Lynn Fass, President and Board Co-ChaIR
Lynn is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Lymphedema Therapist and has been a guiding force behind the NWLC for the almost 25 years that she has served 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.
Julie Venn, Vice President and Board Member
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, Inc. 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 on behalf of the NWLC has committed countless leadership hours and hands-on efforts to teaching the NWLC self-care class and supporting the organization’s mission as a whole. Julie has also led numerous lymphedema support groups and developed the outstanding Harmony Hill Lymphedema Retreat.
Elaine Eigeman, Board Member
Lymphedema Advocacy Group, BOARD CHAIR
A teacher by mindset and a force of nature, Elaine has led by example in advocating for lymphedema patients everywhere. Her goal is that “lymphedema patients understand how their lives can by 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 which represents patients nationwide, she is actively working to pass the Lymphedema Treatment Act (HR 930/S 497) in the U.S. Congress. She is devoted to getting this Medicare 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 breast cancer. Throughout her journey, she has unwaveringly encouraged and given tremendous support to, creating a vibrant local community for lymphedema patients in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
JoAnn Rovig, Board Member, Founder & Advisor EMERITUS
JoAnn is and always has been a true champion for lymphedema patients. She recently founded the Lymphedema Challenger, a As the one of the first licensed lymphedema therapists in the 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 was during the last month of my 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 continue my education as a lymphedema therapist. One of my first patients, Jane Gordon, and I immediately recognized the need to expand lymphedema awareness in our community, and we co-founded the Northwest Lymphedema Center as an educational facility for patients and their caregivers. The Center has produced three self-care videos and has been offering classes and consultations for the last 16 years.
KAREN GILLESPIE, Board Member
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 through activities of the Northwest Lymphedema Center. In 2017, Karen joined the Board and has been part of the team working with 501 Commons and TECHSOUP to build our IT infrastructure. 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.
SEAN Ku, Board Member and TECHNICAL ADVISOR
LAURIE MACFADDEN JONES, Board Co-Chair, Acting EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Not until midlife after taking NWLC’s flagship self-care class taught by Lynn Fass did Laurie ever meet anyone else with primary lymphedema or who knew much about what to do about it. Later as a member of the Washington Women’s Foundation where she learned about funding and support to local nonprofits, Laurie joined the NWLC Board to engage more directly. Afterwards she reached out to 501Commons and TECHSOUP—nonprofits that help other nonprofits—to be part of a program to help build a more powerful information technology platform. Inspired by the NWLC education and support she had received years earlier, and in being designated a Lymph Science Advocate by the National Lymphedema Network in 2016, Laurie has more recently taken on administration and management duties and also helped to transition the organization out of the longtime location in Kent at the Jovi-Pak headquarters. With a background in public policy and auditing for an agency of the U.S. Congress, Laurie joined originally as a general member but is honored to have a leadership role.