meet the board

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Josh Epperson, MA, MS

Board President

Josh (he/him) is a Principal for Organizational Effectiveness for AWS at Amazon. He earned an MS in Organizational Development at Pepperdine University and holds MA degrees in Counseling Psychology and Theology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. He has worked and consulted in both the private and public sector across numerous industries as well as governmental and non-profit organizations. Josh lives in Seattle with his wife Kimberly and three active boys who love to play outside. He cannot stand drip coffee but loves a good espresso. Josh’s proudest moments are when he has helped fragmented individuals and organizations become whole.

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JJ Kissinger, MDiv

Founder and Executive Director

JJ (he/him) moved from Colorado to Seattle in 1998 to attend Seattle Pacific University. After six years working in higher education in both Admissions and Residence Life, JJ received his MDiv from Regent College in Vancouver, BC. For nine years, JJ served as Director of an outreach program in Seattle supporting for families who have a seriously ill child. Leveraging his unique blend of joyful enthusiasm, inspired creativity, and heartfelt empathy, JJ is committed to cultivating communities of hope with kids and families who are suffering. He lives in Shoreline with his wife Lisa and their two children Jane and Leo. JJ enjoys cooking, road trips, and binging a great podcast or TV series.

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Julie Giesy Metzger, RN, MN

Board Member

Julie (she/her) is a pediatric nurse, author, advocate and educator for families. As the founder of Great Conversations, she has worked with teens and pre-teens and their grown-ups on topics of puberty, sexuality, and decision-making for over 30 years. Julie is the author of two books for preteens and has written health curriculum used in schools and communities across the west coast. Great Conversations is sponsored by Seattle Children’s Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital as well as several pediatric practices and has been featured in the NYTimes and on The TODAY Show. Julie and her husband Mike live in Seattle’s Wedgewood neighborhood and have three adult children—an actress, a doctor, and a teacher.

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Kelly Hampton

Board Member

Kelly (she/her) is a passionate educator and creator of safe classroom environments that allow children to thrive. She began her career as a kindergarten teacher in the Seattle Public School District before discovering her love of preschool as a co-director and teacher at Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool. Most recently she was a co-founder and director of a preschool hosted in the Ronald McDonald House providing preschool services to patients at Seattle Children’s. Kelly is also a gifted parent educator, providing insight and support to parents on child development and positive parenting strategies. Kelly loves exploring the outdoors with her family and being in the kitchen baking anything with chocolate.  

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Doug and Laurie Bunnell

Parent Support

Informed by their own childhood cancer journey, Doug (he/him) and Laurie (she/her) have 15 years of experience facilitating hope-oriented conversational spaces where families who have a child with cancer feel seen, loved, encouraged, and supported...without any cheesy cliches. They live in Bellingham, WA where Laurie works as a preschool teacher and Doug serves as lead pastor at First Presbyterian Church.

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Geomara Viernes

Board Member

As a child, Geo (she/her) immigrated to the US from Michoacan, Mexico. Her parents worked the fields of Eastern WA, risking everything for more opportunity. Geo graduated from Yakima Community College and works as a dental hygienist at Yakima Valley Farm Worker's Clinic in Toppenish, WA. Her passion is public health, and she enjoys serving a wide spectrum of patients in her diverse community. In 2016, her youngest son Tiago was diagnosed with High Risk Neuroblastoma, Stage 4. Tiago is now happy and healthy, and Geo is eager to join TLC in supporting families through the cancer journey. Geo and her husband Conan live in Wapato, WA with their three children JJ, Carissa, and Tiago.

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Gretchen VonHeeder-Phillips, MSW

Board Member

Gretchen (she/her) is a Mental Health Therapist in the Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at Seattle Children's Hospital.  Gretchen has worked as a clinical social worker supporting young people and their families in multiple settings, and has loved being part of the oncology team at Seattle Children's.  She holds clinical expertise in grief and loss, pediatric oncology, palliative care, and relationship violence. Gretchen lives in Des Moines with her husband, daughter, perfect dog Radar, and non-perfect dog Cheddar.  As a family they love story-telling, dramatics, and dance parties.