Lisa Simms Booth
Lisa Simms Booth is a cancer patient advocate with a 25-year career in media, politics and advocacy. Her experience has included work for the Children’s Defense Fund, the Democratic National Committee, and the Biden Cancer Initiative (founded by Joe and Dr. Jill Biden to build on the momentum of the Obama-Biden administration’s Cancer Moonshot effort). She is currently the executive director of the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, a sister organization to Commonweal that is based in Washington, DC.
Lisa has always had a servant heart and has aspired to do work that improves the lives of others or empowers them to advocate for positive change. She has previously worked at LISTEN, Inc., The Alliance for Justice, Time Dollar Institute, Children’s Defense Fund, Democratic National Committee and the National Rainbow Coalition.
In 2003, Lisa started working at FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, which focuses on the systemic barriers to faster discovery of better treatments and cures for diseases including cancer. At the same time of getting this new job, Lisa’s mother Lucille was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Throughout her 14-year tenure at FasterCures in various leadership roles in partnership development, external affairs and operations, she created programs that brought together pharmaceutical, biotech, philanthropic, and non-profit communities with the aim to make the system work better for patients. While working at FasterCures, Lisa was also living the roller coaster ride of treatment and remission with her mom which had a profound impact on her. Her mom’s eight-year journey and passing led to Lisa’s passion for cancer advocacy and she dedicates her work with patients to her mom with the hope that she can make this journey better for patients and their families.
This dedication served her well in her role as Senior Director of Patient and Public Engagement at the Biden Cancer Initiative, where she worked prior to joining the Smith Center. At BCI, she helped define the organization’s advocacy outreach and collaboration strategies. She also led the design and coordination of the Biden Cancer Collaborative, which mobilized the cancer patient and advocacy community around key priorities, promoting, and sharing tried and tested approaches to addressing common problems. In addition, Lisa served as the staff lead for BCI’s Patient Navigation Working Group which was focused on exploring ways to make patient navigation more accessible to cancer patients.
She is a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Michigan State University. Lisa lives in Silver Spring with her husband Bryan and their beloved dog, Taz. She’s an avid sports fan and loves music, going to the theater and spending time with friends. She is active in the music ministry and community outreach efforts for her church, Metropolitan AME, which recently celebrated its 181st Anniversary.
Read more about Lisa in an interview with her on our news page.