Cancer-trip foundation names new ED

The Karen Wellington Foundation named Katie Elbisser as executive director.

She replaces Alexia Zigoris, who will remain with the foundation in an advisory role.

Since its founding in 2007, the foundation has put “fun” on the calendars of women and families living with breast cancer by sending them on special vacations, relaxing spa days, concerts, and other “fun-only” activities.

Elbisser became director of development and communications in September of 2021, fresh from her role as client vision director for AGAR. She was instrumental in transitioning two of the foundation’s in-person events to highly successful virtual events during COVID.

Alexia Zigoris and Katie Elbisser

Elbisser’s expertise in brand activation also led the Karen Wellington Foundation to its recent rebrand.

“Before KWF, I had reached a lot of personal goals, but I was on the search to find my personal purpose,” said Elbisser. “That soon changed, when my fiancé (now husband) was diagnosed with kidney cancer and life as we knew it was sent into limbo. Throughout our cancer journey, we were fortunate enough to have two sets of friends offer up a weekend at their vacation home so that we could get away — one weekend being the weekend we found out about Nick’s cancer and the other being the week before his surgery. These times away were incredibly meaningful to our family. It’s given me personal insight into the impact of what KWF is all about. Not just FUN, but a real sense of wellbeing and connection – not just to the recipient, but to the entire family.”

Zigoris served as executive director of KWF from 2017-2022, building the foundation from a staff of three to a staff of nine and more than doubling in five years the total number of gifts of fun given in the previous ten. KWF plans on giving its 2,000th gift of fun by the end of its 15th year.

“Katie came to us in 2020 when we needed a creative outside perspective. She continues to create space where innovative ideas can come to life,” said Zigoris. “We knew we needed someone who was firmly planted in the heart of what we do, and Katie embodies our ‘give first’ mission. Katie gets it because she has lived it.”