Genetic Counselors

Ambry’s distinguished staff of genetic counselors serve in various departments within the company including reporting, laboratory operations, sales and marketing. Since Ambry’s genetic counselors are not involved in direct patient care, please visit the following websites if consultation with a clinical genetic counselor is desired. Informed DNA, The National Society of Genetic Counselors, American Board of Genetic Counseling.

 

Steven Keiles, MS, CGC

Director of Clinical Affairs

Mr. Keiles began working at Ambry in 2000 and is the current Director of Clinical Affairs.  He has been involved in many aspects of the company over the years including  client services, managed care, sales and marketing, clinical reporting and has produced many research publications. Mr. Keiles obtained his master’s degree in genetic counseling from Sarah Lawrence College in 1987. He was a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in west Los Angeles for 16 years where his responsibilities included clinic coordination, program implementation and counseling for all genetic referrals. He is also very active in the National Society of Genetic Counselors and served as the 2009 President where he was responsible for leading the association and serving as the chief spokesperson. Mr. Keiles has more than 20 years of clinical experience and his research publications include molecular diagnostic testing for cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis and hereditary cancers.

Kimberly Banks, MS, CGC, MBA

Director of Field Specialists

Ms. Banks joined Ambry in 2013 after providing clinical cancer genetics services throughout Southern California for nine years. She received her BS in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley in 2002, her MS in Genetic Counseling from California State University, Northridge in 2004 and her MBA in 2013 from UC Irvine. Ms. Banks completed a one-year fellowship in cancer genetics at the City of Hope and then became the first Genetic Counselor at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. She built a cancer genetics program at St. Joseph Hospital and extended services to sister hospitals in the health system. She served on the NSGC Board of Directors, is Invited Faculty for the City of Hope Intensive Course in Cancer Genetics and has many peer reviewed publications on cancer genetics and other topics.

Kelly D. F. Gonzalez, MS, CGC

Senior Manager of Clinical Genomics

Kelly Farwell Gonzalez received a B.A. in Psychobiology from Scripps College (the Claremont Colleges) and a M.S. in Genetic Counseling from the University of Arizona. Prior to her graduate studies, she spent several years in a research lab studying DNA mutagenesis. She later worked for more than four years as a senior genetic counselor at the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at City of Hope, where she continued her involvement in research, most of which focused on Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS). She has more than 15 peer-reviewed publications in molecular genetics and has been an invited lecturer at several scientific meetings. Driven by her interest in new molecular technologies, Ms. Farwell Gonzalez joined Ambry in 2009 to lead the genomic services group where she gained expertise in multiple sequencing platforms and DNA/RNA enrichment techniques. Ms. Farwell Gonzalez currently leads Ambry's emerging clinical genomics offerings, most notably, the Clinical Diagnostic Exome, which allows her to draw on her expertise in next-gen sequencing, DNA mutagenesis, and genetic counseling.

Melissa Parra, MS, CGC

Senior Manager of Clinical Diagnostics

Ms. Parra, M.S., CGC joined the client services department at Ambry Genetics in 2010.  She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of California, Davis in 1997 and Master of Science degree in Genetic Counseling from California State University, Northridge in 2005.  In her current position, Ms. Parra assists clients with test coordination, result reporting and interpretation. Her specialty within the department is in chromosome microarray analysis and the NextGen sequencing panel for X-linked mental retardation.

Jill Dolinsky, RN, MS, CGC

Senior Manager of Clinical Research

Mrs. Dolinsky, RN, MS, CGC joined Ambry in 2011, after serving for three years as a research genetic counselor with the Familial Dilated Cardiomyopathy Research Project (www.fdc.to) and as a clinical genetic counselor with the Cardiovascular Genetic Medicine Program at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine. From 2004-2008, she served as Program Coordinator for the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Mrs. Dolinsky graduated from the University of Delaware with BAs in Neuroscience and in Educational Studies, obtained a Bachelors of Nursing from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA and received her MS in Medical Genetics from the University of Cincinnati.

Ira Lu, MA, MS, CGC

Manager of Clinical Diagnostics

Ms. Lu graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.S. and M.A. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. She was actively involved in undergraduate genetics and microbiology courses as a teaching assistant and researched quantitative trait loci (QTL) for cholesterol gallstone susceptibility in a mouse model. She was the principal QTL curator for the Mouse Genome Database at The Jackson Laboratory from 2001-2009 and received her training in genetic counseling and M.S. in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College in 2007. Prior to working at Ambry Genetics, Ms. Lu was a clinical prenatal genetic counselor with Genzyme Genetics.

Tina Pesaran, MA, MS, CGC

Cancer Variant Classification Supervisor

Mrs. Pesaran graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. She remained at UCLA for her masters in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, studying the genetics of cardiovascular disease. She then received her master’s in genetic counseling from California State University, Northridge. Prior to working at Ambry, Mrs. Pesaran worked as a cancer genetic counselor at the GenRISK program at Cedars Sinai and then as a prenatal and cancer genetic counselor at Harlem Hospital Center. 

Holly Laduca, MS, CGC

Cancer Research Coordinator

Mrs. LaDuca, M.S., CGC received her B.S. in Health Science from Benedictine University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She then received her M.S. in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University. Prior to joining Ambry, Mrs. LaDuca served as a clinical genetic counselor in the Department of Cancer Services at Northwest Community Hospital (Arlington Heights, IL).

Aaron (AJ) Stuenkel, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Mr. Stuenkel joined Ambry following his graduate training at Boston University School of Medicine, where he earned an M.S. in Genetic Counseling. He also holds a B.S. in Genetics from the University of California, Davis and prior to his current position, worked as a clinical cancer research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital. Mr. Stuenkel is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) and is board certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC).  

Kendra Waller, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Waller graduated with honors from Texas Tech University with a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Genetics and was active in microbial research for completion of her studies. She received her M.S. from University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center in 2001, participating in research efforts at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Prior to her graduate work, Ms. Waller worked as a research technician for the Human Genome Project at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. After earning her M.S., she provided services as a prenatal genetic counselor in the Clinical Services Division of Genzyme Genetics in multiple cities in Texas, Florida, and California until 2011 when she joined Ambry Genetics.

Elaine Chen, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Chen completed her B.A. in Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley where she also served as a Teaching Assistant for the Health and Medical Apprenticeship Program. She then worked in education for a few years before pursuing graduate studies. Ms. Chen completed her M.S. in Genetic Counseling at the University of California at Irvine (UCI). While at UCI, Ms. Chen worked as a Research Study Coordinator at the Center for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics. Prior to joining Ambry, Ms. Chen worked for several years as a clinical prenatal genetic counselor with Integrated Genetics.

Dima El-Khechen, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. El-Khechen earned her M.S. in Biology from the American University of Beirut and her M.S. in Genetic Counseling from Wayne State University in Detroit. She worked as a clinical genetic counselor for nine years, first in adult neurogenetics at the Detroit Medical Center and then in general pediatric genetics at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.  She joined the Ambry team in August 2013 as a genetic counselor on the whole Exome team.   

Jenna Guiltinan, MS

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Guiltinan graduated from Penn State University in 2008 with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Anthropology, where she specialized in human genetic variation and performed research on the genetics of iris texture.  During graduate school at CSU Stanislaus, Ms. Guiltinan was most interested in next-gen sequencing, frontotemporal dementia, and the ethics of informed consent. For her thesis, Ms. Guiltinan oversaw a coordinated research project with the UCSF Cancer Risk Program and Ambry Genetics to sequence the exome of 32 early-onset colorectal cancer patients. Ms. Guiltinan has also been involved with the disability community for most of her life, working as a home care coordinator, job coach, and Special Olympics volunteer.

Carrie Horton, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Horton received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from University of Maryland, Baltimore County and went on to work in a science museum developing exhibits for children in the areas of microbiology, public health, and genetics.  She then earned her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling at Arcadia University.  She accepted a prenatal and cancer genetic counseling position at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, TN to focus on provider education and patient advocacy in the Midsouth region.  She later established and directed the cancer genetic counseling program at The West Clinic before joining Ambry.

Tami Johnston, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Mrs. Johnston graduated from Tulane University with a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology and received her M.S. in Genetic Counseling with Distinction from California State University, Northridge.  During her graduate training, Mrs. Johnston's clinical rotation sites included Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles Familial Cancer Registry & Genetic Evaluation Program. She then embarked on her career at Alfigen, The Genetics Institute, where she worked in both clinical and laboratory settings. She spent several years as a laboratory Genetic Coordinator at Genzyme Genetics before joining Ambry Genetics.

Tracey Leedom, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Leedom graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. degree in Medical Technology (Clinical Laboratory Science) in 1992, and worked in clinical chemistry and molecular diagnostic laboratories in Chapel Hill until attending graduate school.  She earned her M.S. degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2003.  Upon graduation, she worked at Duke University Medical Center as a research genetic counselor/study coordinator in the laboratory of Douglas A. Marchuk, PhD and also worked as a clinical genetic counselor in the Duke Hereditary Cancer Clinic.  Ms. Leedom joined the Ambry team in 2014 as a reporting genetic counselor.      

Carla Mason, MS, CGC

Certified Genetic Counselor

Mrs. Mason completed her Master of Science in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College in 2002.  She established the Cancer Genetics Department at Clearview Cancer Institute in Huntsville, Alabama and later developed the Cancer Genetics Center at Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama.  Mrs. Mason has special interests in hereditary cancer syndromes and tumor biomarker analysis.

Mary Pritzlaff, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Pritzlaff joined Ambry in 2014, after providing clinical cancer genetic counseling services for four years at UT Southwestern Medical Center.  Ms. Pritzlaff graduated cum laude with a BS in Genetics from Texas A&M University, received her MS in Genetic Counseling from the University of Cincinnati, and is board certified by the ABGC. She is an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) and the Texas Society of Genetic Counselors (TSGC), has peer reviewed and lay publications on cancer genetics and genetic counseling service delivery models, and has been an invited lecturer on these topics for both professional and lay organizations. In addition to her work with Ambry, Ms. Pritzlaff also serves as a volunteer outreach coordinator for Facing Our Risk Empowered (FORCE) in Ft. Worth and Austin, Texas.

Zöe Powis, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Powis completed her Bachelor of Science degrees in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Psychology at the University of Arizona in 1997. During that time, she worked in cancer research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center with laboratory projects specializing in cancer genetics. Prior to graduate school, Ms. Powis worked as residential and substance abuse counselor. In 2003, she obtained her master's degree in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University. Upon graduation, Ms. Powis worked in prenatal and infertility genetic counseling and as a laboratory genetic coordinator at Genzyme Genetics. Prior to joining Ambry, she worked 7 years at the University of Arizona, in pediatric, neuromuscular, metabolic, cancer, adult genetic counseling and various research focuses.

Layla Shahmirzadi, M.S.

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Shahmirzadi joined Ambry in 2012 as a genetic counselor specializing in genomics after earning her M.S. in Genetic Counseling from Stanford University School of Medicine.  She has a strong educational background in new technologies including next-generation sequencing with a particular interest in whole genome/whole exome sequencing.  Prior to beginning her genetic counseling training, Ms. Shahmirzadi worked as a genetic counselor assistant at the Cancer Risk Program at UCSF and as a DNA Technician at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.  She also earned a second M.S. in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S. in Psychology from University of California, Davis. 

Pia Summerour, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Mrs. Summerour graduated from University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Biology (Emphasis: Genetics) and a B.A. in Sociology. As an undergraduate, she worked in a lab studying embryological development. She then received a M.S. in Genetic Counseling from California State University Northridge while working on a research study investigating the genetic etiology of testicular cancer at USC Keck School of Medicine. Prior to joining Ambry in 2013, Mrs. Summerour spent nine years serving as a cancer genetic counselor at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Stephany Tandy, MS, GC

Cancer Genetic Counselor

Ms. Tandy graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Genetic Biology in 2000, and worked in molecular/toxicology research laboratories in Indianapolis until attending graduate school.  She earned her M.S. in Genetic Counseling from Arcadia University in Philadelphia, and then moved to southern California to work as a clinical Genetic Counselor, specializing in pediatric and cancer genetics for Kaiser Permanente.  She joined the Ambry team in the beginning of 2012 as a Genetic Counselor focused on cancer genetics.      

Jade Tinker, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Tinker graduated from Southwestern University in 2010 with a B.S. in Animal Behavior. During her undergraduate career, she studied the sexual behavior of rats. Her interest in both biology and psychology led her to a career in genetic counseling. In 2012, she graduated from the University of Utah with an M.S. in Genetic Counseling. Her graduate research project involved the prevalence autistic traits in children with neurofibromatosis type 1. Prior to joining Ambry, Ms. Tinker taught biology classes at Mt. View Community College in Dallas, TX and contracted work with Illumina, Inc.

Monalyn Umali, MS

Genetic Counselor

Ms. Umali graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics and a minor in Psychology. In 2013, she obtained her Master of Science degree from California State University, Stanislaus in Genetic Counseling. Prior to graduate school, Ms. Umali worked at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, genotyping populations for HLA genes associated with Type 1 Diabetes. Additionally, she also worked at Roche Molecular Diagnostics, developing companion diagnostic tests for profiling of genetic markers in cancer. She has a passion for the field of medical genetics and has special interest in cross-cultural genetic counseling.

Jeannine St. John, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Ms. St. John graduated from Illinois State University in 2008 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. Ms. St. John then completed a Summers of Discovery Internship at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences performing research with the Microarray Group at the Research Triangle Park in Durham, NC.  She then received her M.S. in Genetic Counseling from the University of California, Irvine in 2010. Prior to working at Ambry, Ms. St. John worked with the California Prenatal Screening Program at the University of California, Irvine as a Program Coordinator.

Lindsey Waltman, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Mrs. Waltman graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2008 with a B.S. in Biology.  She then received her M.S. in Genetic Counseling from the University of Utah in 2010.  Prior to her position at Ambry, Mrs. Waltman worked as a genetic counselor in the Cytogenetic Laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and also counseled pediatric patients in Medical Genetics.  She joined Ambry Genetics in 2013 as an accessioning genetic counselor.  Mrs. Waltman is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) and is board certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC).  

Virginia Speare, PhD, CGC

Senior Genetic Specialist

Dr. Speare joined Ambry in 2012 following a career in cancer genetic counseling and prenatal genetic education with Crozer-Keystone Health System near Philadelphia, PA.  She received her Ph.D. in Biology from Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA where her thesis explored the genetic makeup of the eukaryotic single cell organism, Tetrahymena thermophila. After completing clinical training in genetics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Speare was certified in Genetic Counseling by the ABGC. She has a special interest in issues of access to genetic health care and the education of clinicians who are integrating genetics and genomics into their practice.

Emily Dalton, MS, CGC

Genetic Specialist

Mrs. Dalton joined Ambry in 2013 as the regional genetic specialist for the Northeast. Prior to joining Ambry, Emily spent four years as a clinical cancer genetic counselor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. In addition to her clinical work at DFCI, Emily also participated in a number of research studies and was a member of the Ethics Advisory Committee. She earned her MS in Genetic Counseling from the Boston University School of Medicine, and her BA in Cell and Molecular Biology from Skidmore College.  She remains very active with the BU program, and teaches a semester-long course entitled: “Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues in Genetic Counseling” and is a member of the program’s Advisory Board.

Laura Panos, MS, CGC

Genetic Specialist

Ms. Panos graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Biology. As an undergraduate, she worked in a lab studying dental genetics. She then received a M.S. in Genetic Counseling from The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston/MDAnderson.  Prior to joining Ambry, Ms. Panos worked for the Baylor Health Care System developing the cancer and cardiovascular genetic counseling clinics.  She currently serves on the Texas Society of Genetic Counselors board of directors as the ad-hoc licensure chair.  At Ambry, Ms. Panos is a field genetics specialist for the central states.

Sarah Witherington, MS

Genetic Specialist

Ms. Witherington graduated from Louisiana State University in Shreveport with a B.S. in Biochemical Sciences and received her M.S. in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. Prior to joining Ambry Genetics, she worked in several research and molecular diagnostics labs, researching everything from the genetic phylogeny of subtropical ferns to the genetics of Parkinson’s disease. Ms. Witherington is a current editor for Perspectives in Genetic Counseling. Her interests include the genetics of paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas as well as other endocrine disorders. She is currently the field genetics specialist for the Midwest.

Alexandria Yonker, MS, CGC

Genetic Specialist

Ms. Yonker received her B.S. in Biology from Doane College in 2004 and her M.S. in Medical Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006.  She then served as the Wisconsin State Genetics Coordinator and Newborn Screening Coordinator before moving into clinical practice as a cancer genetic counselor for California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.  Ms. Yonker joined Ambry Genetics in 2013 as the field genetic specialist for the Pacific Northwest region.

Diana Tuman, MS

Product Manager

Ms. Tuman joined Ambry in 2012 where she works as genetic counselor in the marketing department. She completed her B.S. in Human Physiology at Michigan State University, where she participated in genomics research. She then joined an New York advertising agency and had an opportunity to work on international campaigns like AT&T, Chevron and Kraft Foods. She also had the opportunity to represent major New York institutions like the American Museum of Natural History, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Bard Graduate Center. Ms. Tuman then received her M.S. in Genetic Counseling from University of Alabama at Birmingham where she focused on emerging technologies like exome sequencing and its application to patient care.    

Stephanie Gandomi, MS, CGC

Product Manager

Mrs. Gandomi began her training as a genetic counselor at the University of Melbourne in Australia in 2002 and graduated from Brandeis University with an M.S. in Genetic Counseling in 2006. She obtained her undergraduate degree in communications in 2000, and has also pursued additional graduate studies in prenatal psychology. While at Brandeis, she worked as a research genetic counselor in the Department of Nephrology at the Harvard Institutes of Medicine in Boston investigating the genetics of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). She then moved to California in 2006 to co-establish the Stanford University/Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Perinatal Diagnostic Center in Salinas. Prior to working at Ambry, Mrs. Gandomi was a community health supervisor at the State of California Prenatal Screening Program in Sacramento.

Carin Espenschied, MS, CGC

Product Manager

Ms. Espenschied is a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor with a special interest in hereditary cancer syndromes. She joined Ambry in 2013 as a product manager, primarily focusing on hereditary cancer testing.  Prior to joining Ambry, she worked as a clinical cancer genetic counselor at City of Hope for six years, including one year as Assistant Director of the Cancer Screening & Prevention Program there. Ms. Espenschied has a Master's degree in genetic counseling from California State University, Northridge and a Bachelor's degree in biology from Pepperdine University. She is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and is on the Executive Council of the Collaborative Group of the Americas on Inherited Colorectal Cancer.

Christina Alamillo, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Christina Alamillo, MS, CGC graduated from the University of Michigan in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and pre-medicine focus. In 2004 she earned her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina, and subsequently began her career as a genetic counselor at the Reproductive Genetics Institute and University of Illinois division of Maternal Fetal Medicine in Chicago. Prior to working at Ambry, Christina spent more than five years as the senior genetic counselor and laboratory testing coordinator at Northwestern Reproductive Genetics, where she was involved in the R&D of new next generation sequencing panels, coordinated sample accessioning, managed client services, wrote reports, and created patient information and marketing materials. She also researched and authored a number of peer reviewed cohort studies focusing on prenatal genetic testing following the identification of ultrasound abnormalities. Her interest in new molecular testing options led her to join Ambry as a member of the clinical genomics group in 2014.