About OCAZ 2017-09-08T13:53:44+00:00

About OCAZ

The People Behind the Alliance

OCAZ (Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Arizona) was founded in 2008 when Michele Avery and Annette Mattern discovered a shared passion to help women survive ovarian cancer. Michele’s leadership experience with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and Annette’s service with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance created the foundation on which OCAZ has grown. Michele Avery is an Emeritus Board Member of OCAZ.

Annette Leal Mattern
Annette Leal MatternFounder

Annette Leal Mattern is a 23-year survivor of ovarian cancer and a two-year survivor of breast cancer. She retired from US WEST/Qwest as Vice President of Marketing to devote herself to making a difference in women’s cancers. She published a book, Outside the Lines of Love, Life, and Cancer, about coping with cancer and surviving life.

Annette is president of the board of directors of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, where she also Chairs the Marketing & Communications Committee. She is a contributing writer for www.EmpowHer.com, a website known as “powerful women transforming health.” She is a LiveStrong inspirational speaker, sharing her story nationwide to motivate women to live their best life in spite of their diagnosis. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ with her husband Rich.

Joe Casey
Joe CaseyPresident

Joe lost his mother to Ovarian Cancer in 2009. She was diagnosed Stage III after being misdiagnosed several times. She was also a carrier of the BRCA2 genetic mutation, of which Joe has subsequently inherited. Joe, his wife Katie, and their two boys (Aiden and Quinn) live in central Phoenix.

Before becoming a board member in 2009, Joe received his bachelors in Electrical Engineering from ASU, followed by an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He likes to stay active in community, and even created a wiffle ball league! Joe and his family are committed to raising symptom awareness for Ovarian Cancer in the Arizona community, and supporting those patients and survivors during their lifelong battle with this relentless disease.

LeAnne Prenovost
LeAnne PrenovostDNP, MSN-Ed, MBA, CNE, Secretary

LeAnne lost her ‘best friend’, sister Lisa Wilkinson in 2011 after a three year battle with ovarian cancer. “With my sister’s ovarian cancer diagnosis, my life was forever changed. Since that time, I have made it one of my life’s missions to educate women on the importance of yearly well women exams and to spread awareness about ovarian cancer.”

As a member of the OCAZ Board of Directors since 2013 and a doctoral prepared Registered Nurse for 37 years, LeAnne is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Chamberlain College and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Her area of expertise is Women’s and Children’s Health. In 2017, she was awarded the Arizona March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award for the category of Women’s Health. LeAnne is an active presenter for Survivors Teaching Students (STS): Saving Women’s Lives Program ® with the National Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. As an STS presenter, LeAnne strives to educate future healthcare providers about ovarian cancer by sharing stories of diagnosis, treatment and beyond, along with facts about the disease.

Much of LeAnne’s life revolves around supporting women and families affected by ovarian cancer, as well as increasing awareness, facilitating early diagnosis, and supporting research aimed at ovarian cancer. LeAnne’s car is wrapped with a listing of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer on all sides. LeAnne is driving billboard 365 days a year helping to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of this disease. 

LeAnne primary focus at OCAZ is networking with and raising awareness with health care personnel in the state of Arizona and by supporting and administering OCAZ’s “Lisa’s Fund” scholarship, that provides financial assistance for women who are actively fighting ovarian cancer.

Robert (Bob) Aylesworth
Robert (Bob) AylesworthBoard of Directors

Robert (Bob) lost the love of his life, Marian, wife of 43 years to Ovarian Cancer in December 2016. They battled for 5 years although she was diagnosed at stage 4 with the BRCA1 mutation. One month after Marians passing, their daughter was diagnosed with stage 2-3 Breast Cancer. Both of Bob’s parents succumbed to Cancer at age 53, within 10 months of each other. Bob has lived the nightmare of Cancer as a caregiver.  Bob’s passion is communicating the importance of early detection and diagnosis and the importance of Genetic testing. Bob is also dedicated to helping caregivers through the rigors of treatment and what Bob calls the ever-changing “New Normal”.

Bob has an extensive background in Semiconductor and Software sales and marketing. Bob is a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Navy. Bob has four children and six grandchildren who all live nearby and keep him very busy.

Heather Przybyl
Heather PrzybylBoard of Directors

Heather is a 2-year survivor of ovarian cancer.

Heather is a doctoral prepared Registered Nurse for 22 years. Her professional career has primarily been working in the trauma/surgical and medical surgical intensive care units in both Chicago, IL and Phoenix, AZ. Heather has dedicated her life to helping others by working in the healthcare field, and becoming a board member for OCAZ is another example of this.

Heather’s primary focus at OCAZ is networking, support for patients and caregivers, and raising awareness in the healthcare community about ovarian cancer.

Shari Yacuel

Shari Yacuel is originally from New York, and currently lives in Phoenix, AZ.  She returns to New York and Florida to visit her family, and, of course, to shop!

Shari has worked in the healthcare industry for several years.  She currently works for Medicare as a claims specialist, being the point of contact for both beneficiaries and providers.

Shari has a passion and determination for helping others.  After Shari’s own bout with cancer, (she was blessed to have the support of a friend before, during and after her journey), she was fully committed to pay it forward.  She initially became involved with OCAZ in 2009,  an organization near and dear to her heart.  Shari successfully organized and directed Teal Trek, a fundraising walk, to honor the memory of her aunt who succumbed to ovarian cancer.  Shari’s goal is to provide support and education to ovarian cancer survivors, while creating public awareness.

When not working, Shari spends a lot of her time volunteering.  She also loves to cook and bake.