UW Ophthalmology in the Community
We recognize the importance of partnering with the community for education, detection, and treatment of eye disease. Our efforts take us locally and abroad with special emphasis on underserved populations
Our Community Matters
As part of an academic medical center, we endeavor to promote a culture of education for members of our community, as well as our faculty and staff. We believe that community members are integral to a reciprocal learning environment, and to our success as teachers, learners, and healers.
Community Action Board
The UW Medicine Eye Institute Community Action Board (CAB) exists to support and further the UW Medicine Eye Institute’s mission to eliminate suffering from eye disease, both in our region and in the wider world. Our CAB members are advocates and generous supporters, and we are honored to be able to work with this distinguished group from the greater Puget Sound region. To learn more about our CAB or how you can get involved, please contact Savannah Ledgerwood at (206) 221-4769 or email@example.com.
Rich BebeeRich Bebee grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He earned his B.A. at Anderson University, M.B.A. at Indiana University, and Ph.D. at the University of Colorado. Rich's background is a blend of academic and industry experience. He spent the last 30 years in university administration as Campus Dean at Ohio University Chillicothe, Dean of the Perdue School of Business Administration at Salisbury University, and Accounting Chair and Associate Dean at Old Dominion University. His private sector experience includes working as Training Director at Grant Thornton in Chicago, Tax Legislative Staff at Arthur Andersen & Co. in Washington, D.C., in addition to consulting with WR Grace and Dubois Chemical in Cincinnati. Rich has been actively involved with local boards, supporting area economic development, town and gown relationships and fundraising.
Rich has two grown children and is a trailing grandfather. Though he resides in Florida, Rich spends much of his time in Seattle with his son’s family. Rich feels fortunate to have met Drs. Russell Van Gelder and Jennifer Chao, who provide his care and treatment at the UW Medicine Eye Institute.
Marilyn was born in Montana, attended school in Spokane, WA, and moved west to Seattle to complete a bachelor of mathematics degree at the University of Washington and MBA at Seattle University.
For 20 years, she developed software for the Boeing Company, rising to systems requirements manager, in support of Boeing wind tunnel aerodynamic research, airplane assembly plans and wiring diagrams, airplane sales and marketing, external software contracts, and the company accounting systems. She owned Cascade Marketing for 30 years for investments, fine jewelry, forest management, retail products and strategic planning.
Marilyn brings board governance and public policy knowledge from being a member of several Seattle nonprofit boards including serving as president and board chair for the Junior League of Seattle, Seattle Opera Guild, and National Charity League Lake Washington Chapter. She also has served on business boards from investing to banking, including president of her investment club.
Marilyn was born with an eye disease presenting itself with color blindness, light sensitivity, and low acuity. Her diagnosis of achromatopsia was confirmed for the first time, through genetic testing, by Dr. Jennifer Chao in 2018. Marilyn has many humorous stories about her life experiences with limited vision.
Marilyn has lived with her husband, Vernon, on Mercer Island for 34 years. They have a blended family of six grown children and their families. Besides professional and community work, Marilyn enjoys gardening, cooking, and many family and social events. She teaches low impact aerobics (Enhance Fitness) at the Mercer Island community center.
Cynthia Francis Gensheimer grew up in Schenectady, New York, and received a B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA. She has analyzed tax policy for the Congressional Budget Office, taught economics at Vassar College, and volunteered extensively in her children’s schools. Over the years, she held numerous positions in the PTA, including legislative liaison in Kansas City, and wrote Raising Funds for Your Child’s School. Cynthia has been active in Jewish community affairs, and over the past several years has been writing about nineteenth century women’s benevolent work. A daughter of hers, now a college student, has been treated for uveitis by Dr. Van Gelder, and her son and daughter-in-law are completing their training as physicians at the University of Washington. After living in Kansas City for many years, Cynthia and her husband now live in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Originally from China, James moved to Knoxville, Tennessee with his family in his teens. Later, James decided to move to Seattle to pursue a degree in Economics and Mathematics at the University of Washington. While completing his degree, James was involved in the University of Washington Finance Committee, University of Washington Economics Research, and he founded a successful technology start-up company, called 1car1price.com.
During college, James spent two years working for Wells Fargo, and was a 2014 top salesperson in Washington. He continues to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions, through his second start-up company, HL Language Services.
In his leisure time, James enjoys travel, fitness and tasting cuisine from different cultures. James strongly believes in the UW Medicine Eye Institute’s mission to eliminate suffering from blinding eye disease. He wants to be part of the journey to help advance patient care, research and training opportunities for ophthalmologists in our region and beyond.
Frederick and his family became new residents to the Seattle area after moving from Los Angeles to Woodinville during 2019. He is a member of the board of trustees of Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), the leading voluntary health organization supporting eye research directed at the prevention, treatment or eradication of all diseases that threaten vision. Since moving to Seattle, Frederick and his wife have become angel investors to ‘give back’ by sharing their business experiences with founders, and to broaden their connections with the community.Frederick was born in New York and grew up in Germany and Switzerland. He is a business graduate of Boston University and of GE’s Financial Management Program. His business experience spans many industries and continents, from manufacturing to services, including multiple assignments across the US and Europe. After a successful career with GE, Frederick moved to Los Angeles to join the entertainment industry, initially at Universal where he also had the chance to connect with RPB, and later as COO for Paramount Pictures.
During her tenure at Microsoft, Kerrie has tackled several difficult business problems including developing supply chains, running a global program management office, and serving as Chief of Staff for Accessibility. Today, she’s working on her biggest challenge yet: how to ensure Microsoft technology and services are accessible for every person on the planet. Kerrie’s team’s ultimate goal is to increase employability for people with disabilities. Kerrie believes that technology plays a critical role in leveling the playing field in the workforce and empowering fully engaging experiences broadly.
Jack is a native Seattleite, born on Capitol Hill in 1958. He was educated in local private and public schools, graduating from high school in 1976 and from the University of Washington in 1980 with a B.A. degree in accounting. Jack followed his dream of working in New York City and then London with various positions of financial and management responsibility. Returning to Seattle after 10 years, Jack took a position with Microsoft Corp., eventually rising to the position of assistant treasurer, and later started a division of Quellos, a local investment management firm. Throughout this time he and his wife Pam dedicated themselves to raising their two sons, Jack and Will.
Leonard Klorfine graduated from Temple University with a B.S. Ed. in Economics before attending the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University Graduate School. Mr. Klorfine worked as a secondary school teacher for five years in Philadelphia before becoming a stock broker for Merrill Lynch for another five years. While a broker, he co-founded a company then known as Ulstrasonic Systems Corporation which developed the first electronic stock ticker and retrieval system and the first electronic display ticker system. The company eventually went public and was later bought by General Telephone and Electronics Corporation.
Norma E. Klorfine
Norma, originally from Philadelphia, attended Pennsylvania State University, as an education and journalism major, and worked in marketing and advertising. Most of her adult life has been devoted to non-profits, including board positions, with an emphasis on marketing, retailing and development. She was President of the Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which raised between a half million and a million dollars a year, and chaired the renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, during which time she was an ex-officio member of the Museum's Board, as well as on the Indian and Himalayan Art Curatorial Committee of the Museum. She also was a docent in historic homes in Philadelphia as well the Museum of Art And Design in NYC. Locally, she has served as a board member of IslandWood, the Environmental Learning Center on Bainbridge Island, the Bellevue Arts Museum and PRATT Fine Arts Center.
Christopher & Alida Latham
Christopher is retired from a 40 year career in information systems management and consulting. His work ranged from national financial institutions to, finally, the University of Washington. He remains active as a frequent world traveler who is also a supporter of both local and international non-profit organizations. His education includes a B.A. in anthropology and graduate study in computer science.
Nancy was born in the San Francisco bay area and attended the University of Washington, where she earned a BFA in printmaking in 1974. She has studied etching at Atelier 17 and glass fusing and slumping at the Pilchuck Glass School. Nancy’s sculptures incorporate a variety of materials including glass, forged steel, stone and photography. She is shown in several galleries across the United States, and is represented in many public and private collections nationally and internationally.
Phil was born and raised in northeast Seattle, not far from the University of Washington. After graduating from Central Washington University with a degree in Physics, Phil went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Optical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 1986. Since then he has been employed at Ocular Instruments, Inc. and has served as the company's president for more than 20 years. Ocular Instruments is a 3rd generation family business founded by the Ericksons in the early 1960's. Ocular Instruments designs and manufactures diagnostic, laser and surgical ophthalmoscopy lenses used to diagnose and treat eye disease.
Phil was a member of the Seattle Chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization for 20 years held several positions on the chapter board including a term as chapter president. He currently serves on the board of the nonprofit, Good Wishes. Good Wishes provides a free headscarf for people who have lost their hair due to disease or chemotherapy. To date, Good Wishes has served over 80,000 recipients worldwide.Phil lives in Bellevue with his high school sweetheart and wife of over 35 years, Laurie. Phil enjoys golf, boating, fishing and a variety of other outdoor activities.
Thomas (Tom) Olson
Tom Olson is a third generation Seattleite and has both a BA in Economics and a JD from the University of Washington. Other than two years in the Army, he has never wandered far from home. Upon graduation from law school, Tom joined his father in the law practice and continues an active practice 48 years later. Tom has served on boards and leadership positions for Helpline House, a Bainbridge Island social service agency, the Bainbridge Library and the Greater Northwest Chapter of the National MS Society. He continues to serve on the UW Department of Economics Visiting Committee, the Northwest Kidney Centers Foundation and is assistant Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.
Ron C. Peck has worked around the globe for Fortune 500 companies as a sales and marketing executive in the Healthcare, Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology. Since returning to the UW from an assignment in Switzerland, Ron has devoted his personal and professional life to the formation and management of health and wellness non-profits.
Rahel was raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland before moving out to Seattle in 2007 to pursue a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing. In 2016, Rahel left her role as a program manager for Amazon Kindle after having her son. She now spends the majority of her time reciting the alphabet, reading any book about our solar system and pretending to be a polar bear.
Rahel has been a patient at the Eye Institute for almost a decade. She started seeing Dr. Van Gelder for uveitis when she was a student. Rahel doesn’t believe she would have her vision today if it wasn’t for the incredible care and insight of her UW Medicine Eye Institute doctors. Her goal is to help more people have the opportunity to preserve their vision by boosting awareness of the Eye Institute and engaging with local leaders in community meetings through the greater Seattle area.
Rahel, her husband, Scott, and their son live in Ballard.
Kelly (Pelligrini) Yamaichi
Born in Sacramento, CA, Kelly Pelligrini attended California State University, Sacramento and received her JD from Loyola University, Los Angeles. After 24 years of service with US Surgical (now owned by Medtronic), she retired in 2011. Kelly was the former VP of Sales for the Western Region, and she finished her career creating an education and training field program for surgeons and residents. Kelly currently serves as a board member for the Society of University Surgeons.
Walter Rotkis, MD
Dr. Walter Rotkis started practice in Seattle after doing fellowships at Swedish Hospital Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, and the University of California in San Francisco.
Graham & Brenda Siddall
Graham and Brenda met at Aberdeen University in the UK, where Brenda was studying for a degree in Physiology and Graham was completing a Ph.D. in Natural Philosophy (Physics). In 1976, Graham was awarded a Lindemann Fellowship to work on the NASA/Stanford Gyro Relativity Experiment and they moved to California. After several years at Stanford, Graham went on to work at Hewlett Packard Labs and then moved east to work in New York and Boston, eventually returning to Silicon Valley in 1988, where he joined a small private company, Tencor Instruments, which went public in 1992. In July 1999 he joined Credence Systems, a semiconductor test equipment company, as its President and CEO and then later, as Chairman of the Board, before retiring in October 2005.
Russell Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Van Gelder was born and raised in and around New York City. He attended Stanford University, earning his bachelor's degree in biological sciences. Dr. Van Gelder remained at Stanford for his M.D. and Ph.D. (neuroscience) and completed his medical internship at Stanford University Hospitals. He completed his ophthalmology residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, and his fellowship in uveitis at the Barnes Retina Institute.
Dr. Van Gelder served on the faculty of Washington University's department of ophthalmology and visual sciences for 10 years, where he held the Bernard Becker professorship. In 2008, Dr. Van Gelder moved to the University of Washington, where he is currently the Boyd K. Bucey Memorial Chair, professor and chairman of the department of ophthalmology and director of the UW Medicine Eye Institute.
Dr. Van Gelder is an active clinician-scientist. His NIH-funded laboratory has been at the forefront of two areas of research: non-visual ocular photoreception and molecular diagnostics of ocular inflammatory disease. He is author of more than 100 papers, articles, book chapters and books. Dr. Van Gelder maintains a busy referral uveitis practice and is actively involved in resident education.
Dr. Van Gelder is past president of the American Uveitis Society and serves on the American Academy of Ophthalmology as Council vice chair. He has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the inaugural Becker/AUPO/RPB Clinician-scientist award, RPB Career Development Award, Culpeper Foundation Clinician-Scientist Award, and the Burroughs-Wellcome Translational Scientist Award.
He lives with his wife Suzy and their teenage children on Mercer Island. In his free time, he enjoys skiing and hiking in the Pacific Northwest.
Emeritus CAB Members
- Claire Angel
- Mark Bathum
- Barbara Bedell
- Joan Bergy
- Tina Bueche
- Kevin Callaghan
- Dennis Evans
- Leigh Fenneman
- Melvin and Nanette Freeman
- Leigh Fenneman
- Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib
- Catherine McCallum Hayner
- James Hayner
- Jim Hilton
- Dan Hunter
- Irene Hunter
- Camille Jassny
- Robert Kalina
- Richard Mills
- Fred Minifie
- Lane McKittrick
- Richard Munsen
- Earnest Pearson
- James Premo
- Suzanne Ragen
- Phil Stein
- Robert Stevens
To learn more about our community engagement and outreach opportunities, please contact Savannah Ledgerwood at 206.221.4769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.