We are design- and systems-thinkers and doers, focusing on a grassroots, community-based effort while influencing the systems, policies, and environment in which families live and work. We look forward to collaborating with you!

Board of Directors

Natalia Isaza Brando, MD

Neonatology Attending Physician, Children's National Medical Center (CNMC)

Natalia originates from Colombia and is a mother of two. As a neonatologist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CNMC, Natalia works on a daily basis with families from around the world. She has conducted research on how skin-to-skin contact (i.e. “Kangaroo Care”) between mothers and their infants can reduce the mothers’ stress levels. She completed her residencies at Universidad CES in Colombia and the Albert Einstein Medical Center in the U.S., and her fellowship at CNMC in Washington, DC. Natalia is fluent in Spanish and English, and is certified with the American Board of Pediatrics.

Megan Anne Dennis

Early Childhood Development Expert; Mother of Child with Complex Medical Condition

Megan Dennis has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Master’s Degree in Special Education. She taught elementary school to varying populations in the Washington, DC area for nine years before leaving the education field to care for her twin boys, James and Leo. Megan’s son Leo had multiple complex health needs and spent much of his short, but beautiful, life at Children’s National Medical Center. Megan is honored to work with Eliana’s Light to assist families dealing with life threatening illnesses by sharing her personal experiences and offering support.

Melissa Nussbaum

Principal, The Nussbaum Group

Melissa Nussbaum is the Principal of The Nussbaum Group. With over 15 years experience building and managing international fundraising teams, Melissa is uniquely qualified to partner with organizations and talented leaders to successfully maximize revenue and build fundraising capacity across your organization. Melissa has held senior-level roles in several organizations in the nonprofit and private sectors. Her deep level of expertise in fundraising, philanthropy, economic development, social justice, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for development offers insights to help organizations build strategic funding plans - enabling them to achieve mission success.

Whitney Ortiz

Founder, Eliana’s Light, Mother of Child with Complex Medical Condition

Whitney Ortiz is the mother of twin daughters, Emilia and Eliana. Eliana passed away from a heart condition in March 2016. In Eliana’s loving memory, Whitney is creating Eliana’s Light in collaboration with individuals and organizations that are dedicated to helping children with complex medical conditions and their caregivers. Through a Policy, Systems and Environment (PSE) approach, Whitney hopes to help families at the hospital and at their homes in a way that is demand-driven and evidence-based. Whitney brings to Eliana’s Light twenty years of work experience in U.S. government, non-profit and business sectors, and international organizations. She has an MA in international development from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, and is fluent in Spanish. Whitney currently serves on various advisory committees within Children's National Medical Center and the Washington, DC community related to children's health. Whitney’s mission is to reduce the stress, pain, fear, anxiety, trauma and depression that many children with complex medical conditions and their caregivers often experience by supporting a whole health approach to improving their wellness and well-being.


Professional Advisors

Dr. Elva Anderson

PhD, Registered Art Therapist (ATR), Children's National Medical Center; Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC), Licensed Reflexologist, Licensed Aromatherapist, Certified Mindfulness Teacher, Laughter Yoga Teacher, and Level III Healing Touch Practitioner

Ms. Caryn Anthony

Principal, CLA Consulting and Coaching: Organizational development consultant and certified executive coach, specializing in nonprofit organizations.  Author of “Any Way the Wind Blows”, a blog geared for families with a child managing a significant medical condition. 

Ms. Donna Anthony

Executive Vice President, Clinical Strategy, The HSC Health Care System. Leads HSC Pediatric Center, Medical Programs & Therapy and HSC Home Care.

Dr. Elizabeth Bettini

PhD, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCNS-BC), Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse (CHPCN), PANDA Palliative Care, Children’s National Medical Center; Certified Level V Healing Touch Practitioner

Ms. Erin Gris

MS in Childhood Development, Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS), Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Children's National Medical Center; Certified in Therapeutic Touch and Pediatric Hypnosis 

Ms. Josephine Bias Robinson

Executive Vice President, External Affairs, The HSC Health Care System. Leads external affairs and strategies for each of The HSC Health Care System business entities, and serves as the staff lead for the HSC Foundation.

Ms. Lauren Muser Cates

Founder, Executive Director and Board Chair, HealWell; Licensed Massage Therapist; Provides and supervises massage for medically complicated, oncology and end of life patients at numerous hospitals; Speaker on a variety of topics related to integrative medicine, emotional self-care for practitioners and the mechanics and politics of introducing massage therapy into clinical settings.

Ms. Katie Conway

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN), Bachelor in Science in Nursing (BSN), Registered Nurse (RN), Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN), Shift Coordinator, Heart & Kidney Unit, Children’s National Medical Center

Dr. Karen Fratantoni

MD, Masters in Public Health (MPH), Medical Director of Complex Care Program, Children's National Medical Center

Dr. Vicki freedenberg

PhD, Registered Nurse (RN), MSN, Electrophysiology Nurse Scientist, Conway Nursing Research Scholar, Children's National Health System; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, The George Washington University

Ms. Ashleigh Harlow

BSN, RN, Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), Clinical Instructor, Co-Chair of Nursing Advocacy Council, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Level II Healing Touch Practitioner, Children’s National Medical Center

Ms. Melissa Jones

MSN, APRN, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Acute Care (CPNP-AC), Nurse Practitioner Team Lead for Critical Care, Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Coordinator, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Children’s National Medical Center

Ms. Rhiannon Landesberg

Founder of BreathEd; Child, family and adult yoga and meditation instructor. Based in California.

Ms. Celinha Martins

Founder of Vida Therapy; Physical Therapist in Washington, DC community.

Dr. Maria Luz Lara-Marquez

MD, PhD, Senior Researcher, Division of Allergy and Immunology, University of California in San Diego (UCSD), Integrative Medicine Specialist

Ms. Marian McEvilly

RN, CPN, Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Anesthesia, Children’s National Medical Center; Level V Healing Touch Practitioner, Certified Aromatherapist, Certified Horse Therapist, Reiki Master

Dr. Asha Nair

MD, Pediatric Cardiac Intensivist, Stanford Children’s Health-Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital

Ms. Judy Ross

Child Life Specialist, Children's National Medical Center; Certified Infant Massage Therapist

Ms. Pleasance Silicki

Founder, Lil Omm; Yoga, Wellness, and Mindfulness Coach

Ms. Terry Spearman

Interim Director, Child Life & Integrative Care Services, Children's National Medical Center

Dr. David Steinhorn

MD, Professor of Pediatrics; Medical Director, PANDA Palliative Care Program, Division of Critical Care, Children’s National Medical Center

Dr. Lillian Su

MD, Pediatric Critical Care Intensivist, Stanford Children’s Health-Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

Youth Advisors

Maya H.

Jose G.

Parent Advisors

Rashida Humphrey-Wall

LaJoy Johnson-Law

Maura Perez

Brittany Vance