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Who We Are

Get to know our team and board of directors...

Care Team

David Steinhorn, MD, Medical Director
Dr. Steinhorn is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School with post-graduate training in Pediatric Hepatology and Critical Care.  He was a Bioethics consultant under Arthur Caplan, PhD, at the University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinics where he was an attending physician in Pediatric Critical Care.  Following relocation to the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo in 1991, Dr. Steinhorn undertook post-doctoral clinical training in Hospice and Palliative Care under Dr. Robert Milch.  At that time, Dr. Steinhorn became the first medical director and assisted in creating the Essential Care Program in Buffalo.  From 1999 until 2012, he was a Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and served as Medical Director of the Bridges Palliative Care Program at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  Dr. Steinhorn was the Medical Director for the Children’s Memorial Hospital Integrative Medicine Initiative for seven years, which undertook research on complementary medicine in children.  Dr. Steinhorn served on the Executive Committee and was a founding member of the AAP’s Section on Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

He was on the medical advisory board of Almost Home Kids, a transitional care facility in Naperville, IL, and was the advisor to the Northern Illinois Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition.   Dr. Steinhorn has additional training in energy medicine, yoga, meditation, and shamanism.  He is certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics in Critical Care and Hospice and Palliative Medicine as well as his original certification by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care.

Dr. Steinhorn relocated to Northern California when his wife was recruited as Chairperson for Pediatrics at the UC-Davis Medical Center in 2012.  He currently serves as an attending physician in pediatric cardiac critical care at the UC-Davis Medical Center and attends in pediatric palliative care.

Dr. Steinhorn’s goal is to enhance the availability of palliative and respite services throughout the Northern California region through the development of collaborative coalitions of organizations that care for children with life-limiting conditions.  So as to focus on this goal, he was drawn to George Mark to help foster and continue the transformation of the organization into a self-sustaining model for future collaborations.

He has also been a leader with NHPCO in developing standards of care for pediatric palliative care and hopes to continue developing that work in Northern California.  He is the Principal Investigator in a pilot project in Torrance, CA to use telehealth to assess and manage pediatric patients receiving home hospice care.

Above all else, Dr. Steinhorn’s professional and personal passion is to find ways of alleviating suffering wherever it may occur and to help patients, families and healthcare providers discover meaning in all of life’s experiences.

Kathy Nicholson Hull, Psy.D, M.A.,
Co-founder & Vice President of the Board

Kathy has been active in clinical psychology for more than 25 years. For the last ten years, her professional life has been focused on the development of the George Mark Children's House. She is the staff psychologist and vice president of the Board of Directors. Kathy is also an adjunct staff member of Children's Hospital Oakland, where she spent several years as part of an interdisciplinary team that treated young oncology patients and their families. In addition, she has been a staff member at the Ann Martin Children's Center, a local non-profit organization that offers low-fee counseling services to the culturally diverse Oakland community.

She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the Northern California Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and the Association of Transpersonal Psychology. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a Master of Arts in marriage, family and child counseling from Santa Clara University, and a Doctor of Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. Kathy is married to Bill Gisvold and has seven daughters, one son, and eight grandchildren.

Alexandra Abrams, MD, Associate Medical Director
Dr. Abrams is a graduate of medical school at the University of California - San Diego Medical School. She subsequently completed a General Pediatrics Residency at Stanford University Medical Center. She initially became involved with George Mark Children’s House during her residency. She was strongly involved in teaching during her residency and was awarded the Letter of Teaching Distinction from the Stanford School of Medicine.  She went on to complete a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Stem Cell Transplant Fellowship at Stanford University Medical Center. Her research focus was Osteosarcoma which was supported by grant funding. One of her other interests includes providing medical care in third world countries and she has volunteered on four international medical relief trips to date. Outside of work she enjoys time with her husband and infant daughter and playing classical guitar. She was very excited when she learned there was an opportunity to become Associate Medical Director at George Mark and continues to develop her clinical interest in Pediatric Palliative Care.

Administrative Team

Lucy Weiger, MPH, Chief Executive Officer
Lucy Weiger is a healthcare executive with over 25 years of experience in healthcare operational management and consulting. Lucy’s background covers three major facets of healthcare leadership: the administration and operational management of hospitals; the administration and operational management of physician practices; and health plan operations and insurance contracting.

Lucy started her career as an administrative intern with Kaiser Permanente Medical Care System and served as a Senior Administrator at the Kaiser Vallejo Medical Center (271 beds, 100 physician offices). She was recruited to Boston as the CEO of Medical East Community Health Plan, Braintree Division, where she ran two large medical centers and had responsibility for 35,000 members. She wanted to return to the Bay Area and was recruited to be a VP at Sonoma Valley Hospital. While in Boston she also had a role as Director of Provider Contracting for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts  and continued to develop her expertise in insurance contracting as a consultant.

Lucy first became associated with GMCH as a consultant in the fall of 2012, working with the management team to try to develop insurance contracts for GMCH. As she became familiar with George Mark’s unique mission, she wanted to do more and was thrilled when offered the position as CEO. She sees her role as providing management stability, working closely with medical leadership and creating opportunities with insurers and providers to continue to develop a financially viable organization which can serve as a model of collaboration for future organizations.

Lucy is a Member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Yale University, as well as a Bachelor’s from Connecticut College. She also served in the Peace Corps in Ghana, West Africa.

Ken Sommer, Director of Advancement
Ken has more than 25 years of experience working for Bay Area nonprofit organizations in fundraising, marketing and communications, public relations, and special event production. His previous work experience includes positions with Children’s Hospital Oakland, Glide Church and Foundation, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation. Ken grew up in Berkeley and has been a Bay Area resident for over 40 years; he is married to Emily and has two sons, Benjamin and Nathaniel. He serves on the Boards of Directors for Aurora School and North Oakland Community Charter School, both located in Oakland. Ken enjoys sports, gardening, cooking, and music.

Board of Directors

*Independent Voting Members

*Madeline Buty Curliano, Founding Partner, Buty & Curliano LLP
Madeline Buty is a founding partner of Buty & Curliano LLP, a boutique litigation firm in Oakland, CA. During her legal career, Madeline has worked with various medical facilities in California on issues relating to patient health care and compliance with federal and state health care requirements. She provides seminars and training to medical-legal staff on issues involving patient care. Madeline was born and raised in the Oakland area and has been involved in many local, civic and charitable organizations in the Bay Area.

*John M. Goldenring, MD, MPH, JD - Western Regional Medical Director, Care Management, Anthem

John M. Goldenring has been a Pediatrician and Adolescent Medicine specialist for over 30 years and a medical administrator, serving as a medical director for health plans and medical groups, for 17 years. He also has an active consulting practice in medical legal issues, including serving as an expert for the California Medical Board. He has been consultant for pharmaceutical companies and editor for on-line health education materials.


He graduated law school and has been licensed to practice law in California since 2006. He has written and lectured widely in several different fields and holds Board Certification in Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine and has also held sub-specialty certification in Adolescent Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and the American College of Legal Medicine.


Dr. Goldenring has also been a policy advocate for many years, since attending Georgetown University for undergraduate and medical education and working on Capitol Hill. He is former member of and parliamentarian for the national board of directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and currently sits on the Board of Advisors for the Children’s Advocacy Institute at University of San Diego Law School, and is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and the American College of Legal Medicine.


*Shawna Kovacs
Shawna has been in the software industry for approximately 23 years.  Sixteen of those years were spent in Sales, Sales Leadership or Strategic Alliance positions.  The most recent 8 years were spent in Culture type roles (including culture, Learning & Development and Giving Back programs).   Throughout her career, Shawna has worked for various companies including Computer Associates, Microsoft Focus Ltd., SAP Canada, Microsoft, Pandora Radio and most recently Meltwater Group where she held the position VP of Culture.

Shawna is currently taking some time off with her family but working on a new consulting business that she hopes to launch in the October 2015 timeframe.

Shawna graduated from Athabasca University with a BA in Psychology and lives in Piedmont, CA with her Canadian husband Gary, daughter Erin and dog Sasha.

Kathy Nicholson Hull, Psy.D, M.A., Co-founder and Vice President of the Board
(See above information under “Care Team”)


*Andrew G.M. Pitcairn - Geo Team, Apple

A senior sales director in the internet technology sector, Andrew joined the George Mark Children’s House Board as a representative of client families. The Pitcairn’s daughter received end-of-life care at the House in 2006. Prior to this, Andrew and his wife, Alex, had considerable experience advocating for their daughter to insure that she received therapy, education, and medical care appropriate to her disability. Andrew was educated and spent the early part of his career in the United Kingdom, and has spent the last 25 years in sales and marketing positions in Bay Area technology companies.

*Svend Ryge - Vice Preisdent of Finance and Treasurer, Sutter Health
Svend is Vice President Finance and Treasurer of Sutter Health, a not-for-profit health care delivery system comprised of 25 hospitals and numerous outpatient care facilities in Northern California. He was previously the CFO of the eight-hospital Bay Area Region of Sutter Health. Svend was previously with Kaiser Permanente for over 25 years in the field of finance and information services.

He is currently a board member and treasurer for the Lafayette Community Foundation. He previously served on the boards of the Town Hall Theatre, the Happy Valley Improvement Association and the Diablo Valley Montessori School.

Svend has been a resident of Lafayette since 1986 and raised a daughter and two sons through the Lafayette school and children’s theater systems. He lives with his wife Karen in the Happy Valley area. He is a double alumnus of UC Berkeley (BA, math; MBA, finance).

*Karen Snow Hawkins - Founder and Managing Director, Snow Consulting Group, Inc.
Since founding her professional services marketing firm in 1998, Karen has helped many business and technology consulting companies achieve their go-to-market objectives. Karen started her career at Accenture, where she was an information technology consultant, and then led marketing for several of the company’s high-growth global industry programs and priority businesses. Karen earned a Bachelor of Science from the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. She enjoys skiing, traveling and hiking with her family, and getting beaten on the tennis court by her 11-year old son.


Barbara Beach, M.D., Co-Founder & Founding Medical Director

Dr. Beach resigned her responsibility as Medical Director in mid-November 2013. She continues to be active in her relationships with the George Mark Family of patients and families who have been here since our founding in 2004 and is active in teaching of fellows and residents who come through our program.


Barbara has been a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland for more than 30 years. As a result of her clinical interaction with Dr. Kathy Hull in the 1990’s, Barbara’s long-held dream of building a pediatric palliative care center was realized with the opening of George Mark Children’s House in 2004. Barbara received her Bachelor of Arts in sociology with honors from the University of California, Berkeley and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Southern California. She completed her pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital Oakland and her pediatric hematology oncology fellowship at the University of California, San Diego. She also has served as medical advisor for Hospice for Young People and Comfort for Kids. Barbara also has volunteered with the International Committee for the Red Cross and previously served as a board member at the Robert Sturhan Foundation. Barbara is married to Geoffrey Kotin, M.D. and has three sons.

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  • Lucy Weiger
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    Dr. David Steinhorn

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  • Ken Sommer
  • 510.346.1269

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What Families Are Saying

Q: What were the best aspects of your experience at GMCH? A: The people, the food, the love and respect for the families.