The Skin Cancer Foundation's Champions for Change Gala 2016

2016 Champions for Change

The Skin Cancer Foundation’s 2016 Champions for Change Gala was a great success! Hundreds of physicians, health and beauty executives, journalists and celebrities joined us on October 18th at the Mandarin Oriental New York to raise funds and celebrate our lifesaving initiatives. The event honors “Champions” for exceptional achievement in skin health, including public education about sun protection and skin cancer prevention. This year, we honored two Champions for Change: Marcia Robbins-Wilf, EdD, chair of the Marcia Robbins-Wilf Research Award Society and a longstanding supporter of the Foundation, and Perry Robins, MD, founder and president of The Skin Cancer Foundation.  

When Dr. Robins accepted his award, he spoke about taking The Skin Cancer Foundation from an idea to an internationally respected not-for-profit organization. Then he surprised the crowd by announcing that he would retire as president of the Foundation at the end of the year and named Skin Cancer Foundation Senior Vice President Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, as his successor.

“Leading this organization has been my absolute pleasure, and a highlight of my life’s work. I trust and believe that I have laid the groundwork for many years of growth and success,” Dr. Robins said. “Debby’s experience, drive and passion for our cause make her a perfect and obvious choice. I know I am leaving the Foundation in the most capable of hands.”

Media Award winnersDuring the program, we also announced the winner of our annual Media Award competition: Allure magazine, for the article “Harsh Light” by Jenna Rosenstein. The Media Award recognizes excellence in journalism that addresses skin cancer prevention, early detection and/or treatment.


Sam Champion, weather anchor and longtime friend of the Foundation, hosted the evening’s festivities, and entertainment was provided by Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist Catherine Russell. Speakers included Olympic gold medalist and television host Summer Sanders and Dancing with the Stars pro Witney Carson — both of whom shared their personal experiences with melanoma.

Witney called the day she was diagnosed the worst day of her life and explained her fear to the audience.

“I felt scared and helpless,” she recalled. “But I was incredibly lucky. Not only did I have the support of my family, but after sharing my story, The Skin Cancer Foundation provided a support system that showed me I wasn’t alone…and the greatest gift that came from this is that I now have a platform to help people just like me, through education, prevention and providing support.”Witney Carson, Sam Champion, Summer Sanders

Summer energized the crowd with a call to action to continue supporting the Foundation’s work: “As an Olympian, I know that when you bring together smart, driven, team players who are focused on a common goal, nothing can stop them...Let’s support the Foundation’s mission and be champions for changing behaviors so that we can ultimately save lives.” 

Notable guests included David Harbour of Stranger Things, Famke Janssen of the X-Men series, Sebastian Stan of Marvel’s Captain America movies, Condola Rashad of Billions and Tony Sirico, formerly of The Sopranos.

The Gala was chaired by Dr. Sarnoff, Ronald L. Moy, MD, Adam Schweitzer (a board member, partner, and co-head of the talent department at ICM Partners and a “trailblazer” in Variety’s 2016 New Power of New York list) and Stephanie Schweitzer. The Gala Committee included Jeffrey Brackeen, MD; Doris Day, MD; Dendy Engelman, MD; Elizabeth K. Hale, MD; Albert M. Lefkovits, MD; Maureen Lippe of Lippe Taylor; Ariel Ostad, MD; Howard Sobel, MD; and Jessica Stacey of Sephora.

The cocktail reception preceding the formal dinner and awards presentation was sponsored by Procter and Gamble’s Olay, a longtime supporter of the Gala.

While this year’s event may be over, there’s still time to get involved by making a donation. All of the money we raise supports our education programs and our efforts to develop new initiatives that bring us closer to a world without skin cancer.

Thank you to all of our guests, sponsors and donors who helped to make this event a success!

View the photos in the slideshow below.

Gala 2016