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Jean Garber (President)
Jean was born and raised in the Washington, DC area.  When her husband wanted to return to the Northwest she moved to “the other Washington.”  Now a true Northwesterner, Jean spent almost 30 years working at the University of Washington.  Before retiring, she was the Assistant Dean for Finance and Human Resources at the School of Dentistry.  Jean had read about the village concept and was excited to learn about ENN and volunteer.  Jean also volunteers at Hopelink, helping refugees and immigrants prepare for their job search – assisting them prepare resumes and practice for job interviews. 


Stephanie Shea, Ph.D. (Secretary)

Stephanie Shea became intrigued by the idea of a “virtual village” after learning about this relatively novel approach to aging on a posting on Nextdoor and joined the Board of Eastside Neighbors Network in January, 2019. Stephanie was born in Boston, received her B.A. from Cornell University and, after moving to Bellevue with her husband, studied for her Masters and Ph.D. At the University of Washington. She very much enjoys reading, continuing with her artwork, meeting new people and having new experiences. Just lately Stephanie’s time has been taken up with the ever evolving triumphs and disasters of dealing with computers.


Bobbie Izuo  (Advisor)

Bobbie was born in Hawaii, moved to the Northwest and attended Central Washington University receiving a degree in Education and a Masters Degree at Seattle University.  After retiring from 27 years of teaching, she entered the senior industry as Director of Marketing at Bellewood Retirement Community. She volunteers and has served on the board for The Rose International Fund for Children (TRIFC) for the past 10 years. Bobbie studies Feng Shui and is a certified Feng Shui practitioner.


Michelle Yip, Ph.D. (Director)
Michelle is a PhD geriatric nurse and health researcher with an expertise and passion for promoting senior health and aging in place. Her dissertation was focused on improving health and quality of life of home care recipients and preventing long-term nursing home placement. As a seasoned nurse with over 17 years’ experience in home care services, Michelle has substantial knowledge and important insight into the complex and ongoing care needs for patients with chronic conditions and applies evidenced-based practice for chronic disease management in clinical practice.

Michelle was born and grew up in Hong Kong and she came to the United States in 1989. She and her family have lived in the Eastside for the past 15 years. She enjoys reading, cooking, hiking and traveling.


Joanne Gainen, Ph.D. (Treasurer)

Joanne first learned about the “virtual village” approach to aging in community through a class at TELOS, Bellevue College’s Continuing Education Program for Retirees. Along with several other students in the class, she pursued the instructor’s suggestion to explore the feasibility of a “virtual village” for Bellevue. The group expanded and evolved to become the Eastside Neighbors Network.  Joanne earned her PhD in Psychology from the University of Washington in 1976. She held several faculty and administrative positions, most recently at Santa Clara University; she then went on to establish her own survey research business, Gainen Surveys LLC. She has 2 daughters, 8 grandchildren, and at last count, 4 great-grandchildren.


Amy Ruggiero (Director)
Amy first learned about the virtual village approach to aging from Joanne Gainen, who was exploring establishing a virtual village in Bellevue. Amy and her husband Frank became founding members of Eastside Neighbors Network. Amy used her degree from the University of Washington to become a Communication Disorder Specialist for the Renton School District for 27 years.  She and Frank have travelled extensively and now spend five months of the year in Indio, California. Since retiring she has been involved with the Fyera Foundation, which has UN ECOSOC consultative status of the United Nations. Her special interests are ending human trafficking and peacebuilding.


Frank Ruggiero (Director)

Frank and his wife Amy were interested in a way to age in place and attended the early ENN organizing meetings. The Virtual Village approach seemed a good place to start. As a founding ENN member, Frank has enjoyed making new friends and being part of ENN activities.

 Frank taught high school sciences, for 5 years, in Sacramento, CA (1968). He earned his Ph.D., in Comparative Behavior, at Washington State University (1973). Following this he worked as a Primatologist, studying aging effects on primate cognitive function, and then joined the faculty at Augustana Collage as a Professor of Psychology. Frank moved to Seattle (1979) to work in the Boeing Airplane Company as a Research Psychologist. He retired from Boeing (2006) and enjoys being a metal artist and “wintering” with Amy in Indio, CA

Linda Paros (Director)



Judith Gellert   (Board Member Emerita)

Judith is retired, having taught 42 years in elementary classrooms in California, Massachusetts and Washington while raising 2 children with her husband of 51 years.  She has a graduate degree in English from “Cal” Berkeley and another degree in Education from the University of Washington in Seattle. Presently, walking, reading novels, gardening and travel are her interests. Judith is one of the founders of Eastside Neighbors Network and has served as a Board member and volunteer since its inception.


Stephanie Ko   (Board Member Emerita)

When Stephanie Ko first learned about virtual villages a few years ago, she was so excited, she wanted to start one herself. Now, she has time to commit to the project and has agreed to bring her passion, skills, and knowledge of nonprofit organizations to ENN as an advisor to the Board. 


Stephanie practices business, immigration, and estate planning law in Bellevue, and speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese. She often works with nonprofits and has been active in Rotary for many years. With her husband, she trains service dogs. 


Of the virtual village starting in Bellevue, she says, "It's so needed! Everyone will grow old. I have clients who had a spouse and even children, but in the end they have no one. I talk with them about expanding their circle of friends and neighbors. Family far away cannot help; we have to help our neighbors."


Mary Pope (Advisor)

Mary is an RN and a Health Advocate (BCPA) in private practice. In addition to her own clients, Mary has most recently been working with GreyZone Health, and the SHAG Foundation to bring health advocacy services to a wider population. She served on the ENN Board for almost 2 years and is now a Board Advisor. She is originally from Rochester, MN, but moved to the PNW (via Chicago) more than 20 years ago. Before embarking on her nursing career, Mary held a variety of Administrative positions at McKinsey & Company, Inc. in Chicago and Seattle. She has been a lifelong champion of vulnerable populations, having worked in Assisted Living and Pediatrics; and as a volunteer with Evergreen Hospice, Hopelink and PEPS (for new Moms). She is passionate about honoring and helping to facilitate safe and accessible choices in healthcare and social services. Mary has been a leader and community organizer in her neighborhood, and a long-time fan and follower of the 'Village' model. She and her husband live in Bridle Trails. They have 2 teenage kids and a dog.


Online:         Email:         Phone: (425) 270-8408

Eastside Neighbors Network is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit (EIN #81-3081454) organized to serve

residents of the Eastside with initial focus on Bellevue,WA.

All contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.