Board of Directors | Nonprofit Leadership | CaringBridge

Board of Directors

Our dynamic board has a commitment to doing extraordinary work and a vision for what's possible when compassion and technology unite.

Bill McKinney Chair

Bill McKinney is vice president of strategic development at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, an $80 billion-plus fraternal benefit society that offers financial products and services to over two million members throughout the U.S. In his role as a member of the senior leadership team for this not-for-profit firm, Bill has led groups responsible for distribution strategy, financial associate recruiting and training, mass market strategy, new business development, marketing research and analytics, business intelligence and most recently, talent and change management.

In his 12 years with Thrivent, Bill has spearheaded a multitude of initiatives, from creating innovative financial education programs to redesigning the firm’s grassroots volunteer system that raises tens of millions of dollars to support local charitable causes.

Bill earned his B.A. in history from Minnesota’s Carleton College and his MBA from the University of Minnesota. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

Kris Larson Vice Chair

Kris Larson is co-founder and chief financial officer of Veritae Group LLC, a women-owned company that provides interim finance and accounting leadership to organizations in the Twin Cities. Kris has more than 20 years of executive experience in accounting, finance and operations. In 2012 she was recognized by Finance and Commerce magazine as a “Top Women in Finance – Circle of Excellence.” It is her strong belief that communities can heal, evidenced by personal friends supported by a CaringBridge website.

John Orner Treasurer

John Orner is the vice president, treasurer and chief investment officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. He is an accomplished treasury, investment, finance, mergers and acquisitions, debt and insurance risk management professional with more than 29 years of executive leadership and asset management experience. Orner says the reason he joined the CaringBridge board of directors is simple - it aligns with his sense of duty and service to those battling significant illness as well as the family and friends who support them.

John Wernz Secretary

John Wernz is the chief marketing officer and executive vice president at Wealth Enhancement Group where he leads all marketing and growth initiatives. His mission is to use the power of marketing to advance meaningful causes. John learned about CaringBridge after a member of his marketing team was severely injured in a car accident in 2013. He previously served on the CaringBridge advisory council in 2015.

Sharon Berry

Sharon Berry has a PhD and is a licensed clinical psychologist who serves as the associate clinical director and psychology director of training for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Sharon has worked in health care for more than 30 years in a number of different states and facilities, treating patients with physical, behavioral and mental health concerns. Sharon has personally witnessed the benefits CaringBridge offers families under stress and says it is her privilege to serve on the board.

Jim Cuene

Jim Cuene is a partner at GoKart Labs, a digital innovation company in the Twin Cities. Jim has worked in the marketing industry for 20 years, and has a unique depth of experience in digital marketing and digital-powered innovation. Jim has seen the impact CaringBridge enables, and is thrilled to help a digital platform like CaringBridge continue to enable people to work together to support their family and friends.

Berit Francis

Berit Francis is the founder of the St. Jude Gala and a national advocate and volunteer for the Sexual Violence Center, including lobbying for more funding for DNA Testing of backlogged rape kits. She has held many leadership roles in the nursing field in Berkeley, California, and at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A mother of four, Francis’ youngest daughter, Marit, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancer of the brain, in 2008. Francis documented her daughter’s journey through CaringBridge and discovered that writing on the site was both therapeutic and helped her navigate this family health crisis, by not feeling alone.

Mikisha Nation

Mikisha Nation is the executive director for Teach For America-Twin Cities. Mikisha has an amazing breadth and depth of experience from corporate America (Target Corporation), the nonprofit world (Breakthrough Twin Cities and Minneapolis Urban League) and the public sector (US Department of Health and Human Services). She is a proven leader who excels at motivating her team’s growth and developing new initiatives. As a graduate of Dartmouth College, her personal story is one to which all BTC alums may aspire … migrating to the US from Jamaica at age six, she was raised in an inner-city community in Bridgeport, Conn. where she “witnessed firsthand the challenges that families face trying to provide for their child’s future in environments where violence, poverty, drug addiction, and inequitable access to education are the norm."

Mikisha currently resides in Minneapolis, Minn., with her husband and children.

Veronique Roger

Dr. Roger is a cardiologist, epidemiologist, and outcomes researcher. She is also a professor of internal medicine and a professor of epidemiology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Her research focuses on the occurrence and outcomes of cardiovascular diseases. She served as the founding director of Mayo Clinic, Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science in Health Care Delivery, which focuses on the science of best practice. Dr. Roger says that joining the CaringBridge board is a unique opportunity to contribute to a purpose-driven organization, which plays a key role in the delivery of holistic compassionate care.

Lee Roper-Batker

Lee Roper-Batker is president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. As a state and national leader, Roper-Batker is recognized for her strategic thought-leadership and the Foundation’s integration of research, public policy and grant-making to create a world where women and girls – and all people – hold the power to live healthy and prosperous lives. Roper-Batker is passionate about the CaringBridge mission which affords anyone the ability to connect, cheer on, stay informed and support friends and family members’ during a health journey.

Pete Segar

Pete Segar serves as CEO of Ergotron Inc., a subsidiary of Nortek Inc., which manufactures ergonomic computer workstations for health care, education and corporate offices. A chemist by training, Pete has a lifelong passion for technology and innovation and knows how to build organizations that create and sustain high growth and value. Pete has used CaringBridge personally and is passionate about bringing CaringBridge to more people in need.

Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith is the managing director of Marsh & McLennan Companies in Minneapolis, a global insurance broking, risk management and human resources consulting firm. Bruce also serves on the Board of the Kate P. Smith Foundation, along with his daughters, which is a nonprofit that was formed in memory of his wife to support families challenged with cancer. Bruce is honored to give back to CaringBridge, which was an outlet to communicate with family and friends during his wife’s long-term illness, and is passionate about supporting families in similar situations.

Pete Sommerness

Pete Sommerness is CEO of Respicardia. Respicardia designs, develops and commercializes implantable devices for the treatment of central sleep apnea. Pete is a former partner at the Minneapolis office of McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, and has more than 20 years of experience in the health care industry, both on the medical device side as well as the hospital and care network side. Pete is excited to work with a mission-oriented team and use his in-depth knowledge of the health care industry to help further the CaringBridge mission.

Wesley Story

Wesley Story is the vice president of marketing and innovation technology at Sysco, Inc., a US$45 billion food distribution company serving restaurants, hotels and others in North America and expanding globally. Wesley has broad experience within an agile environment with focus on e-commerce, business intelligence and innovation.

Wesley resides in the Houston, Texas area with his family.

Katherine Tavitian

Kathy Tavitian offers CaringBridge a wealth of experience and leadership in the healthcare industry.

Kathy is a Yale Law School graduate and former CPA. She has also served as the CEO of the California eHealth Collaborative and the National Coalition for Health Integration, both of which encourage the secure exchange of health data to create a more patient-centric, value-based healthcare system.

Currently, Kathy is business development director for Anthem Indiana Medicaid. Earlier, Kathy was a senior executive at Walgreens, where she led several successful entrepreneurial business-to-business initiatives in addition to earlier roles as a senior attorney and senior real estate manager. During her 15-year career at Walgreens, where Kathy was responsible for almost $1 billion in incremental annual revenue, she gained a broad perspective of the pharmacy and healthcare industry. She also built synergistic partnerships across the healthcare industry and led the design and adoption of innovative pharmacy and wellness solutions that enhanced patient-centric care, including programs focusing on increasing care coordination and medication adherence.

Jason Van de Loo

Jason Van de Loo brings to CaringBridge more than 15 years experience driving innovation and growth in online higher education, and building online consumer brands in other industries. He is currently vice president of consumer marketing with Financial Engines (FNGN), a financial tech and services firm in Sunnyvale.

He was previously with Everspring Solutions, an educational consulting firm that partners with leading universities seeking innovating online solutions to enable their visions and missions. Jason has also served as senior marketing officer for Capella Education, guiding the firm’s international growth strategy, creating a framework for long-term growth, and designing the end-to-end student experience by launching innovative academic programs. Jason also built several successful e-commerce and digital marketing platforms for several Carlson Companies brands including T.G.I. Friday’s, Radisson Hotels, and Country Inns and Suites by Carlson.

Jason earned his M.B.A. and B.S. in Business, both with distinction, from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.