The Board of Directors of the Sunshine Kids Foundation is made up of individuals who are community, business and medical leaders from around the country. Each is committed to helping The Sunshine Kids grow its mission of providing quality experiences for children with cancer at no cost to their families, hospitals or other support groups.
Deputy Craig Taffaro   Chief Deputy Craig Taffaro
Board Chairman, The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  For the past twenty-seven years, Chief Craig Taffaro has been instrumental in coordinating the Sunshine Kids Mardi Gras Fun-Time Fantasy and Haunted Halloween Getaway National Events, both held in the greater New Orleans area of Louisiana. In addition, he has been involved in various strategic planning efforts with the Foundation.

Taffaro serves as the Chief Deputy for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and commands the Field Operations Bureau. He is a 49-year law enforcement veteran joining the JPSO after serving thee years in the United States Army. While in the Army he was a graduate of the 4th Armored Division NCO Academy.

Chief Taffaro is the recipient of several commendations and citizens’ awards but he relates that his affiliation with the Sunshine Kids Foundation is his most rewarding accomplishment. Over the years seeing nearly 2,000 young cancer patients pass through New Orleans as part of The Sunshine Kids program have the opportunity to just have fun and enjoy life is indescribable.

Taffaro and his wife Colonel Judy Long Taffaro, also with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, co-coordinate events for Sunshine Kids together and reside in Harvey, Louisiana.
Dr. Michael A. Abbott   Dr. Michael A. Abbott
Board Member, The Sunshine Kids Foundation
Texas Hill Country Coordinator, The Sunshine Kids Foundation


For the past ten years, Dr. Michael Abbott has been instrumental in coordinating the group's annual Texas Hill Country National Trip. Dr. Abbott has also participated in several other National Trips. In addition, he has been involved in various strategic planning efforts with the Sunshine Kids Foundation.

Abbott serves as consultant to Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He joined Texas State University in 1976 and has held several positions during his 25-year tenure. He has been Director, Planning and Analysis; Associate Vice President for Finance and Management; Executive Assistant to the President; Executive Vice President; and Interim President of the University.

Abbott received his BS in Mathematics/Economics and MS in Information Processing Science/Economics from Southern Illinois University. His Ph.D. in Education Administration is from the University of Texas - Austin.

Abbott and his wife live in Austin. They have two sons, two daughters and three grandchildren.
Bob Allen   Bob Allen
Sports Broadcaster
Board Member, The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Bob Allen has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Foundation since its inception in 1982. Allen has attended the Foundation's annual ski trip in Colorado, capturing the children's experiences on video. From this, he regularly produces a five-part news series and 30-minute television special about the organization and its goal of helping children with cancer.

KTRK-TV welcomed Allen to its sports staff in 1974, becoming Sports Director one year later. He has been recognized numerous times for excellence in his work, including receiving the Associated Press and United Press Best Sportscast Award seven times. He began his career at KPRC Radio as a news and sports reporter and began "Sports Feedback", one of the first radio sports talk shows in Houston.

Allen graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
Carol Alvarado   Carol Alvarado
Board Member-The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Carol Alvarado serves as Texas State Representative for District 145, which includes Houston's East End and the City of South Houston. Prior to her election in 2008, Carol was Houston's Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member, District I.

As a public servant, Carol continues to fight for a better environment and healthier living options for all Texans. During her first session in the House, Carol passed an amendment to current law requiring children in a full day Pre-K program receive at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity time. Her work also includes passing Houston's Smoke-Free Ordinance in Public Workplaces, protecting urban neighborhoods from harmful concrete crushing plants that pollute the air and championing better corporate citizenship from business and industry.

Carol, like many Houstonians, came to learn about Sunshine Kids through her friends, Houston icons Bob Allen & Craig Biggio. She is honored to be a part of what she calls "the dynamic SSK family." Carol is a two-time graduate of the University of Houston, with a Bachelor’s in Political Science (1992) and a Masters in Business Administration (2008). Carol is an avid Astros fan and enjoys cycling, reading, movies and time with her family.
Johnny Carrabba   Johnny Carrabba
Board Member, The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Carrabba's Italian Grill was founded in Houston in December of 1986 by Johnny Carrabba and his uncle Damian Mandola. Both Johnny and Damian have extensive restaurant experience and belong to one of Houston's most successful restaurant families.

Johnny Carrabba was born and grew up in Houston. He attended St. Thomas High School and St. Thomas University. He has a two-year-old son, Johnny IV and a two-year-old daughter, Mia Rose. He started in the restaurant business by working with his uncles. His first job was at the Damian's in Huntsville in 1976, then at Nino's owned by Vincent and Tony Mandola in Houston. He and Damian Mandola opened the first Carrabba’s restaurant in December 1986.

This local spirit and outstanding food and customer service led to a partnership with Florida based Outback Steakhouse, Inc. In 1993 this partnership was formalized, and led to 10 Carrabba' s Italian Grills being opened in Houston and Florida. In 1995 Outback acquired the rights to develop the Carrabba's theme nationwide. There are currently 190 Carrabba's Italian Grill locations around the United States.

Tom Carruthers, III

Prudential PenFed Realty
Board Member, The Sunshine Kids Foundation

  Tom Carruthers, III, president of Prudential Carruthers Realtors, began his real estate career in 1991 when he joined his father's company upon graduation from the University of Richmond. During his tenure with the company, the firm has grown from three residential branch offices generating $3 million in GCI to 22 offices producing well over $30 million in GCI. The company also offers commercial, property management, mortgage and title services.

At a national level, Tom has served on the NAR Board of Directors and serves or has served on the Marketing, Technology, Relocation and National Advisory Councils for Prudential Real Estate. Locally, Tom currently serves on the Maryland Association of Realtors Board of Directors and Executive Committee and MRIS Board of Directors, the regional MLS. As the National Honorary Chairperson for the Sunshine Kids Foundation, Mr. Carruthers coordinates efforts to expand the Sunshine Kids profile in the Prudential Real Estate network to increase the incredible support the network presently affords the Foundation. He joined the Board of Directors in 2003.
Akara Forsythe, M.D.   Akara Forsythe, M.D.
Board Member, Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Akara Forsythe began her involvement with The Sunshine Kids when she attended the 1990 Sunshine Kids Winter Games in Aspen, Colorado as a patient participant from Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “During one of the most difficult times in my life, the Sunshine Kids Foundation brought me a tremendous amount of happiness and peace. And, I still hold many of the memories close to my heart.”

Akara is now completing her residency at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD in the Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care. She also is a Cardiac Life Support Instructor at Johns Hopkins’ Office of Emergency Training and has written a chapter for General Care Issues in the Johns Hopkins Anesthesia Resident Handbook.

At the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Sunshine & Stars Gala in 2007 Akara served as one of the honored Sunshine Kids representing the Foundation’s past 25 years. “For a child with cancer there is no greater gift than the gift of liberation from being a sick kid, freedom to be bald and beautiful, laughter, joy and hope with no limits and that is what The Sunshine Kids Foundation has done for each and every one of us.”
Andy Sacks   Andy Sacks
Producer, The Closer
Board Member-The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Andy Sacks has been involved with The Sunshine Kids since 2005 after learning about the Foundation from Executive Director G.W. Bailey on the TNT series The Closer. Andy has helped to coordinate activities in Los Angeles as well as volunteer on national events.

After graduating from UCLA, Andy began his career working on a theme park in Oita, Japan and started his work in television on the series, Beverly Hills, 90210. His feature credits include Shirley MacLaine’s directorial debut, Bruno and Adaptation directed by Spike Jones. In 2004, he won an Academy Award for producing the short film Two Soldiers.

Andy is continually inspired by the Kids he has met and is honored to be a member of the Board of Directors so that he can continue to be part of this great organization helping amazing Kids have memorable and fun experiences.
Bret Sanders   Bret Sanders
Board Member, The Sunshine Kids Foundation

Bret Sanders, oldest son of Round Rock Express Managing Partner Don Sanders, joined the club's ownership group in December of 2003. Bret is currently Director of NASDAQ Trading for Sanders Morris Harris, where he oversees over-the-counter trading for the Houston-based brokerage firm. He has been employed at Sanders Morris Harris since 1992. Prior to joining the company, Bret was employed in the legal and investment consulting business, advising investment firms on regulatory and compliance issues. Bret is a 1989 graduate of the University of Houston, with a BA in Political Science.

Bret is actively involved in philanthropy in the Houston area and in 2014 joined The Sunshine Kids board of Directors.

Bret and his wife Laurie reside in Houston with their two children, Chris and Chelsea, but spend many weekends in Round Rock and Corpus Christi watching the Express and the Hooks. They are avid sports fans, attending most Astros games and participating in numerous adventure races throughout Texas.

Jerry Short   Jerrie Short
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties
Board Member, The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Jerrie and her husband founded Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in 1975. Under their guidance, the company grew from 15 associates to 200 associates today. Over the last 40 years, Jerrie has focused on providing the sales associate with support services that exceed their expectations. For her, it is all about the “personal touch” when it comes to working with people. Technology is an amazing real estate tool, but in a world that is more and more driven by Facebook, Twitter, search engines and blogging, there is no substitute for working side-by-side with an individual to accomplish their goals. They are recognized by the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices as an Elite Circle Company – one of the top 50 companies in the BHHS system.

The associates at BHHS California Properties have been supporting the Sunshine Kids for more than 15 years and they have become an integral part of who they are in the community. As a cancer survivor herself, Jerrie has a passion for the Sunshine Kids Foundation and the work they do every day to make an impact and a difference in the lives of kids with cancer. “Honored and blessed” are the words that come to mind when Jerrie thinks about her position on the Sunshine Kids Board. As the representative for the top ten Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices fundraising offices, she appreciates the opportunity to work toward increasing the number of BHHS companies supporting the Foundation.
Mike Thomas   Mike Thomas
Attorney At Law, Dallas, Texas
Board Member, The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Mike Thomas has been an advisor to The Sunshine Kids Executive Director and Board of Directors for several years. He has played an instrumental role in the growth of The Foundation.

Currently, a lawyer in Dallas, Texas, Thomas was previously the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for John Goodman & Associates, a national cardiovascular consulting company in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was also a partner with Thompson & Thomas, PC, in Lubbock, Texas where he was a lecturer in the Business Law Department at Texas Tech University.

Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Technological College and received his doctor of jurisprudence at Texas Tech University.
Stuart R. Toledano, M.D.   Stuart R. Toledano, M.D.
Board Member, The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Dr. Stuart Toledano joins The Sunshine Kids Foundation Board of Directors after 15 years of involvement with the organization.

Currently, Toledano is Director of Pediatric Hematology & Oncology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Toledano received his Bachelors of Science degree in medicine at Brooklyn College and received his medical degree from Buffalo Medical School.
Rhoda Tomasco   Rhoda Tomasco
Founder, The Sunshine Kids Foundation
  Rhoda Tomasco founded The Sunshine Kids Foundation in 1982, after serving for two years as a pediatric volunteer with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. During her lifetime as a volunteer there, she established a number of children's programs, including an amputee ski trip for young cancer patients.

These activities provided Tomasco with the vision that inspired her to create The Sunshine Kids Foundation which has grown to become national in scope, providing activities and quality experiences for young cancer patients across the United States. All activities are provided at no cost to the patients' families and are designed to provide positive growth activites as well as a respite from the challenges of dealing with their illness.

Tomasco attended the University of Houston, majoring in Psychology with a minor in music.
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© The Sunshine Kids Foundation
A Non-Profit Foundation For Children With Cancer
2814 Virginia St | Houston | Texas | 77098