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Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) adds to their Leadership Council

June 14, 2021

CRANBURY, NJ, (June 10, 2021) – The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) is proud to welcome Zarek Mena, OPN-CG, and Vikas Mehta, MD, MPH, FACS, to their Leadership Council. As part of an orderly plan for succession to keep key navigation leaders consistently in place to set strategic priorities, speak to organizational planning and evaluate AONN+ programs, change is inevitable. In 2021, Pam Goetz, BA, OPN-CG, stepped away from the Council after many years of being a supporting voice for patient navigation and self-advocacy. Her talents will continue to be captured with other AONN+ committees or projects.

As a strong advocate for patient navigators, Zarek Mena has filled this seat at the Council and brings multiple years of experience in the field of patient navigation, survivor viewpoints, local navigation network (LNN) leadership, and is a caregiver at heart. She is the Women's Health Program Manager at Whittingham Cancer Center/MSK Physicians of Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, CT. In this role, she brings the Commission on Cancer and National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers accreditation standards to the next level. She was instrumental in the creation of the Smilow Family Breast Health Center and MSKCC Physicians affiliation at Whittingham Cancer Center at Nuvance Health, including its numerous support programs. She obtained certifications from the Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute, and the AONN+ Foundation for Learning. She also facilitates Fairfield County Patient Navigation Network, comprised of nurse and nonclinical navigators, as well as participates in community advocacy efforts, showing her passion to serve the cancer community. Zarek is assisting with the AONN+ LNN Development and Sustainability team, Conference Planning Committee, and other speaking projects.

Zarek Mena, OPN-CG
Vikas Mehta, MD, MPH, FACS

Also adding talent to the Council as a significant navigation champion is Dr Vikas Mehta, a Head and Neck Surgical Oncologist and an Associate Professor of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY. He is the Quality Improvement Coordinator for the Montefiore Einstein Cancer Committee. As part of this role, he has been working on developing a robust navigation program utilizing an electronic health record and other database tools to help address cancer care disparities at Montefiore Health System; a system that consists of 10 hospitals and hundreds of various care sites serving one of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged and racially diverse populations in the United States. He is the Coordinator for Research and Quality for the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery where he helps direct various quality care initiatives that leverage national registry data. Dr Mehta is an active participant on the AONN+ Technology Innovation Integration to Address Underserved Disparate Patient Populations project.

Please welcome the new AONN+ Leadership Council members as they contribute their expertise, navigation experience and organizational development to promote the achievement of AONN+ goals.

About the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators® (
The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, Inc. (AONN+) is the largest national specialty organization dedicated to improving patient care and quality of life by defining, enhancing, and promoting the role of oncology nurse and patient navigators. The organization, which has nearly 8900 members, was founded in 2009 to provide a network for all professionals involved and interested in patient navigation and survivorship care services in order to better manage the complexities of the cancer treatment process.

About CONQUER™: the patient voice™ magazine (
CONQUER: the patient voice, is the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) premier forum for patients with cancer. CONQUER magazine features articles written by and for patients with cancer, survivors, nurse navigators, and other oncology team members. This magazine addresses the issues that patients, their family members, and caregivers face every day in an easy-to-read format. Issues include interviews with patients with cancer, information on access to care, and articles on lifestyle topics such as nutrition, stress management, personal finance, and legal and employer issues.

Gwen Coverdale, 267-884-6328
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Last modified: June 14, 2021
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