Who We Are

The mission of the Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research is to raise funds that will directly benefit the fight to end sarcoma. By supporting local, innovative research with a relentless commitment to excellence, we open a pathway for scientists and other research professionals to develop and offer cutting-edge treatment options to more sarcoma sufferers. Thus helping to expand our global hope for a cure.

The Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research was born out of Paula Takacs’ love of life, love of family, and love of her circle of friendship. This circle continues to grow through the work of this foundation, the people whose lives we touch, and the differences we strive to make towards finding cures, for patients locally and throughout the world.

Our foundation invests your donations in sarcoma research and clinical trials being conducted at Levine Cancer Institute. To read about Levine Cancer Institute and the sarcoma research initiatives at this center, click here.

We thank these Board members for their dedication to this foundation, their passion for improving the lives of patients around the globe, and their relentless commitment to finding a cure for sarcoma.

If you would like to inquire about joining our Board, or serving our organization in any other capacity, please contact us.

Board Member Sue Udelsoon photo

Susan Udelson

Susan began volunteering for the Paula Takacs Foundation in 2011 after spending a year as a caretaker and advocate for her brother Alan during his painful battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma, one of hundreds of expressions of sarcoma. Losing her sibling to a disease that had caused him much suffering, and offers so little hope for a cure, fueled her passionate commitment to make a difference for others in their battle against this rare cancer.

As a volunteer for the Foundation, Susan also developed a deep and loyal friendship with Paula Takacs. She was moved by her strength, courage, conviction, and limitless dedication despite the ravages of the cancer growing inside her. Joining the Board in 2012, Susan worked alongside Paula to structure a sarcoma research funding initiative at the recently opened Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte. Together they began a new chapter in advocating for local research and local treatment options.

After beloved Paula succumbed to sarcoma in April, 2014, Susan accepted the honor to become the Executive Director of the foundation. Her unique experience and passionate vision for the foundation allows her to continue Paula’s work by supporting sarcoma research within the region and expanding hope throughout the world.

A resident of Charlotte along with her husband and two daughters, Susan’s professional highlights include careers in institutional brokerage at Morgan Stanley & Co. and fraud investigation at the NASDAQ Exchange.  When she is not working to forward the mission of the foundation, Susan can be found behind the lens of her camera communing with nature, or taking long walks with her husband, Steve.

Board Member Geoffrey Takacs

Geoffrey Takacs

Geoffrey, along with Paula Takacs, formed the Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research in 2010.  He has served in numerous capacities at the Foundation at an operational level, and has served on the board every year since its inception.  Professionally, Mr. Takacs is a credit research analyst at Barings, where he has worked since 2004.  For fun, Mr. Takacs enjoys both playing and watching sports, is an avid Crossfitter and enjoys a good rollercoaster.


Lee Ann DeCarlo

Lee Ann DeCarlo has served on the Paula Takacs Foundation Board of Directors since 2016. Additionally, Lee Ann volunteers with Thompson Child & Family Focus and the Urban Ministry Center. After graduating from Georgia State University with a degree in Risk Management & Insurance, Lee Ann worked as a reinsurance broker for Guy Carpenter & Company in Atlanta. After relocating to Charlotte in 1999, Lee Ann became extremely active at Charlotte Latin School. For the next 12 years, she took on several roles at Charlotte Latin including grade level advisers, organizing & facilitating the middle school service program, coaching Girls on the Run, serving on the Drug & Alcohol Task Force & fundraising. Her true passion was the Foreign Exchange program where her family housed over 20 exchange students. Lee Ann enjoys outdoor activities including destination running and hiking, tennis & golf. She served as president of the neighborhood swim & racquet club including running the swim team for several years. She has a true passion for dogs and has worked with several rescue organizations in the transport, foster, and fundraising care of hunting dogs. Lee Ann and her husband, Steve, are the parents of three grown children and four dogs.

Board Member Mike Zeller photo

Mike Zeller

Mike Zeller is the co-head of Moore & Van Allen’s Global Services Group. Mr. Zeller obtained his BA from Union College, his JD from Temple University School of Law and his LL.M. from the University of Hamburg. In addition to serving on the board of the Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research, Mr. Zeller serves on the board of Charlotte Wine & Food, is a volunteer hearing officer for the Charlotte Housing Authority and serves as pro bono general counsel to the Charlotte Mothers of Multiples and Give Hope, Inc. In his spare time he partakes in Tae Kwon Do and activities with his twin sons.

Suzanne Levine

Suzanne has been a real estate broker and manager at Mathers Realty since 2005. In addition to serving on the board of the Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research, Suzanne is a troop leader with the Girl Scouts. In the past, Suzanne has served on the board of the Hornets Nest Girl Scouts Council and on the Outreach Committee at Carmel Country Club. In addition to the time spent developing her professional and philanthropic passions, Suzanne enjoys life with her husband Chad and their two Chihuahaus, traveling and playing tennis.

Ashley Smith

Ashley met Paula Takacs shortly after Paula’s diagnosis in 2004.  The two became close friends after their children became friends and classmates.  After volunteering at the Sarcoma Stomp every year since 2011, she decided that she wanted to do more than just volunteer at the event.  She wanted to honor her late friend and be a larger part of the fight against this disease. 

Ashley is the owner of AWS Fitness.  When she is not training her clients, you can find Ashley on the tennis court or with her husband Aaron cheering on their two children at one of their many sporting events.