Community Impact


The mission of the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center’s Education and Community Engagement Program is to reduce the burden of cancer in Minnesota by engaging MN communities and providing them access to knowledge and information about cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship, and clinical research opportunities.

Community Outreach

Speakers at Black Student Union Forum on cancer health disparities

Black Student Union forum on cancer health disparities

MCC information table at Pow Wow for Hope

Pow Wow for Hope

high school students visit cancer research lab

Scrubs, Gloves and Microscopes

Greg Coleman Celebrity Golf Tournament

Greg Coleman Celebrity Golf Tournament

MCC table at golf tournament
community breast cancer screening event.

Community breast cancer screening

state fair cancer education day

State Fair Innovations in Cancer Care and Prevention day


Christopher Pennell, Ph.D.Christopher Pennell, PhD

Associate Director
Education and Community Engagement

Dr. Pennell serves as the center’s faculty-community liaison. His long-standing research interest is to harness the immune system to treat cancer. His role in the center is to help ensure the Cancer Center meets the needs of Minnesotans, and to encourage students to pursue careers in cancer care and research.

Kiara EllisKiara Ellis

Education and Community Engagement

Kiara Ellis is the center's Education and Community Engagement Manager. She completed her Bachelor's degree in Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota and candidate for a Masters in Social Work: Community Practice at the University of Minnesota. She held previous positions coordinating grants at the University of Minnesota and HealthPartners focused on creating support services that lessen the burden of cancer and diabetes on diverse populations. Her passions lie in serving as a change agent for the community and impacting systemic change that will further health equity in the state.

Allie OchoaAllie Ochoa
Community Engagement

Allie comes to the Masonic Cancer Center with an academic background in Biology and previous experience working with biomedical research studies and clinical trials. Her professional experience includes working in diverse public health research directly with community members and families at risk, providing them with cancer education. She's passionate about creating new and innovative opportunities to engage the public in health education.

Danielle RennerDanielle Renner, Ph.D.

Danielle comes to the Masonic Cancer Center after completing her graduate thesis training at the Mayo Clinic, followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Utah.  Her research background includes work in cancer immunotherapy and neuro-immunology.  She is interested in translating the scientific research findings of the MCC into understandable cancer education for the public and in promoting education and career development opportunities for young scientists interested in pursuing careers in cancer research.

Patty BeckmannPatty Beckman, R.N.

Oncology Patient Access Nurse

Patty Beckmann, R.N.,served as a Research Nurse for 22 years here at the University of Minnesota working on a variety of NCI-funded cancer clinical research studies as well as a major Parkinson's disease study. Her professional experience and passion for helping patients navigate clinical research makes her great fit to educate and provide resources to our patients and community members through our Cancer Information Line.