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Executive Board

RJCH, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, is led by an Executive Board including two nurses, and a healthcare administrator and organizational leadership expert.

Karen Anthony, RN

Executive Board, President, CEO

Karen is president and co-founder of RJ Children’s Haven. She began her career as a licensed practical nurse in 1971. Working as a nurse and a mother, Karen returned to school and became a registered nurse in 1995. Karen started in Bone Marrow Transplantation with Heart of American Bone Marrow Donor Registry in January 1989, where she was responsible for coordinating with marrow donors from all over the U.S. While working under the auspices of the National Bone Marrow Donor Program (now called - Be the Match), she set up the Unrelated Bone Marrow Harvesting Center at Research Hospital in Kansas City. A few responsibilities included finding and bringing unrelated donors to Kansas City, preparation and calculation of marrow, and couriering the marrow to a waiting recipient in the US and abroad.

Karen has a true love and passion for children and in 1998 she accepted an offer to work with Children’ Mercy Hospital as the Stem Cell Transplant nurse coordinator for a new and growing segment of the hospital’s practice. She was responsible for matching children with potential donors; setting up stem cell harvesting procedures; and managing the process of a child’s transplantation through admission and infusion of stem cells. While Karen’s contributions to the program were significant, she became more aware of the challenges that the children and families of the children she transplanted faced after discharged.

Karen retired after a 16-year period in the fall of 2014 to focus her efforts on addressing these challenges. "It became evident while watching these children undergoing therapy, and those getting lost in the process, that there was much more that we could do to help enhance their recovery. Along with parents and several medical persons, we started RJ Children’s Haven.”

Wanda Gooch, RN

Executive Board, Vice President/Secretary

Wanda Gooch is vice president and co-founder of RJ Children’s Haven. Wanda began her career as an LPN in 1978. Working as a nurse and mom, Wanda returned to school and became an RN. She has worked as a registered nurse for Consultants in Gastroenterology for 34 years as both a physician nurse and ambulatory surgery staff nurse. She has been a volunteer for Boy Scout Troop 383, teaching First Aid and was a camp buddy at Camp Quality of Greater Kansas City. Her hobbies include biking, clogging, traveling and spending time with her family. Her son Jason, who was also a registered nurse, wanted to help children with cancer after also spending a session as a camp buddy at Camp Quality. He is the “J” in RJ Children’s Haven. He saw the struggles they faced with having cancer and wanted to make a difference in their lives. After losing his life in a tragic car accident, Wanda now works to carry on that vision. With the help of other board members, she strives to help these children by creating a safe place to be while they are healing.

Cassie Toomey

Executive Board, Education

Cassie has been a speech-language pathologist in the Blue Valley School District for more than 16 years. She received her bachelor's and master's in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Fort Hays State University. She achieved a certificate of clinical competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She was hired by Blue Valley School District to work in the Early Childhood Special Education program. In addition to developing and providing speech, language, and social skills therapy for special needs preschoolers, Cassie has been an active in leadership roles within the department.

In partnership with other colleagues, Cassie has led ongoing professional development and college classes for department-certified and classified staff. She served as an elected member to the Early Childhood Leadership team, where she was able to help guide the department’s role with families and children. Additionally, she served on the early childhood curriculum development committee. During her career, she has supervised college graduate students during school practicum experiences and mentored newly hired speech language pathologists during their clinical fellowship year. She was an active team member for Apple Tree, which provided children and families with music and literacy based learning. During this time, she created music videos, coordinated Saturday playgroups with Parents as Teachers, and planned a community based event to celebrate literacy and music.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Cassie wanted to find ways to give back to others in the way that she was supported during treatment. In May of 2018, she began her journey with RJ Children’s Haven in an education advisory role. She is excited to help develop a safe, healing place for children to play, socialize and recover.

Julia Hadley

Executive Board, Compliance

Julia is a career supply chain professional including eighteen years of service with Sysco Corporation and eleven years of service with Saint Luke’s Health System. Her skills include process design and improvement, performance management, leadership development and strategic planning. Julia has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Park University and is a Certified Materials and Resource Professional (CMRP) since 2013.

Executive Board, Marketing and Communications

Angie is a strategic communications and marketing leader with 30+ years of experience in hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, large hospital associations, physician and surgical practices and consulting. She is recognized for strategy development and translating corporate vision into high-impact results. Her areas of expertise include multiple channel integration, branding and identity, thought leadership, C-suite strategy, change management, organizational culture, and program and product launches.

Angie has her own consulting business, Leondedis Communications, and is also a strategy lead for Dobies Healthcare Group. She has a bachelor's degree from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) with a public relations/strategic communications degree and minor in journalism.

In addition to her volunteer work for RJ Children's Haven, Angie has been involved with many local nonprofits as a volunteer and pro bono consultant, including The Grooming Project, Connecting for Good and Ronald McDonald House. Angie serves as a trained CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in foster care. She also serves on the Board of Directors of CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.