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Who We Are
Our History

We Can was formed in 1996 by Gigi McMillan and Kathy Riley, two mothers whose children were in treatment for brain tumors. In an open letter to the community announcing the first meeting of the group, they wrote:

"... As you probably did, we staggered through the trauma of diagnosis and treatment and struggled to cope with the changes we saw in our children.  Though the medical care we received was excellent,
each of our families felt alone as we searched for answers to many important questions. We needed a place to share information about blood counts and central line care, nutrition during treatment, and the emotional impact of this illness on the other members of our families. We wondered what kind of lives our children could hope for after treatment, what long-term neurological side effects we could expect as they matured, and how we could best deal with those effects. Unfortunately, answers were frequently hard to find and we could identify no central source for the information we needed. We decided to launch this support network."

We Can has grown from a small group of parents sponsored by a single hospital, to an independent organization that serves the patients and families of medical centers throughout California. We Can is a project of Community Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping community service endeavors in the greater Los Angeles area.

Read an ABC News story about We Can co-founder Kathy Riley and her son Peter, a long-term brain tumor survivor.


  • Robert J. Brown, MD, Associate Attending, Neural Tumors Program, Senior Research Fellow, Children's Hospital Los Angeles
  • Joyce Derrickson, Board Chair, RN, BSN, Neural Tumors Program, Children's Hospital Los Angeles
  • Dan Gitlin, investment banking, Guggenheim Securities
  • John Y.H. Kim, MD, PhD, member at large, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center
  • Rosie Newton, Northern California representative, parent
  • Gary Painter, PhD, member at large, Professor; Director of Social Policy, Sol Price Center for Social Innovation, University of Southern California; bereaved parent
  • Thomas Parham, PhD, member at large, Professor, Chair, Cinematic Arts, Azusa Pacific University
  • Kathy Riley, Executive Director, Co-Founder
  • Doley Wegener, member at large, Telecare Corporation
  • Rose Wright, member at larger, Providence Health and Services Foundation
Emeritus Members

  • Gigi McMillan, Co-Founder
We Can is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
(c) 2015 We Can.  All Rights Reserved