Pink Pearl Foundation is a community-oriented organization that provides support, facilitates connections and empowers young women who are courageously overcoming the social and emotional challenges of being diagnosed with cancer.
Pink Pearl Foundation is registered Canadian charitable organization that empowers young women who are courageously working through the social and emotional challenges of cancer, across southern Ontario. The Foundation has successfully raised nearly $300,000 to date through reputable fundraising events initiatives, such as the Black & White with a Touch of Pink annual springtime event in Toronto. Funds raised provide effective and fully-funded programming for young women, between the ages of 18 and 40, battling cancer of any type. Continual programming for participants currently includes: wellness retreats; support packages distributed in hospitals and cancer centres; local social gatherings; and post-secondary scholarships. Pink Pearl Foundation was conceived by 32-year-old ovarian cancer survivor Elise Gasbarrino. While undergoing cancer treatment in her early twenties, Elise felt certain elements were missing from her experience—a way to connect with women her age facing the same issues, and a means for them to conquer their issues together. Her vision transformed into Pink Pearl Foundation, a not-for-profit organization made up of more than 25 dedicated volunteers, focused on bringing together young women affected by cancer through a network of peer support and innovative programs.
In March 2015, the Canadian Cancer Society released survey results reporting that more than half of Canadians do not feel well-equipped to support themselves, a friend, or a loved-one with cancer. Pink Pearl Foundation has identified this as a prominent feeling among young female cancer patients between the age of 18 and 40. Through important discussions about their needs and fears, the Foundation works to identify gaps between the emotional needs of a patient and the treatment provided by the medical community. Before the age of 40, cancer is not an expected reality for anyone. Educational and professional goals and personal relationships are often put on hold. These areas are where peer support can have the greatest impact. The ongoing support of Pink Pearl Foundation provides young women with an outlet to discuss individual challenges and works to help reduce feelings of isolation. Pink Pearl Foundation believes that through its year-round innovative programming, annual events, and awareness initiatives, our community can band together to help bridge these gaps.
Our People: Our Board of Directors
Meet our Board of Directors. Gain insight to how we support young women facing cancer together.
Elise Gasbarrino, Founder & Executive Director
Elise Gasbarrino founded Pink Pearl Foundation after her own battle with cancer. She is an account executive at Burberry where she oversees the wholesale footwear business for the Americas and is a key advisor for the Canadian market. She has been recognized by Burberry as an Icon award winner for her work in social responsibility.
Amanda Cheng, Finance
Amanda Cheng joined Pink Pearl in 2015 to oversee the finance and tax function of the organization. She is a Senior Manager in the M&A Tax practice at KPMG LLP where she leads the tax due diligence and structuring elements of transactions. Amanda holds a degree in Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University and a CPA, CA designation. She also serves on the board of directors of Mélanie’s Way, a non-profit organization providing customized experiences to young women facing metastatic cancer.
Melaina Gasbarrino, Programs
Melaina Gasbarrino is the VP of Programs for Pink Pearl and has been involved with the organization since its inception. She has a Masters of Teaching from Griffith University and educates children using a holistic approach to learning. She hosts community clean-ups across Niagara and is writing her first environmental children’s book to engage others in positive community change.
Terrence Teixeira, Governance
Terrence Teixeira has been involved with Pink Pearl since 2013, focusing on strategy and organisational governance. He is a sporting event professional whose experience includes the Olympics, Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, Commonwealth Games and the Canadian Olympic Committee. Additionally, Terrence is a published author in the field of sport management and has represented Canada at the World Age-Group Triathlon Championships.
Courtney McNamara, Events & Sponsorship
Courtney McNamara has been with Pink Pearl Foundation since its inception, planning & executing the organization’s annual fundraising events. Courtney is the Channel Development Director at Cozumo, Inc., a Toronto-based retail technology company.
Vittoria Varalli, Strategy
Vittoria has been with the Pink Pearl Foundation since its inception. She has served in a number of roles and currently acts as the Director of Strategy. Vittoria is currently a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. She holds a BBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and a JD from Osgoode Hall Law School. She is a member of the New York State bar.
Meet our Volunteers. Read their perspectives.
Meet the Women of Pink Pearl, see how they inspire us.
- April 7, 2017: CTV News Toronto: News at 11:30 (Video)
- April 4, 2017: CTV News Toronto: Organization Unites Women with Cancer (Video)
- March 31, 2017: Toronto Guardian: Six Not-To-Miss Fundraising Events This Spring
- March 8, 2017: Style.ca: A String of Rare Pearls
- September 1, 2016: The Enterprise-Bulletin: Cancer survivor helping others
- May 10, 2016: Toronto Guardian: Cancer Support Group for Young Women Celebrates 10th Year
- April 16, 2016: Fashion Ecstasy: Black and White with a Touch of Pink Gala 2016
- April 2016: $55,000 Raised at 10th Annual Gala for Young Women Battling Cancer
- April 15, 2016: Best of Toronto: Touch of Pink gala in support of young women battling cancer
- April 1, 2016: The Globe and Mail: Pink Pearl Foundation funds support services for young women with cancer
- March 31, 2016: Illuminessence: Pink Pearl Foundation hosts 10th Anniversary Gala in Support of Young Women Battling Cancer
- March 22, 2016: She Does The City: Facing Cancer – Elise Gasbarrino, Founder of Pink Pearl Foundation
- March 14, 2016: Fashion Ecstasy: Upcoming Event – Black and White with a Touch of Pink 2016
- March 2016: Frockology: Partnership | Pink Pearl Foundation
- January 19, 2016: Charity Republic: Charity Highlight | Pink Pearl Foundation
- December 2, 2015: Niagara Advance: Pink Pearl Empowers Young Women Battling Cancer
- October 27, 2015: Illuminessence: Pink Pearl Founder Elise Gasbarrino talks passion and raising over $100,000 for young women with cancer!
- September 14, 2015: Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce: One Fine Day
- April 2015: snapd St.Lawrence/Distillery: Black & White with a Touch of Pink
- April 26, 2015: Fashion Ecstasy: Black & White with a Touch of Pink Gala 2015
- April 22, 2015: Best of Toronto: Touch of Pink 2015 for the Pink Pearl Foundation
- April 19, 2015: Pass Me Another Cupcake: Black and White with a Touch of Pink
- April 3, 2015: Toronto Guardian: Charitable Choices: Pink Pearl Foundation’s Black & White with a Touch of Pink Fundraising Gala
- March 25, 2015: Niagarabuzz.ca: Pink Pearl Foundation: Spectacular Distillery District Fundrasier Continues Vision of One Young Woman
- March 17, 2015: She Does the City: Pink Pearl Foundation Charity Gala for Young Women Battling Cancer
- November, 2014: snapd Queen/Waterfront Toronto: Strong Women & Statement Jewelry Showcase
- August, 2014: CHLOE Magazine: A Pearl of Wisdom
- July 31, 2014: West Niagara Life: One Fine Day
- July 23, 2014: Bullet News Niagara: Pink Pearl Foundation hosting ‘One Fine Day’
- June 17, 2014: Niagara This Week: Building a sense of community in a time of need
- May 1, 2014: Amanda Cowley Sweet Events: Pink Pearl: ‘Black & White With a Touch of Pink’ Event
- March 27, 2014: Bullet News Niagara: Pink Pearl aids women battling cancer