Programs

Our Team

Operations

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Julie Metzger RN, MN

Julie Giesy Metzger, Founder, Managing Director, Great Conversations
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Kathryn Metzger, MS, MFA

Kathryn Metzger (she/her), Chief Operations Officer, is an LA based digital media producer and performer. Beyond Great Conversations, Kathryn regularly acts as consultant to both artists and educators across the country to produce connection-based content on digital platforms using film and performance techniques through her company, Chaos Machine, LLC. An alumni of the prestigious Chautauqua Theater Company, and British American Drama Academy. Kathryn holds an MS from USC in Digital/Social Media and an MFA from Case Western Reserve University in collaboration with the Tony-Award winning Cleveland Play House.
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Peter Metzger, MD

Peter Metzger MD (he/him), Chief Medical Officer, is a pediatrician with HealthPoint @ Family First in Renton, WA. He is a graduate of University of Washington School of Medicine and completed his General Pediatric Residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Peter has also worked in the Emergency Department at Children’s National in Washington DC. He is passionate about empowering kids to be confident decision-makers about their bodies and health. He believes that all people deserve compassionate and affirming care. Peter and his family love cycling, running, and being in the mountains.

Instructors

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Kara Bazzi, LMFT

Kara is a mental health therapist, focusing her work on concerns around eating, body image and relationship to sport and exercise. Kara’s passion for helping others is deeply rooted in her own lived experiences. Kara is the Co-Founder, Clinical Director and creator of the Exercise+Sport program at Opal: Food+Body Wisdom. Kara lives in Seattle with her 2 preteen daughters, her husband (who was a former teammate at UW), and her new English Retriever dog, Murphy.
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Linda Brooks

Linda Brooks (she/her) is a life-long educator. Her focus turned to health and sexuality education in 2003. Combining her skills as a Certified Professional Coach and Health Educator, Linda finds happiness in helping youth and families strengthen their bonds by engaging in important conversations. Linda has taught in-depth teen seminars, as well as taught in elementary, middle, and high schools, and has led classes for Great Conversations since 2009. Linda is also a professional family portrait photographer based in Seattle, WA. She created “The Empower Project” (a branch of her photography business) which uses portrait photography to reflect back to youth their unique talents, strengths, and skills to help build positive self-esteem. Linda also enjoys running an event venue with her partner, attending live music, playing guitar, and raising her teenage son.
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Fred Capestany

Fred (he/him) comes from a long, extensive background as an educator and trainer with specific experience in sexuality education. He has worked with kids of all age ranges in addition to families. Currently, he is a faculty member at Highline College where he teaches in the Human Services department. In addition to working with college age students at Highline College and University of Puget Sound, he has also been a sexuality educator with the Seattle School District.
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Jim Cox

A science and health educator, Jim Cox (he/him) has been teaching courses for teens  for over 20 years throughout the Bay Area.  Interacting with teens, tackling challenging topics around growing up, and building positive communication strategies are some of the reasons Jim continues to enjoy teaching. You can find Jim catching local SF Giants games with family and friends, discovering urban walks, and testing out newsworthy restaurants that the Bay Area has to offer."
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Deb Casey, BSN RNC-NIC

Deb (she/her) is a registered nurse practicing at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford since 1996. She began her career in their pediatric urgent care clinic and 20 years ago began working in the Intermediate Care Nursery and Well Baby Nursery. While her practice has focused on newborns, she recently discovered her love for teaching preteens about puberty and has been a Heart-to-Heart instructor for the last five years. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in nursing education. Deb lives in San Jose, California with her husband, three daughters and one son. She strives to give her best every day in her personal and professional life.
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Helen Chen, MPH

Helen Chen (she/her) is a health educator, community advocate and public health professional who has been working in education and advocacy for 16 years. She educates about various women’s health issues, puberty, and sex education to a wide range of audiences including pre-teens, teenagers, college students, recent grads, executives and new moms. Helen strives to make the learning process for sensitive topics as comfortable, shame-free, and fun as possible.
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Julie Church, RDN

Julie is the Co-Founder, Nutrition Director and Community Relations Director at Opal: Food+Body Wisdom, an eating disorder treatment center in Seattle, WA where she created a weight-inclusive treatment approach to nutrition and weight. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has focused her career in helping individuals heal from eating disorders and mainstream diet culture. She lives in Seattle with her husband and three boys.
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Alyssa Davis, MS, RDN

I earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Health degree from Loma Linda University. I completed internship rotations at various locations including: Kaiser Permanente, WIC and EXOS Athletes’ Performance, Inc. I have a diverse background in clinical, community and sports nutrition settings. I specialize in working with eating disorders and disordered eating, and have worked with clients at all levels of care. I also specialize in performance nutrition. I have experience working with clients that have diabetes, food allergies, GI complications (i.e. irritable bowel syndrome), PCOS, emotional eating and substance abuse.
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Torrey Freeman, MS

Torrey Freeman, MS (she/her) is a certified Parent Educator, Sex Educator and Counselor who has been working with students and families since 2005. Her career has focused on providing non-judgemental and developmentally appropriate information for families about our changing bodies. She was inspired to do this work after training at the San Francisco Sex Information organization in 2006. While working as a Parent Educator, Torrey specialized in guiding families of preschool aged children with new siblings on the way. She currently lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and two daughters.
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Elysse Grossi-Soyster, MS

Elysse Grossi-Soyster (they/them) is an infectious disease scientist, a professor, a health educator, and the founder of a STEM outreach non-profit organization. Elysse has been teaching Great Conversations content since 2015, and aims to make sexual health education more inclusive and comfortable by normalizing conversations about our ever-changing bodies. Elysse also runs STEM Outreach Collective, a science outreach organization for middle and high school classrooms in the greater SF Bay Area and beyond. Outside of the lab and the classroom, Elysse is an avid triathlete, an artist, and a world traveler.
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Amy Johnson, MSW, LICSW, CSE

Amy Johnson, MSW, LICSW, CSE (she/her) is passionate about healthy families and great communication. She has worked with youth and families since 1982 and with Great Conversations since 2013. Amy’s passion for helping adults and youth think intentionally about their relationships is evident in her work as a national trainer, educator, and author. When she’s not teaching, Amy enjoys yoga, reading, and spending time with family and friends of all ages.
Kai Kunkle

Kai Kunkel

At the heart of Kai’s work is a drive to help families connect and communicate. She has worked in the field of sexuality education since 1999 and is dedicated to providing young people with accurate, age appropriate information and the tools to make the best health choices for themselves. She currently works in special education in Seattle Public Schools with a focus on social emotional literacy and provides positive discipline parenting classes within our community. She’s a mom of two and loves nothing more than a kitchen dance party with her crew.
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Creagh Miller, MPH

Creagh (she/her) is a strong advocate for sexual and reproductive health, gender and racial equity. She has over 20 years of experience designing, implementing, and evaluating health programs in clinical and community settings. She has worked with young people as a health educator, project manager and program evaluator, including teaching sexuality education, designing culturally tailored pregnancy and birth care programs, and leading digital content development and engagement strategies for teen parents. She enjoys developing learning resources for youth and families in an inclusive, warm, empowering and non-judgmental manner. Creagh lives in Seattle with her elementary-aged son, partner and two kittens.
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Mary Patterson

Mary Patterson (she/her) is an educator, community advocate and non-profit executive. She has dedicated her work of the past 25 years to improving the health and well-being of children and youth. Mary has been teaching with Great Conversations since 2008. She is also the Director of Strategic Partnerships at The Health Trust and President of the Board of Legacy Academy, a charter school serving middle school youth at risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system. Mary lives in San José, California, with her husband and two daughters.
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Meagan Pugh, RN, PNP

Meaghan Pugh, RN, PNP (she/her) is a nurse practitioner in pediatric primary care. She is passionate about working with adolescents and talking with them about their bodies and their health. Meaghan also studied neuroscience and had a fascination with how our brains grow and change. She trained to be a pediatric nurse practitioner at University of California, San Francisco, where she also worked on a research team studying genetic causes of autism. When not working, she can be found biking, running, skiing or spending time with her family.
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Heidi Winig MEd, MPH

Heidi (she/her) has worked in the field of community health and education for the past twenty years, and is passionate about supporting families and young people with information and skills to live a healthy life. She holds Masters degrees in Public Health from UC Berkeley School of Public Health and in Education from Harvard University. She specializes in adolescent and sexual health, LOVES talking about puberty, and has worked both internationally and domestically to educate young people about their bodies and staying healthy physically and emotionally. Heidi resides in Santa Cruz with her partner and her pre-teen and teen daughters. Heidi is surrounded by puberty, personally and professionally!

Virtual Class Producers

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Katherine Chen

Graduated at San Diego State University Spring 2022, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, minoring in Sociology; and pursuing a Masters degree in Digital Social Media. Outside of my normal classes I worked with my professors as a research apprentice, and was the president of Lambda Pi Eta (National Communication Association Honor Society). My experiences includes internships at a radio station, a news station, and two newspaper companies in Taiwan.
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Jenny Kennedy

Jenny Kennedy (she/her) is an event and theater stage manager & producer, and fell into the Zoom world in 2020 when there was no theater work to be had. Her management has been seen on & off Broadway, regionally in the greater NYC area, and for 15 years at Chautauqua Theater Company. When she's not supporting storytellers or helping to create superheroes in the puberty world, she can be found cooking & knitting.
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Deirdre Manning

Deirdre (she/her) is a producer, actor, and writer originally from Boston. She received her BFA in Musical Theatre at the University of Central Florida, and trained at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, PIT, and Comedy Lab. She works as a producer at Zipline Media and is always inspired by kids’ imaginations and endless creativity.
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Jordan McDonough

Jordan Leigh McDonough (she/they) is a virtual event producer and casting associate. Jordan has been working in tandem with Great Conversations since 2020 and is extraordinarily grateful to collaborate with such a warm, thoughtful and determined community of educators, scientists, nurses, and all around inspiring humans. Outside the world of puberty, Jordan enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, competing in softball tournaments, and baking biscotti.
Co-Founder Emeritus, Robert Lehman, MD
We are grateful to Dr. Rob Lehman for his contribution as Co-founder of Great Conversations. His expertise in adolescent health, along with his humor and warmth helped shape the vision of the work of educating preteens and their families for many years. Dr. Rob remains Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington, enjoys traveling and adventuring, and is the co-author with Julie Metzger of "Will Puberty Last My Whole Life?" – the primary resource of the Great Conversations’ curriculum.
Founder, Julie Giesy Metzger, RN, MN

Julie Giesy Metzger (she/her) began her nursing career at Seattle Children’s Hospital in 1981 caring for hospitalized teens and their families in the adolescent unit. The experience of working with teens who managed their lives with resilience and strength solidified her passion for adolescents and their families. In graduate school at the University of Washington School of Nursing, Julie pursued her passion through research analysis of the experiences of young women in puberty. Inspired by that work, Julie designed and delivered For Girls Only: A Heart to Heart Talk on Growing Up in 1988 while living in Pittsburgh, PA—the class became a local hit.

Julie returned to Seattle and began teaching For Girls at Seattle Children’s Hospital and launched what is now a perennial rite of passage for tens of thousands of preteen girls and their families throughout the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco Bay Areas. Over the years Julie has written and taught curricula for preteens and teens that promote strategies for decision-making, and she has written two books for preteens.

Julie has been invited to numerous school and community groups to talk to parents about topics related to adolescence. Her encouraging, straightforward approach, matched with the latest research and strategies, have made her a popular presenter. She currently serves on the UW School of Nursing Dean’s Advisory Board.

Julie’s professional and clinical experiences include managing a pediatric unit, teaching pediatric nursing, and facilitating projects at Seattle Children’s. She and her husband are parents of three children – now a doctor, a teacher, and a digital media producer – who have been the primary inspiration of her work.