Meet our Board of Directors

Julie Opheim

Board Chair

Julie joined the A Breath of Hope Board of Directors in January of 2015. She is passionate about serving and giving back to the community and has led many GE efforts to rally volunteers and support local nonprofits such as A Breath of Hope. Julie has been a stellar supporter of A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation in honor of her mother, a nonsmoker who died of lung cancer after many missed and inaccurate diagnoses. She is especially passionate about changing the stigma that keeps lung cancer tragically underfunded and misunderstood.

Julie works for Tennant Company as a Senior Manager of Field Support and Governance. She has been married for 26 years to John and has two daughters, Hannah (Winona State Graduate Class of ’21) and Amelia  (University of Iowa class of ’22).

Currently living in Maple Grove with her husband and two daughters, and is preparing for an upcoming move to Ostego in the fall of 2021. She also has two dogs, Harley and Gracie.

Teri Kast, MS

Board Vice Chair

Teri received her BA in Nursing from the College of St. Catherine and her MS in Nursing with a focus in Oncology from the University of Minnesota. She has over 30 years of experience in oncology nursing, the last 22 years as a Clinical Nurse Specialist with Thoracic Surgery/Thoracic Oncology at the University of Minnesota.

She helped create one of the first multidisciplinary lung cancer teams in the state of Minnesota and was involved in the design and implementation of the Lung Cancer Screening program at University of Minnesota Health.

Teri is recently retired and enjoys spending time with her family and grandchildren. She is inspired by the work of A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation and is excited to join the team.

Randy Hertog


In 2016, Randy lost his wife, Renee, after a short one-year battle with lung cancer. Soon after, he discovered the A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation community and wanted to get involved to honor his wife’s memory and assist where he could. Randy’s wife had no symptoms when Stage 4 lung cancer was discovered accidentally on a chest x-ray for a broken rib. The diagnosis was a complete shock to his family. After learning about A Breath of Hope’s mission to save lives through research, improved awareness and increased screening for earlier detection, and support of families coping with lung cancer, he decided to volunteer and support the mission.

Randy retired from Medtronic in 2018 and became a partner in a small health and wellness business located in Charlotte, NC. During his Medtronic career, he provided financial leadership and oversight to several businesses, and helped develop and oversee their short- and long-term business-wide strategies and business development. As board treasurer, Randy looks forward to bringing these skills and his personal experience to A Breath of Hope’s leadership team.

Randy is a native of Minnesota and an avid Gopher fan. He has two daughters who are currently attending college – Madison at the University of MN and Katelyn at Iowa State University.

Gary Brausen


Gary’s personal connection with lung cancer started in November of 2010 when he first noticed a persistent cough while playing competitive hockey and coaching his youngest son’s team. As a nonsmoker athlete, lung cancer never entered his mind, yet he knew something was wrong. After several months and multiple mis-diagnoses, he received a phone call on March 15, 2011 that would forever change his life forever. Gary was diagnosed with stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer. After lung surgery, four rounds of difficult chemotherapy and 7.5 weeks of radiation, Gary is considered cured of the disease.

Since his diagnosis and recovery, Gary has dedicated his life to mentoring patients and to A Breath of Hope’s mission to defeat lung cancer. His own experience has helped him also understand the terrible stigma that keeps lung cancer off the general public radar with the facts hidden and the research drastically under-funded.

Gary has been married for more than 20 years to the love of his life, Rosey. Gary and Rosey have two sons, Bennett and Alec, and make their home in Bloomington, MN.

Justin Ballsrud

Justin Ballsrud received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from St Cloud State University in 1999. He completed the senior management and supervision series from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and is a nationally certified emergency medical technician.

He has been a police officer for South Lake Minnetonka Police Department for 19 years. Over his career, he has had many additional responsibilities including event management.

Justin has been volunteering with A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation since the first Twin Cities Ling Run/Walk in 2007. His wife, Shanna and his mother-in-law, Judy Golz were founding members. His dedication to the fight against lung cancer has been consistent. He lost his mother-in-law, and recently lost his aunt Gloria to lung cancer.

Justin and Shanna have been married for 12 years and they have three children, Preston, Gavin and Azalea. They reside in Victoria.

Abbie Begnaud, MD

Dr. Abbie Begnaud is a southerner who now makes her home with her husband in Minneapolis. MN. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota faculty in 2013. Dr. Begnaud attended medical school at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Following her residency, Dr. Begnaud spent three years as a Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellow at the University of Florida.

Dr. Begnaud has an interest in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer and other malignant diseases of the chest, and has collaborated with colleagues to launch the University of Minnesota Health Lung Cancer Screening Program; she continues to oversee all its activities. An inaugural diplomat of the American Association of Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology, Dr. Begnaud is trained in advanced diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, as well as general pulmonary and critical care medicine. She brings critical expertise and passion to the ABOH board and will help guide the organization toward improved screening and earlier detection of lung cancer in the U.S. View a list of Dr. Begnaud’s recent publications.

Emily Elswick

Emily has a passion for improving outcomes for lung cancer patients – and she’s fortunate enough to live that passion every day in her professional role at Medtronic as Vice President and General Manager of Lung Health.

Emily’s diverse roles over 14 years in the medical device industry – including sales, management, program and market development, strategic account management, and most recently building the marketing organization for the Medtronic Lung Health business – has given her a unique perspective of healthcare and the role each of us play in advancing patient care. Emily puts that perspective to good use not only in her “day job” but also as a leader of the Medtronic Women’s Network where she manages a team focused on the professional development of Medtronic women around the globe.

Emily joined the A Breath of Hope Board of Directors in 2018 after a long history of supporting and partnering with the foundation through her work at Medtronic. She’s excited to apply her passion and experience to help the foundation raise awareness, increase research dollars, promote earlier detection, and improve treatment opportunities that will save lives.

Emily makes her home in Minneapolis with her husband Jason and their three beautiful children: Georgiana, Maxen and Sophia. Formerly from Indiana, Emily and Jason are graduates of Indiana University. One of the few things that matches Emily’s passion for improving lung cancer outcomes is her passion for the Hoosiers!

Bruce Forsyth, MS, PhD

Bruce Forsyth is excited to be joining the ABOH board of directors and has been a passionate researcher in lung cancer throughout his industrial career spanning over two decades. As a Senior Research Fellow with Boston Scientific (BSC), he led a clinical immersion team at the Mayo Clinic to identify unmet needs in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

He has implemented multiple product launches for improved tissue biopsy, local focal ablations and ultrasound detection of peripheral nodules. He is a strong advocate for cancer prevention and screening and has formed a community education team (CRAFT) sponsoring cancer seminars and fund-raising events.

He obtained his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota where he was inducted as an industrial fellow in the Institute of Engineering for Medicine (IEM). He enjoys an active lifestyle with his wife and 4 children through traveling, coaching sports, hiking and biking.

Jonathan Hovda, MD, MBA

Dr. Jonathan Hovda graduated from Medical School at the University of Minnesota, where he simultaneously received a Master of Business Administration degree from the Carlson School of Management. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and fellowships in Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine and Interventional Pulmonology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Dr. Hovda has special interests in lung cancer and advanced bronchoscopy, including endobronchial ultrasound and electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine. He practices both inpatient and outpatient Pulmonary Medicine, and sees patients at the Minnesota Lung Center’s Minneapolis, Plymouth, Burnsville, and Fridley offices.

Sue Huff

Sue Huff is the Sr. Director of Global Conventions with Medtronic. She has been in the convention field and with the company for over 30 years. In her current role, she leads the global exhibit design program for all businesses and geographies.

In her personal life, Sue supported her husband, Bill (a nonsmoker), through his 11-year battle with small cell lung cancer. He was originally given less than a year to live. They had 10-year old twins at the time, so this diagnosis did not work for their family. Bill had a strong desire to be a father to his twin boys and loved life.

Sue supported her husband through his cancer battle, while also being a mother, caregiver, cheerleader and advocate for the best healthcare for her husband. Bill’s faith was and continues to be an inspiration for Sue and her boys.

Janet Huss

Andrew McPherson

Manish Patel, OD

Dr. Patel is a medical oncologist at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. He is a lung cancer specialist caring for patients and doing research on new therapies for lung cancer. Dr. Patel was the proud recipient of the first A Breath of Hope Research Fellowship in 2014. His research is focused on immune therapy for lung cancer and he is testing novel forms of immune therapy in the laboratory and in clinical trials. He has remained active at A Breath of Hope over the years speaking at numerous events and currently serving on the Board of Directors and Research Committee. Dr. Patel is dedicated to advancing the treatment of lung cancer – finding better and safer forms of treatment that result in better survival and, ultimately, cure of patients with this disease.

Dr. Patel and his wife, Sheetal juggle busy medical careers while raising three lively boys. He is an avid lifelong tennis player and enjoys taking the family on hikes, camping and skiing.

Lori Shipman

Lori graduated from Penn State in 1991 and has built her career in Human Resources. She owns her own consulting company that provides HR Strategy Services to companies in the Twin Cities metro area.

Lori is a lung cancer survivor, diagnosed in March of 2016. When a cough would not go away for months on end, she advocated for more testing. She was misdiagnosed for months with pneumonia, a lung abscess and a lung bacterial infection. As a nonsmoker, she was shocked by her stage 1A lung cancer diagnosis but is grateful for the early detection that led to a full recovery. Lori’s treatment involved major surgery to remove the right lower lobe of her lung and she continues to receive scans every six months.

Lori has been involved with A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation since August 2016 as a frequent volunteer and event participant. She also attends the ABOH Women’s Survivor Support Group. She is passionate about teaching others that anyone can get lung cancer, and looks forward to advocating for broader screening criteria. Lori knows that early detection is key to an improved lung cancer survival rate.

Lori is a busy working wife and mother of three active teenagers. She has led an active lifestyle, does yoga regularly, eats well and competes in a master’s swim club. Lori and her husband, Carroll live in Shorewood, MN and enjoy spending time outdoors and on the lake with their three children.

Nancy Torrison

Executive Director, Ex Officio Board Member

In 2012, the A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation board of directors made the decision to hire its first full-time director. Since its first Twin Cities Lung Run/Walk in 2007, the volunteer-led organization had grown steadily, had donated more than $400,000 to research focused on early detection and improved treatments, and had built a contact base of more than 1500 Minnesota households. However, fundraising and outreach were limited without staff and the foundation’s board knew the time had come to increase its efforts, becoming a force to reckon with in the fight against lung cancer.

Understanding that this vastly underfunded and misunderstood disease is a major public health risk, striking smokers and non-smokers alike, the foundation hired Nancy Torrison, a skilled and successful local nonprofit leader to help the group develop formal programming and a strategic internal structure to advance its mission. With a plan and leader in place, the foundation was now positioned to grow in impact against one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

Today, 30,000 families follow the work of the foundation, annual revenue has grown from $200,000 to over $1,000,000, research investment has surpassed the $2 million mark, and new programming offers hope, support and education for patients and families in our communities.

After completing her degree in French and Business Administration, Nancy started her career in sales and marketing, yet quickly transitioned to management where she and her team created 700% territory growth over a four-year period. Years later, while home raising four children, she was elected to the local school board in her city and was involved in advocacy, policy, budgeting, and governance for the district. Prior to being recruited by ABOHLF, Nancy worked for a national fundraising company, as well as two nonprofits where she served in various leadership positions such as public relations, community and media relations, new business development, marketing, communications, and advancement (fundraising). She is passionate about improving lung cancer outcomes in the U.S. to improve the current five-year survival rate of 20%.