Susan Kapadia is the Founder and Executive Director, and Renee Mandala the Associate Director, of OjaiCARES. Susan and Renee are also our certified patient navigators and advocates. Importantly, both are cancer survivors, which allows them to bring an additional level of understanding and empathy to their work with our clients.
Founder and Executive Director
Breast cancer was definitely not on my radar in 2009 when I was diagnosed, after recently opening a restaurant in Ojai. But that is the nature of the beast, it arrives on your doorstep uninvited and unwelcomed. My husband and dear friend Amy sprung into action and helped to me decipher my diagnosis and together we created what I lovingly call my dream team of doctors in Santa Barbara. The aggressive treatment needed for triple negative breast cancer enveloped me in a blur of organized chaos and then, well then it was all over. But my life was never the same, which is not a bad thing. Who are we after a traumatic event changes everything we know to be so? For me, after a couple of years of uncertainty, I decided something needed to be done about the lack of support services in our bucolic Ojai Valley. That is the story behind OjaiCARES, need met the desire to help others through the cancer journey. My background in education coupled with three years working at the Breast Cancer Resource Center in Santa Barbara plus a Certification in Patient Advocacy guide me every day through the rigors of running our center, a kind and gentle organization bursting with heart.
Renee comes to OjaiCARES with a Master’s in Counseling Psychology, a Certification in Consciousness, Health and Healing, a Bachelor’s in Social Work, and a lifelong career in human services. She was a medical social worker at UCLA Medical Center and other hospitals for 15 years, after which she served in maternal-child health as a lactation consultant and birth and postpartum doula. Through her own cancer experience, a passion to serve others with cancer emerged. Renee’s experience with non-profits includes support group facilitation, patient navigation, program development, volunteer management, community outreach and marketing, board membership and development. Renee received Certification in Naturopathic Oncology Patient Advocacy as part of the Integrative Cancer Awareness Network with Dr. Nasha Winters of Optimal Terrain Consulting and has a private practice helping others interested in a “terrain” focused approach to wellness.Foundational to her work is respect for each person’s unique path to healing.
Executive Assistant, Community Liaison
Tiffany Moises has a gift for bringing light anywhere she goes. Trained initially in Operations and Business Development, she went on to start her own Los Angeles based Eco-Conscious Beauty and Health Movement Product making Classes and Services. Tiffany is an energetic, engaged and savvy little woman who often will tell you how privileged she feels to work for a place that matters, that place being ojaiCARES.