Meet the Team

Tracy Wirtanen, MSW

Tracy Wirtanen, MSW

CEO/Founder

“We invest in the NF community with impactful programming. We lead NF Family Wellness Retreats (free for NF families), the NF Young Adult Leadership Program, and spearhead the NF Collective. We see children soar, moms connect, and young adults find their voices. It is amazing and an honor to be part of it all.”

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Tracy believes in a world filled with innovative neurofibromatosis research, mindful moments, and never-ending running trails. In a few short years, her efforts have established Wisconsin as a bipartisan model of support for NF federal funding, helping build House of Representatives support from 6% to 30%.
Tracy received her Master of Social Work from McGill University, and her Nonprofit Management Certificate from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Nonprofit Management. She currently serves on the Peer Review Panel of the CDMRP NF Research Program. Tracy’s vision continues to guide an innovative, inclusive NF Family Retreat model for families dealing with this disorder.

Lauren Ray

Lauren Ray

Program Coordinator

Lauren is a Lawrence University graduate with a passion for improving the health of our local and global communities. Lauren wants to live in a world where tumors in children do not exist and where laughter and empathy are plentiful. As our Program Coordinator, she works toward that vision.

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Inspired by the foundation’s mission and guiding philosophy as an intern in 2016, Lauren continues to pursue LTF’s goals of cultivating compassion, advancing NF research, and spreading awareness about neurofibromatosis.

Lauren is an aspiring Anthropologist, lover of tacos and avocado toast, stand-up comedy connoisseur, volleyball fanatic, and dedicated dog mom.

Katrin Patience

Katrin Patience

County Board Supervisor for Outagamie County, Wisconsin

Katrin received her BA and MA in English Literature from Eastern Illinois University before working several years in the precision measuring and tooling industry. During this time she earned her teaching license and taught high school English literature and grammar, from remedial to Advanced Placement, from freshmen to seniors.

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After moving to Appleton, WI, she succumbed to Tracy Wirtanen’s siren song. She was recruited to run for the county board and drawn into various writing projects on behalf of Littlest Tumor Foundation.
Currently Katrin divides her time between LTF’s advocacy efforts, endless Public Safety subcommittees, cooking, gardening, her husband, Rodger, and four cats with big personalities and even bigger hairballs.

Gillian Payne

Gillian Payne

Volunteer

Gillian is a fourth year undergrad student at UW-Milwaukee studying Economics and Political Science and intends to go to graduate school to pursue a career in Economics and policy writing. Gillian has been volunteering with the Littlest Tumor Foundation since 2012 where she began working at the annual NF Family Wellness retreat. For the past two years she has joined the LTF team in Washington D.C. to help advocate for research funding on behalf of those affected by NF and as a leader for the first ever NF Young Adult Leadership Program. 

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This past year, Gillian joined the team as a research coder and wants to help families affected by NF find new and effective ways to cope with the illness. Outside of LTF, Gillian is passionate about community activism and just completed an internship with the Organizing Corps 2020. Gillian wants to ensure that there is a future that children do not have to worry about tumors and can instead embrace the joys of day to day life. Her main hobby is eating ice cream in bed while watching Netflix and she loves to salsa dance.

Our Pups

Suki

Suki

Snoozer-in-Chief

By day she’s a snuggling, treat wrangling super sweet dog. Though snoozes through most team meetings, she is still devoted to the NF cause.

Lulu

Lulu

Boss Lady

By day she runs all dog ops. Participates in most all team meetings by barking at passing by dogs. A true leader + advocate who ❤️’s to be of service to the NF community.

Lincoln

Lincoln

NF Pawlicy Advocate

Lincoln is passionate about NF solutions, all things bouncy and squeaky, and protecting his beloved family from the Roomba. Like his namesake, Abraham Lincoln, he knows the importance of political engagement and is an ardent advocate for federally-funded NF research between naps and surfing for crumbs.

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