The history of WOCA has evolved tremendously throughout the years, with many instrumental women along the way. It was while working as a volunteer on the Komen Foundation’s Milwaukee Race for the Cure in 1999 that Joan Sagan, an oncology nurse with more than 20 years’ experience, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After her diagnosis, she knew that she wanted to start a Wisconsin organization that would do for ovarian cancer what the Komen Foundation did for breast cancer: provide education, encourage advocacy, generate support.
After her treatment, Joan assembled family, friends, medical professionals and fellow survivors to launch the Wisconsin Ovarian Alliance (WOCA). After Joan's passing, the organization was carried on by her two sisters, Sandi and Kelli. Joan’s legacy continues with the continued operation and strengthening of WOCA.
Formed in May 2000, WOCA has taken active steps to reach women who need the organization most with the formation of a medical advisory board, the creation of several signature fundraising events, expansion of outreach all across the state of Wisconsin, and many other initiatives which have made lasting impacts on women throughout Wisconsin.
After Sandi and Kelli’s retirement in 2015, WOCA is now operated by Executive Director Ashley Wagner and Social Media/Program Manager Jennifer Kerber. In addition to WOCA’s two dedicated staff members, WOCA has a committed Board of Directors lead by Board President, Diane Hoyt. We could not do it without our wonderful survivor volunteers and partnership with UWM College of Health Sciences’ who assist in our daily office operation.
Throughout the years, WOCA has been impacted by thousands of incredible women and their families. Without the unwavering support of our community, WOCA would not be where it is today!