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Board of Directors

Advisory Board


Lauren Cates BW

Lauren Cates, LMT - Executive Director & Board Chair

Lauren is one of Healwell’s founders, its Board Chair and Executive Director.

Lauren speaks around the world on a variety of topics related to integrative medicine, emotional self-care for practitioners and the mechanics and politics of introducing massage therapy into clinical settings.

They* have been participating in research, teaching and developing curriculum for massage therapy courses focused on hospital-based practice, oncology massage and end of life care since 2007.  Lauren is passionate about elevating the profession of massage therapy and also about broader and more seamless integration of massage therapists into mainstream healthcare.


*Lauren identifies as gender non-conforming and uses the pronouns they, their, and them when being referred to in the third person.

Lucille Eddy BW

Lucille A. Eddy, LMT, S40M - Service Director

As Healwell’s Service Director, Lucille coordinates, supervises, and provides care for Healwell’s hands-on programs at Children’s National Medical Center, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Goodwin House, and Virginia Hospital Center. She provides mentorship and skill-building for Healwell’s massage therapist team and cultivates and strengthens relationships with medical and administrative staff at Healwell’s partner facilities.

Lucille is a founding member of the Society for Oncology Massage. She retired in December of 1999 as a Senior Chief after a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy and has served as the Clinical Supervisor for Hospital/Oncology Massage at The Teal Center at Virginia Hospital Center since the fall of 2009.


Kerry Jordan, LMT - Operations Director

As Healwell’s Operations Director, Kerry coordinates strategy, communications and logistics for Healwell’s education and service programs. She leads Healwell’s development and fundraising activities and interfaces with the finance teams at Healwell’s partner facilities.

In addition to her duties as Operations Director, Kerry provides massage therapy and teaches in hospitals and clinical settings throughout the Washington, DC metro area and around the world for adult and pediatric palliative care patients and other patients with complex needs and high symptom burden.

Board Of Directors

Katherine LaVelle

Katherine LaVelle - Vice Chair

Katherine is a Managing Director with Accenture where she is responsible for the organization’s North America Talent and Organization consulting practice which spans organization effectiveness, HR transformation, and change journey management.

An industry thought leader, Katherine has been named to Washington Business Journal’s “Top 25 Women Who Mean Business,” honoring the most influential businesswomen in the Washington DC Area, Diversity MBA Magazine’s list of “Top 100 Executive Leaders,” and a “Woman of Achievement” by the National Capital Area YWCA.

Katherine is a passionate advocate for contributing back to the community. She served for seven years on the board of NPower Greater DC, a not-for-profit technology consulting organization serving charities in the Washington DC area. During her last four years on the board she held the role of board chair. She remains actively involved in this organization through chairing a number of events each year and also participates with other organizations that seek to make a positive difference in the community, including the Robin Hood Foundation, Susan G. Komen, and Only Make Believe.

Outside of work, Katherine enjoys gardening, food, wine, and hosting get-togethers with family and friends. An avid cook and traveler, she has spent vacations at cooking schools in various countries including Italy, France, and Morocco.


Mishka K. Cira, MPH - Director

Mishka is a contractor to the Center for Global Health at the National Cancer Institute-NIH.  She works with governments in low- and middle-income countries to support their national cancer control planning process, by linking them with necessary resources and expertise.  Prior to working in public health and global cancer control, Mishka worked for 12 years as a massage therapist in DC, Brazil and Vietnam, with a focus on community service.  She has oncology massage training, and worked with pediatric cancer patients and families in the palliative care department at the National Cancer Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, where she also conducted a small research study on the efficacy of caregiver-led massage therapy for cancer patients.  Mishka has non-profit management, strategic planning and Board management experience from her previous work for a non-profit international education consortium in Washington, DC, and has held several volunteer positions in community service organizations.  Mishka holds a bachelor’s degree in Russian Studies from Colgate University, a massage therapy training certificate from the Potomac Massage Training Institute, and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Liverpool.  Mishka appreciates this opportunity to bring her skills and her passion for integrated healthcare together to support Healwell’s mission and work.


Demara Stamler - Secretary

Demara is the owner of Life Well Lived Consulting, a Virginia-based company that focuses on helping organizations, businesses, and individuals design and manifest a future that is in harmony with their purpose, vision, and dreams. As a Coach, Consultant, and Motivational Speaker she has helped clients discover their life-long dreams and work through the roadblocks that have kept them from creating the results they long for.  Demara brings a variety of life passions to her work that include vocational education, research, compliance, non-profit management, leadership skills, holistic lifestyles, and living a vision-driven life.

Demara has served as Director of Accreditation for the National Accrediting Commission for Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS); Executive Director, Director of Education and Instructor for the Potomac Massage Training Institute (PMTI); and owner and Lead Massage Therapist of Legacy Massage Therapy Associates.  She is passionate about serving non-profit organizations and volunteers her time frequently.  Prior to joining the Healwell Board of Directors, Demara has served as Vice President to the AMTA Council of Schools; Evaluator for the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA); and a member of the Leadership Team that created the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE).


Blake Stamler - Treasurer

Blake is an owner of Life Well Lived Consulting, LLC and has served as Business Process Analyst-Finance for the DOD/Defense Logistics Agency since 2005. He is a Certified Defense Financial Manager through the American Society of Military Comptrollers and holds Financial Management Level 2 certification from the Department of Defense and a Certificate of Accomplishment in Financial Management from the Graduate School. In addition to serving as Healwell’s treasurer Blake has been a member of the Board of Unity of Fairfax since 2015.

Mary Ester

Mary Ester - Director

Mary is Director of Individual Giving at Consumer Reports. She has worked in fundraising for more than 20 years and has had the privilege of working for local, national, and international organizations in Washington, DC, including WAMU-FM, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Global Rights. Prior to Consumer Reports, she served as Director of Development for the Government Performance division of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Mary is a licensed massage therapist, trained at Potomac Massage Training Institute (PMTI) and feels fortunate to have taken oncology massage courses taught by Healwell’s Lauren Cates and Lucille Eddy. Mary earned a B.A. in Russian Language from Grinnell College in Iowa.

Advisory Board

Healwell’s board and staff are honored to work with a group of special advisors who provide valuable insight and knowledge based on years of experience. Our team of professional advisors provides expertise in their field and enables us to develop programs and initiatives that are built upon experience, cutting-edge information, and practical wisdom. Their contributions are invaluable to Healwell and we are deeply grateful for their support.


Margaret Firer Bishop ANP-BC, ACHPN

Peggy has been in nursing for over 30 years and currently works as a palliative care nurse practitioner. Her passion is to provide whole person care throughout the illness trajectory including the dying experience. She has co-authored several nursing chapters and articles on palliative care as well as presented locally, regionally and nationally on palliative care topics.


Denise Garcia

Denise Garcia is a legal consultant with SME Strategy Group and Akota Consulting providing legal and compliance strategic planning for health care clients. She has over 20 years of healthcare law experience, having served in various capacities from outside legal counsel to health system general counsel to special counsel for hospitals and other healthcare clients. Denise holds a law degree from Harvard University.


Martha Brown Menard, PhD, LMT

Martha is the director of the Crocker Institute. She frequently collaborates on projects in integrative healthcare and is the author of Making Sense of Research, a textbook used in many graduate and professional training programs. She is a member of the American Evaluation Association and the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition, she serves as co-Executive Director the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC). Dr. Menard has been a licensed massage therapist for over 30 years. Her areas of research interest include palliative care, PTSD, and interprofessional education and practice. She is a member of the faculty at Saybrook University in the College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences, and an editor for the journal Global Advances in Health and Medicine.


Whitney Ortiz

Whitney Ortiz is the founder and president of Eliana’s Light, a non-profit that supports the integrative health of children with complex medical conditions and their caregivers through integrative care services. Eliana’s Light works with a constellation of care providers to support a whole family’s access to holistic health care that addresses their bodies, minds, and spirits. As a mother of a child with a complex medical condition, Whitney knows first-hand the importance of taking a holistic approach that supports and promotes healing. She has twenty years of work experience in the U.S. government, non-profit and business sectors, and international organizations. She has an MA in international development from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, and is fluent in Spanish. She currently is engaged at Children’s National Medical Center as a member of advisory committees related to integrative medicine, palliative care, and clinical and translational medical research.


Carolyn Phillips, RN, ACNP-BC, AOCNP

Carolyn Phillips graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in 2002 and received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of New Mexico College of Nursing in 2011. She is a board certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and is also an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner.

Her entire career has been in oncology, and in recent years she has pursued research in cancer survivorship in addition to her clinical practice. She received the Innovative Ideas in Healthcare Award from SVH Support in Santa Fe, New Mexico and used the grant funds to build the infrastructure for a Community Nursing Research Center at the community oncology clinic in Santa Fe. To date, four community oncology nurses are actively pursuing their research interests with the mentoring and support from nurse scientists from the University of New Mexico.

In addition to her interest in cancer survivorship, Carolyn is passionate about care for healthcare practitioners. She created a program, Songs for the Soul, that helps oncology, palliative care, and hospice nurses address the grief and suffering they see in their work by combining the healing effects of expressive writing, storytelling, and music to facilitate a deeper exploration of the nursing experience.

Ruth Werner

Ruth Werner

Ruth is an educator, writer, and retired massage therapist with a passionate interest in massage therapy research and the role of bodywork for people who struggle with health. Her groundbreaking textbook, A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology was first published in 1998, and is now in its 5th edition. She also writes a column for Massage and Bodywork magazine, serves on several national and international volunteer committees, and teaches continuing education workshops in research and pathology all over the world. Ruth was honored with the AMTA Council of Schools Teacher of the Year Award for 2005. She was also proud to serve as President of the Massage Therapy Foundation from 2010-2014, and she retains a seat as an MTF Trustee.