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Our Staff & Board

Meet the HOPE LIVES! team.

The Hope Lives! Staff and Board is made up of caring and dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to provide support and resources to those affected by breast cancer. It is our goal to provide HOPE above all else.




Elise Carver

Executive Director

Elise is thrilled to be a part of the staff and mission of Hope Lives! Not only does she have a passion for helping people and giving back, but unfortunately like most, she too, has had various family members and friends affected by breast cancer. Elise brings more than 20 years of managerial, training, and customer service experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. Most recently, she held the position of Volunteer Coordinator in Weld county for Pathways Hospice.

According to Elise, “I enjoy companioning with clients and the community providing much needed support, especially during these challenging times when world events can often overshadow everyday needs. Since moving back to Northern Colorado, I have been reminded about what a generous and special place this is and I’m excited to see what our future holds!”

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Debbi Potts

Program Manager

Debbi holds a bachelor’s in education and a master’s degree in counseling. She has had over 30 years in a leadership position. She was the Founder and Executive Director of a nonprofit child development center serving low-income children in Larimer County and the Executive Director of a nonprofit center in Weld County.

As a life coach for families, she worked with families in an agency that supported them as they navigated the child protection agency for human services. She developed a medical assisting school for Salud Community Health Center which was approved by the state of Colorado to train medical assistants. Teaching preschool through college age was a passion as she believes in education and the power it has to change lives.

She has trained extensively as a Stephens Minister walking beside women going through crisis. As a visitation minister she also visits shut ins who are suffering from dementia. Debbi says that she is happy to be a part of such an amazing agency that cares so deeply for their clients and finds it an honor to be part of their lives.

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Laura Hickey

Administrative Assistant

Laura is originally from the Boulder area and moved to Fort Collins in 2019 for the vibrant community. In addition to her role at Hope Lives! Laura is studying Integrative Health and Wellness, reflecting her passion for promoting a holistic and healthy lifestyle. Outside of school and work, Laura spends her time writing, exploring new coffee shops, and cuddling with her cat, Miso. 


Laura says, “I love this community and I feel so lucky to be a part of Hope Lives!.  It's more than a workplace; it's a family united by a shared commitment to making a positive impact.

I strive to bring compassion, dedication, and a desire to uplift those around me. Together we have the power to inspire change, foster well-being, and create a ripple effect of positivity. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to something larger than myself and to play a part in the incredible journey of making a difference in the lives of others."

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Lana moved to Fort Collins in 1982 to attend Colorado State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1986. Since then, she’s been the assistant controller of a local grocery chain before starting her own Accounting and Bookkeeping business in Fort Collins.  She married a local guy and has two daughters and one very active puppy. 


Lana says: “I am deeply moved by the struggle those with cancer go through and am so honored to be a part of Hope Lives!.  The compassion and care given the participants is truly heartwarming.  It is so inspiring to see those in the community helping through their donations of time and money and I look forward to all the upcoming fundraising opportunities.  Northern Colorado is a wonderful, generous place to live!”

Lana Schueler


Our Board of Directors


Starting a new organization was my creative vision but making it a reality took a village. While fighting an arduous battle with breast cancer in 2001, my experiences and struggles during treatment led me to reach out to many complementary care providers to ease my Chemotherapy side effects and help me endure my treatments physically, psychologically and emotionally. These services improved my recovery and quality of life so much that it moved me to start The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Foundation non-profit to help other women in treatment. 

My mission was to support and strengthen those affected by breast cancer by providing care, guidance and education. We serve as a partner as they heal in mind, body and spirit.


The need for services continues as statistically 400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Weld and Larimer Counties each year.  According to Lydia, “We want to provide free post diagnosis services to all women in northern Colorado. We are committed to continuing our important work with the supportive help of our professional providers, generous donors, committed board members, staff and volunteers.”

Lydia Dody

Founder & Board Member
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Mark is the owner/operator of Xanadu Med Spa in Fort Collins which he purchased in 2015.  He takes great pride in managing a team that is client focused with phenomenal results.  Prior to that, Mark was the CEO of a non-profit management company with offices in Fort Collins and St. Paul, MN.  He and his staff provided overall leadership, board, financial, marketing, and event management for 18 different national and regional non-profit organizations. Mark began his career in Higher Education.  It was a position at Colorado State University that brought him to Fort Collins from Saint Louis University in Missouri.  Mark received his bachelor's degree at Carroll University in Wisconsin and a master's degree in educational psychology and counseling from Eastern Illinois University.  He is the father to two beautiful college aged daughters. 


Mark says, “I am proud to have this opportunity to serve on the Hope Lives Board of Directors.  I am inspired to do this work on behalf of the important women in my life.  Hope Lives! plays such an important role in our community and I am pleased to be able to play a small part in its success!”

Mark Koepsell

Board President
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Melissa Venable is a Fort Collins nonprofit executive and community leader who currently serves as board vice-president of Hope Lives!


Melissa is also a published author and certified Life Coach. She resides in Fort Collins with her husband and is mother to two young-adult sons. Melissa served as the Executive Director of Hope Lives from 2010-2015 and is still passionate about the vital mission of the organization.


Melissa says, “No one battling cancer should have to face that battle alone. Hope Lives is here to make sure that breast cancer patients in Larimer & Weld counties receive the tangible support and  guidance that they need as they navigate their recovery.”

Melissa Venable

Vice President
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Collis’s early experiences in aeronautical engineering (BSEE from UCLA in 1967) and later as a CPA (California 1974) with a Big 8 accounting firm were useful in developing his passion to grow early-stage companies, create new jobs and develop new and innovative products and services. These products included medical devices, ultraviolet light products, and water utilization products. Service companies included encryption software and water testing labs.

In his role as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Collis focused much of his attention to the operations of the companies, particularly to strategic and tactical planning, policies and procedures, human resource development as well as financial planning and controls. He was instrumental in numerous financings (private equity and public offerings) and corporate acquisitions, and has served on numerous corporate boards of directors.

In addition to his corporate activities, Collis has spent numerous years volunteering; a church counsel (President), a homeowner association (President), and a volunteer for Partners of Larimer County and Fort Collins Country Club finance committee. 

Collis Woodward

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Jill Rickards is deeply rooted in our local Fort Collins community for 40 years and now serves as a board member for Hope Lives!. Jill has continually owned and operated an accounting practice where she has provided accounting, management and tax services to non-profits.


Jill has served on numerous non-profit boards in the community and understands the unique challenges nonprofits face each day.  Hope Lives! truly CARES about the people they serve and provides amazing support for a healing environment. 


Jill says, “It is my pleasure and privilege to be on the board.”

Jill Rickards

Board Member

Gretchen Johnson

Board Member

Gretchen was born and raised in Duluth, MN where she spent most weekends at her cabin in the Northwoods, exploring, canoeing, hiking, roasting s'mores, and showing up for supper when the dinner bell rang. Her childhood home was the "Kool-Aid" house. She and her two kids relocated to Fort Collins about 6 years ago when her daughter chose CSU.  As outdoor enthusiasts, they all love everything Fort Collins and Colorado has to offer and they’re thrilled to call Colorado home!

Her professional career began as an RN in the OR at The Mayo Clinic in the GYN Oncology department. During this time, she was presented with an opportunity to enter the Surgical Device industry for post operative pain management. She grew her career into the Director of Strategic Alliance, creating many educational opportunities for surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses caring for surgical patients. She was fortunate to travel and explore our country during her medical career. That is when she fell in love with the West! You can often find her hiking, camping, skiing, and enjoying a bunch of outdoor activities. Serving her community has always been important to her. She has volunteered at Loveland Habitat for Humanity, Colorado Youth Outdoors and the Susan G Komen Foundation. She’s always looking for opportunities to help out and is looking forward to serving on the board for Hope Lives!


Carol Lacert

Board Member

Carol retired in 2001 from a hospital and clinic. She was the Director of Resource Management and Patient advocate. Carol says, "Was a great experience."


After she retired, she became an ambassador of a nonprofit in 2014, Inheritance of Hope.  She did this to send Northern Colorado families to a retreat to help families handle the changes in their lives with one parent that had a terminal illness.  She did this for 7 years and sent 19 families to the retreats.  Every family that went, let her know how great the retreat was. She has since retired from Inheritance of Hope and has now joined Hope Lives!  Her daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 33 years old. In 2006, she helped Hope Lives! with fundraising. 


Carol says, "Hope Lives! helped Marci deal with the challenges and she was happy to have some of the services to help her. Marci was excited to help Lydia raise funds too.  I am excited to be part of the board".

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Carole Crane

Board Member

After obtaining an MA in Clinical Social Work, Carole was a therapist in Psychiatry at a general hospital. She then completed an MBA in Marketing and Management which led to a position in sales of telecommunications and data systems. Subsequently Carole took an international position as VP, Operations at an English language institute in Mexico. Upon returning to the States, she became a consultant to large corporations. Counseling executives, she helped them adjust to big changes in company cultures. Currently she teaches classes in Mental Health First Aid.

During her free time, Carole started up a nonprofit career renewal program, was state director of an international HR association, director of a junior college foundation and Chicago area president of several professional organizations.

Carole recognizes that everyone has a story to tell and a need to know that they are being heard. People want to be treated with respect and dignity - none more than women with breast cancer. Her own cancer journey involved wonderful support from Hope Lives! She is passionate about its mission and support of women going through breast cancer.

'Picture coming soon'

Exciting Changes to the Hope Lives! Board and Staff

Hope Lives! The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Support Center is excited to announce recent changes to the organization that will position Hope Lives! for growth and success in 2024. If you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, please reach out to us today!

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