Meet our Young Leaders Board (YLB)
A Breath of Hope Young Leaders Board consist of young adults that have been impacted by lung cancer and are motivated to fight this terrible disease. They help to advance the mission of ABOH by engaging and educating others who have a passion for social change and a connection to the devastation that lung cancer brings.
Mitch is a graduate of the University of Minnesota – Duluth and is currently working as an Account Executive with UnitedHealthcare.
Mitch’s father, Stuart Brown, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer in 2016. The entire family was in disbelief to hear that an avid runner and non-smoker could have lung cancer. Shortly after his diagnosis, it was determined that Stuart was a ROS-1 mutation recipient, which thankfully opened up the door for additional trial drugs and options for treatment. As a college student at the time of his diagnosis, Mitch was haunted by the 15% survival rate and the risk of losing his best friend and role model.
Stuart’s diagnosis brought the family closer than ever and the five years he lived allowed the family to take several family trips together before he got sicker. They took advantage of every holiday and tried to learn all they could knowing that time might be limited. In June 2020, Stuart’s cancer had spread, and a pulmonary embolism caused him to make the decision to return home to hospice for his remaining time. His family cherished the last days in hospice at home, and he passed peacefully on June 6, 2020.
In March 2021, Mitch reached out to Executive Director Nancy Torrison to find a way to volunteer and help other families hurt by lung cancer. Together, they stumbled upon the idea of a Young Leaders Board and the board was officially born in June 2021. Hoping to create a movement of young adults that want to see improved outcomes in the lung cancer world, the YLB is now moving forward with awareness events and fundraising projects to advance the A Breath of Hope mission and vision of a world without lung cancer.
Fun Fact: Mitch is a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan…even through the pain. He used to watch every single game with his dad growing up, and will continue to root for them until his dad’s dream of a Super Bowl is a reality!!!
Pets: I rescued a German Shepherd Mix named Bacon
Least Favorite Food: Pork Rinds
Louis is a senior at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and is studying marketing and biology. His interest in serving on the YLB stems from the fact that his Aunt/Godmother, Julie Swedberg, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer just over five years ago. She was a young mother, just 41 years old, and did not have a smoking history, so the diagnosis was a shock to the family.
Julie is the strongest person Louis has ever met, and he is very proud to be her nephew. He knows his work on the YLB can make a difference because awareness is key to changing the many misconceptions that prevent progress in finding lung cancer earlier.
Fun Fact: Louis is obsessed with astronomy. He also loves to play golf!
Pets: He has two dogs
Least Favorite Food: Mushrooms
When Jonah is not doing homework or research, he enjoys watching 90 Day Fiancé and having fun with his roommates. He also enjoys singing for St. Olaf’s Cantori Choir, volunteering at nearby elementary schools, and weightlifting.
Pets: Jonah has a dog named Cece
Least Favorite Food: Green Olives
Nicole Herje is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker. She holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Catherine University and a Masters in Clinical Social Work from the University of St. Thomas. She works as an elementary school social worker, supporting students’ social, emotional and behavioral needs to be successful in school. Nicole has over nine years of experience as a social worker and mental health provider in various settings, working with youth, education professionals, and families.
Nicole is honored to be a part of the ABOH YLB so she can continue to make a difference through promoting awareness and increasing research funding for this devastating disease. Her passion for supporting ABOH comes from the work her mom started before she died after an almost 5 year fierce battle with stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer in August 2021. Her mom, Laurie, was able to live for almost 5 years with stage 4 due to the advancements in targeted therapies. Laurie was an advocate to help stop the stigma of lung cancer through public service announcements and advocating to increase research for this devastating and underfunded disease. ABOH was an important organization to Laurie and Nicole has seen first hand the impact ABOH can have on lung cancer patients in their fight.
In her free time, enjoys traveling, visiting breweries, and spending time at the family cabin up north. Her favorite places to travel so far have been Alaska, Denmark, Costa Rica and Hawaii.
Fun Fact: Nicole has swam with sharks in the Dominican Republic
Pets: Nicole has a Havanese/Shih Tzu rescue dog named Millie
Least Favorite Food: Her least favorite foods are spicy foods and the many foods that she is allergic to like nuts, soy, greens, avocado, to name a few!
Madison is currently an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota studying Pre-Med Biology, Society, and Environment in the college of liberal arts. She also works at CVS as a pharmacy technician.
Madison’s connection to the YLB is the story we hope to change. Her mom was diagnosed with stage 4 EGFR non-small cell carcinoma lung cancer in October 2015 and after a short battle, she passed in October 2016. Madison serves on the YLB because she knows that more research and improved awareness about this disease could help other families by finding lung cancer earlier for better outcomes.
Madison is an avid reader and her current favorite book is The Quiet Girl by S.F. Kosa.
Least Favorite Food: sweet potatoes
Madi’s father, Tom Kurvers, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 and after a strong and courageous battle, he passed away at age 58 in June of 2021.
The Kurvers family became involved with ABOH after Tom was diagnosed and brought many family and friends to ABOH events, such as the Lung Run/Walk. Even with lung cancer, Madi’s father was determined to run the 10K and was cheered on by the crowd as he passed the finish line. Lake Harriet has always been a special place for the Kurvers, and it became even more special after family and friends ran in support of Tom.
When Madi was a baby, she lived in Japan with her Mom and Dad because Tom played hockey there following a successful NHL career. At the end of Tom’s life, he was the GM of the Iowa Wild Hockey Team and the Assistant GM of the MN Wild. Tom generously opened doors for ABOH and brought deep and lasting lung cancer awareness and education to hockey fans everywhere.
Pets: Auntie to a Great Pyrenese named Alfie!
Least Favorite Food: I don’t have a least favorite food, but I don’t like gnocchi.
Lauren loves her career as a radiation therapist! She recently moved back to Stillwater after graduating from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse and is excited to be back home with her family. She enjoys watching Grey’s Anatomy and Formula 1 Drive to Survive.
Lauren is no stranger to cancer. Her mother recently lost her life to esophageal cancer and her aunt, Peg Fisher-Jullie, has been fighting lung cancer since 2018. Lauren admires the strength Peg has shown throughout her cancer journey and the love she shares with the family despite her own grief in losing her sister and best friend.
Peg and her husband Jerry are avid supporters of the ABOH Research Program and recently funded an ABOH research grant focused on better understanding the EGFR mutation. Lauren is constantly inspired by Peg’s determination to make an impact on the lung cancer field and she hopes to make a difference being a part of the YLB.
Fun Fact: During Lauren’s college career, she spent two weeks in Guatemala completing a medical mission trip which fueled her passion for her career.
Least Favorite Food: Mushrooms (same as Louis!)
Allie is from Woodbury, Minnesota. She is a recent graduate of the University of St. Thomas with a degree in Biology and Healthcare Sales. She has always been passionate about health and is currently working at Marsh McLennan Agency in sales.
Allie first learned about A Breath of Hope Foundation through her college mentor, Andy McPherson. Andy was previously diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 28 and his story really touched her. He educated her about the stigma surrounding lung cancer patients, as well as the limited screening eligibility that prevents early detection for those who do not smoke or are younger than 50. Allie was very intrigued by what she learned and wanted to get involved to help others avoid the lung cancer journey her mentor has endured.
Fun Fact: Allie’s favorite TV show is Breaking Bad
Pets: A golden retriever named Finley that just turned 1
Least Favorite Food: There isn’t a food she doesn’t like and will pretty much try anything!
In 2013, the summer before her junior year of high school, Kenzie’s mother, Bonnie, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. At just 15 years old, life as she knew it had drastically changed as she watched her mother fight through harsh chemotherapy, and cope with a prognosis of six months to live.
Thanks to research dollars and a newly developed targeted therapy, the cancer tumors shrunk until one bright day when she was labeled NED – no evidence of disease. Eight years after the diagnosis, Bonnie is still taking the same medicine and has had clean scans for the last six years. When they discovered she had a Ross1 gene mutation, there was only one targeted therapy available. Because of continued research, there are now additional treatments available if this targeted therapy stops working. Research and new therapies have kept her mother alive against the odds.
Kenzie is now 24 years old and works at UnitedHealthcare as a Marketing Specialist. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and friends, and going up north to the family cabin in the summer!
Pets: A five year-old-dog named Cooper
Least Favorite Food: Tuna