Board of Directors

Rachel Beller M.S., R.D.

President and Founder of Beller Nutritional Institute, LLC.

Ms. Beller graduated with honors while obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from University of California, Los Angeles in 1992. After matriculating from UCLA, she earned her Registered Dietitian degree at the California State University, Los Angeles School of Nutrition in 1998 where she also received a Masters of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences.

Ms. Beller completed a post-degree internship and worked on both clinical and research dietetics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In 1997, Beller was appointed director of Nutritional Oncology Research and Counseling at the prestigious John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, CA. As a result, Rachel gleaned vast, decade long experience in research and nutrition and became well versed in applying clinical research knowledge to the patient setting. In addition to her responsibilities as an advocate for advancement of nutrition in oncology care and frequent community lecturer on breast cancer and melanoma, Beller was a co-principal investigator in the national Women¹s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS).

Following her directorship at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, Beller specializes in nutritional oncology, wellness and disease prevention, weight management, cardiovascular health and diabetes. At the request of a number of local hospitals and national organizations, she discusses the various types of nutritional supplementation, alternative therapies, and current studies and their role in the face of cancer. Beller is a member of: American Cancer Society¹s Nutrition and Physical Activity Board and Los Angeles Coastal Cities Leadership Council; American Institute for Cancer Research; and American Dietetic Association. Rachel currently resides on the professional advisory boards for the American Cancer Society and The Wellness Community.

Lawrence M. Brenner

Partner with Comstock, Thompson, Kontz, and Brenner, a law firm in Santa Cruz, California.

Mr. Brenner is a past-president of the Santa Cruz County Bar Association, past president and Board Member of the Santa Cruz Boys and Girls Club, Board Member of the Santa Cruz Symphony and Board Member of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. He is also on the Board of the Santa Cruz Fallen Officer Foundation. He practices corporate law and estate planning, with a special interest in nonprofit corporations.

Deborah Hisle

Ms. Hisle has worked within the pharmaceutical research industry for the past 10 years. She has been involved in nonprofit organizations throughout Kansas City, and has 9 years of experience in working with Back in the Swing, since its inception as a Jazzercise fundraiser in 2000.

Carol F. LaRue

Licensed occupational therapist and certified Nia Technique instructor

Ms. LaRue brings over 30 years of experience in traditional and complimentary healthcare approaches, mind/body wellness, and healing through movement. As the proprietary owner of LifeCentrics, she created The Art of Self-Health, a teaching model for everyday well-being which she shares extensively through workshops, retreats and individual coaching for individuals, businesses and cancer support organizations. Carol is a vibrant and energetic breast cancer survivor who embraces a holistic approach to living well everyday. She has a passion for introducing others to their “inner healer” of body, mind, spirit and emotions through simple, everyday practices such as meditation, movement, writing, breathing and connecting with others.

Laura McKnight

President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation (GKCCF)

Vicki Meek, MS, RN, CNE

Assistant Professor of Nursing at William Jewell College, and is interim director of the Department of Nursing at William Jewell.

Professor Meek earned a BSN from Northern Illinois University and a MS from the University of Kansas in mental health nursing. She has a certification in nursing education.

Marty H. Thomas, M.D.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association Central Association of Obstetricians/Gynecologists, the Metropolitan Medical Society, and the Missouri Medical Association.

Dr. Thomas’ quest to always seeking the best outcome for her patients began in college, where she discovered she loved science, math and people, graduating with a nursing degree in 1974. Working in an open heart intensive care unit, she came in contact with several physicians who encouraged her to go to medical school. Once there, it did not take long for Dr. Thomas to recognize that women’s health was going to be her focus of study. As one of three women in her residency, Dr. Thomas made her mark by securing the position of administrative chief resident of obstetrics/gynecology at Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
During her years in practice, Dr. Thomas has developed a special interest in subjects such as optimizing women’s health in general and menopause. Her goal is to take the best of everything available from all disciplines and sources to create an individual treatment program for each patient; she wants to motivate women at every step along the way to take charge of their own lives and make decisions that will enhance their satisfaction with life.

Gerald M. White

Member of Grubb & Ellis|The Winbury Group | Senior Advisor Retail Services Group and Chairman Emeritus of The International Council of Shopping Centers Foundation.

Mr. White joined Grubb & Ellis|The Winbury Group in 2007. His primary focus since 1976 has been in leasing, developing and managing retail properties. His experience ranges from Kansas to Long Island, New York, from strip centers to mega-regional malls. Since 2007, he has been active as a consultant and broker to private equity interests. In addition, he is Chairman Emeritus of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), Chairman of the ICSC Foundation and a Judge for the ICSC’s International Design and Development Awards. He is also a board member of Hillcrest Bank.

Barbara Unell

Founder of Back in the Swing

Ms. Unell brings to the organization her 30 years as a publisher, business owner, author, speaker, educator and philanthropic/social entrepreneur. She got back in the swing herself, after her diagnosis of, and treatment for, breast cancer in 1998. She created Back in the Swing originally in 2000 as a fundraiser for breast cancer survivorship programs, services and research.

Robert Unell

Mr. Unell brings over 30 years as a publisher, marketing executive, business owner and entrepreneur to Back in the Swing USA. As the spouse of Barbara Unell, Robert has been involved in Back in the Swing since its inception.