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.

Bruce Smith Chair

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.

Jodi Hubler Vice Chair

Jodi is the Managing Director of Lemhi Ventures, a health care services venture capital fund with $385M under management, where she leads an experienced team through all phases of the investment life cycle. Over her 20-plus-year career, she has held executive positions in a variety of public and private companies, including Cargill, Alcoa, and Definity Health, where she served as chief people officer. Jodi has served as a board member or chair of a dozen health care services companies, valued for her keen insight as a strategic advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs and CEOs. In addition to five corporate boards, she is currently a member of the Healthcare Executives Leadership Network and Women Business Leaders in Health Care Foundation. Jodi holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Iowa. She was inspired to seek Board service at CaringBridge after witnessing the power and impact of the CaringBridge community over the past 6 years.

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 Red Carpet for Hope Gala and an ambassador for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She is also an anti-sexual assault ambassador and has served on the board of directors of the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) organization and volunteered for the Minneapolis sexual violence center. More recently she has been involved with anti-sexual assault efforts through her support of the "Brave Miss World" film which has been promoted world-wide.

Berit has held many leadership roles in the nursing field in Berkeley, California, and at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2008 as a mother of four, her youngest daughter, Marit, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancer of the brain. Berit documented her daughter’s journey on CaringBridge and discovered that writing on the site was both therapeutic and helped her navigate this family health crisis by not feeling alone.

Don Liu

Don Liu is the Executive Vice President and Chief Legal & Risk Officer for Target. Don is among industry leaders in business, technology, healthcare and the nonprofit sector who support and advise the senior leadership team at CaringBridge in charting the path of the organization in alignment with its mission.

At Target, Don oversees all legal, risk and compliance, corporate governance and governmental affairs. He also serves as Target’s chief compliance officer and corporate secretary. Prior to joining Target in 2016, Don was executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for Xerox Corporation. He also held in-house legal leadership roles at Toll Brothers, IKON Office Solutions, and Aetna U.S. Healthcare. Don is also currently a member of the American Law Institute and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He graduated from Haverford College with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and received his J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law. Don is deeply honored and delighted to join the organization and be part of our mission.

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.

Hitesh Patel

Hitesh is the Vice President – Technology for Geek Squad Services, Product Categories and Mexico at Best Buy, and has been in various mobile technology strategy roles across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He is responsible for the IT application delivery and management for Best Buy, managing a team of 400 IT professionals from start-up to deliver multichannel, multi-branded, multi-lingual systems for the North American carriers’ cell-phone market. Hitesh also manages IT for Geek Squad Services, Contact Centers, CRM and MRP capabilities. His team was responsible for implementing mobile and tablet experiences across 1400 retail stores. Prior to Best Buy, he was a leader at Carphone Warehouse based in London, where he first managed offshore developers in Mumbai and Bangalore and was previously a consultant for Ernst & Young. He has a degree in computer science from De Montfort University and has an MBA from Birmingham University. Hitesh first became a CaringBridge user when he followed a colleague’s site during her health journey in 2012.

Kathy Persian

Kathy is Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Schwan’s Company, a Minnesota-based business passionate about bringing delicious foods to U.S. families wherever they shop and eat. Throughout her more than 25-year career in information delivery, she has held a variety of executive leadership roles with companies, such as Schwan’s, Sports Authority, SuperValu, Best Buy and Accenture. She has gained extensive experience in strategic business areas such as technology, corporate planning, merchandising and supply-chain systems. Kathy, who has been a CaringBridge user, has a specific interest in using technology to build communities.

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.

Pete Segar

Pete Segar has had a 30 year career in management, technology and product development at IBM, Seagate Technology, and Ergotron. Pete brings expertise in understanding customer needs, product development and business management. Pete has also been a user of CaringBridge having survived two bouts of cancer and relying on engaging his personal network. In 2018, Pete left his role as CEO of Ergotron to start his own business, MetalCrafters, LLC, creator of custom metal furniture and art works. He is active in the CEO Roundtable, and serves on an advisory board for Halpin Designs in Los Angeles. He has a passion for helping more people experience the healing power of CaringBridge.

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.