A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation (ABOH)

Meet our Board of Directors

Janet Huss, MS, LP | Board Chair

Janet Huss, MS, LP

Janet has been involved with A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation for many years as a supporter, volunteer and board member. The work of ABOH is important to Janet because her mother-in-law lost her life to lung cancer at a young age. The stigma associated with a lung cancer diagnosis makes the cancer journey even more difficult for lung cancer patients and their family members and Janet is committed to changing that stigma and the corresponding lower levels of research and support for patients.

Janet earned her BA in psychology and speech communication from Mankato State University, and a Master’s degree in Psychology from North Dakota State University. Following many years working as a psychologist, Janet began a career in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently in the biotech sector. Her professional and personal experiences have afforded her the opportunity to learn about the challenges in the prevention and treatment of lung cancer and the impacts on patients and family members. Her involvement at ABOH is one way she can make changes for those impacted by lung cancer. Janet and her husband live in Minneapolis and have two adult children and two grandchildren. In her free time, Janet enjoys time at the family cabin, kayaking, running, boating and exploring new restaurants in the city with friends and family.

Manish Patel, DO  |  Board Vice Chair

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.

Bruce Machmeier | Board Secretary

Bruce Machmeier

Bruce is an attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP and an experienced transactional and business lawyer who represents clients in financings, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance matters.

Bruce became involved with A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation in 2017, shortly after his wife of just a few short years was diagnosed with lung cancer.  She passed away after a courageous three-year battle, and he wants to make a difference in the underserved field of lung cancer.

Michael Koroscik | Treasurer

Mike K.

Mike recently left his position as Vice-President of Oncology Operations for Allina Health, a large health system located in Minnesota and Wisconsin to consult nationwide for healthcare systems seeking to improve their oncology and patient programs.  Mike’s experience includes operations and strategy development inside comprehensive cancer programs.  Mike has over two decades of oncology leadership experience for both large health systems and physician groups including prior executive roles at Advocate Aurora and Sutter Health.

Mike holds a Doctoral Degree from Stanford University in International Health Policy Master’s degree from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management. Mike has presented and published articles on oncology trends in management including value and population health initiatives. 

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 ABOH 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.

Peter Bucka

Peter is Senior Vice President, Head of Risk & Corporate Treasury Technology at U.S. Bank N.A. In Peter’s role he has accountability for the build, support, and maintenance of the products & systems that support the critical business capabilities within the Risk and Corporate Treasury divisions. Peter’s
passionate about ensuring the engineering design & build leverages emerging technologies and most importantly meeting business outcomes.

Peter is passionate about lung cancer after his father, a non-smoker, passed away form lung cancer in 2013 after a three-year battle.

Prior to joining U.S. Bank, Bucka was at Wells Fargo in various technology & risk leadership roles. Peter lives in Plymouth, MN with his wife and two daughters and earned his Master of Business Administration at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Peter is in his final year at the Pacific Coast Banking School, a Premier Banking School through Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.

Abbie Begnaud, MD  

Abbie Begnaud, MD

Dr. Abbie Begnaud is a southerner who now makes her home with her husband in Minneapolis. 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 (PDF).

Anna Kate Bush, MHA

Anna Kate is a manager at New Ulm Medical Center, a part of Allina Health. She is passionate about rural healthcare, particularly reducing disparities in access to specialty healthcare for those who live in rural communities. She grew up in a small town in Northern Iowa, where she became interested in the healthcare services that impacted her community from an early age. Anna Kate holds a Bachelor of Science from Mount Marty University in Yankton, SD, and a Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of Iowa.

Anna Kate wanted to become active with A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation following the diagnosis of one of her parents with lung cancer. Her family’s experience fueled her desire to work towards improved clinical trial funding for lung cancer and improving primary care provider education for the early signs of lung cancer in low-risk patients. 

Randy Hertog 

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 ABOH’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. 

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

Jonathan Hovda, MD, MBA  

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.

Teri Kast, MS 

Teri Kast

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 ABOH and is excited to be on the team.

Peter Leatherman

Peter J Leatherman is the Chief Executive Officer at Morris Leatherman Company. The Morris Leatherman Company is a full-service market and research firm. The company commits to understand each market served by maintaining personal contact with clients and custom-forming surveys to meet the specific needs of the community, corporation, or organization. 

Peter is a longtime donor and supporter of A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation. He is passionate about advancing the mission and saving lives after losing several people he cared about to lung cancer, including his pastor, a never-smoker who died in his fifties. 

Konstantinos Leventakos, MD, PhD

Leventakos

Dr. Konstantinos (Kostas) Leventakos is a medical oncologist focusing on lung cancer and early-stage clinical trials at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His research focuses on bringing new immunotherapy or targeted therapy agents to patients with lung cancer. Dr. Leventakos also is active in research on cancer symptoms and shared decision-making. He is passionate about clinical trials and how they can be easier for patients and their families. Dr. Leventakos is currently the tumor chair for the lung cancer team in Rochester.

Kostas lives in Rochester, and enjoys pottery, running, and cooking. He loves traveling to Greece to spend time with his family and take care of his family’s olive trees.

Joseph Leach, MD

Joseph LeachDr. Joseph Leach is a medical oncologist who is a lifelong Minnesotan. After attending college at St. Olaf, he graduated from the University of MN Medical School with plans to become an eye surgeon. He matched at the University of Oklahoma but after spending 6 months on the oncology ward as an intern, he realized he had chosen the wrong career path. He changed tracks and completed training in medical oncology.

Dr. Leach has been in clinical practice in the Twin Cities for over 20 years with a focus on lung cancer and clinical research. He has held numerous leadership roles including past president of the MN Society of Clinical Oncology and served on the NCI Thoracic Malignancy Steering Committee. He currently sees patients at M Health Cancer Center in Burnsville and also serves as Chief Medical Officer for Prime Therapeutics.  

Dr. Leach has been a strong advocate for the ABOHLF mission and has spoken at numerous events. Lung cancer became personal when his mom was diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer caught on a screening CT scan in 2020.

Outside of work, Dr. Leach enjoys spending time with his wife and two teenage children in Prior Lake. 

Andrew McPherson 

Andrew joined the A Breath of Hope Board of Directors in July of 2021. As a lung cancer survivor diagnosed at age 28 and a nonsmoker, Andrew decided to dedicate his life to help address the many questions and challenges that lung cancer presents.

After a successful career in medical device sales and his lung cancer diagnosis, Andrew began working for a lung cancer diagnostics company, Biodesix, in 2018. He is proud of the company’s purpose to improve every patient’s care by providing physicians with swift, comprehensive, and actionable insights, and the hope that one day we will help turn the tide of this terrible disease by dramatically improving the rates of early diagnosis.

Andrew lives in Woodbury with his wife, a breast cancer survivor, and daughter. When he isn’t working, he is an avid golfer and traveler. When traveling, Andy loves the opportunity to discover each new town’s best local fare and he is partial to donuts.

Lori Shipman

Lori Shipman

Lori graduated from Penn State 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 ABOH since August 2016 as a frequent volunteer and event participant. 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 mother of three active teenagers. Lori enjoys spending time outdoors and on the lake with her three children.

Nancy Torrison, Executive Director

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 in the U.S. 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 business 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, 35,000 families follow the work of the foundation, annual revenue has grown from $200,000 to over $1,400,000, research investment has surpassed the $2.5 million mark, patient education now reaches more than 100,000 patients each year, and early detection and screening education is reaching thousands of Americans every year.
Improving the current 24% five-year survival rate is the heart of all ABOH programs.

After completing her degree in French and Business Administration, Nancy started her career in Corporate America as a sales and marketing professional, yet quickly transitioned to management where she and her staff created 700% territory growth in just a few years. She was elected to her local school board where she gained important experience in advocacy, policy, budgeting, and governance. Prior to being recruited by ABOH, 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).

Nancy lost her aunt to lung cancer and understands the stigma and pain that come with this journey. Bringing her experience and her passion for fairness, Nancy works tirelessly to improve the five-year U.S. lung cancer survival rate through research and education. In 2012 the survival rate of lung cancer in our country was 14%. Now it is nearly 24% and A Breath of Hope has become a key player in the national lung cancer field.

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