West Cancer Foundation Staff

Leighanne Soden

Executive Director

Leighanne came to West Cancer Center in 2012 to launch a philanthropic program. Prior to West, she was with the American Cancer Society. While with the ACS, she successfully directed a $9m capital campaign to build the Harrahs’ Hope Lodge in Memphis.

While working for the ACS, she met Dr. Lee Schwartzberg and saw first-hand the incredible work being done for adult cancer patients in Memphis. The rest is somewhat historical and the result is the West Cancer Foundation.

Losing her father to cancer in 2018 made the fight against and the drive to raise funds for cancer research and support a personal mission for Leighanne.

She earned her BA in Communications at The University of Alabama-Huntsville and MA in Communications from The University of Arkansas. She is a former President of Rotary Club of Memphis East, a Paul Harris Fellow and received an award from the American Cancer Society for the largest single gift for the Memphis area.

She is married to Jack Soden and resides in Germantown.

Keri Burnette

Manager, Operations & Donor Relations

Keri Burnette is the manager of operations and donor relations for West Cancer Foundation. In addition to handling day-to-day operations and working with donors, Keri also works with the Ride 2 Rosemary team of riders to assist with their fundraising efforts as well as other DIY fundraising events.​

Keri is originally from Minnesota but has made Memphis her home. Graduates of the University of Memphis, she and her husband Michael are long-time season ticket holders for Tiger football. As a breast cancer survivor, Keri is very passionate about the work we do here at West Cancer Foundation knowing what a difference it can make in one’s life.

Jennifer Strain

Manager, Special Initiatives

Jennifer Strain is Manager of Special Initiatives at West Cancer Foundation. Her primary fundraising focus is West Fight On, West Cancer Foundation Gala, and employee giving.

Jennifer is a Memphis native and earned an undergraduate degree in Social Work at University of Memphis and a Master of Business Administration at University of Phoenix Denver, Colorado campus. She is currently pursuing a certification in Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and is especially interested in the study of resilience and the cancer patient.

Jennifer has extensive nonprofit experience, working at Catholic Charities’ Refugee Services, Ecumenical Refugee Services, and as Development Officer at Campbell Clinic Foundation for 19 years prior to joining West.  She currently serves as the Association of Fundraising Professionals Memphis Chapter Past- President and she earned the Certified Fundraising Executive designation in March 2017.

As a grateful patient of West Cancer Center, she aspires to use her cancer experience to instill hope in others and inspire the community to join West in the fight against cancer.

Gracie Griesbeck

Development and Program Specialist

Gracie is the Development and Program Specialist at West Cancer Foundation. She interned for West Cancer Foundation during her spring semester and began her love for non-profit organizations!

She was born and raised in Memphis and attended the University of Memphis, graduating in May 2022.  She majored in Healthcare Leadership and minored in Healthcare and Society. Gracie is a big Memphis Tigers and Grizzlies fan and enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and her yellow labs, Pickles, and Sandy.

Ariel Maclin

Executive Administrative Assistant

Ariel Maclin is the Executive Administrative Assistant at West Cancer Foundation. Along with providing administrative assistance, Ariel will also manage our Lymphedema Assistance Program and Post-Mastectomy Assistance Program.

Ariel is a Memphis Native and earned an undergraduate degree in Health Studies with a concentration in Health Sciences from the University of Memphis. During her last semester of college, Spring of 2021, she interned for West Cancer Foundation where her passion for healthcare In underserved communities grew.

While interning for West Cancer Foundation, Ariel contributed towards the launch of the Wig Boutique, Social Media Marketing and Engagement, in-kind donations for our annual West Fight On event, and other grants that were beneficial to our foundation and its’ mission. In her free time, Ariel likes to journal and spend time with her loved ones.

Rachel Brown

Manager of Community Engagement and Outreach

Rachel Brown is the Manager of Community Engagement and Outreach at West Cancer Foundation. Her primary focus is driving our breast screening program to increase the number of women we serve.

Rachel brings over 7 years of experience in direct community outreach and programming, most recently working with Shelby County Health Department COVID Response Unit where one of her many responsibilities was serving as a liaison between the health department and our Hispanic Community.  She also has experience with Le Bonheur Community Outreach where she counseled young adults in the African American and Hispanic Communities about HIV and sexual health.

Rachel received her B.S. in Health Education/Social Work from Middle Tennessee State University. She enjoys traveling, trying out the latest restaurants, along with spending time with family and friends. 

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