At Near we are on a mission to improve the way we care and connect during times of serious illness and grief.

OUR MISSION

At Near we are on a mission to improve the way we care and connect during times of serious illness and grief.

OUR FOUNDERS

Changing the way we offer care and support.

Near is the second company created by our founders, and the most personal. Together they built Well Refined, an agency serving startup and nonprofit clients for the past 12 years, many in the serious illness, end of life, and mental health spaces. They are now bringing their deep expertise in entrepreneurship, storytelling, and human connection to help change the way we offer care and support during difficult times.

Christy Knutson

Christy is a healthcare strategist and entrepreneur with 18 years experience in marketing, communications, and operations. After a series of early losses, she is working to improve the end-of-life experience with a deep belief that there has to be a better way.

Christy lives in Raleigh with her husband and three kids.

Jane Butler

Jane is a creative professional and entrepreneur with 15 years experience in design and product development. When Jane’s fiancé (now husband) was diagnosed with brain cancer at the young age of 24, they quickly learned the value of grief support and care in their healing.

Jane lives in New York City with her husband and three kids.
Christy Knutson Jane Butler Founders of Near

THE STORY OF NEAR

It all started with...

1994

At the age of 10, Christy became a family caregiver for her grandmother, Leola, as she lived with Alzheimers. She considers those six years of care one of the greatest privileges of her life.

2002

Christy’s cousin and best friend, Teresa, was diagnosed with breast cancer a year after her mom (Christy’s aunt) died of the same disease. Teresa died four years later. Their relationship and the intricacies of her end-of-life experience fuel Christy’s work today.

2006

Christy begins her work in serious illness and end-of-life managing programs and communications for a cancer support center.

2011

 

Christy opens a small marketing consultancy serving nonprofits and small businesses with a focus on healthcare communications and marketing tech integrations.

2012

Jane graduated with a degree in design and began working with non-profit clients. She focused her strategic design skills on building brands and fostering connection through visual storytelling.

2014

Jane's fiancé, Andrew, was diagnosed with a brain tumor 25 days before their wedding. After a complex, risky surgery he recovered well and the two moved to New York City where they are raising their three children.

2015

Jane and Christy partner to launch a new startup from idea stage to Shark Tank investment. They quickly realize there is a certain kind of magic in their partnership and merge their design and marketing businesses to form Well Refined.

2019

After learning more about the gaps in support from serious illness to end-of-life to grief, Jane and Christy launched the first iterations of Near with a focus on practitioner connections and end-of-life navigation. Their work on Near temporarily paused in 2022.

2022

Jane's husband of 8 years, Andrew, was diagnosed with a second brain tumor and underwent surgery. As Andrew recovered in the hospital doors down from a neighbor who was dying, the idea for Near's Care Registry was born.

2023

Integrating their experiences - from the deeply personal to the professional - Jane and Christy re-launch Near to connect communities of loved ones through a seamless, easy-to-use platform where empathy and kindness make a tangible difference.

 

THE TEAM BEHIND IT ALL

Our Advisors

alua Arthur advisor

Alua Arthur

Founder of Going with Grace • Death Doula

Shoshana Ungerleider advisor

Shoshana Ungerleider, MD

Physician & Founder of End Well

Claire Bidwell Smith

Grief Therapist • Author

THE SUPPORT CAREGIVERS NEED 

Caring for Yourself & Others

Caring for a loved one with a serious illness can be difficult and physically exhausting. Our free download shares helpful tips and resources to provide respite and clarity for you as you support and care for your loved one.

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