Helping Cancer Patients Go the Distance



Ellen’s Run has changed lives – including its founder’s

Julie Ratner (Ed.D. '96, M.A. '92) always planned to work in higher education, even after her sister, Ellen Hermanson, succumbed to breast cancer. Then, just as she was completing her doctorate at Teachers College, Ratner began planning a run in Ellen’s memory. The first Ellen’s Run was held in August 1996, raising more than $62,000 for support services for cancer patients and giving rise to The Ellen Hermanson Foundation. Soon, Ratner left a job at Marymount Manhattan College to serve as the Foundation’s Executive Director and Chair. 

“It just took over my life,” she says. 

Today Ellen’s Run draws more than 1,000 runners annually, while the Foundation has awarded more than $3.5 million in grants. Most of the focus is on providing patient services in the Hamptons, which has a disproportionately high number of breast cancer cases and, contrary to popular perception, is not just a vacation playground for the wealthy. 

“There’s a great need on Eastern Long Island for the services we provide, and we are determined to keep the money in the community,” Ratner says. 

Built in 2009, the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Southampton Hospital combines the “rigor and technology of a teaching hospital with the warmth of a support group,” Ratner says, and cannot turn away anyone in need. A full-time outreach coordinator helps newly diagnosed patients navigate their options. “When my sister was diagnosed, she was largely left to figure out her options and treatment. Someone to walk you through that information, especially at such an emotional time, is important.” 

Ratner is a member of TC’s Grace Dodge Society and Campaign Committee. She credits the College for her success in achieving the Foundation’s goals. “TC gave me the ability to analyze problems and made me better at connecting with people and leading teams,” she says. “It provided a lens for how I see the world. I could not be who I am today without that experience.” — AMANDA LANG


“There's a great need on Eastern Long Island for the services we provide, and we are determined to keep the money in the community.” 


Julie Ratner