Wellness Consultant and Parent Coach Leslie Welch, MS, CCLS
Leslie is a Nashville native and received her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University. After graduation, she moved to New York City, where she later received her Master of Science degree in child life from Bank Street College of Education. Leslie began her child life career at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center - William Randolph Hearst Burn Center. In the years that followed, Leslie accomplished many things: operating a one-person child life program in Cape Town, South Africa; joining the team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; opening a private child life practice concentrating on the psychosocial needs of siblings of children challenged by chronic conditions; and working at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Director of Marketing, Communications & Events Laura Alabed-Olsson
Laura spent most of her childhood in Louisiana, but has called Nashville home since 2000. A graduate of the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, she joined Gilda's Club Middle Tennessee in April 2018 after having spent a decade in healthcare and healthcare technology and, prior to that, nearly five years with the Nashville Symphony. When she's not busy helping Gilda's Club build awareness of its free cancer support program, Laura can be found cheering on the Nashville Predators, kayaking one of Middle Tennessee's beautiful rivers, volunteering for Tennessee Youth Symphony or The Village Nashville, or hanging out with her husband and kids.
Director of Development Hayley Levy
Originally from Syracuse, New York, Hayley grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis. After relocating to Tennessee in 2015, she now calls Nashville home. With experience directing endowment and capital campaigns, conducting feasibility studies, volunteer management, major gift solicitation, planned gift cultivation and stewardship, and working with a range of non-profits, she joined the Gilda’s Club team in 2017. Hayley actively volunteers with the Washington University Alumni Association, Jewish Federation, Hadassah of Nashville, and Foundation Fighting Blindness. In her free time, she enjoys traveling to new places, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Development Coordinator Lauren Srodka
Nashville native Lauren Srodka joined the team at Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee in February 2019. She brings to our organization three years of nonprofit experience and 12 years of fundraising / event planning experience. Among the organizations with which she’s worked: Susan G Komen Foundation, CMA Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, and Broken Bow Records. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in education and grant certification from the Center for Nonprofit Management in Nashville. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, taking in a concert, and spending time with her family.
Director of Finance & Administration Michele Rahmani
Michele has called Nashville home for more than 30 years. She came to Music City from California, where she studied music at San Francisco University. Before joining the Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee team in 2015, Michele worked as a production coordinator in the music industry, where she became a bit of a “jack of all trades” - learning everything from accounting to album cover design. A wife and mother of four, Michele enjoys cooking ethnic foods (Korean is her favorite!), reading, sailing, traveling, and playing the drums.
Manager, Member Relations & Facilities, Elaine Dorris
Elaine is a native Nashvillian. She received her undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University and her MBA from Belmont University. After an 18-year career as the Director of Aquatics for the Maryland Farms Racquet and Country Club, Elaine happily joined the team at Gilda's Club Middle Tennessee. She has been with Gilda's Club for nearly 20 years.
Front Desk and Member Relations, Nashville, Betty de Felice
Betty is a native New Yorker who has called Middle Tennessee home since 1995. Previously a foreign exchange broker on Wall Street and an administrator in the correctional healthcare system, Betty has been a fixture at Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee for more than a decade. She first became involved as a member, when a sibling was diagnosed with cancer, and later began working part-time in the Nashville Clubhouse - initially helping with Gilda’s Gang and member donations. Betty has been married for 45 years and enjoys traveling in her free time.
Front Desk and Member Relations, Nashville, Amanda Holton
If you visit the Gilda's Club Nashville clubhouse in the evenings, chances are you'll recognize Amanda, who, two nights each week, greets members as they come through our doors. A member of our front desk and member relations team, Amanda is a graduate of Trevecca Nazarene University with a bachelor's degree in social justice / non-profit organization leadership. During the day, Amanda serves the State of Tennessee at TennCare as a Managed Care Specialist III. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and visiting her hometown - Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Front Desk and Member Relations, Nashville, Jennifer Wilkins
Jennifer joined Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee in 2018 and is a part of the team that oversees the front desk and member relations at our Nashville Clubhouse. Originally from Ohio, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Columbus College of Art and Design, then lived in the Washington DC area, and has called Nashville home since 1994. Previously, Jennifer spent more than 12 years with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she developed and managed medical education and cancer research programs. In addition to being a skilled business professional and fundraising and awareness volunteer, Jennifer is a talented artist and a champion of the power of expressive arts.
Front Desk and Member Relations, Williamson County, Lorraine Yeomans
Lorraine oversees the front desk and member relations at our new Williamson County location. She may look familiar, as she’s worked the front desk in the Nashville Clubhouse for the last two years. A graduate of the Florida State University College of Law, Lorraine spent many years working in government relations. She and her family, including three children, moved from South Florida to Franklin in 2005. In addition to the wonderful work she does for Gilda’s Club, Lorraine is an attorney editor for a legal publications company, and a school and community volunteer.