Brennan Wood has served as the Executive Director of Dougy Center: The National Grief Center for Children & Families based in Portland, Oregon since 2015, where she has been on staff in various roles since 2004. Brennan’s professional background and expertise are grounded in fundraising, strategic planning, organizational development, and capacity building. She is the author of, A Kids Book About Grief and is a member of the National Advisory Council for the COVID Collaborative as well as the Advisory Council for Hidden Pain. She was the 2020 Light-a-Fire Award Extraordinary Executive Director and a 2022 Women of Influence Award recipient. Brennan is passionate about Dougy Center’s mission to provide grief support, resources, training, and community response to children, teens, young adults, and their families who are grieving before and after a death, and those who support them. Brennan walked through the doors of Dougy Center for the first time in 1987 when her mother, Doris, died three days after she had turned 12-years-old. Her experience in a peer support group at Dougy Center shaped her life and she has strived to provide the same opportunity that she had to other children and families who are grieving in her community, across the country, and around the world ever since. Under Brennan’s leadership, Oregon Business named Dougy Center as a “Best Nonprofit to Work For” for the past six years, and local CEOs voted Dougy Center as a “Most Admired Company” for the past four. Since becoming Executive Director, Brennan has championed Dougy Center’s commitment to equity and inclusion and has brought innovative partnerships, programs, and resources to the field of childhood bereavement. Brennan is committed to making the world a more grief-informed place where we all can acknowledge grief as a natural and normal response to loss that is interwoven into a sociocultural context.
Jennifer Wiles, MA, LMHC, BC-DMT
Jennifer Wiles, MA, LMHC, BC-DMT, is the Director of the HEARTplay Program and Camp Erin Boston at Good Shepherd Community Care in Newton, MA. She has directed these programs since 2012, and has overseen their growth and expansion during this time. During her tenure, HEARTplay has been the recipient of several grants from both local and nationally-based organizations. Jennifer has taught and trained people in the field of children’s bereavement and expressive therapy locally, nationally and internationally. Her current project, Expanding the Language of Grief, is focused on providing access to compassionate grief support services to people of all abilities. Jennifer is a board-certified dance movement therapist/licensed mental health counselor and is on the adjunct faculty at Lesley University’s Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences where she also serves as a clinical site supervisor. She has taught grief counseling and dance movement therapy at the Apollo Institute, Beijing, China. She was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Alliance for Children’s Grief where she also chairs the Education Committee. She received a certificate in Nonprofit Management from The MetroWest Nonprofit Network/Framingham State University in 2021. She is a professional member of the New England Children’s Bereavement Network, the MA Mental Health Counselors Association, the MA Coalition for Serious Illness Care, The American Dance Therapy Association, The National Alliance for Children’s Grief, and the Association for Death Education and Counseling.
Lindsey Whissel Fenton
Lindsey Whissel Fenton (she/her) is an Emmy award-winning storyteller who is passionate about using media to build empathy and connection. She currently works as a senior producer and director at the PBS/NPR affiliate station WPSU, where she uses her experience as a creator, outreach strategist, fundraiser, and learning designer to develop and deliver meaningful content to local, regional, and national audiences. For the past five years, Fenton has focused her work almost exclusively on projects related to grief awareness and mental health. She produced and directed Speaking Grief, a multiplatform initiative that works to create a more grief-aware society; the initiative received three Emmy® nominations (Mid-Atlantic Chapter). Fenton continues to manage Speaking Grief’s social media presence (@wpsugrief). She has presented served as a panelist on cultivating successful outreach and engagement to a variety of organizations, including the National Alliance for Children’s Grief (NACG), the Association for Death Education Counseling (ADEC), the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) Education Foundation, the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), American Public Television (APT), the PBS Annual Meeting, and Comic Con San Diego, among others. Fenton earned her bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Digital Arts from Point Park University and her master’s degree in Learning, Design, and Technology from Penn State. She is a dog-mom, an avid reader, and a rock climber.
Adam D-F. Stevens, MA, RDT
Adam D-F. Stevens (they|them), MA, RDT are a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) who works primarily with adolescents in the Tri-state area. They have worked with the Hetrick-Martin Institute and Cooke School & Institute in NYC. Adam’s role includes supporting queer, POC, and neurodiverse youth in transforming their loss, grief, and trauma into unapologetic, abundant joy and empowerment. Adam serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Creative Arts Therapy Programs at Antioch University in Seattle, and New York University and Marymount Manhattan College in NYC. Adam currently sits on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Children’s Grief (NACG). They have sat on the Board of Directors for the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) as Chair of the Cultural Humility, Equity, and Diversity Committee, and now as the President-elect. Adam works to support theatrical productions on and Off-Broadway as an emotional wellness consultant. They were named Artistic Director for the Collideoscope Repertory Theatre Company (CRTC) by NYU in 2020. CRTC’s mission is to advance racial justice and healing through artful affinity and performance. They were recently awarded the NADTA Raymond Jacobs Memorial Diversity Award and the NADTA Performance Award for their work with CRTC and in recognition of their outstanding dedication to diversity in the field of drama therapy, through advocacy, championing a diverse membership, and working to increase skill, awareness, and cultural humility. Their research focuses on offering space for Black clients to reclaim racialized roles and deconstruct stereotypes connected to generational and historical trauma and grief. Adam’s superpowers are rooted in the fantastical forces of creativity and love.
Leila W. Salisbury
Leila W. Salisbury is the executive director of The Kentucky Center for Grieving Children and Families (KCGCF), which she founded in 2020. She currently serves on the Membership Committee of the National Alliance for Children’s Grief. She is trained on the Peer Healing Curriculum as part of a pilot program with the University of Chicago Medical School; the KCGCF is one of two pilot sites in the country for this teen-led, evidence-based grief support curriculum. She has also worked as a volunteer with the McClean Fletcher Center (a children’s grief center in Jackson, MS) and raised a grieving child after her husband died when her daughter was 5. Prior to founding the KCGCF, she spent 25 years in scholarly publishing, serving as director of the University Press of Mississippi and the University Press of Kentucky. In these roles, she was also active in the Association of American University Presses, serving on its board of directors and numerous committees. She is a graduate of Davidson College (NC) and has a MA from the University of Kentucky.
Jim Price has over 50 years of experience in the funeral profession and is a graduate of the California College of Mortuary Science. Knowing now that 1 out of 5 children in North America are grieving based upon the loss of someone that is very close and significant in their lives, he is hopeful that as a director in the NACG he will be able to better connect those in his profession with regard to how very important it is to have the appropriate conversation with children’s parents. Jim believes it is critical to understand the importance of reaching out to bereavement counselors in communities as well as supporting the wonderful efforts of NACG.
Brianne (Brie) Overton, FT, LPC, NCC
Brianne “Brie” Overton, FT, LPC, NCC, is the Chief Clinical Officer of Experience Camps, a national nonprofit that provides no-fee, clinically informed programs for kids who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver – as well as resources and advocacy so all grieving children can live a life rich with possibility. Brie received her MA in Thanatology from Hood College, her M.Ed in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from University of Missouri – St. Louis, and is a doctoral candidate in counseling at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She has spent 13 years in the field of thanatology providing grief education, support, counseling, death education, suicide prevention and intervention, and consultation.
Michael Milward has been an attorney since 1981 and has worked in the end-of-life care and bereavement field since 1997. He did his legal studies at Santa Clara University and his graduate work in Theology and Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley. He has worked with and been committed to grieving children and teens his entire career. He has also been a hospice chaplain since 2000. In 2012 he became the CEO at Hospice of Santa Cruz County on the central coast of California and served in that role until 2020. He currently serves as the CEO of the California Hospice Network and as a senior advisor to the National Partnership for Hospice and Healthcare Innovation (NPHI), a national collective of almost 100 nonprofit community-based hospices, all of whom have robust community grief support programs for children, teens and adults. He sees a necessary and natural intersection with and between these hospice programs and the collective mission of NACG.
Debbie Meyer has extensive background in leading nonprofits as the present executive director for Erin’s House for Grieving Children the past 15 years and, prior to that, the leader of Children’s Hope Hospital Hospitality House. She also spent time as the marketing director for a winning Indianapolis 500 race car driver and has over 20 years’ experience as an executive in corporate marketing.
Debbie is an adjunct professor at Huntington University since 2014 teaching classes in grant writing, nonprofit management, and leadership. Most recently, she participated in the Foellinger Foundation Leadership Lab—a one-year program comprised of twelve Northeast Indiana leaders and designed to develop adaptive leadership skills.
Debbie is proud of her time as former board member and secretary on the executive committee for the National Alliance for Children’s Grief (NACG). She has also served as a board member for Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana, Visiting Nurse, and Leadership Fort Wayne.
She has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from University of Central Florida—obtaining these while working full-time and raising a family. In April 2021, Debbie became a Certified Leadership Coach through the International Coaching Federation and Certified Coaches Alliance.
In her spare time, she loves to read, travel, cheer on Indiana University basketball and Notre Dame football with her family, and help at her church.
Fun fact: Erin’s House and Debbie are a featured chapter in American Spirit by Taya Kyle and Jim DeFelice, 2019 – Pages 164-172
Annette R. March-Grier, RN, CFSP
Annette R. March-Grier, RN., C.F.S.P., is a native Baltimorean, and Vice President of a family business; March Funeral Homes located in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia. She is a registered nurse, a mortician and the visionary of Roberta’s House Inc., a non-profit Family Grief Support Center founded in 2007, by the March family in honor of their matriarch, Julia Roberta March. Annette is the President, and has lead the way for grief education and support for grieving children and families in Baltimore for more than 38 years. A teacher, counselor, trainer and leader, with her compassionate staff, provides a safe place for children and adults to heal and recover from the death of someone close. Roberta’s House provides trauma informed care and addresses grief as a public health service through education and over 15 peer support programs. Children, adults, and families suffering the loss or death of a loved one receive support and a safe place to heal and recover. To date Roberta’s House has provided support services to
more than 10,000 children and adults and trained over 800 community volunteers that support their programs. Roberta’s House conducts grief support programs for individuals of all ages and types of death losses as well as professional workshops for the community. It is the first bereavement center to be founded by African Americans in the U.S. to address the inequities for people of color with grief and mental health resources.
In January of 2021, March-Grier fundraised and successfully completed the construction of the first bereavement center in Baltimore Maryland to serve children and families. The center is located on the same landmark that her parents operated the funeral home from 1957-1980. The 22,000 square foot facility is a state of the art bereavement center that is one of a kind in the US to provide bereavement care and counseling for the underserved and people of color.
Annette is a recipient of numerous awards and achievements. She received the National Caring Award in October, 2016 which includes her induction into the Caring Hall of Fame located in the Frederick Douglas Museum on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. In addition, she was selected by CNN, the world leader in news, as one of the top ten CNN heroes, 2014 for changing the world.