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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 2022. 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.


Nancy NordquistNancy Nordquist
Vice President
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.


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.


Kathryn AlmyKathryn Almy
Kathryn is a Seattle native and grew up in the Bryant neighborhood. She graduated from Roosevelt High School and attended Western in Bellingham and North Seattle College. Kathryn has a degree in Early Childhood Education and taught Preschool for several years. She moved on to Elementary school and worked as an instructional aide at Assumption St, Bridget School. While at ASB, she also worked on the administrative side as the Director of Admissions and handled all accounts receivable.

Kathryn retired in June of 2018 and is loving the retirement life. She enjoys quilting, working in the yard, reading, and baking. She also loves her  volunteer time with NEST, having met some wonderful people. She looks forward to many more years of involvement with the NEST community. Kathryn and her husband Dick have a grown daughter and son, and three amazing grandchildren.


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.


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.


Rebecca Crichton Rebecca Crichton
Rebecca Crichton, Executive Director of Northwest Center for Creative Aging (NWCCA) presents programs and resources related to Creative Aging in the Seattle area. She worked for The Boeing Company for 21 years as a writer, curriculum designer and leadership development coach. She facilitated Wisdom Cafes for the King County Library System and writes a regular column for 3rd Act Magazine. She trained as a Hospice Volunteer and facilitated Greif Support Groups for more than 20 years. She has Masters’ degrees in Child Development
and Organizational Development and is a Certified Coach.



Rebecca C. DietzRebecca C. Dietz
Rebecca is an event producer and co-owner of Well Done Events. She has lived many professional lives as both a nurse and landscape designer. Rebecca has been an active NEST volunteer since March of 2020. She lives in the Wedgwood neighborhood with her husband Michael and has two grown, fabulous kids.







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.


Alex StrazzantiAlex Strazzanti
After receiving his MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, Alex moved to Northeast Seattle in 1998. Throughout his social work career he has worked primarily in mental health research, vocational rehabilitation for people with disabilities, special event planning, and fundraising. He re-discovered his passion for photography in 2003 and has been self-employed as a professional photographer for over two decades.

As a strong advocate of community building, he has also organized and managed a variety of projects in Seattle, including opening an art gallery in Wallingford, creating a wellness workshop series, designing a card game for foodies and co-directing the Wedgwood Art Festival. When not working, he enjoys kayaking, cooking and planning trips. He is really looking forward to the ways he can help NEST grow in the coming years.


Gregg Ward
Gregg Ward was an “Army brat” and lived in various locations in the U.S. and overseas growing up. He graduated from high school and college in the Boston area. During a long stretch living in Southern California, he met and married his wife, Ellen. They moved to the Seattle area in 1989, and have lived in the Bryant neighborhood for over 10 years. They are delighted that their three grown children and two granddaughters live nearby. After having been introduced to NEST’s important role in the community by Ellen, Gregg became a NEST Builder about six years ago and has been a volunteer for over four years. Since retiring from the Federal Aviation Administration, he has been a part time aviation consultant. Gregg looks forward to serving on NEST’s board.




Chris 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 older adults 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.


Emily Jones
Executive Director
Emily grew up in Ohio, the youngest of five siblings. She attended Stanford University, majoring in Ancient Greek, with the original goal of becoming a classical archaeologist. After working in a public library, she knew she had to be a librarian and moved to Seattle in 2000 to attend the University of Washington for her MLIS from the Information School. For over a decade, Emily worked as a children’s and teen services librarian, as well as a medical school librarian in Texas. As we all know, life has a way of throwing us curve balls, so about seven years ago, Emily found herself in nonprofit management.

She was a volunteer and outreach manager for an animal nonprofit, then became the assistant director of the Washington Library Association. In 2017, she joined the association management department at the Washington State Medical Association and served as the executive director of five medical specialty societies in the state. However, her first love of building communities and connecting people with resources (and with each other!) was strong. She joined NEST in November 2021 and is excited by what can be accomplished when her passion dovetails with her work.


Ellen Royal-WardEllen Royal-Ward
Volunteer Volunteer Coordinator
Ellen has been a part of NEST since 2015 when she began volunteering driving members to appointments, visiting, going for walks, playing games, and helping with housework. She quickly became interested in the process of training new volunteers and has headed up that part of NEST for the last six years. Ellen is currently employed here part time as an administrative assistant and still volunteers her time as well training up the new volunteers. Ellen loves NEST and its vital and fun role in the communities of North Seattle.