Northwest Hope & Healing is guided by an incredible Board of Directors that bring first-hand perspective, experience, and wisdom to all that we do.
Passion. Dedication. Experience.
Karyn Blasi Hellar, Executive Director
Through volunteerism, board membership, and now as the Executive Director, Karyn has been with Northwest Hope and Healing for over 5 years.
Karyn became involved with NWHH when she met Founder, Christine Smith, through her husband, Chip Hellar. The fundamental unfairness of a cancer – and that a diagnosis outside of an individual’s control can derail plans, jobs, financial security, and futures – is what drives Karyn’s passion to do this work. She prides NWHH’s role in supporting patients and in giving them the knowledge that local community isn’t willing to let them face their journey alone. From small boutiques to breweries, and larger corporations to tattoo studios – Karyn has cultivated an environment where everyone pitches in to share love and understanding with local women during trying times in their lives.
When looking to the future of NWHH, Karyn is most excited about the continued growth of the organization and the resulting ability to touch more lives through spreading awareness and helping more patients. Karyn is looking forward to seeing the results of the great momentum built over the last three years.
When asked about her favorite part of the organization – it’s the people!
“Some of the volunteers have become some of my best friends, we have a special, accepting, loving group of women and men who are so inspirational – and we love to have fun!”
“This is a hard-working group of people, many of which with full-time jobs, and they spend their free time rolling up their sleeves to make a difference. It’s an upbeat, energetic, creative group, and I would love to continue to add more people and more perspectives to the work we do.”
Read more about Karyn and Northwest Hope & Healing on Swedish Foundation’s website >
Dr. Tanya Wahl, President
Tanya was recently elected President of the Board of NWHH, where her 16+ year background as a Medical Oncologist at Swedish’s Issaquah campus is already providing valuable insight to our endeavors. In her career, Tanya focuses on the treatment of breast, gynecologic, and blood cancers.
She has seen first-hand the financial distress experienced by nearly all of her patients upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, and is proud of the impact Northwest Hope and Healing can make to ease that burden.
Tanya was born in Portland and moved to Seattle when she was 9, where she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Washington. After attending Duke Medical School and then Stanford University for her Internal Medicine residency, she completed her education by coming home for a Hematology/Oncology fellowship at UW/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Outside of her practice, Tanya has been married for more than 27 years and has 2 teenage boys who do their best to keep her and her husband busy. She loves the outdoors, and especially masters rowing, which she took up 8 years ago and can’t stay away from—despite the shockingly early mornings. She is also a voracious reader.
At this pivotal point in Northwest Hope and Healing’s history, Tanya is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to its leadership, dedicated to providing the majority of its funds directly to patient assistance, and excited to see how the organization grows in the years ahead.
Stefanie Erdahl, Vice President
Stefanie has been with NWHH since the very beginning. As a personal friend of our founder, Christine Smith, Stefanie was one of the original supporters of the organization.
Stefanie joined the board of NWHH three years ago in order to affect positive change within the organization. In her role as VP, she brings marketing, PR, and event planning knowledge to the table. Her goal for NWHH in the next five to ten years is for it to continue to grow the Patient Assistance Fund and serve more women in need.
Stefanie grew up in Spokane. She moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, where she studied communications with a focus on advertising. Stefanie has always loved the water and enjoys spending her free time kayaking, stand-up-paddling, swimming, and boating. She also loves to travel.
As a firm believer in the need for everyone to step up and support the causes they believe in, Stefanie is very proud to be an integral part of Northwest Hope & Healing.
Amy Murray, Treasurer
Amy got involved in NWHH through her friend and fellow board member, Lise. After she attended the Fashion Show a few years ago, she fell in love with the organization and the women that it serves.
She loves the opportunity to work with a talented and committed staff and a super fun Board of Directors!
When she’s not having a great time with the Board, Amy is a CFO whose career has spanned a multi-office medical practice, scientific research facility, Community Foundation, and multiple Not-for-Profits.
Amy’s favorite part of NWHH is the outreach – and how NWHH is serving more women and their families as organization grows. She finds it fulfilling to help support people helping people.
She loves to cook, travel, and spend time with family friends and her kitties.
Lise Thornton, Secretary
Lise is employed in the Pharmaceutical industry and has been in the breast cancer arena for 20 years. During her preceptorships with oncologists, she saw first-hand the effects of treatment on patients and knows that the financial difficulties of treatment can be as devastating as the disease itself. Lise has also lost two, very close friends to breast cancer, inspiring her to get more involved in the cause.
Lise was introduced to Northwest Hope and Healing several years ago through Swedish Cancer Institute when she received an invitation to attend Cork Fork Support when it was held at Swedish. She continued to attend the event and then became acquainted with the Executive Director who asked her to volunteer. Lise helped with the Alki Beach 5K run, and with Cork Fork Support, and was invited to formally join NWHH as a member of the board in May of 2017. Lise currently serves as Board Secretary. She enjoys her position on the board as she is committed the mission of Northwest Hope and Healing and feels passionate about helping breast and gyn cancer patients.
Lise has also volunteered for Gilda’s Club in the past and has been a volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium for over 25 years.
Jennifer Price officially joined the board after becoming involved with the organization in the Fall of 2014.
A New York City transplant, Jen has a long-standing relationship with the breast cancer community, both in her role as a public relations professional in the biopharmaceutical industry and as a volunteer with METAvivor, a national grassroots non-profit committed to closing the funding disparity in metastatic research dollars.
The first event she attended was the fall wine tasting gala where she felt a great connection to NWHH’s mission to support local women both emotionally and financially. She went on to co-chair the annual event the last three years and looks forward to helping to shape the vision and direction of the organization as it continues its incredible growth trajectory.
Kristen first learned about Northwest Hope & Healing through the current Board President, Tanya Wahl. They met while Kristen was receiving treatment for triple positive breast cancer at the Swedish Issaquah campus. As a survivor herself, Kristen understands firsthand how financially taxing breast cancer treatment can be and she is committed to relieving the burden of that financial stress for local women.
Kristen came on as a board member after meeting with a few of the other members and providing legal advice to the board on multiple occasions. She has previously served on the board of Imagine Housing, a nonprofit that works to develop affordable housing and build inclusive and vibrant communities in King County. Kristen has been involved with numerous nonprofit groups throughout her career as a lawyer.
Kristen was born in Monterrey, CA. She attended Pepperdine University for her undergraduate degree and Michigan State University Law School. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her three kids and three dogs.
In the next five years, Kristen would like to see NWHH spread its reach beyond strictly breast and gynecologic cancers and she would like to see the organization expand to work with more cancer treatment centers.
Dr. Christine Lee
As a breast surgeon at Swedish Issaquah, Dr. Christine Lee, MD, FACS began attending Northwest Hope and Healing events because she saw the positive impact that the organization was able to have for her patients. Dr. Lee witnesses daily the ways that cancer can financially devastate families. She believes that the immediate grants and sense of community that come from NWHH’s signature Healing Boxes and community events are a source of hope and healing for women, one that is not provided by the traditional healthcare system.
Christine Lee brings her expertise as a breast surgeon to the board, offering the perspective of someone who communicates regularly with patients and their families. She sees firsthand the burdens of cancer and is committed to relieving these burdens both as a surgeon and as a board member for NWHH. Her goals for the organization include growing our donor base, volunteer base, and overall community of supporters and to continue to expand opportunities for patients, survivors and their supporters to connect, network and experience benefits beyond the financial grants.
Christine was born in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She attended Pomona College for her undergrad, George Washington University Medical School, and completed her training and residency at the University of Washington. She enjoys running, open ocean swimming, hiking, and paddling (both kayaks and stand-up paddle boards), especially on Orcas Island, where she spends time with her husband and their Australian Labradoodle, Gemma.
Jen Peel first came into contact with NWHH through a former colleague, who introduced her to our Executive Director, Karyn. As a breast cancer survivor herself, Jen is very interested in helping women with breast and gynecologic cancers in any way that she is able. When she learned of the great work NWHH does to help women when they are at their most frazzled and vulnerable, she was eager to support the mission.
Jen offers 15+ years of marketing and creative experience to the board. With this, she is hoping to help the organization grow in participation, funding, and the help we are able to provide. This is her first experience on the board of a nonprofit. In the next five years, she would love to see the organization expand its reach locally and to develop more business partnerships. She would also like to see an increase in survivor participation and more support from men.
Jen grew up in Wisconsin and Illinois and attended college at The American University in Washington, DC where she studied Justice and Forensic Science. After a few years of legal work, she switched gears entirely and attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for her master’s degree in Filmmaking. After film school, Jen moved back to Seattle where she had been living between college and grad school and got involved in technology and marketing.
When not working, Jen enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, writing (she’s working on a young adult novel), making music, seeing art, reading, and getting outdoors. She has a 12-year-old daughter, and she tries to spend as much time with her as possible before she no longer wants to hang out with “mom.”
Not only is Jen a breast cancer survivor, but she also lost her mom to breast cancer when she was in her mid-20s. Her partner’s mother is also a survivor. Breast cancer is an all too familiar enemy in her life so she is happy that she found NWHH and has found a way she can provide help to those in need.