About HCNW

Healthcare Communicators Northwest (HCNW) is the Pacific Northwest’s only professional organization created for communicators in healthcare and public health.

Meet our Board of Directors

Kelly Bantle

Kelly Bantle

HCNW Board President

Principal, Allegiant Strategies Northwest

A 20-year industry veteran, Kelly has worked on an extensive array of healthcare-specific strategic communications, issues management, public outreach, and marketing initiatives throughout her career. She has developed and executed numerous multi-platform branding and marketing campaigns promoting healthcare organizations and medical facilities and services. Kelly has also played key roles in highly successful public health and community wellness efforts both small and large scale for government agencies, nonprofits, and local healthcare entities. Her work in healthcare includes, as well, advancing legislative efforts and working with coalitions to secure government support for initiatives. Kelly has lived and worked in Oregon for the past 20 years. She holds a M.S. in Mass Communications and B.S. in Journalism and Broadcasting with a public relations option from Oklahoma State University. LinkedIn Profile.

Piseth Pich

Piseth Pich

HCNW Board Immediate Past President

Independent Consultant

For nearly 20 years, Piseth Pich has worked to connect people and organizations for meaningful and lasting engagements. He uses storytelling to provide context, continuity, and collaboration to savvy healthcare patients and consumers as well as dedicated and compassionate healthcare providers. Versed in a broad range of industries forged by direct work experience, he helps to connect dots where dots aren’t visible. In addition to serving as one of the immediate past presidents for HCNW, he also serves on the board of directors for 211Info.org. LinkedIn Profile.

Jess Columbo

Jess Columbo

HCNW Immediate Past President

CEO, Med | Ed Digital

Jess Columbo is a strategist, professor, and CEO of Med|Ed Digital – a Portland-based consulting firm, specializing in digital and social media marketing for regulated industries. Jess has spent more than a decade weathering crises and developing award-winning campaigns for national brands, institutions, and non-profits. In addition to her work at HCNW, Jess sits on the board of The Blanchet House, the American Heart Association, and the Oregon Symphony. LinkedIn Profile.

Jennifer Nitson

Jennifer Nitson

HCNW Secretary

Marketing & Communications, Samaritan Health Services

Jennifer’s roots in the Pacific Northwest run deep. She was born in Portland, and her family came out on the wagon trains of the Oregon Trail. A former newspaper journalist, Jennifer has worked in health care marketing since 2008. As a marketing and public relations coordinator, and then a service line account manager for Samaritan Health Services, Jennifer has done a little bit of everything in health care communications, and has provided a wide variety of internal communications, public relations, marketing and crisis communications. In addition to her work with HCNW, she also volunteers with the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition. In her free time, she enjoys taking her dogs to the park or the beach and watching movies – especially the works of David Lynch. If you are considering getting Jennifer a present, think craft beer. LinkedIn Profile.

Sage Townsend

Sage Townsend

HCNW Treasurer

Program Manager, Kaiser Permanente

Sage is currently a program manager at Kaiser Permanente, where she leads the regional marketing strategy for cardiac, mental health, addiction medicine, maternity, and pediatrics. In addition, she has led the way for process improvement for all marketing teams at Kaiser Permanente implemented nationwide, and gets excited about opportunities to flex the operations and finance skills she learned while getting her MBA at Willamette University. As a native New Mexican raised in the mountains, Sage tries to get out of the city with her puppy when she’s not working or crunching numbers for HCNW. LinkedIn Profile.

Aaron Ragan-Fore

Aaron Ragan-Fore

HCNW Communications Director

Director of Marketing and Communications, Oregon Medical Association

Aaron Ragan-Fore is an award-winning content strategist, brand manager, and writer-editor. At the Oregon Medical Association, he provides leadership in marketing, print publications, digital communications, social media, public relations, and media relations. Awards include a 2019 iMIS website Great Things Award from Association Technology Solutions and the 2009 Leslie Bradshaw Fellowship from Oregon Literary Arts. Aaron holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and Master of Science in Journalism from the University of Oregon. Aaron is an avowed nerd for comic books, science fiction, and tiki bars. LinkedIn Profile.

Kathleen Nickel

Kathleen Nickel

HCNW Professional Development Co-Director

Kathleen Nickel serves as a senior manager and the director of Communications at CHI Mercy Health.  In 1995, she joined Mercy Medical Center as a Business Health Network advisor, and was promoted in 1997 to the Director of Communications and Marketing. Kathleen has served on Mercy’s senior team since 2008.  Kathleen has 24 years of healthcare writing, marketing and communications experience. In her current role, she has oversight of volunteer services, patient experience, physician outreach. Kathleen is also responsible for developing service-line and physician marketing strategies that include both traditional and digital media; and has experience with video and commercial development. A member of Mercy’s Community Benefit team, Kathleen is also active in the community, and currently serves on the board of Umpqua Community College Foundation and Mercy Foundation, as well as several civic organizations, including the BlueZones Umpqua Leadership committee. LinkedIn Profile.

Vicki Guinn

Vicki Guinn

HCNW Strategic Partnerships Director

Public Relations Consultant, Legacy Health Systems

Vicki Guinn, a native Oregonian, is a healthcare public relations professional for Legacy Health where she is responsible for media relations, community engagement, strategic communications, issues management/PIO duties, social media and crisis management. Guinn previously worked as a marketing manager for a small Medicare provider. She’s held positions in media, community relations and organizational development for Kaiser Permanente and is a part-time communication instructor at a local community college. Guinn holds a BS in broadcast communication from Oregon State University and an MS in communication theory from the University of Portland. She serves on numerous boards. She enjoys partner dancing, bicycling and NW wines. LinkedIn Profile.

Mary Sawyers

Mary Sawyers

HCNW Membership Director

President, SmartyPants Communications

Mary has been telling stories about healthcare for the last 25 years.  She started her career as a journalist covering consumer health, health policy, and the business of health care.  That knowledge and experience helped her transition to a successful public relations career working for Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Kaiser Permanente, and the Oregon Health Authority. Mary is an expert at translating complex information into compelling stories for consumer and business audiences. She is passionate about protecting and improving the reputation of organizations, and helping her clients achieve their business goals through clear thinking and clear writing. Mary is the president and owner of SmartyPants Communications, where she creates and carries out creative communication strategies to ensure that her clients reach their key audiences. LinkedIn Profile.

Contact Us:

HCNW President-Kelly Bantle: kelly@allegiantnw.com