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Who We Are

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

Care Team

Linda Ashcraft Hudak, JD, Chief Executive Officer
Returning to the fold, our new CEO, Linda Ashcraft Hudak, formerly served on the GMCH Board of Directors for approximately five years. This background and knowledge, coupled with Linda’s devotion to the mission and values of the House, provide her with a running start in her new role.

Linda brings to GMCH extensive service as an Employment Law attorney in public, private and non-profit sectors, including the University of California, the California State University system, the Judicial Council of California, Contra Costa County and representation of Fortune 500 companies. Linda was also a teacher in Oakland shortly after moving to California from her native Montana.

Linda and her husband Richard, a retired Colonel from the U.S. Army and a recently retired attorney, have resided in Walnut Creek for 30 years. Their two daughters, Schulyer and Whitney, reside in San Francisco, both working in start-ups.

Joan Fisher, MD, Ph.D., Medical Director
Dr. Fisher is a graduate of the Stanford University School of Medicine with post-graduate training in Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant.  She has additional training in Pediatric Palliative Care from the Center for Palliative Care at Harvard Medical School.  Taking care of children with medical needs and their families while making every day be their best is what makes the practice of pediatrics worthwhile for Dr. Fisher.

Dr. Fisher has lived in many places, but the Bay Area is home.  She is honored to be able to serve this community in a capacity that she loves and looks forward to many years of memories with the George Mark Children’s House family.

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

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.

*Peter Eliassen, COO, VisionSpring
Peter comes from a mixed background of professional experience working in the private sector (Unilever, Capital One), the international development sector (United Nations, Peace Corps) and has served as the Chief Operating Officer of VisionSpring since 2008. VisionSpring is a social enterprise with the mission of increasing access to affordable eyeglasses throughout the developing world. Peter's career has primarily focused on finding business/sustainable solutions to market failures where individuals lack access to key resources that could unlock dignity, income, and happiness.

Peter grew up in Colorado and graduated from Vanderbilt University with a BS in Economics. Peter lives in Oakland, California with his wife Shekinah and their daughter Finley and son Isak. Peter and Shekinah's first child, Lars Isaac, was born in 2012 and passed away at George Mark three weeks after his birth. The family's powerful experience at George Mark Children's House brought peace to Lars' parents, friends and family; he is thrilled to be able to give back to the George Mark Children's House community.

*Bill Gisvold, Partner, Sensiba San Filippo LLP
Bill Gisvold is a partner at Sensiba San Filippo LLP, an accounting firm that specializes in family tax planning, mergers and acquisitions, financing and tax strategies for food related organizations and high wealth individuals.. Bill’s practice focuses on tax and strategic planning for family held agribusiness enterprises with particular emphasis on generational planning.  His clients are located in the 17 western states, Mexico and Chile.  Bill has been a member of George Mark’s Finance Committee since 2002 and currently serves as its Chairman.  Bill is married to George Mark Co-Founder Kathy Hull and has four daughters and eight grandchildren.

*Shawna Kovacs

Shawna Kovacs is a Global Senior Leader who most recently decided to go into business for herself. Her path has taken her from sales management at the beginning of her career to where she is today, running her own consulting organization with her business partner, where they focus on Emotional Intelligence relating to individual growth and company culture. Along the way Shawna spent time honing her skills in Learning & Development, Corporate Culture and Corporate Philanthropy in companies such as SAP, MIcrosoft, Pandora Radio and Meltwater. Shawna is married to a Canadian who runs a global company and has a daughter in middle school and a crazy dog! Shawna lives in Piedmont, California.

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

*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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  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Linda Ashcraft Hudak
  • 510.346.4624

  • Medical Director
    Dr. Joan Fisher

    Director of Advancement
  • Ken Sommer
  • 510.346.1269

  • Volunteer Services
  • Becky Randall
  • 510.346.1261

    Front Desk
  • 510.346.4624
What Families Are Saying

Outstanding staff, lovely building and grounds, delicious food.