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Leadership Team

Maria Metzler

Executive Director   

(206) 842.7621  

Maria Metzler is the current director of Helpline House.  She most recently served as a senior manager at Seattle's Downtown Emergency Service Center, where her portfolio consisted of overseeing 4 emergency shelter programs providing over 450 beds of shelter each night, 2 scattered sites housing programs providing nearly 300 units of permanent supportive housing, and DESC's Rapid Rehousing program.  Metzler holds a Master's degree in counseling from Seattle University.  She has lived and worked internationally (Italy and Belize), has 3 kids that she and her husband are raising on Bainbridge Island, and she loves the Seattle Sounders and the Kentucky Wildcats.

Lianne Ristow

Food Bank Manager   

(206) 842.7621

Lianne came to Helpline House from Bay Hay and Feed where she was the Market Manager & Buyer for several years. Prior to this Lianne lived in the Snoqualmie Valley where she raised two children, was a Girl Scouts troop leader, and worked in Nonprofit Donations and Volunteer Management as well as a farm laborer on a biodynamic farm. Lianne has a MA from Antioch University in Environment & Community with an emphasis in Food Systems and Permaculture. She holds an AA degree in Sustainable Business from Bellevue College as well as a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Lianne is passionate about all things food and in her spare time, she loves to cook for family and friends, read and spend time out of doors. 


Kerry Lavigne

Volunteer & Program Manager 

(206) 842.7621

Kerry has professional experience in both the nonprofit and private sectors, including fundraising for an organization serving foster youth, and positions in marketing and business development for online curriculum and technology firms. She also worked with the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association, Boys & Girls Club, and KiDiMu. Kerry has spent many years volunteering for the island’s public schools and is very active as a founding Board member of the Troy and Baden Biddle Foundation—in memory of family friends (father and 13-year-old son).


After growing up in Seattle and graduating from Seattle Pacific University with a B.A. in Communication, she met and married her husband in California. Since 2003 they have worked and lived on Bainbridge together with their daughter and son. Kerry is honored to follow in the footsteps of current and former Helpline House staff members as the Volunteer Services Manager.

Myra Howrey

Business Manager 

(206) 842.7621

Myra has been the Business Manager at Helpline House since 1998.  She has a B.A. degree from the University of Colorado and moved to Bainbridge Island in 1979.  She now lives in Suquamish.  Myra has served in positions of leadership in the League of Women Voters for many years – was on the Board of Directors for the League of Women Voters of Washington for 16 years and is the current President of the League of Women Voters of Kitsap.

Megan Lindgren

Assistant Office Manager

(206) 842.7621


Megan grew up in Oregon and graduated with honors from Southern Oregon University with a B.S. in Criminal Justice.  Her practicum was completed in nonprofit working with at-risk youth. Upon graduating she worked in employee benefits administration, regional wine distribution, and as an administrative specialist managing small business bookkeeping, HR, and corporate records.  

Megan happily joined Helpline House in December 2021 as the Assistant Business Manager.  She is married with two daughters and an amazing rescue dog.  In her spare time she loves practicing piano with her kids, sailing, reading, and being outside with her family.


Debbie Stearns

Communications Manager

(206) 842.7621


Debbie's connection began as the Helpline House's Volunteer Services Coordinator in 2013; combined with her background in the printing & design industry, she has formed her new role as the Communications Manager at Helpline House. She holds an AA degree in Graphic Design from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and 25 years of project management in print production and visual communications. Debbie helps guide, inform, and share Helpline House's range of services through print, social and digital media.  Her different roles at Helpline House bring light to all community members that want to help or need support from the food bank, social workers, case managers, seasonal programs, along with many more resources. Since 1996, she and her husband have been involved in the Bainbridge community, inspired by the PNW's four seasons to play outside, garden more, and try every summer to grow a better crop of tomatoes while raising their four children.

Social Work Team


Gina Kapel,  MSW, LICSW

Gina has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in Developmental Child Psychology, with an emphasis on child abuse and neglect. She also has a Master of Social Work from Augsburg College, in Minneapolis, MN. The majority of her work experience has been working as a social worker, in inpatient mental health units in psychiatric hospitals, in Minnesota and Washington. She originally came to Helpline House as a Fishline volunteer, then worked in volunteer management and as an on-call social worker. She left for several years and came back to work as a clinical social worker in 2017.

Tana Berry, MSW, LICSWA

Tana started her academic career at Olympic College earning a degree in Chemical Dependency and an AA in Human Services. She continued on to the University of Washington earning her Bachelor of Social Work and then received her Master of Social Work from Simmons University. Currently, Tana is working to gain licensure as a LICSW through amassed hours of direct practice as a clinical social worker. She continues to gain training to enhance her education in specialized areas of therapy with a specific interest in complex and chronic trauma. Tana finds nature to be the most effective healer and enjoys spending her free time unplugged and immersed in its beauty. She claims knitting is her winter sport.

Case Managers

Marilyn Gremse,  BA

Marilyn has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in Anthropology. After a short career as an archaeologist and researcher, she studied Counseling at the University of California at Santa Barbara and worked with victims of violent crimes in a California district attorney’s office. Combining her counseling and research skills, Marilyn worked as a Litigation Paralegal in Seattle for many years after obtaining a Certification in Paralegal Studies from University of Washington. In 1989, Marilyn joined Helpline House where she has served for 20 years as the Food Bank Operations Manager. Marilyn is currently a member of the Social Work team.   She is a certified Medicare specialist (SHIBA) and is obtaining credentials related to Social Security benefits application process (SOAR).   Marilyn enjoys assisting people navigate bureaucracies and untangle a wide range of issues as a case manager.

Shawn Nigh, BASW


Shawn was raised in Gulfport, Mississippi, from the time she was three and moved to Kitsap County in February of 2014. She started her academic journey in Social Work in 2018, graduating with her Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Union Institute & University in August of 2021. In March of 2021, she joined the Helpline House team as a Case Management Intern, excited to move forward in her social work journey here at Helpline House, gaining experience in case management and overall community-building while earning her Master in Social Work. Shawn enjoys working with clients of all ages but hopes to further her career with children and families. She has two children and, in her spare time, enjoys reading, being at the beach, and spending time with her family.

Kelly Zwicker, MS


Kelly has a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Dominican University of California, where she performed as a student-athlete. Following her college athletic career, Kelly obtained a Master of Science in Kinesiology (Sport and Exercise Psychology) from Western Washington University, where she worked with athletes on mental performance. Kelly's work with athletes and interest in mental health drove her to continue her graduate studies in clinical social work, landing her in her current master's in social work program. Kelly hopes to combine her two degrees and provide a holistic service to future athlete clients, with both her sport psychology background and her developing social work experience. Kelly also has interests in medical social work and working with clients on trauma and anxiety. Kelly spends her free time with her rescue dog and playing tennis or other sports with friends. 

Liz McNeil
Social Work Intern


Liz is a current case management intern at Helpline House. In addition to her internship, she works as a visitation supervisor for DCYF. Before that, she was the Director of Residential Life for West Sound Academy, an Americorps Volunteer, and lived/worked abroad as a teacher of English Literature at Northwest University in Xi'an, China. McNeil is currently pursuing her Master's in Social Work at the University of Washington and holds degrees in English Literature and History from Saint Mary's University in Winona, MN. She currently lives in Bremerton.

Sandra Ingram

Social Work Intern


Sandra established residency in 2005 when she moved to PNW from Rhode Island. As she finishes her senior year as a UWt social work undergrad, she joins Helpline as a motivated practicum student. Many of Sandra’s justice-driven passions are inspired by lived experience. They act as a driving force to learn, advocate, and effect change. Sandra resides in Kitsap County with her three children. She enjoys creative exploration and family-centered activities when she is not engaged in academia or advocacy work. There is never a shortage of adventure with young kids, and Sandra takes advantage of every opportunity to share experiences with her family.

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