Meet the Board Members



April 23, 1943 – April 24, 2019



A teacher by mindset and a force of nature, Elaine led by example in advocating for lymphedema patients everywhere. Her goal was that “lymphedema patients understand how their lives can be full and active, especially if they learn how the lymphatic system works and how to effectively manage their particular form of lymphedema.” As Board Chair of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group representing patients nationwide, she tirelessly worked to pass the Lymphedema Treatment Act in the U.S. Congress, often traveling to Washington D.C. to do so. She was devoted to getting a Medicare related law passed that requires insurance coverage for compression as an essential part of lymphedema treatment. Getting Medicare coverage will set a standard for private insurance companies to follow. In 1999, Elaine developed lymphedema in both arms and hands while being treated for bilateral lobular breast cancer. That cancer returned in 2015. Throughout her journey, she unwaveringly encouraged and supported creating a vibrant local community for lymphedema patients in the Pacific Northwest.  We are extremely grateful for a generous bequest from her estate to continue that work.  A memorial for Elaine will be held on Sunday, July 14th from 1-4 pm at the Mountaineers Club, 7700 Sandpoint Way, Northeast, Seattle, Washington.

LYNN FASS, Current Board Co-Chair, and Past PRESIDENT

Lynn, a Registered Nurse and a Certified Lymphedema Therapist and has been a guiding force behind the NWLC for over 25 years and continues in a leadership role. She trained at the Vodder and Casley-Smith Schools. She also speaks from experience, having had Primary Lymphedema in her legs since she was a teenager and in her arms which developed about 10 years later. Lynn is also a former patient at the Foldi clinic in Hinterzarten, Germany. She particularly enjoys teaching others about lymphedema management with the goal of improving their quality of life. Lynn has a loyal following of former students and patients whom she has guided, and who often who return to take her classes again.

LAURIE JONES, Board Co-Chair

Not until midlife after taking the flagship self-care class taught at our then headquarters at Jovi-Pak ‘s manufacturing plant in Kent, Washington by Lynn Fass and JoAnn Rovig, did Laurie ever meet anyone else with primary lymphedema, or who knew much about what to do about it.  Inspired by the education and support she had received and in being designated a Lymph Science Advocate in 2016, Laurie has more recently taken on administration and management duties for our nonprofit. With a background in public policy for an agency of the U.S. Congress, Laurie is honored to have a leadership role at this critical time of promising developments in lymphatic science and medicine, and the new hope that brings for patients. Laurie is a breast cancer survivor, and is especially proud of two beautiful knee replacements in her lymphedema legs.

Julie Venn, Vice President

  Julie has a very comprehensive approach to caring for those with lymphedema. With engineering in her professional background, after a diagnosis of breast cancer and treatment for her own lymphedema, Julie redirected her talents toward intensive training to treat lymphedema patients as a certified massage therapist in private practice. Along with this she also became a certified fitter for compression garments and created Custom Fit Therapies in Auburn, Washington. Her combined therapeutic practice and compression garment business holistically focuses on tailoring the many steps to move forward with each person’s lymphedema care and healing. Julie has committed countless leadership hours and hands-on efforts to teaching our self-care class and supporting the organization’s mission as a whole. Julie has also led numerous lymphedema support groups and developed the outstanding and very popular, Harmony Hill Lymphedema Retreat.

JoAnn Rovig, Board Member, Founder & Advisor EMERITUS

JoAnn is and always has been a true champion for lymphedema patients. As the one of the first licensed lymphedema therapists in the  Pacific Northwest; Founder of the first Lymphedema Clinic in Washington State; and Founder and Chief Product Designer for JoViPak Corporation for over a decade, JoAnn knows lymphedema and its treatment very well. She received a breast cancer diagnosis during the last month of her massage training where she was fortunate to see a demonstration on Manual Lymph Drainage. After having 22 lymph nodes removed and seven weeks of radiation, JoAnn headed for Austria to specialize as a lymphedema therapist.  With one of her first patients, Jane Gordon, they immediately recognized the need to expand lymphedema awareness in our community, so they co-founded the Northwest Lymphedema Center as an educational facility for patients and their caregivers. After JoAnn sold JoViPak to BSN Medical, she started Lymphedema Challenger to continue to focus on her health and therapeutic priorities.


Karen is trained as both a Registered Nurse with experience mostly in intensive care and outpatient services, and as an Educator having spent the latter part of her career as an elementary school teacher.  In 2010 Karen developed lymphedema in her left arm because of breast cancer treatment.  Three years later she had Lymph Node Transfer surgery that included  compression as an integral part of the protocol which she credits with the fact that her lymphedema is now well managed. Karen’s medical and educational backgrounds, as well as her own lymphedema experience, have inspired her to make a difference for other lymphedema patients by joining the Board in 2017.  She is particularly interested in working with the medical community to increase awareness of lymphedema and in making information about lymphedema care more readily available to both doctors and patients.