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Advisory Board

The RJCH Advisory Board is comprised of professionals with decades of experience treating children with life-threatening health conditions. This includes nurse practitioners, pediatric specialist physicians, parents, licensed social workers, Blue Valley school teachers, music and play therapists and business leaders.

Goldie Benz, RN, DNP, FNP-BC, CDE, CPN

Goldie has been a family nurse practitioner in Hematology-Oncology since 2009 at which time she began to work with RJCH. Goldie’s education includes a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Iowa, and master’s degree in family nurse practitioner and nursing doctorate degree, both from the University of Kansas.  She is a collaborative team member managing patients with bleeding and thrombosis disorders and vascular anomalies. Her accolades as an APRN include research investigator, pediatric manager of the APRN-Led Anticoagulation Clinic, chairperson Annual Advanced Practice Nursing Conference, member APRN Advisory Council, scientist member of the Internal Review Board, hospital liaison to the SPS HAC-VTE Pediatric Safety Program, preceptor graduate-level nursing students and newly-hired APRNs, Chairperson APRN Mentoring Program and member of Advanced Practice Review Council for APRN clinical advancement. Her licenses include Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Certified Pediatric Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and Kansas and Missouri State Board of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Licensure. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Association for Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses writing professional manuscripts for patient education. She has been a principal investigator for multiple research projects and leads in quality improvement initiatives to enhance pediatric care outcomes. Goldie just completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice, an alternative to the research-focused doctoral degree.

Jignesh Dalal, MD

Dr. Dalal is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist with the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Program at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. When the concept of a children’s immune daycare was first discussed, Dr. Dalal not only believed it could be done, but he believed it should be done. From the beginning, he was a force that encouraged us to continue for the children of Kansas City and beyond. He served as associate division director, Section of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation, in Kansas City, Missouri from 2011 to 2015 and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation director from 2008 to 2015, where he pioneered various transplant techniques. He received his medical degree and completed a pediatric residency at State University of Gujarat, India, and a pediatric hematology/oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant residency at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Dr. Dalal has been active in research with many published articles. He has served on many hospital committees and professional societies in the Kansas City region. A few honors and awards include Best Teaching Attending for Fellows and Best Doctor, Kansas City.

Rubie Forde

Rubie is a marketing and communications professional with experience in the food, hospitality, entertainment and advertising industries. She has a bachelor's of business administration with a focus on marketing and marketing management from Loyola University in Chicago. 

Kathy Hopfinger

Kathy is a mother who raised six children. She has been a childhood cancer mom/caregiver/advocate over the past 18 years to son Joe, who is a survivor! Kathy has served as a volunteer for the Parent-to-Parent, Peer-to-Peer Program at Children’s Mercy Cancer Center for 16 years.

Melissa R. Jefferson, MD

Dr. Jefferson is an assistant professor of Pediatrics for University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. She is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric hematologist and oncologist and practices at Children's Mercy Kansas City. Dr. Jefferson received her medical degree form Michigan State University and completed a pediatric residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center. She completed her fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Cincinnati Children's. 

Christopher Paul Jones, ITLL

Chris has been an IT director in healthcare for over nine years. He has helped healthcare companies become more cost efficient through technology innovation and automation. Chris is the president of 531 Digital LLC, a technology company he started that helps companies tackle IT strategies in this fast-moving digital age. Chris has a bachelor's in Management and is currently pursuing his master's degree in IT. Chris would like to help RJ’s provide kids with the best environment for normality in tough times. Through technology, kids can have to ability connect and go places otherwise seemed impossible. Chris understands the need for this as much as anyone. In May 2009, Chris lost his son five-year-old son C.J. to Brain Stem Glioma. Because of this devastating loss, he has been devoted to helping other families understand and cope with various illnesses and hardships. Chris has dedicated his life to ensure that families and children have the resources necessary to overcome life’s obstacles. He is also a member of the Kappa Alpha Phi fraternity and KCPMI. A native of Columbus, Mississippi, Chris is married to Shanta and the proud father of Alise, Logan and Aidan.

Marion Kimini-Davis

Marion is a revenue cycle expert and patient accounting consultant. Her professional experience is developing and implementing revenue solutions designs and systems, including Cerner systems for local and national health systems and hospitals. Marion received a bachelor's degree in healthcare management from Avila University. She has volunteered for various local organizations, including the Kansas Black Chamber of Commerce and United Way.

Karen Kopischke, MS, APRN, NNP-BC
Karen is neonatal nurse practitioner and manager at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Karen received her BSN from the University of Iowa and her master’s degree from Rush University in Chicago.  Karen’s husband, John Skelley, was a member of the Bone Marrow Transplant team at CMH until his death, and her interest in RJ’s Children’s Haven is in his honor.  Her clinical interests are newborn lung disease and infectious disease. She is active in quality improvement activities in her work life. In her private life, she lives in Overland Park with her two young adult sons, two dogs and a cat.  She enjoys reading, scrapbooking and volunteers in a kindergarten classroom one day per week, an activity that brings her joy and helps keep her semi-young.

Sue McCalley, PhD

Dr. McCalley is a professor of Special Education and Psychology at Avila University, teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. She has traveled internationally to consult on special education and the development of treatment programs for children with special needs. In recent years, she has traveled to China, Russia, India, South Africa and Singapore. She is a member of the Oxford Round Table on Children with Disabilities, Oxford University, England. Dr. McCalley has served on several local boards of directors. She has served as a board member of the Missouri Association for Colleges of Teacher Education. She is the chair of the Truman Distinguished Lecture Series at Avila University.

Carla C. McGrave, MD

Dr. McCrave is a pediatric hematologist / oncologist in Orlando, Florida, who specializes in treating cancer and blood disorders in children. She previously served is a Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist Transplant physician with Children's Mercy Kansas City, Missouri. She received her medical degree from Universidad del Norte Faculty of Medicine and has been in practice for 20 years. She as one of 33 doctors at Children's Mercy Kansas City who specialize in pediatric hematology-oncology. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Polly Pendegrast

Polly is currently the senior director for UMKC School of Education’s Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center. Throughout her career, Polly has been a classroom teacher, program accreditation specialist, executive director, faculty and university supervisor for early childhood students. She is a past president for The Mid America Association for the Education of Young Children; past board member for The Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center, the Kansas Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Junior League of Minneapolis; and served on the Chicago Metropolitan Association for the Education of Young Children Intergenerational Committee and The Winnetka Alliance for Early Childhood. In 2013, she was invited by the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) to be part of the review process for Missouri Early Childhood Curriculum. Her research interest focuses on emotional intelligence and social emotional learning.  Understanding the importance of play in early childhood and the critical thinking skills developed through play are a fierce passion of hers. Two of her favorite quotes are “Play is the highest form of research” by Albert Einstein and “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct” by Carl Jung.  


Polly has a degree in Human Development and Family Living, Early Childhood Education from the University of Kansas and a master's degree in Organizational Management, with an emphasis in Emotional Intelligence, from Concordia University-St. Paul, St. Paul Minnesota.  

Michael Simms, CPA, BSBA

Michael began his accounting career in 1995 at Deloitte Touche, LLP (now Deloitte) in the tax department. He was responsible for preparation and review of corporate, individual, partnership and non-profit tax returns with an emphasis in employee benefits. Additionally, he has extensive experience in the construction and transportation industry, trust and estate planning. Michael joined Walsh Washburn, LLC in 2004 and continues to deliver tax compliance, research and consulting services to a wide variety of clients.  Michael graduated from Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, MO with a BSBA in Accounting and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Kansas and Missouri.