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Who is NEST

Board of Directors

Recruiting now for our Board!  NEST is seeking new members for our Board of Directors in 2021.  Are you interested in helping to redefine a community that supports older adults as they move through life’s transitions?  Want to bring your passion for an impact-focused nonprofit organization as we grow to support our area’s over 30,000 older adults?  Consider joining the NEST Board!  Contact our office or fill out this online interest form so we can talk with you.  Several Board committees are also open to non-Board members.  NEST relies on the strong volunteer ethic and expertise in our community to develop and deliver great programs and we look forward to working with you.

Elise ErnstElise Ernst
Board President

Elise has worked as a schoolteacher, clinical social worker, and healthcare administrator for the past 50+ years. She recently retired after serving for 12 years as Vice President of Practice Management at The Polyclinic. During that time, she learned an immense amount about healthcare for seniors, namely what it takes from both patients and providers for the partnership to be successful. She also leads initiatives to improve efficiencies in healthcare, along with starting a Behavioral Health Department that is thriving today. Seniors made up a large number of patients referred by their providers for help coping with loneliness and depression.

In 2014, Elise’s mother died at age 97, after struggling with dementia and living in assisted living in Arizona for over 3 years. During that time she saw firsthand the toll that not being able to live at home takes on all involved, and she hopes to be able to bring that experience to NEST. She’s excited to be able to contribute to a nonprofit organization that is still growing and learning how to serve its community of senior citizens. She has served on several other boards in the past, including The Gage Art Academy.

Elise lives with her husband of 35 years, Mike Smith (a retired advocacy attorney for people with disabilities), in a houseboat on Lake Union. Their son, David Smith, grew up loving the water as well. He is a competitive rower and made the US Team 5 times, and he is currently starting a new career of being a full-time watercolor artist. Elise loves to row, cross-country ski, play piano, and quilt. She is learning how to play bridge, which is quite a challenge.

Don DesonierDon Desonier
Board Vice President

Don provides individual coaching, along with family facilitation services, to caregivers and families of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. His journey to this professional calling and passion for this work is rooted in having been a caregiver to his wife Nancy, who was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2008 and passed away from this illness in 2012.

Don has a Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education Program. He also has a Juris Doctor degree and has been trained as an Elder and Adult Family Mediator. Don, who is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®, is passionate about supporting NEST in its efforts in transforming and enriching the lives of older adults by providing them choices for staying active, independent, engaged, and connected. He is thrilled and humbled to be NEST’s current Board President.


Debi QuirkDebi Quirk
Board Secretary

Debi Quirk moved to Seattle in 1980. She received her Masters of Science in Nursing from Drexel University.
She fell in love with the PNW and never looked back. She has been a RN for over 40 years working in a variety of specialties.

Debi taught nursing at Seattle Pacific University and Seattle University in Obstetrics, Community Health, Gerontology, and in the Advanced Practice Nursing Immersion (APNI) program. She currently practices as a patient advocate to assist those trying to navigate the health care maze.

Debi has two grown children and two granddaughters who live on the East Coast. She has lived in NE Seattle for over 37 years and loves her Bryant neighborhood. She lives with her husband, Steve, and their Duck Tolling Retrievers, Brooklyn and Cooper.

Debi is a passionate gardener and a King County Master Gardener. She loves being outside in her garden and cooking wonderful meals for family and friends. She is currently studying to become a Culinary Medicine Specialist. When we can get together again, she plans to continue teaching the ‘healthy cooking class’ at NEST. Travel has been a past adventure, and she hopes to do more soon. She is a founding member of NEST and has volunteered in many capacities for nine years. Debi is looking forward to serving on the board and supporting our NEST members so that they may continue to thrive in our community.

Michael SchaedigMichael Schaedig
Board Treasurer
A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest (and current resident of the Ravenna/Maple Leaf neighborhood), Michael has spent his career in the Senior Housing industry. With the vast majority of people aging in their own homes, and strongly expressing a desire to stay there, Michael believes that initiatives like NEST are a vitally important way to expand the reach of services to those that might otherwise remain isolated in their homes. Providing a strong social and service network has benefits that go far beyond the health and wellness of individuals and serve to enrich the entire community in which we live. Serving the community in which he lives, and helping shape how these services are identified and delivered is something that holds great interest for Michael, and is just one of the reasons he’s delighted to be a part of the NEST board.


Dua Abudiab
Dua M. Abudiab is a Public Defender at the King County Department of Public Defense. She has been volunteering with NEST since December 2016 to help community members stay independent, active, and connected. She also serves on a few other boards including Lawyers Helping Hungry Children (LHHC), Washington Women Lawyers (WWL), University of Washington Heart Health Campaign, and the Middle Eastern Legal Association of Washington (MELAW). In her free time, she volunteers at Seattle Children’s Hospital in their Child Life division where she gets to play with patients and siblings to minimize the impact of hospitalization.



Jack Collins
Jack earned a degree in Political Science from Swarthmore College and a Master’s degree in Governmental Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Jack had a career in city management including an internship in Seward, AK; assistant city manager in Eugene, OR; city manager in Ontario, OR and Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA and culminating as Deputy Mayor for five years during the Royer administration in Seattle. 

He then founded a private non-profit (Northwest Small Cities Services) and served for seventeen years as its sole employee. In very small cities, he provided management assistance and served as Interim City Manager in Snohomish and La Conner, WA. 

He then served for five years on the City of Seattle’s Board of Park Commissioners and for eight years on the Washington Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden Committee. In all of these jobs, in local government and in the non-profit sector, Jack wrote and consulted on a lot of government and foundation grants, an experience he hopes to rely on to benefit NEST. 

After 58 years of marriage, his wife died of lung cancer in September, 2019. With hospice care, she was able to stay in the home in Northeast Seattle they had lived in for forty years. Jack saw firsthand the value of people staying in their homes and recognized this as a principal reason for NEST’s success. He joined the Board in 2021 and hopes to continue to serve as an active volunteer and to learn how to play pickleball.


Steve CampSteve Camp
Steve has been a NEST Builder since 2016 when he became actively engaged in helping NEST find a permanent home. He brought to that search a background in commercial property management in downtown Seattle, and many contacts made while serving as President of the Seattle/King County Building Owners and Property Managers Association. He is very pleased that the effort of many resulted in the very central location at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church, with it’s great meeting spaces and easy access.

Since retirement from the front office of the Seattle Mariners, Steve has engaged with several non-profit organizations, serving presently as VP of the Lifetime Learning Center in Lake City, and as President of the 5th Avenue Theatre Foundation.


Nancy NordquistNancy Nordquist
Nancy is an active NEST member and volunteer. NEST was a meaningful discovery for her in April 2016. Nancy’s mother lived to be 98 with Alzheimer’s and she understands what it is like for families to struggle to find the right care and resources. Nancy is recently retired from educational publishing and is looking forward to enthusiastically supporting the growth and successful future of NEST and all of our members.




Leslie Phillips
Leslie Phillips, Ph.D., is an epidemiologist who brings a health & safety lens to the NEST Board. She also serves as a Research Director at the SEIU 775 Benefits Group. Leslie received her Master’s in Health and Social Behavior from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and her doctorate from the University of Washington. Leslie is not new to NEST or the NEST Board, sitting on the Board back in 2011 as NEST transitions from an idea to a reality. She is delighted to return to a thriving NEST. After twenty years in Seattle, she feels she has seen it all, including the terror that comes from the Seattle Freeze, the Seattle Squeeze, and most recently the Seattle Sneeze.



Beryl Schulman
Beryl began as a volunteer with NEST and currently chairs the Program Committee, where she enjoys planning Nestcafés, first Wednesday lunches/dinners, and other events. Originally from Long Island, Beryl has lived in NE Seattle for over 30 years.

After completing her MSW and Ph.D. degrees in social work and community psychology, Beryl served on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and on the faculty of the University of Washington School of Social Work, before leaving academia to manage Consumer Relations at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. Since returning to UW, Beryl has worked on a range of research projects related to healthy aging, addiction treatment alternatives, opioid prescribing interventions, medical care for injured workers, emergency communication with limited English proficiency communities, and health impacts of climate change.

Passionate about protecting consumer rights and promoting active lifestyles, Beryl has pursued these interests in both her professional and volunteer work. She has worked with a variety of other local, non-profit organizations, and currently serves as vice-president on Seattle’s Lifelong Recreation Advisory Council.




chris-picture-websiteChris Alin
Director of Operations

Born and raised in the Emerald City, Chris is a true Seattleite – a rarity these days. A graduate of the University of Washington, Chris has a wealth of experience in coordinating, planning, and managing people and programs throughout diverse fields, most recently her passion working with elders in the senior living industry. In her spare time, you will find Chris being a busy mom to two active boys and a crazy sweet dog. She enjoys health and fitness, cooking, and spending quality time with her family in Wallingford.



Laura HitchcockLaura Hitchcock
Director of Development

Laura joins NEST as the new part-time Director of Development from a long career with nonprofit and public sector organizations. She loves helping organizations act as champions for their work, and sees NEST as a crucial community link for our growing older population. She is also a native of and long-time resident of NE Seattle, with deep ties to our community. A lawyer and systems thinker by training, she has worked for over 25 years with organizations to make them stronger and more sustainable in order to be able to achieve their visions and goals, including creative strategies to increase dependable revenues. She recently served as interim CEO of a statewide education advocacy organization, and in the past has worked with local governments and United Way where she implemented a range of revenue strategies. In her non-NEST time, she also consults with other nonprofits through Jan Glick & Associates. Outside of work, she loves music and is reviving her passion for piano playing and dabbling in musical theater roles, and enjoys the outdoors and being with her family, including her two college students and recently a high school exchange student from Montenegro.