Our Team

Kathleen Maxian, BSW
President & Founder

Kathleen Maxian brings a passionate and personal perspective to her role as President and Founder of the Ovarian Cancer Project (OCP). After being diagnosed with the disease in 2009, Maxian learned that a simple genetic test could have predicted the likelihood of her cancer.

Because of the inherited BRCA 1 gene mutation, Maxian was pre-disposed to breast and ovarian cancer that, in fact, could have been detected through comprehensive genetic testing and prevented with prophylactic surgeries. Those genetic tests are now readily available to American women thanks to a 2013 US Supreme Court decision that declared it illegal for any biotechnology company to hold a patent on a gene, which up until then had been the situation. Ellen Matloff, a Yale Professor and Director of its Genetic Counseling Center said Maxian played a role in that groundbreaking decision. “She was able to show how gene patents affect real people, she was very courageous and generous with her story.” This landmark case that will potentially impact millions of women and save lives.

Ovarian cancer is a killer. Approximately 22,000 women are diagnosed every year and 15,000 will die from the disease. There have been no significant advances in diagnostic tools or treatment in the last four decades. Because of this, it is often diagnosed in advanced stages and called “a silent killer.” But there are symptoms and the Ovarian Cancer Project was founded in 2012 with a mission to provide education on those symptoms and risks as well as provide supportive services for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Member: Patient Advisory Committee of the RPCI & University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s Ovarian Cancer SPORE Program.
Member: Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Patient and Family Advisory Board
Member: Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Gynecological Cancer Disease Site Research Group Member: Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Internal Review Board
Member: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance Advocate Leaders
Member: Niagara County Health Dept. HPV Coalition
2014-2016 Member: National Cancer Institute Gynecological Steering Committee
2014-2016 Member: National Cancer Institute Patient Advocate Steering Committee (Sub-Committees: Orientation, 2016 Face 2 Face Meeting & Concept Review)

2013 Recipient of the Cindy Melacon Spirit Award by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance 2013 Keynote Speaker: Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance Survivor Luncheon – Denver 2014-2017 Guest Lecturer D’Youville College School of Pharmacy
2014 Recipient of the Women Who Move the City Award by Big Brother’s Big Sister’s Foundation 2016 Keynote Speaker: Hope for Heather Ovarian Cancer Foundation – Luncheon – Syracuse
2016 Grand Rounds Speaker Roswell Park Cancer Institute “Your Genes Have Been Freed, A Patient Advocates Perspective”
2016: Recipient of the Carolyn Pultz Brown Leadership Award / 2016 Advocate Leader

2014 Conquer Cancer Scholarship – American Society of Clinical Oncologists – Chicago 2014 Graduate of National Breast Cancer Coalitions Project Lead® Workshop
2015 CME Certificate: Optimizing BRCA-Related Ovarian Cancer Treatment Progress Toward Personalized Therapy – Chicago
2015 Graduate National Breast Cancer Coalition Project Lead® Institute

Kathy Kurtz, LCSW-R

Support Group Facilitator
Program Coordinator – Woman to Woman Mentoring

Kathy Kurtz, LCSW-R is a licensed social worker who returned to Western New York in 2004 after living in Massachusetts for 15 years. She grew up in Gowanda, attended college in Schenectady NY, and received her MSW from Boston College. Her background includes medical social work (HIV/AIDS, cancer, dialysis), individual mental health counseling, and working with children. She has been with the Ovarian Cancer Project since 2014 as Support Group Co-Facilitator and was named Program Coordinator for the Project’s Woman to Woman Mentoring Grant in 2017.  She continues to learn from, and be inspired by, this amazing group of women and hopes that all women and families touched by gynecologic cancer can find support and connection through the Ovarian Cancer Project.