Meet our Foundation Board

Grant Simmons, President

Grant Simmons joined the Bonner General Health Foundation Board in 2019, motivated by the exceptional care his loved ones received at our local hometown hospital.

Grant serves as the chair of the Marketing and Fundraising committee for the Foundation as well as the Heart Ball committee. As Vice President at Kochava, a company headquartered in Sandpoint which is the industry leader for mobile app attribution and mobile app analytics, Grant lent his expertise to the Foundation and was instrumental in assisting with the technology for the 2021 Virtual Heart Ball. In late 2021, Grant also took over from outgoing Board member Margi Gunter as lead of the Advisory Council.

Grant shares that what he has found most rewarding about his time on the BGH Foundation Board is seeing the good work he and his fellow board members have done come to bear fruit for Bonner General Health. “It’s been very rewarding to grow our fundraising and truly become a working board,” said Grant.  “It’s a remarkable group of folks who are on the board – I’ve been really impressed with what we’ve been able to do (cheaply!), and I’m excited to see what we build in the next few years!”

Grant lives in Sandpoint with his wife, Eliza, and three children, Lily, Dexter, and Estella.

Amber Gildersleeve, Vice President

Amber joined the Bonner General Foundation Board in 2021 and shares that she is grateful to be part of a dynamic group of volunteers.

Amber was born at Bonner General Hospital, grew up in Sandpoint and raised her two boys here. She also has aging parents who live in our community and says that quality local health care at Bonner General Health is not taken for granted.

“I love the easy-going Sandpoint lifestyle; spending time with family and friends, getting outside to enjoy Lake Pend Oreille, skiing at Schweitzer, the vibrant change of the seasons and the community of friendly smiles,” said Amber, who is a Realtor with Northwest Realty Group. “I’ve traveled all over the world, and it’s always wonderful to come back home.”

Amber says that for years she has been observing the compassion and generous philanthropy that the Board has provided and was drawn to the possibilities of contributing to even more progress.

Brittany Jacobson, Treasurer

Brittany Jacobson, a fourth-generation Sandpoint native, joined the Foundation Board in 2021, motivated by her desire to give back to her community.

Brittany and her husband Alex own the Pack River Store and during the pandemic shut down, they instituted a sack lunch program donating over 5,000 free lunches to the community.

“It was then that I realized my passion for volunteering and our community,” said Brittany. “The pandemic has shed so much light on how essential health care is and how important supporting our local hospital is for the community.”

Brittany currently serves on the Foundation’s Marketing and Fundraising and Hometown Health Care Grant committees. She also assists with the Heart Ball.

Brittany manages the catering at Pack River Store and also performs a lot of behind-the-scenes work. She and Alex have two daughters and live on a mountain with several animals.

Serving on the Bonner General Health Foundation Board has allowed Brittany to be part of a vital group in our health care community.

“I enjoy being a part of such a great group of people who all provide such excellent ideas and who meet or exceed our fundraising goals,” said Brittany.

She wants people in the community to know that as a nonprofit Hospital, Bonner General relies on community support. “Please consider donating to or volunteering for one of our fundraisers,” said Brittany.


Casey McLaughlin, Secretary 

Casey joined the Bonner General Foundation Board in 2022. He is excited to partner with an amazing group of leaders to continue the excellent work being done at our local hospital.

Casey has lived in Sandpoint since 1987 and his three children and wife, Alyssa, were all born at Bonner General. Casey raves about the level of care from the staff at BGH as he receives monthly infusions. He says, “The level of care and compassion that I receive in the infusion clinic is amazing. Seeing the staff is always a bright spot of my month.”
As an educator in Sandpoint, Casey understands the importance of community support and is grateful to have the opportunity to help give back to BGH through the Foundation Board. Casey is grateful to live in an amazing area like Bonner County and when he is not working you can usually find him on the water or hiking up a trail in the woods.

Georgia Simmons

While Georgia Simmons joined the Foundation Board in June of 2018, she and her husband of over 40 years, Howard, have been an integral part of the Foundation since it was reinstated. The two have a passion for the Sandpoint community, in particular, its health care and education.

Georgia and Howard have several nieces, nephews, and great-nieces, and nephews and are also Godparents to several other children. The two have worked as a team their entire marriage, giving their time and efforts to charitable causes.

Georgia shares that she wanted to be a part of the BGH Foundation Board so she could help raise both awareness and funds to strengthen the services offered. “Health care close to home is imperative,” said the retired retail executive of over 40 years.

Georgia currently serves as the Chair of the Heart Ball committee and the Hometown Health Grant committee, something that was implemented in 2021.

It is rewarding work serving on the Board, and Georgia said what she finds most fulfilling is the opportunity to work with other members of the board who are passionate about the importance of health care in our town.

“The foundation is here to inform, educate and bring awareness to the community of the importance of us having excellent health care close to home,” said Georgia. “How fortunate we are in this rural area to have all of these services available to us. There is a great need for this foundation to help support BGH with funds for the future.”

Tom Lawrence, MD

Dr. Lawrence has served as a Trustee on the Bonner General Health Board since 1991 so it made perfect sense that when the Foundation Board was re-established that he join that board as well as a medical liaison.

“I treated patients in our community for more than 40 years as a family practice physician. I became the medical liaison to act as a bridge between the Foundation and clinical care at BGH,” said Dr. Lawrence. “When I retired, I wanted to stay involved because I strongly believe in the mission of Bonner General Health and all the hospital does for our community.

After serving in the United States Army during the Vietnam era, Dr. Lawrence moved to Sandpoint in 1977 and began his practice as a physician in Family Medicine. He has had the privilege of treating thousands of people in the community. He and his wife Debra raised their two sons here.

In addition to providing a wealth of information to the Bonner General Health Foundation Board, Dr. Lawrence also serves on the Planned Giving committee for the Foundation, working closely with local professionals.

Dr. Lawrence shares that after treating so many patients at Bonner General Health over the years, it is wonderful to witness how much the community members care about their hometown hospital. He also enjoys being a part of the advancements in technology, patient care and the facility.

He hopes that the community realizes just how instrumental the Foundation is in supporting Bonner General Health so we can keep quality health care close to home.

“We often take for granted how lucky we are to be able to receive the care we need in our small town,” said Dr. Lawrence.

Stephanie Aitken

Stephanie joined the Bonner General Health Foundation Board in 2019, the same year she attended her first Heart Ball fundraiser. Stephanie shares that the event opened her eyes to just how much Bonner General Health does. “I was so inspired by all the people involved and felt the positive message needed to be spread throughout the community,” said Stephanie who brings experience with nonprofit boards and a finance background to the Board. Stephanie currently sits on the Heart Ball committee as well as the Endowment committee. Stephanie and her husband own Aitken Construction, and she currently works at High Mark Heating and Colling as a bookkeeper after taking 12 years off to raise her children. Prior to that, Stephanie worked as a Chief Compliance Officer at an investment firm. Stephanie and Bill are parents to two kids, their oldest Jake attends Washington State University and their youngest, Cassie, attends Sandpoint High School. The family enjoys skiing and spends a great deal of time at their cabin at Schweitzer. During the time she has spent on the Foundation Board, Stephanie has found her involvement with the Heart Ball to be the most rewarding. Even with COVID in 2021, the way the community came together to support the Foundation’s mission was something Stephanie found inspiring. “This Board is an amazing group of talented individuals, and we all come together to work as one to help spread the word about the good work the hospital does and support BGH with any needs that may arise,” said Stephanie.

 Nate Hall 


Nate joined the BGH Foundation Board in 2023. Having recently retired, he welcomes the opportunity to join the outstanding team of BGH Foundation Board.

Nate has lived in the area for over 30 years, split between Noxon, Montana and now Sagle. This experience has demonstrated the crucial service BGH provides to a broad geographic area. Not only have Nate and his family received quality and compassionate care at BGH; he has also experienced the lifesaving role BGH provides in outlying areas while volunteering with the Noxon Rural Fire Department.

“I look forward to working with the dedicated and talented Foundation Board to support BGH now and into the future.”


Kathy Marietta


Kathy Marietta joined the Bonner General Foundation Board in 2023.  Prior to that time she was an active member of the Advisory Board.  Kathy and her husband, Bruce, have been supporters of Bonner General Hospital since shortly after they relocated to Sandpoint in 2019.  They greatly appreciate the services and staff at the hospital through major complex encounters and more routine visits over the last few years.  Upon deciding to move to Sandpoint, Kathy identified Bonner General as a community non-profit that she desired to support through volunteerism.

Kathy serves as the Chair of the Fundraising Committee, Chair of Foundation grant writing efforts, and is on the Governance Committee.  Kathy noted “the competence and dedication of the Trustees is motivating, to say the least!  Service on the Advisory Board gave me valuable insight into the quality care and capabilities Bonner General Hospital offers.  Service on the Board has opened my eyes to the opportunity for the community to make a tangible difference through targeted annual programs to enhance the workplace for staff and to meet non-budgeted equipment needs.  My involvement has been rewarding.”

Kathy and Bruce moved to Sagle from Houston, Texas.  Kathy was actively involved in community activities in Houston including serving on the Board of Catholic Charities for a number of years and serving on the Boards of various professional organizations. Kathy is a retired attorney.  She spent the bulk of her career as an international transactional lawyer which she says “enabled me to travel and experience the world”. 


Debbie Heiser

Debbie originally was a part of the board from 2015 until 2020 and rejoined the board in 2024.  Previously she served as Chair for the Heart Ball, held many committee positions and was the President of the foundation prior to her taking a hiatus. 


She is passionate about having a hometown hospital where the care is exceptional and the people create outstanding experiences during stressful periods. Her daughter in law and grandson were both born at BGH and she wants to keep the legacy of great hometown healthcare available in Sandpoint!


She moved to Sandpoint in 2014 after 20+ years as an executive at Sprint and Citi. Being part of numerous volunteer and board experiences in Kansas City provided a backdrop to jump into board positions here in Sandpoint. Now as the CEO and Owner of The Lit Up Life, Debbie helps entrepreneurs make a lot of money, doing what they love to do without sacrificing what’s important to them. She is the host of Lead Your Life with Debbie Heiser podcast, is an adjunct professor at Gonzaga University, and is sought after as a speaker.


I love giving back to my community and am excited to be a part of such a wonderful board again!


Debbie lives in Sagle and her son, Zachary, daughter in law, Alissa and her soon to be 2 grandsons live in Sandpoint.


Kathryn Merkeley

Kathryn Merkeley is a program director for the Vizient Patient Safety Organization, supporting organizations as a subject matter expert and resource for safety and performance improvement. Prior to joining Vizient, Kathryn served as the director of patient safety at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she oversaw strategic safety and systems improvement initiatives for clinical and non-clinical service lines. Her clinical background is in emergency department and trauma nursing, where she worked in a variety of frontline and operational leadership roles in rural, community and urban hospitals. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Widener University in Chester, Pa., and a Master of Science in health systems administration from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

In her clinical and performance improvement roles, Kathryn recognizes the need for delivering high-quality healthcare where and when patients need it. Her work revolves around addressing clinical and operational challenges to ensure that providers have the resources to succeed in the complex and ever-changing healthcare industry. When she moved to Sandpoint in 2020, she quickly recognized the important and valuable role of Bonner General Health in the community and surrounding areas. Having care close to home is critical for supporting for a healthy and thriving population and ensuring that necessary services are available when residents and visitors need them most. She is excited to be part of a Board that is dedicated to the long-term success of Bonner General Health and using her own personal and professional experience to support initiatives in whatever way is necessary. 

Kathryn lives in Sandpoint with her husband and twin toddler sons. She enjoys skiing, boating and being outdoors with her family.