OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Joanne Gainen (President)
Joanne first learned about the “virtual village” approach to aging in community through a class at TELOS, Bellevue College’s Continuing Education Program for Retirees. Along with several other students in the class, she pursued the instructor’s suggestion to explore the feasibility of a “virtual village” for Bellevue. The group expanded and evolved to become the Eastside Neighbors Network. Joanne earned her PhD in Psychology from the University of Washington in 1976. She held several faculty and administrative positions, most recently at Santa Clara University; she then went on to establish her own survey research business, Gainen Surveys LLC. She has 2 daughters, 8 grandchildren, and at last count, 4 great-grandchildren.
Patricia (Pat) Higgins (Treasurer)
Pat was born and raised in Seattle. Her husband was a member of the Coast Guard which required them to live in Ketchikan and Cleveland. Upon his retirement from the Coast Guard, they moved to Bellevue. Pat received her BA in Social Science from Seattle University, and a Masters in Taxation from Golden Gate University. She spent many years in public accounting as a tax specialist. She received her CPA license in the state of Washington and Alaska.
Pat volunteers and is on the board for AAUW (American Association of University Women), Lake Washington Branch. In addition, she is volunteering to prepare tax returns for United Neighbors. She enjoys spending time with her grandson who is 9. She also enjoys going to the gym, walking, and gardening.
Stephanie Shea (Secretary)
Stephanie Shea became intrigued by the idea of a “virtual village” after learning about this relatively novel approach to aging on a posting on Nextdoor and joined the Board of Eastside Neighbors Network in January, 2019. Stephanie was born in Boston, received her B.A. from Cornell University and, after moving to Bellevue with her husband, studied for her Masters and Ph.D. At the University of Washington. She very much enjoys reading, continuing with her artwork, meeting new people and having new experiences. Just lately Stephanie’s time has been taken up with the ever evolving triumphs and disasters of dealing with computers.
Bobbie Izuo (Chair, Outreach Committee)
Bobbie was born in Hawaii, moved to the Northwest and attended Central Washington University receiving a degree in Education and a Masters Degree at Seattle University. After retiring from 27 years of teaching, she entered the senior industry as Director of Marketing at Bellewood Retirement Community. She volunteers and has served on the board for The Rose International Fund for Children (TRIFC) for the past 10 years. Bobbie studies Feng Shui and is a certified Feng Shui practitioner.
Mary Pope (Chair, Events Committee)
Mary joined the Board in November 2017. She is originally from Rochester, MN, but moved to the PNW (via Chicago) more than 20 years ago. Mary is an RN, with a B.S.N from Seattle University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin. Before following her 'call' to become a nurse, Mary held a variety of Administrative positions at McKinsey & Company, Inc. in Chicago and Seattle. She has been a lifelong champion of vulnerable populations, having worked in Assisted Living and Pediatrics; and as a volunteer with Evergreen Hospice, Hopelink and PEPS (for new Moms). Her most recent and rewarding work has been as a private health advocate, helping clients navigate the complex U.S. healthcare system. She is passionate about honoring and helping to facilitate safe personal choices in housing, support services, and healthcare. Mary has been a leader and community organizer in her neighborhood, and a long-time fan and follower of the 'Village' model. She and her husband (John) live in Bridle Trails. They have 2 children and a big dog.
Lorene Sheppard (Co-chair, Volunteer Services Comittee)
Lorene was born in Portland, Oregon and graduated from Seattle University with a major in Accounting. She moved to Bellevue after graduation and was one of the original teachers at the Bellevue Montessori School. Lorene worked at the University of Washington in the financial division for 26 years and then retired. She has an extensive volunteer background with Sacred Heart Church in the Choir, as a Board member (CCD), and a Sunday school teacher. She has also volunteered at United Way and HopeLink. Lorene was married and has four children. Lorene is one of the founders of Eastside Neighbors Network and has served as a Board member and volunteer since its inception.
Judith Gellert (Co-Chair, Volunteer Services Committee)
Judith is retired, having taught 42 years in elementary classrooms in California, Massachusetts and Washington while raising 2 children with her husband of 51 years. She has a graduate degree in English from “Cal” Berkeley and another degree in Education from the University of Washington in Seattle. Presently, walking, reading novels, gardening and travel are her interests. Judith is one of the founders of Eastside Neighbors Network and has served as a Board member and volunteer since its inception.
Barbara Robison (Advisor)
Barbara is a professional business and life coach trained in the co-active model through Coaches Training Institute (CTI). She has spent many years working in the personal development field; facilitating workshops, training coaches, and working one-on-one with individual clients. Barbara's early careers include working in the corporate travel industry plus developing a successful independent direct sales business while raising two children with her husband of 31 years. Barbara's volunteer work includes group facilitation with the Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS), phone conciliation with the Mediation Program at the City of Bellevue, and currently as a docent with the Bellevue Arts Museum.
Stephanie Ko (Advisor)
When Stephanie Ko first learned about virtual villages a few years ago, she was so excited, she wanted to start one herself. Now, she has time to commit to the project and has agreed to bring her passion, skills, and knowledge of nonprofit organizations to ENN as an advisor to the Board.
Stephanie practices business, immigration, and estate planning law in Bellevue, and speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese. She often works with nonprofits and has been active in Rotary for many years. With her husband, she trains service dogs.
Of the virtual village starting in Bellevue, she says, "It's so needed! Everyone will grow old. I have clients who had a spouse and even children, but in the end they have no one. I talk with them about expanding their circle of friends and neighbors. Family far away cannot help; we have to help our neighbors."
All contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.