Lori Alf, the Penn Medicine ambassador scheduled to speak with former Vice President Joe Biden at a Feb. 28 forum, will no longer appear at the panel, a Penn Medicine spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.
Alf is a cancer survivor who was given a "revolutionary" treatment at Penn Med for multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. In her role as an ambassador for the organization, she was scheduled to speak at the forum, "A Formidable Foe: Cancer in the 21st Century," which also included Biden and Penn President Amy Gutmann.
Around midday Wednesday, Alf was no longer included as a "featured panelist" on the forum website. She had initially been listed along with a picture.
Alf's spot in the forum quickly came under scrutiny after The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that she was being sued in Florida over allegedly discriminating against an Iraqi-American family. Alf, who owns an ice rink in Florida, allegedly made profane, racist statements directed at Hyaat Aldahwi, a young Iraqi-American skater, who Alf ultimately banned from her rink in January 2013.
According to court filings, Alf allegedly said “there won’t ever be an Iraqi skater at the Olympics — over my dead body" and referred to the Aldahwi family as “towel heads” and “Iraqi f**king c**ts." The suit accusing Alf of discrimination was filed in 2015 by Aldahwi's mother, Angela.
"Mrs. Alf has decided not to participate in the upcoming Silfen Forum. She indicated to us that she felt the recent media coverage of litigation regarding her business had the potential to draw attention away from the Forum’s important focus on cancer," Penn Medicine spokeswoman Susan Phillips said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
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